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success of the teacher. This same sentiment has given rise to the establishment of institutions in some of the States, expressly dedicated to the suitable preparation of candidates for this important office. It has given rise to numerous associations, likewise, of those actually engaged in the service, together with others friendly to the object, the very design of whose meetings is to purify and elevate the profession of the teacher. Indeed this same public sentiment has gone so far as to demand that teaching should be a profession; that teachers, in the more important schools at least, should throw themselves upon their resources as teachers for support, and, giving up mainly other pursuits—except so far as to keep pace with the progress of the times-devote their time, talents, study, zeal and energy to their duty as a profession. Public sentiment has even gone farther, in some instances at least, and added the remuneration of a profession, thus leaving the teacher free from other cares, to devote himself to what should be his only care-to be worthy of the age in which he lives.
With these facilities then, it is certain the teachers of the present day should be better than their predeces
If they are not, under all these accumulated circumstances in their favor, it is their own fault.
Having dared to assume for the teachers of the present day some moderate degree of superiority over their predecessors even of no very remote age, it will reasonably be expected of me, that I should intimate in what particulars such superiority consists. From this task I shall not shrink. In few words, I should say it consists in a more philosophical preparation for their duties, and in a more thorough knowledge of the principles of the branches
to be taught. Teaching was formerly entered upon by most aspirants to the office, without deep reflection as to the nature of the responsibilities assumed, or a clear perception of the importance of being specially furnished for one of the most delicate and difficult offices—that of operating upon the human intellect. It is true that very many in former times entered upon the responsibilities of teaching, as they “ let themselves out” to perform manual labor, having a view almost entirely to the recompense; and apparently without the least suspicion that higher qualifications were necessary for the one employment than for the others. They could perhaps follow the formal letter of a book upon a given branch, but they knew but little of the why and the wherefore, and they knew still less of the most successful methods of reaching and interesting the minds of the pupils, and exciting in them the spirit of inquiry. It is very much to be doubted whether one in a score of the common class of teachers twenty-five years ago had any higher ideas of an education, than the storing up in the memory of a collection of facts—which would constitute, as far as it went, a certain amount of knowledge. They seemed, at least, never to have dreamed that truly educating a mind consists first in inspiring it with a thirst for improvement-growth -enlargement; and then in disciplining its powers so far, that with the ordinary means it could go on to improve itself. They seemed not to consider that much more depends upon the formation of correct habits of studyof reasoning and of invention, than upon the amount of knowledge which can be imparted in a given time.
I dare say many of us remember the manner in which any developements of the spirit of inquiry were wont to 6 Sir,”
be treated in our schoolboy days. 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. 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 the third?” “Why because more requires more sometimes and sometimes it requires less-to be sure. Havn'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
“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 s0;—don't you see it?-PMore requires more and less requires less;'—and in the midst of this inexplicable combination of more and less I shrunk away to my seat, to follow the rule because " it said so;" and when I had wrought out all the problems and got the answers without comprehending a single step in the process, I was told that I was a very good scholar,--and to be sure I did not go unrewarded; for at the examination a few weeks after, the visiters were told that I had been through the Rule of Three; and as proof of my proficiency, I was called upon to recite the very rule, which I did, not failing to lay all suitable emphasis upon “ more requiring more and less requiring less."
This indeed is a specimen of the manner in which many a boy was “carried through” arithmetic twenty years ago. The "rule says so”—was the cure for all inquisitiveness in the scholar. It was so in other branch
The letter of the book was to be followed, and any attempt to peep behind the veil was discouraged and even
It must be confessed that we have not attained even at this day to a complete triumph over such abuses of the profession, as is implied by entering it without preparation, and exercising it without judgment or tact. Yet it must be said that in these respects there has been a great gain. The number has increased, very much, of those who do thoroughly understand the nature of a teacher's duties, and the object at which he is to aim. The proportion is very much greater of those who understand the principles—the very elements of what they teach, and who are more anxious to inculcate the “why and the wherefore” than to store the memory with unintelligible and barren facts.
Another improvement of the present teachers over their predecessors, I conceive, consists in the better methods of imparting instruction. Classification is more thought of than formerly, and the new modes of conducting recitations, in which the object is not simply to apply a test of the scholar's application to his lesson, but also to ascertain how far the understanding has grasped the subject. Formerly recitations were generally so conducted, that only one individual came in contact with the teacher at a time; and even if he could and would explain the principles of the lesson, his time thus poorly economized would fail for the purpose.
Visible illustrations are much more relied upon by teachers now than formerly, and by means of the blackboard and other helps, a class of ten or fifteen be as easily instructed, and on account of the saving of time, very much more thoroughly instructed, than an individual could be under the old process. Except in those schools where irregularity of attendance interrupts and destroys all classification, very much is gained by the new plan.
The introduction of system into our schools by most teachers at present, is a great gain. By system, I mean a definite arrangement in the day's-work, so that every class has something to do, and a definite time to do it in. A very prominent defect in many of the old schools, (and perhaps some of the modern ones,) was, that the business of the day would come along “just as it happened”—by chance. If one scholar or class was not ready, another would be called, and there being no particular time for the various exercises, there would very likely be no exercises for any time, and the teacher would hardly know how to find employment for himself in the school.
Now, a teacher is very justly estimated by the judgment and tact with which he divides his time among his own various duties, and the time of his scholars between their studies and recitations. I consider this indeed the principal key to success, both in government and instruction; and whenever I find a teacher who fails in this (and I am persuaded the number is much less than formerly)-I set it down that such a teacher is very far behind the age, and has no claim as yet to the reputation of an able and successful Instructor.
The following incident will illustrate this point. Hav