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Anecdote of folly.-Pouring-in.-The “ oral hobby.”
evil is so common, and in some instances so monstrous,* that I shall be pardoned if I dwell upon a little more fully.
In illustrating this subject, I must mention two processes of teaching, not indeed exactly opposite to each other, though widely different,-into one or both of which
many of our teachers are very liable to fall. I shall, for the sake of a name, designate the former as the
SECTION 1. - POURING-IN PROCESS.
This consists in lecturing to a class of children upon every subject which occurs to the teacher, it being his chief aim to bring before them as many facts in a limited time as possible. It is as if he should provide himself with a basket of sweetmeats, and every time he should come within reach of a child, should seize him, and compel him to swallow-regardless of the condition of his stomach—whatever trash he should happen first to force into his mouth. Children are indeed fond of sweetmeats, but they do not like to have them administered,—and every physiologist knows there is such a thing as eating enough
* Not .ong since I visited a school, where the teacher with much selfcomplacency requested me to examine the writing of the children. It was indeed very fair. But when I drew from him the fact that he first wrote each page himself with a lead pencil, and only required his scholars to black his marks over with ink, and that with unreinitting labor he did this week after week for all the writers in his school, I knew not which most to wonder at, the docility of the children or the weakness of the teacher Tho writing ceased to be wonderful.
Victims of kindness.-Passive recipient.-A jug.
even of an agreeable thing to make one sick, and thus produce loathing forever after. Now many teachers are just such misguided caterers for the mind. They are ready to seize upon the victims of their kindness, force open their mental gullets, and pour in, without mercy and without discretion, whatever sweet thing they may have at hand, even though they surfeit and nauseate the poor sufferer. The mind, by this process, becomes a mere passive recipient, taking in without much resistance whatever is presented till it is full.
“A passive recipient !” said one to his friend, “what is a passive recipient ?” “A passive recipient,” replied his friend, “is a two-gallon jug. It holds just two gallons, and as it is made of potters' ware, it can never hold but just two gallons.” This is not an unfit illustration of what I mean by making the mind a passive recipient. Whenever the teacher does not first excite inquiry, first prepare the mind by waking it up to a desire to know, and if possible to find out by itself, but proceeds to think for the child, and to give him the results, before they are desired, or before they have been sought for,-he makes the mind of the child a two-gallon jug, into which he may pour just two gallons, but no inore. And if day after day he should continue to pour in, day after day he may expect that what he pours in will all run over. The mind, so far as retention is concerned, will act like the jug; that is, a part of what is poured in to-day, will be diluted by a part of that which is forced in tomorrow, and that again will be partially displaced and
Mind weakened.-Drawing-out. - Leading questions.
partially mingled with the next day's pouring, till at length there will be nothing characteristic left. But aside from retention, there is a great difference between the jug and the mind. The former is inert material, and may be as good a jug after such use as before. But the mind suffers by every unsuccessful effort to retain.
This process of lecturing children into imbecility is altogether too frequently practised ;. and it is to be hoped, that intelligent teachers will pause and inquire before they pursue it further.
The other process to which I wish to call attention, is that which, for the sake of distinguishing it from the first, I shall denominate the
SECTION II.- DRAWING-OUT PROCESS.
This consists in asking what the lawyers call leading questions It is practised, usually, whenever the teacher desires to help along the pupil. “John,” says the teacher when conducting a recitation in Long Division, “John, what is the number to be divided called ?" John hesitates. “Is it the dividend ?" says the teacher. “Yes, sir—the dividend.” “Well, John, what is that which is left after dividing called ?-the remainder-is it ?" "Yes, sir.” A visitor now enters the room, and the teacher desires to show off John's talents. Well, John, of what denomination is the remainder ?"
An example.- A spectator astonished.-Teaching History!
John looks upon the floor. “Is n't it always the same as the dividend, John ?" “Yes, sir."
“Very well, John,” says the teacher, soothingly, “ what denomination is this dividend ?” pointing to the work upon the board. “Dollars, is it not ?”
“ Yes, sir; dollars.”
“Oh yes, sir, dollars !" says John, energetically, while the teacher complacently looks at the visitor to see if he has noticed how correctly John has answered !
A class is called to be examined in History. They have committed the text-book to memory, that is, they have learned the words. They go on finely for a time. At length one hesitates. The teacher adroitly asks a question in the language of the text. Thus: “Early in the morning, on the 11th of September, what did the whole British army do ?" The pupil, thus timely reassured, proceeds : “ Early in the morning, on the 11th of September, the whole British army, drawn up in two divisions, commenced the expected assault." Here again she pauses.
The teacher proceeds to inquire : Well, — Agreeably to the plan of Howe, the right wing' did what ?”
Pupil. “Agreeably to the plan of Howe, the right wing"
Teacher “The right wing, commanded by whom?"
A further example.—Yes, sir.
Pupil. “Oh! “Agreeably to the plan of Howe, the right wing, commanded by Knyphausen, made a feint of crossing the Brandywine at Chad's Ford,'" &c.
This is a very common way of helping a dull pupil out of a difficulty; and I have seen it done so adroitly, that a company of visitors would agree that it was wonderful to see how thoroughly the children had been instructed !
I may further illustrate this drawing-out process, by describing an occurrence, which, in company with a friend and fellow-laborer, I once witnessed. A teach er, whose school we visited, called upon the class in Colburn's First Lessons. They rose, and in single file marched to the usual piace, with their books in hand, and stood erect. It was a very good-looking class.
“ Where do you begin ?" said the teacher, taking the book.
Pupils. On the 80th page, 3rd question.
Charles. (Reads.) “ A man being asked how many sheep he had, said that he had them in two pastures; in one pasture he had eight; that threefourths of these were just one-third of what he had in the other. How many were there in the other ?"
Teacher. Weli, Charles, you must first get onefourth of eight, must you not? Charles. Yes,
Yes, sir. Teacher. Well, one-fourth of eight is two, isn't it? Charles. Yes, sir; one-fourth of eight is two.