Imágenes de páginas

in other words, the sort of knowledge of his fellows which he will acquire. But from the beginning the school should determine the sources whence his further acquisitions of second-hand knowledge of men are to be derived."

Reading and Story-telling. - Important, however, as is this work — and it would be difficult to overestimate its importance, — the school should by no means rest content with it. The teacher should at once begin to read to the child any easy selections and relate to him any simple stories in which she can interest him — not only those about the heroic figures who have played a great part on the world's stage, but those of common men and women as narrated in the daily papers, showing that even humble laboring men may also be cast in the mould of heroes.

Language Lessons. If these are made the basis of language study, not only will it have a scientific foundation, but it will add to the educational value of reading and story-telling. The more completely these become a part of the very life of the child, the better they will accomplish their purpose; the more, on the other hand, his mind is active about them, the more they will enter into the very warp and woof of his being. Hence it happens that by gratifying, under guidance, his social impulse he is strengthening his intellectual impulse.

[ocr errors]

Nature Study. — The stories and readings, and the language lessons in conjunction with them, will occupy but a

1 This requires the intelligent coöperation of parent: and librarians. “ It is said on good authority that some years ago the librarian of Worcester, Mass., S. S, Green, succeeded in connecting the schools so closely with the

[ocr errors]

small part of the child's time. Some of the time remaining should be devoted to a first-hand study of nature. When the weather permits, a considerable part of this study should be done out of doors. Such work in the company of a devoted, enthusiastic teacher, a teacher who is a close observer of nature and also a lover of children, will do more to quicken their observing powers than can be done in any other way. This work also should be made the basis of language lessons.

Drawing. - We have noted the great activity of the constructive impulse. One of the forms in which this impulse manifests itself is in the attempt to draw things. Observers of children tell us that this impulse begins to show itself at a very early age. It hardly needs to be said that manifold educational results can be obtained by its direction and guidance. Most of the arguments adduced for manual training can be urged in favor of drawing. Besides, drawing cultivates the powers of observation and strengthens the memory of natural objects, their precise appearance, size, shape, etc. How valuable all this is for purposes .

of thought is self-evident. A large part of the material of thought is furnished by our sense-impressions, and the more definite these are the clearer will be the thinking that is based upon them. Besides an accurate knowledge of natural objects greatly increases our power to enjoy literature, a considerable part of which deals with these ; and the more vivid the images of the objects referred to by it the greater will be our capacity to appreciate it. Moreover, such knowledge is a source of keen

library that he and the teachers controlled the reading of the whole rising generation of the city.” (Hinsdale, Art of Study, p. 68.)

æsthetic enjoyment in another direction. Cowper said that there was not a sound in nature that it did not give him a pleasure to hear ; not excepting, even, the cackling of a goose. He probably meant that so closely associated with the recollections of early childhood were these sounds that the recalling them was a source of pleasure.

Drawing may help to fill the mind with visual images that have a similar relation to the memories of childhood. Who is there that has left the home of his boyhood, never to return, that does not regret that he cannot recall the precise look of the old trees, the maples that stood in the yard, the cedars and walnuts along the lane, the brook and the rough boards across it, the bends in the country roads

every detail that may help the scenes of his childhood to live again in his memory?

Drawing also, like manual training, may be used to increase the interest of children in the more purely intellectual work of the school. “Take,” as Mr. Tadd says, “a rural school where the children get a little reading, writing, and arithmetic, in homeopathic doses, and very little of anything else. See what glorious possibilities there are here if the teacher has any idea of drawing as it should be taught. Right at the door is the whole field of nature; plants, flowers, insects, animals, stones, fruits, vegetables, can be produced without any trouble. The children are delighted to bring almost anything in the way of models of this kind. If they are near the seashore, the boys can get endless forms of life in the way of seaweeds, shells, crabs, fish, etc. These forms can be drawn and the reading, writing and arithmetic, and other studies, hung on as incidentals. The children will be fascinated and inspired at first hand. They will take an added interest in their work, especially when the doors of their minds are opened, and the things of which they see so much and know so little are transformed for them.” 1

Music, Physical Culture, and Manual Training.–Singing and lessons in vocal music, physical culture, and manual training should also form a part of the exercises of the school from the start. The argument for manual training has already been stated. Singing should be included in the exercises, not only in order to develop the musical capacity of the pupils, but because of its bearing on discipline and the general tone of the school. Vocal music should be taught for similar reasons, and also because children are as competent to learn the elements of music when they first begin going to school as they ever are. They should receive physical culture for the sake of health and gracefulness, and also because, affording as it does scope for the exercise of the active propensities, it adds to the interest of the school.

Number Lessons. Lessons in number should likewise form a part of the work of the child during his first year at school. These lessons should be connected with, and be primarily for the sake of, the other work he is engaged in.

Distribution of Time. We have now covered the work that seems proper to be undertaken during the first school year : reading, writing, language lessons, number work, nature study, stories, easy literature, physical culture, manual training, singing, vocal music, and drawing. How shall the time of the child be distributed among these various subjects ?

i Tadd, New Method in Education.

The Committee of Fifteen recommended two lessons a day in reading and two in writing, each fifteen minutes long; an oral lesson in language, one in arithmetic, one in general history, and one in natural science, each twelve minutes in length; an exercise in physical culture, one in vocal music, and one in drawing, these averaging twelve minutes each — making in all two hours and twenty-four minutes as the total time occupied in class exercises. They made no mention of literature as distinct from reading, or of singing as distinct from vocal music, or of manual training. If we add these exercises, and give to each of the first two twelve minutes, and to the last an hour, we shall have provided for about all of the time in school, assuming that a daily period of four hours is sufficient during the child's first school year, and that the other recommendations of the Committee of Fifteen are accepted without modification.

Young Children's Need of Supervision. — But it may be said that this leaves the child no time to work by himself, and that if he does all his work under supervision, he will not acquire the power of independent work. This question has been ably discussed by the late Professor Hinsdale in his “ Art of Study.” He insists with great emphasis on what no one will question — that when children begin to attend school they do not know how to study, and that their first work, therefore, should be done under direction and supervision. To say that because a teacher is moving about among her pupils, making a suggestion to this one and to that, they will not acquire the

« AnteriorContinuar »