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said the teacher, “ if 6 is 1 third, 3 thirds will be 3 times 6, won't it?” “Yes sir,” said the boy. “And 3 times 6 are how many ? asked the teacher. The boy hesitated. “Why, 18?” said the teacher. Whereupon the boy said again, “ Yes sir.”
I cannot say that this was the precise language used on the occasion, but it is substantially correct. The example was as you see, a simple one, the questions of the teacher were all leading questions, and the boy did very little except now and then to scratch his head and say “ Yes sir,” “ Yes sir." And this was a pretty fair specimen of this teacher's mode of doing things.
I have heard teachers speak of CARRYING a class through this or that study, and I think this must be what they meant by it. And, let me add, boys will never go alone so long as they can be carried. I am aware that the case I have stated is an extreme one, and
yet something like it may be found in many of our schools almost every day ; that is, in many schools the teacher does most of the reciting. A score of objections might be urged against this course : one is, that it takes a great deal of time ; another, that it costs the teacher a great deal of labor ; and a third is, that it makes the scholars miserably superficial. And so these objections go on stronger and stronger. Few scholars will ever take the pains to get a lesson thoroughly, while they are sure that the teacher will so multiply and arrange his questions as to suggest what the answers should be. And I will venture the assertion that, other things being equal, those schools are invariably the best, where the teache hears, the recitations, and where the scholars are made to do most of the talking and explaining. There you will find the best instruction and the most thorough scholarship. And besides this advantage of greater thorougliness, scholars thus acquire the habit of easily and clearly expressing their thoughts, and the power of stating and explaining accurately the most difficult and involved propositions. Now this habit and ability will be of immense advantage to them in future life—a continual source of pleasure and influence to them. But some one perhaps will ask, how this can be brought about ? how can scholars be made to talk and explain in recitation, without a good deal of talking and questioning on the part of the teacher ? In the first place assign a very short lesson and give the class to understand that they are to recite it. For instance, if the class are about beginning equations in algebra, assign at first not more than two or three examples for a lesson. At the recitation, work out upon the black-board one of the examples yourself, and explain it precisely as you wish the scholars to do it; then request some one of the class to rub it out and perform the operation himself again, and explain it precisely as you have done it.
He may at first fail in stating and explaining it accurately ; but let him repeat the process and continue to repeat it, until he can do it as accurately and explain it as clearly as you can do it yourself. And so proceed with the other scholars and the other examples, passing by none until the operation can be quickly performed and fluently explained. This at first will take considerable time. You may be obliged to spend the hours of recitation, for several days, on a very few examples ; but, nevertheless, it is time well spent. For when the scholars once learn that they have tongues and have acquired the habit of using them in recitation, they
will feel an’ interest in it, such as they never felt before. Their minds will become active instead of remaining merely passive, and the time spent in acquiring this habit, will in the end be saved fourfold. · Let me not be understood as opposing explanations on the part of the teacher. I mean simply that of these there may be too many as well as too few, and that, when too often repeated, they lose their effect and defeat their own object. I mean that, in general, scholars should explain more, and that teachers should explain less. But I have said enough, and more than enough on this subject.
In some parts of geography and similar studies, where the recitations consist of simple questions and answers, I have found much assistance in requesting some one of the class to sit by me and ask the questions. This relieves me from the necessity of talking, gives me a better opportunity of overlooking the school generally, while, at the same time, I am equally sure that the class are reciting as correctly as if the questions were put myself.
Again, if you would teach thoroughly and successfully, and leave your mark upon your pupil's mind, you must not attempt to teach everything—or rather, you must attempt to teach but few things. The tastes and tendencies of the age, I am aware, lie in an opposite direction, and there is often more ambition to explore widely than profoundly the fields of knowledge.
The current and popular literature is much of it mere trash, and the people are reading themselves into ignorance. Many of the publications of the day are airy nothings—sickly and silly romances
omances—or what is perhaps little better, dreamy speculations, full of transcendental nonsense, neither false nor true. It may be true that soine old and sensible books are much praised, but it is equally true that they are read little and studied less.
Now this course serves to increase the already too large class in the community, whom Lacon significantly and graphically describes, as looking into everything and seeing into nothing. And it cannot be denied that this prevailing and popular taste has infected in some measure our educational system ; that the showy is sometimes substituted for the solid, and sound learning, like homely virtue, has more admirers than followers. But the rays
of the sun never burn unless collected into a focus, so the energies of the mind will never act vigorously and intensely unless concentrated upon a few objects. And this is the true secret of success. For two ideas so stamped upon the mind that they can never be worn out, are worth more than ten thousand indistinct and faint impressions, which are fleeting and unsubstantial as the shifting shadows upon a summer's landscape. " Read much, but not many books,” is a good maxim, and there is another equally wise, teach much, but not many things. Lord Bacon, or some other sensible man who ought to have been a lord, said he always feared a man of one book;" and Chesterfield, in commendation of thoroughness, has justly remarked, that " whatever is worth learning, is worth learning well.” I repeat it, then, if you would teach successfully, TEACH MỨCH, BUT NOT MANY THINGS. One more
"how" and I have done. It is 66 how to teach writing. And if you would know how, buy the “ National Writing Book,” and on the cover of the same you will find “the how” all written out as plain as a book.” I do not say that experienced writing masters, who have ample time, may not invent a system which for them may not be a better one; but I do say, that for teachers generally, who have no remarkable skill in this art, and in schools generally, where the time allotted to this branch of education must be limited, there is, in my opinion, no system which will at all compare with it. It comes nearer to “going alone” than any other system I have seen. This 1 know from experience. For I never had any great tact in teaching writing; and yet with this system, and without much time or labor, I can make good writers. But I must stop. I have already spoken much longer than I intended. I have written so rapidly that, as the Frenchman said, I have not had time to be short.
Among some of the other “hows” of school-keeping, I have endeavored to show how we can make the most of ourselves as teachers ; how to secure punctual and constant attendance ; how to begin school ; how to govern, and how to conduct recitations. I have sought to show, that if we would improve in our profession, we should keep our eyes open and be ever on the alert ; that, if we would secure good order, we should not make much noise ourselves ; and, if we would teach thoroughly and successfully, we must not talk too much nor attempt too much.
And, in conclusion, permit me to say, what has often been said and cannot be too often repeated, that ours is an arduous and responsible work, and demands our highest, holiest and best energies. Every man is writing a history of his life : not indeed with pen and ink, on paper, but in more permanent characters and on more imperishable materials. Every day he turns a new leaf,