« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
give grace, agility, self-possession, readiness, promptness, and facility of action; but excluding entirely and forever, such as are dangerous to the limbs, or prejudicial to the morals of his pupils. The time required for this instruction, coöperation and supervision, would be amply repaid by increased healthfulness, confidencé, cheerfulness, and mental improvement.
If a teacher would induce his pupils to cultivate an active, inquiring state of mind, which seeks for information from every source that comes within its reach, whether by reading, conversation, or by personal observation,-he will teach them to read, to converse, and to observe. Reading, we acknowledge, receives much attention,—at least it engrosses much time;—but in which of our schools is the requisite attention given to teaching pupils how to converse, and to observe? The art of 'conversing is important, and one direct means of its cultivation in school, is the practice of talking over the daily lessons, either before or after recitation. Another is that of assigning topics for a kind of conversational picnic, to which each contributes bis share. A most interesting exercise. The art of hearing should receive attention. How few have ever been taught to listen,—and have the full use of their ears. The importance of Music, in this connexion, as well as in the forming of character, has never been too highly estimated. "The schoolmaster that cannot sing,” says Luther, “I would not look upon.” It is a new thought to some minds that every tree, forest, and object in nature, has its own peculiar note; and that sounds which might not be very acceptable in the parlor, are, in their proper sphere and combination, the very persection of harmony. The world is
full of music. Let the ear be trained to appreciate and enjoy it.
The art of seeing is not less important, if we consider the proportion of our knowledge and happiness that is obtained through the eye,—the most perfect of the senses. And yet the eye is comparatively useless without instruction. A man may take the tour of Europe, or of our own country, and return not a whit the wiser. “Did you visit Herculaneum and Pompeii?” said an American to his traveled companion. “ Yes," was the reply. "Well, how were you pleased?” said the former. not at all,” said the latter. 66 The roads were good enough, but everything else was miserably out of repair.” Now what was the fault here? The traveler had neither been taught what to observe, nor how to observe. The presence of beautiful scenery is not enough; the eye must be educated to behold it.
It is related by one of America's most gifted writers, that, in passing over some of the sublimest scenery of the Alps, she found the native dwellers among the mountains wholly unobservant, and unprepared to enjoy the beauties and sublimities of nature, amid which their infancy had been cradled. But the same remark holds true the world
Our missionaries at the Sandwich Islands tell us, that, when in company with uneducated natives, they have stood on the beach, and listened to the deep roar of the Ocean, as, from a thousand leagues it came booming on; or when they have watched the crested billows, as in endless variety and perpetual flow they have dashed upon the coral shore,--while their own hearts have been filled beyond utterance with the glorious combination and display of the beautiful and sublime,—they have subsequently learned that the only thought of the natives was that, possibly, the waves might throw out something that they could catch and eat. So too, when, upon reaching the brow of a hill, there has spread out before them a vale of surpassing beauty,-rivaling the freshness and bloom of Eden,-with an exuberance of foliage peculiar to the tropics;-while their own hearts have swelled with deep emotion,—they have subsequently learned that the only thought that arose in the minds of their uneducated attendants was, that perchance some root might be found there that would be good for food.
Again, as if to cap the climax, they have ascended the chilling heights in the mountain regions of Kilauea, and, having pitched their tents, have waited with impatience till a late hour of the night for one of those magnificent displays of nature's fireworks for which that volcano is so distinguished;when, at some well-known signal of an approaching eruption, they have hasted forth over the trembling, cracking surface of the ground, to witness a scene of sublimity and grandeur nowhere else surpassed on our globe;—their uneducated attendants, though urged to witness it, have remained stretched at their ease in their tents,-or if they have moved at all, it has been but a foot or two, to get away from some cleft that had riven the earth upon which they were lying. Oh, it is wicked to go through such a beautiful world as this, with the eyes bandaged by ignorance or neglect! How inexcusable in a country like ours, unequaled in its beautiful hills and quiet vales,—its towering cliffs and craggy mountain tops,—its pleasant rills,—its wide-flowing and majestic rivers,-its endless forests,-its sublime cataracts and its inland seas!
Nor is the great alone in nature worthy of our regard. The minute is equally so.
" Not a tree,
A child, properly educated, will
“ Find Tongues in trees, books in the living brooks,Sermons in stones, and good in every thing.”
“ But,” says an objector, “this is all very fine, but it will not do for common people. All colors are alike to me,--water is water, and flowers are flowers,—though I do think that we have some things in our country worth seeing. Nantucket with its sheep and camels is a novelty; Niagara Falls is larger than a thousand grist-mills,-and our autumnal forests, when touched with an early frost, are a little the handsomest in the world. But I go for utility. Tell us something useful.” Well, then, here is something useful, as you call it. Educate the hand, or rather both hands. Most people have but one. Teach pupils the art of doing things. Begin early, practice with them much, and it will be a fortune to them. One definition of " common sense,” is said to be skill in the right way of doing things. Let our pupils have this
It is not always acquired early in life. A merchant in New York recently informed me that although he had passed with honor through all the preparatory schools, and had taken his diploma from one of our best ever so little, he must begin again; if his wit be not apt to distinguish or find differences, let him study the schoolmen; and if he be not apt to beat over matters, and to call upon one thing to prove another, let him study the lawyers' cases; so every defect of the mind may have a special remedy."
If therefore we could know, in all cases, at the outset, what were the mental imperfections to be remedied,and what kinds of knowledge our pupils' would need in subsequent life, we could, with more facility than is at present possible, recommend an entire course. There are some studies, however, which are appropriate to all, and which should, if possible, be mastered by all. If a shepherd from the prairies of the West,--a planter from the sunny South,-a merchant from the Empire State, -a hardy son of the Ocean,--and a still hardier son of New England, from any of the walks of life, were all in process of receiving their earliest rudimental education, they would all need substantially the same mental discipline. Many of their studies would be in common. They would need, for example, to acquire a ready, appropriate and effective use of the English language;—to be able to read, speak, or write whatever they pleased, and as they pleased;--an acquisition of inestimable value in this country, and one that can only be attained by long continued daily practice, under favorable instruction.
They would also need a thorough knowledge of Arithmetic, both mental and written; of accounts; of the elements of Geometry, and of the principles of correct reasoning of Geography, -descriptive and physical;of History,-ancient and modern, -of our own and other countries; of the elements of Natural Philosophy