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ration. A few large prints hung on the walls and a board or two properly prepared would be all that would be required to enable many of the children to amuse themselves pleasantly in the school when weary of other things, and would open to them not only a source of recreation but of after profit, should they arrive at enough proficiency to be pattern drawers. The reading to them sometimes of an amusing story, or travels, by some one who can give it point and effect, would create a higher taste, for the reader could stop to explain what was difficult, and the cheap literature of the day supplies enough of really good publications to meet the demand of the poorest, if the taste for such could be aroused. All these and many more modes of recreation are possible, not only in Ragged Schools, but in those parochial ones in which the children now only try how little they can learn during four or five years of forced attendance, and were this matter attended to, we should in a very few years see a very different population growing up. Our scientific and industrial advancement has proceeded and is proceeding at an accelerated ratio ;-are our people to be the only raw material which is to be subjected to no better system of treatment than it
was in the days of our fathers ? Already we have everywhere machinery and contrivances which no ordinary servant or workman is able to manage properly—we complain of the stupidity of the lower orders, but should we not rather complain of our own ?-We set brute matter to work, and forget that it requires intel. lect to guide it. The steam engine is applied to all kinds of purposes, -electricity is made our servant,
but the human mind, that finest of all machines, the most powerful of all forces, is disregarded, and we think we have done all if we have fed the poor! Let us hope that the dawn of a better time is before us.
HAVE now fulfilled my promise, and ex
amined the grounds of the success which has attended the teachers of Ragged Schools ; and if I have shewn, as I think will be allowed, that these lie deep in human nature itself, we shall do well to make use of the experience thus gained. If we examine the statistics of crime, we shall find that for one wilful criminal,—by wilful I mean one who has by his education and station no previous training to vice,—there are nearly a hundred who are offenders against the laws because no one has cherished in them the feeling of that higher moral law, which is the foundation of all society. They have been educated in the way they should not go, and when they are old they do not depart from it.
It is a great mistake to suppose that because reading, writing, and other usual school knowledge has been withheld, that therefore no education has been given. The mind of the child
must receive its bent from the circumstances by which he is surrounded, and the companions among whom he is thrown, and this is education. By these and not by the merely mechanical attainments above mentioned, the character is formed.
It is not therefore by the almost universal diffusion of the power to read and write, that vice is to be curbed, or virtue strengthened : these are but means that may be used to good purpose, but which may also be used for the contrary, and it seems astonishing that when the necessity for the farther instruction of the lower orders has been so generally recognized, it should not have occurred to the promoters of what is called education, that the mere power of pronouncing sounds, or expressing them by letters, gives no impulse to mental progress, and thus a child may pass through a national school, and come out reading fluently, writing a good hand, and able to repeat by rote some few questions on doctrinal points, without having gained one idea; without having formed any habit but that of marching steadily round the schoolroom; without having developed even the germ of a spiritual existence; animal he entered, and animal he leaves it, and then, if hunger presses, or very little accustomed to self-controul. To fix minds, till then never exercised in application, on any study, or any consecutive thought, for more than a very short time, would be impossible--the brain, till strengthened by use, is incapable of long protracted attention, and for such persons, as for very young children, the teaching by amusement becomes a necessity. Learning to read, to write, and to cast accounts are wearying to the attention, and it is found by the teachers of Ragged Schools, that even though there is generally a good will to learn, the attention of the pupils very quickly flags, and can scarcely be kept up for above half an hour at a time. In common schools the master forces on the unwilling scholar by the aid of punishment, but in schools where the attendance is wholly voluntary on the part of the children, to punish would be to drive them from you. Here therefore an accidental circumstance has again led to the acknowledgment of a great truth; namely that the usual system of school castigation is a mistake, and that if we wish our pupils to improve, we must suit the length and nature of their lessons to their mental state, taking care at all times never to press learning on so as to induce weariness, and by pauses,