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the result showed that only two of the five were able to perform the task. The others were perhaps right in saying that they understood the work, as the teacher explained it, step by step, on the board; but it was quite another thing to do it.
In our efforts to cultivate habits of self-reliance on the part of our pupils, one of the best and most feasible measures to which we can resort, is the practice of introducing frequent written reviews.
Several topics are written distinctly on the blackboard, and the pupils are required to expand them as fully and accurately as possible. Each pupil is seated by himself, and furnished with pen and paper; but receives no assistance, direct or indirect, from either teacher or text-book. See ante, p. 31, $ 9.
There are too many teachers who seem to regard it as their chief business to exercise and develop their own minds, instead of attending to the minds of their pupils. There are those who even manage to sustain a very good degree of popularity, in school and in the community, by a display of themselves. “What stores of knowledge he possesses,” says one. “How beautiful his illustrations,” says another. This display of the teacher's knowledge may serve for exhibition, but it will prove of little value to the pupils in after life. The scholar whose attainments at school are but the echo of what the teacher has learned, will be sure to become one of that large class of citizens whose opinions and actions are always governed by those who have the indepeudence to think and act for themselves.
I have dwelt at considerable length upon the subject of this article, because I believe that very few pupils are taught to rely sufficiently upon their own resources, and because I believe that many of the modern appliances in schools militate directly against the accomplishment of this object.
A few brief quotations will close the article. “One preliminary truth is to be kept steadily in view in all the processes of teaching, and in the preparation of all its instruments, viz., that though much may be done by others to aid, yet tho effective labor must be performed by the learner himself.”—Horace Mann.
* Alas! how many examples are now present to our memory, of young men the most anxiously and expensively be-schoolmastered, be-tutored, be-lectured, any thing but educated; who have received arms and ammunition, instead of skill, strength, and courage ; var. nished rather than polished; perilously over-civilized, and most pitiably uncultivated! And all from inattention to the method dictated by nature herself, to the simple truth, that as the forms in all organized existence, so must all true and living knowledge proceed from within ; that it may be trained, supported, fed, excited, but can never be infused or impressed.”—Coleridge.
“A man can no more learn by the sweat of another man's brains than he can take exercise by getting another man to walk for him. All mental improvement resolves itself ultimately into self-improvement.”—Dr. Booth, of Wandsworth, England.
“The prevailing notion, that we must be taught every thing, is a great evil. The most extensive education given by the most skillful masters often produces but inferior characters ; that alone which we give to ourselves elevates us above mediocrity. The eminence attained by great men is always the result of their own industry.”—Marcel.
“The first error in education is teaching men to imitate, or repeat, rather than to think. We need to take but a very cursory glance at the great theater of human life, to know how deep a roct this radical error has struck into the foundations of education. '-- Mansfield's American Education.
PRIMARY Schools are the basis of our whole sys. tem of public instruction. If evils are suffered to exist here, they will manifest themselves in all the higher stages of the pupil's progress, and cling to him through life.* "Scratch the green rind of a sapling, or wantonly twist it in the soil ; The scarred and crooked oak will tell of thee for centuries to come."
It is in the Primary Schools that more than half of all public instruction is imparted, and a large portion of the children gathered here do not remain in school long enough to pass into the higher departments at all.
In most cities and towns, the Primary Schools suffer in a greater or less degree from the general impression that the teachers occupy positions less honorable than those of the teachers in the higher divisions, and perhaps still more from the pecuniary distinction that is often made in favor of teachers in the higher grades.
*" As parts of a great system of public instruction, it is scarcely possible to attach too much importance to the Primary Schools. They are the base of the pyramid, and in proportion as the base is enlarged and its foundations strengthened, the superstructure can be reared with ease and rapidity in graceful proportions, and to a towering height."- Report of Boston School Committee.
It is no disparagement to the teachers to say, that Primary classes are not generally taught so well as classes more advanced.* This would probably still be true if the Primary classes were taught by the teachers of the upper grades.
Of all the applicants examined by School Directors and Superintendents, there are more who are found qualified to instruct in the Grammar Schools than there are who are qualified to instruct in the Primary Schools.t
To excel as a Primary teacher, requires peculiar natural gifts, a thorough acquaintance with the first principles of knowledge, special fondness for young children, and an abiding consciousness that there is really no higher department of useful labor than that of giving direction to the first efforts of minds that are opening to an endless existence.
* “ The weakest point in the whole system of American education, is its deficiency in thoroughness in all the elementary courses." -Dr. Sears.
t“In my search for teachers to fill vacancies, I find ten qualified to teach Geometry in a High School, to one who is qualified to teach reading in a Primary School ; and in general, it is more difficult to find teachers adapted to give instruction in the lower grades, than in the higher.”—A. Freeze, Superintendent of Schools, Cleveland.
#“ The best teachers are needed for Primary Schools. At no point in the whole course of study are the results of incompetent teaching so disastrous, as at the commencement. If utter inexperience or desperate mediocrity must sit at the teacher's desk, let it be anywhere, everywhere, save in the Primary School : for anywhere and everywhere else will its ability to do irreparable mischief be less. At the subsequent stages of education, the mind emerging from the state of implicit trust in the mere dicta of the master, begins to
Personal Influence of Teachers.
There is no other grade of schools in which the personal character of the teacher is so directly felt, as in the Primary. In the Grammar School, lessons are learned from text-books, and very much of the
assert itself, to sift what it receives, and find corrections when they are needed-but at the beginning, the mind takes the impress of the instruction given, with unquestioning faith, exact as the print of the seal upon the wax. The position is confidently assumed, that the wise discipline and sound philosophic mental training of the children in our Primary Schools, is more important and more difficult than that of any other department; and hence that the very best teachers should be assigned to that post of duty. It requires the clearest insight into the laws of mental life and action and the springs of feeling, the broadest views of the philosophy of education considered both as a science and an art, and the rarest combination of personal qualities, intellectual, moral, and social, that can well be conceived. When such teachers are found, they should be secured at almost any price. The common notion, that it matters little who teaches the little ones, or who is the assistant, provided an able man is obtained for the advanced scholars, or for principal, is exceedingly pernicious. With the exception, perhaps, of the principal of a union or graded school, the teachers of the Primary Departments should be the best qualified and the best paid." —Newton Bateman, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Illinois.
· Especially should those to whom the education of the Primary classes is committed, be not only competent and apt to teach, but equable, dignified, and gentle in their deportment, kind and affectionate in their disposition, accustomed to self-control, and familiar with the wants and peculiarities of the children intrusted to their
As a general rule, much greater maturity of mind is necessary and desirable for the proper development and discipline of this class of pupils, than for those of a more advanced grade ; while, in the selection and arrangement of teachers, the youngest and least experienced are most frequently assigned to the duties of the for.
While greater age, of itself, affords no criterion of ability to succeed in this department of instruction, the judgment, the dispo