Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

ment, so here it is necessary to give a decided preference and encourage certain lines of observation at the expense of others, and to bring into play a certain amount of discipline to prevent the child wandering from point to point without satisfactory development in any one direction. But having found from the questioning of the child a very definite interest in a useful direction, it is very easy for the parent, if he is willing to take the trouble, and, if necessary, study the matter carefully, to give valuable suggestions which will enable the child to build round the fundamental point of interest, until he becomes in a very small way more or less an authority on this subject. In doing this we may again appeal to Froebel. He says: “Do not answer in words where it can answer itself without your word. As soon as, and as far as, they have strength and experience, give them the conditions of the question, and let them make out the answer from their own knowledge.” Small children are born investigators; they are never so happy as when they are finding out the why and the wherefore; they delight in learning by doing. In a charming book, published at the beginning of this century, and now, unfortunately out of print, by Maria and R. L. Edgeworth, on Practical Education,” some very interesting instances are given of the facility with which children investigate problems for themselves, if properly trained. Here is a delightful example:

A boy of mine finds a kind of rainbow on the floor. He calls his sister to see, and wonders how it came there. The sun shines bright thru the window. The boy moves several things upon which the light falls, saying:

Nor this." At last, when he moves a tumbler of water, the rainbow ranishes. There are some violets in the tumbler, which he thinks may explain the colors on the floor. But when the violets are removed the colors remain. Theu he thinks it may be the water. He empties the glass. The colors remain, but they are fainter. This leads him to suppose that the water and the glass together make the rainbow.: “But,” he adds, "there is no glass in the sky, yet there is a rainbow, so that I think the water alone would do, if we could but hold it together without the glass." He then pours the water slowly out of the tumbler into a basin, which he places in the sunlight, and sees the colors on the floor twinkling behind the water as it falls.

How easy it is to lead children on in this way, by making use of their natural activities! What sources of information can be imparted to the child as the result of its own questionings! And, moreover, the child makes such information forever its own, because it forms part of a chain, and is connected so indissolubly with its previous experiences. And what a sure basis such information becomes for future reasonings! Thus, step by step, the intelligence develops, information is assimilated, the child becomes stronger and stronger, and all along the line it is making use of its natural mental energy.

Assimilated information is as valuable as undigested, unconnected information is deleterious. Rousseau was never tired of insisting upon the importance of this. "When the understanding," he says, "makes things

" This is not it.

its own before they are committed to memory, whatever it afterwards draws forth belongs to it; but if the memory is burdened with what the understanding knows nothing about, we are in danger of bringing from it things which the understanding declines to acknowledge."

It would be impossible in the space at my disposal to discuss the value of the information acquired, and the value of the mental discipline in acquiring it in the ordinary school course; but there will always be, even under ideal conditions, a useful part for the parent to play, especially in the earlier stages of the child's education. There can never be that consideration and knowledge of the personal equation of the child in the school which is possible in the home. The parent must, therefore, be continually on the look-out for subjects of the greatest interest to the child, and in cases where the school training is inadequate, the development of the intelligence will depend very largely on the kind of treatment received at home. It is also evident that in this development the child must continually give the lead, tho, from the demands of discipline and the natural tendency to a too rapid change of subject, the choice of lead must entirely rest with the parents. Whatever live is taken, if the best results are to be attained, it must necessitate continual watchfulness and a large amount of work and thought on the part of the parent. The thought and expenditure of energy will, if judiciously applied, bear abundant fruit in the increased intelligence of the child. Quite apart from the general benefit to be deprived from this continual interaction of child on parent and parent on child, untold good may result from continually taking a rational and truthful line of approach on questions raised by the child. In this way too hasty generalization, rash judgement, and a natural tendency to look at only one side of the question will gradually be checked, and much will be done towards the formation of a sound judgment.

Some of my readers will probably think that I have very much over-estimated the necessity of this continuous, intelligent interest by the parent in the development of the child's mind, and the benefits to be derived from such a course of action.

I can only again refer such to examples which must occur to them of children brought up in homes in which no such interest is taken and ask them to compare these children with others brought up on rational lines. And, moreover, whatever may be the effect on such a policy on the developing of intelligence, there can be no doubt that the moral development which must ever be associated with such a course of training must have a lasting influence for good upon the child; and is not the formation of character the most important aim of education? “The purpose of education," said Plato, “is to give to the body and to the soul all the beauty and all the perfection of which they are capable."

Freedom of Endowed Universities.

BY PRESIDENT G. STANLEY HALL. I have known one benefactor of an educational institution very intimately for many years. Mr. Clark was very much interested in the institution that bears his name, upon which he expended several millions. He never paid any attention to the kind of instruction given by the institution; he never desired to influence it in any way. He was quite insistent sometimes about the laying out of a walk, or the position of a fence or of a tree, but the curriculum was not supervised by him at all. He gave the college $3.000, 000 in his will without attaching any condition except that there should be perfect liberty in the matter of instruction. He was a Unitarian, a man of most liberal mind, of broad conceptions in every way.

