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Children imitative.-Attitude.—The attention of the class.
teachers go quite too far, I do think that many of our own teachers come short of a proper standard of animation. A teacher should be ready, without being rapid ; animated, without being boisterous. Children are imitative beings; and it is astonishing to observe how very soon they catch the manners of the teacher. If he is heavy and plodding in his movements, they will very soon be dull and drowsy in theirs; then, if he speaks in a sprightly tone, and moves about with an elastic step, they almost realize a resurrection from the dead. If he appears absent-minded, taking but little interest in the lesson which is recited, they will be as inattentive, at least, as he; while, if all his looks and actions indicate that the subject is of some importance, he will gain their attention. Nor can I refrain in this place from suggesting to the teacher the importance of regarding his manners, while engaged in conducting a recitation. His attitude should not be one of indolence or coarseness,-and when he moves from his seat, and appears at the blackboard to illustrate any point, it should be done gracefully, and with a constant regard to the fact, that every look and every motion teaches.
5. He should never proceed without the attention of the class. A loss of interest is sure to follow a want of attention. Besides, a habit of inattention, while it is very common, is also a great calamity to the person who falls into it during life. Many a sermon is lost upon a portion of the audience in our churches every Sabbath from this cause. When the attention is
A routine.—“ Books but helps.”—Utility.
aroused, the impression made is enduring; and one idea then communicated is worth a hundred at any other time.
6. Avoid a formal routine in teaching Children are very apt to imbibe the notion that they study in order to recite. They have but little idea of any purpose of acquirement beyond recitation; hence they study their text book as mere words. The teacher should, as soon as possible, lead them to study the subject, using the book simply as an instrument. “Books are but helps”-should become their motto. In order to bring this about, the instructor would do well occasionally to leave entirely the order of the book, and question them on the topic they have studied. If they are pursuing arithmetic, for instance, and they have carefully prepared a definite number of problems, it might be well to test their ability by giving them at the recitation others of the teachers' own preparing, involving an application of what they have learned to the business of life. This will lead them to study intelligently. Besides, as soon as they begin to see how their knowledge is to be useful to them, they have a new motive to exertion. They should be so taught as to discover that grammar will improve their understanding and use of language; that writing will prepare them for business, and by enabling them to communicate with their friends, will add to their enjoyment; and so of reading and the other branches.
7. Be careful to use language which is intelligible to children, whenever an explanation is given. The
Intelligible language.-An example quoted.
object of an explanation is to elucidate, to make clearer. How is this object accomplished when the explanation is less intelligible than the thing explained ? Suppose a child should ask her teacher to explain the cause of cold in winter and heat in summer; in other words, the cause of the change of seasons. “Oh, yes,” says he, pleasantly. “The annual revolution of the earth round the sun in connection with the obliquity of the ecliptic, occasions the succession of the four seasons. The child listens to these “words of learned length,” and is astonished at the learning of her teacher, but she has no clearer idea than before of the point she inquired about.
Mr. S. R. Hall in his lectures gives the following forcible illustration of the same point. “Will you please to tell me why I carry one for every ten?” said little Laura to her instructor. “Yes, my dear,” said he, kindly. “It is because numbers increase from right to left in a decimal ratio.” Laura sat and repeated it to herself two or three times, and then looked very sad. The master, as soon as he had answered, pursued his other business and did not notice her. But she was disappointed. She understood him no better than if he had used words of another language. “Decimal" and “ratio” were words that might have fallen on her ear before, but if so, she understood them none the better for it. She looked in the dictionary and was disappointed again, and after some time, put away her
* Worcester's Geography.
Honest confession,-not mystification.-Example.
arithmetic. When asked by her teacher why she did so, she replied, 'I don't like to study it; I can't understand it.'»
“Now the injury to little Laura was very great. She had commenced the study with interest; she had learned to answer a great many questions in arithmetic and had been pleased. She was now using a slate and writing her figures on it, and had found the direction to carry one for every ten. This she might have been made to understand. The master loved his scholars and wished to benefit them, but forgot that terms perfectly plain to him would be unintelligible to the child. From that moment Laura disliked arithmetic, and every effort that could be used with her could not efface the impression that it was a hard study, and she could not understand it."
While upon this subject, I might urge that teachers should not resort to evasion when they are not able to explain. It is a much more honorable, and far more satisfactory course, for the teacher frankly to confess his inability to explain, than to indulge in some ridiculous mysticism to keep up the show of knowledge. I may never forget the passage I first made through the Rule of Three, and the manner in which my manifold perplexities respecting " direct and inverse” proportion were solved. “Sir," said I, after puzzling a long time over more requiring more and less requiring less'“will you tell me why I sometimes multiply the second and third terms together and divide by the first—and at other times multiply the first and second and divide by
More requires more !- Accurate and prompt recitation.
the third ?"" Why, because more requires more sometimes, and sometimes it requires less—to be sure. Haven't you read the rule, my boy?” “Yes, sir, I can repeat the rule, but I don't understand it.” “Why it is because more requires more and less requires less !'” “But why, sir, do I multiply as the rule says ?” “Why, because 'more requires more and less requires less'— see, the rule says so." “I know the rule says so, but I wished to understand why.”—“Why? why ?” looking at me as if idiocy itself trembled before him, “why ?-why because the rule says so; don't you see it?-17 More requires more and less requires less !" —and in the midst of this inexplicable combination of more and less, I shrunk away to my seat blindly to follow the rule because it said so. Such teaching as this is enough to stultify the most inquiring mind; and it is to secure the blessing of relief from such influence to the children of any particular district, that we come to consider an occasional change of teachers a mitigated evil.
8. Require prompt and accurate recitation. I know of nothing that will abate the interest of a class sooner than dull and dragging recitations. The temptation in such cases is very strong for the teacher to help the class by the “drawing-out process” before described. This, however, only makes the matter worse. The dull recitation calls for the teacher's aid; and his aid reproduces the dull recitation. The only way is to stop at once, and refuse to proceed till the recitation can go alone. It is just as easy to have good lessons as poor ;