In my opinion, institutions that have large endowments are far more free to teach what they please than state institutions. A state university must have some regard for popular ideas, and is liable to serious interference from some political governing body, or from the state legislature; while endowed institutions in this country are free from all such restrains. We are freer in this country than they are abroad. Even if gifts have conditions attached we ought not to refuse them if they are not too burdensome. People who feel inspired to promote higher education by their wealth may have some regard paid to their peculiar ideas when it is possible, without making any sacrifice of principle. In England there are a great lot of peculiar conditions attached to educational gifts. In one case a measure filled with pennies has to be emptied out upon the grave of the benefactor every day and the pennies all picked up again, or the gift lapses. In another the teachers have to attend mass daily, although they are all Protestants now. These things were so burdensome in France that the government intervened and abolished them all. At Leipsic, where I studied for a time, there were 700 different funds with conditions attached, that were religiously heeded by the authorities.

In Johns Hopkins University, where I taught for some years, there was absolute freedom of instruction, the gifts having no influence upon the teaching. I will admit that I have known one or more instances in other institutions where I have had my suspicions, but I believe such cases are rare, and that our institutions of higher learning are remarkably free from interference, and obtain almost all of their gifts without restrictions.

God made both tears and laughter, and both for kind purposes; for as laughter enables mirth and surprise to breathe freely, so tears enable sorrow to vent itself patiently. Tears hinder sorrow from becoming despair and madness; and laughter is one of the very privileges of reason, being confined to the human species. — Leigh Hunt.

LILLIAN H. SHUEY.

[ocr errors]

The learning of today holds the riches of the past in its grasp, and turns upon the analytic light of our new thought; all mysteries are led shamefaced from the shadows of old time. Our universities are looking forward, and the common-school course is enriched with culture that was not long since academic.

Knowledge is our best gift to the new generation, and like the stories of Homer, all must be retold. All ideas, as soon as gained, need to be given out, lest they be lost without increase.

It follows that the relation of the teacher to the pupil should be at the overflowing spring, that delights to serve the thirsty hills, and there should be nothing between the giver and the receiver to avert the good. Fear, doubt, anxiety, pain, and humiliation are impediments; sorrow kills the memory, and hate distorts the reason.

The child entering school is another Columbus sailing for an unknown land. He is fearful, and betrays his fear, that his craft may be wrecked before he reaches his wonder land of gold and ivory. He has left the harbor of his infancy, the safe, sweet port of his mother's care;— he is now on the trackless sea of life, and he is alone.

Out of his mind has slipped the faint impressions, if impressions they were, of some perfect realm from whence his spirit came. The vivid freshness of his first imaginings are gone;-the "glory and the dream," has faded into the practical.

It is, indeed, as the poet says, "the shades of the prison house,” that begin to close around the growing boy; the "imperial palace” is shut away. To him, with the first days of school, comes a hint of grief, and the stern realities of 3 ---IE? 4.

He soon sees the inevitable yoke,” and enforced forms and customs lie upon him with a weight "heavy as frost, and deep almost as life.” Life's cares come in long, long thoughts to his heart; the vastness of knowledge, and the powers of his superiors abash and oppress him.

Imagine yourself standing lower than the waist of your teacher, with a frail tiny hand, with an ungovernable appetite, and a wild desire to run toand fro continually. Your father tells you that you will surely get a whipping the first week in school because he did, and you wonder how far you can venture into trespass and not get it. Fear and treachery come to guard

[ocr errors]

the pleasant ways to knowledge, lest peradventure a true concept should slip easily into the brain.

And again, fancy yourself an uprestrained and indulged little monstrosity, and so self-conscious, that you think every well-meaning person your enemy. Either condition is a mental disease, and leads to weaknesses that affect the entire school life.

In the oldest book, the Book of Books, is written the comprebensive statement that the Creator "breathed into a form of clay the breath of life," and that man became a living soul.

A thousand years later Job, the shepherd scholar said, “All the while my breath is in me, and the Spirit of God is in my nostrils," and, "The Spirit of God hath made me and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life."

In the light of this, childhood is a long tragedy, when that which is essentially good is moulded into something that defeats the object of its existence.

The child usually comes to the hands of the teacher quite plainly distorted from the natural plan of its growth. A certain child is known as a bad boy"'; in religious cant he is an incorrigible sinner; anyway, he is out of the line of the best human development.

May we be allowed to say that the brightest flowers of the race are those who are ideally taught? What then might be the result of a unity of plan and method in education ?

The facts are that environments have begun to close about the growing child, who comes to the educator, and anxiety watches over labor.

Too often it is the unskilled and the bungler who is meddling with the tools of education, and tampering with that holy thing, a mind, till it is ruined hopelessly by false training. The true teacher, hence, needs first a certain sense of clairvoyance, or clear-seeing, to be able to know what lies beneath the load of impediments on the consciousness of the pupil, then he should have the hope and faith to gradually wear away the false, and build anew the forms of reason, and the support of good habit. There is no royal road to this process, altho every teacher has studied so-called psychology.

That the great majority fail to receive an education proves that tragedies, which leave success to the few, are common individual experiences. The sighs of coarse prosaic lives are all about us, and the teacher haunted by deep sadness is never jubilant at his work.

However, looking on a brighter side, there is not a teacher, however stupid, who does not lift someone from the swamps of despair and send him singing down the highway of life.

Here is the case of little Briar Rose: She has a bold eye and a brazen

« AnteriorContinuar »