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requisite of good penmanship, and when I have called their attention to it, some have replied that they were not aware that children were expected to write on slates within lines, and others have excused themselves on the ground that the slates were not ruled, when a couple of hours would have sufficed to rule all the slates required. I am of opinion that by far too much time is daily devoted in many schools to writing on slates, and also that children are kept writing on slates long after they ought to be writing on paper.
MR. TREGARTA EN. The absurd and gross mistakes often met with in this exercise, arise, I am convinced, from the foolish manner in which many teachers dictate the passage to their class. They pronounce the words syllabically, and they sound to the ears of the children quite different from any language they ever heard in common life, and so when they have to write the words, pronounced to them in the ordinary way, they are all at sea, and oftentimes write utter rubbish, invent words an. known in any ancient or modern tongue.
The writing varies very much in different schools. In some it is round and large, and neat and legible; in others it is irregular and pointed, and the letters badly formed. This depends entirely on the handwriting of the teacher. If bis handwriting is good, his scholars will imitate him; if he writes badly, they will be sure to copy him. A set copy written before the pupils' eyes on the blackboard or in the copy books, is much more effective, I find, than the best copper-plate specimens of penmanship. In some schools, those where the writing is best, the master has generally obtained a certificate of proficiency in "free-hand drawing" from the Science and Art Department, and teaches his scholars to draw.
Why should not free-hand drawing be taught in every elementary school? It is a most popular lesson with the children. It draws out their powers of observation and imitation, and teaches them neatness, accuracy, and the beauty of form, and has a decided effect in producing good band-writing.
Mr. LOMAX. Writing, on the whole, is taught with considerable success though it differs very much in quality in different schools. Amongst the older children a degree of excellence is attained which is most praiseworthy, and I invariably find wherever this is the case, that it is owing entirely to the careful instruction and supervision bestowed upon this subject in the lower Standards. I am often surprised at the uniform excellence displayed by children of the 1st and 2nd Standards in the formation of letters, and this result has been secured only by great pains on the part of the teacher, who has nevertheless saved himself a vast amount of subsequent labour, as these children gradually pass on to the higher classes. In the examination schedules “ writing” includes spelling, and it is under this head that failures chiefly occur; no doubt faults in spelling often arise from want of attention, but oftener still they arise from other causes. As a rule I observe that good spelling accompanies good reading, and if a scholar be taught to read with a clear and distinct ennnciation and with expression and intelligence, he acquires at the same time a knowledge of the formation of words and of their value, which, apart from its advantage as an intellectual exercise, will teach him to spell more effectually than the learning by heart of ever so many columns of dry orthographical details which convey to his mind little or no meaning, and are forgotten almost as soon as learnt, and it would be well if teachers wonld occasionally vary the customary dictation exercise of the 5th and 6th Standards by requiring the scholars to write out from memory a portion of their reading lesson, which their teacher has selected and read aloud to them.
Mr. FRENCH. Our test as to the quality of the writing in any school involves the oftentimes merely mechanical accomplishment of what is termed “writing a good hand,” and the far more difficult and scantily possessed acquirement of good spelling. Of the former I can almost always speak in very high terms of approbation, while the latter too often fills me with amazement. Some of the words which I occasionally meet with are so odd and obscure that even the most eminent philologist wonld be puzzled to attach a meaning to them. The practice of writing from memory as well as dictation, which I always recommend, will, I hope, do much towards correcting this fault. Then it almost always happens that poor reading is the companion of bad spelling, and when a child fails in the one it is almost always a consequence that he will fail in both. Therefore I do trust that, as the reading becomes better, through increased attention from the teachers, the spelling will improve in a like degree.
MR. GREAM. I have seen in one school a copybook kept by the master in which the boys, when they could write sufficiently well, were allowed to write a page; this induced the boys to take pains and try to improve so as to be eligible for this honour. This book was not confined to boys of the first class only, but in any of the classes if a boy wrote well he was allowed this privilege, then his name, age, and class were written at the bottom of his copy and the book was kept in the school to show to the inspector and any visitors.
Teachers and managers of schools should bear in mind that if they desire to see good writing they must supply their scholars with good writing materials, good desks, good pens, good ink, and good paper are as necessary for good writing as daily food is for the sustenance of life; I have seen great failares in writing caused by the want of any one of such necessaries.
I would urge also upon teachers to promote drawing where practicable; drawing greatly assists writing. I very seldom find a boy writes badly who is a good draughtsman; drawing is usually a favourite lesson; it may be taught more frequently with success. I should like to see the French system of writing addresses for letters introduced into schools; it would save the post office great trouble, and in after life the loss of many letters and much disappointment. The hardest work of the servants of the post office is that of making out badly addressed letters and finding the places of their destination; if the leaf of a copybook is divided by lines into six compartments each of
such divisions would make the back of a letter to be addressed by the children.
The addresses should be taken from the British Postal Guide, thereby giving to such children a habit by which in subsequent years great aid would be afforded to the post office, an aid little, I fear, thought of by the upper classes; and by a judicious selection of addresses, the interest thereby excited and the explanations required, much knowledge of the geography of the United Kingdom might be obtained.
Mr. CRABTREE. Writing is no doubt a difficult thing to teach, but the experience of the better schools shows that in this, as in other things, difficulties are not impossibilities. The writing, when otherwise good, is often far too small. Deference to parents' wishes is often pleaded as a reason for this. One would have expected that persons who probably in many cases are not very expert at reading of any kind would have preferred a large bold hand; bat the idea seems to be that, as the largest hand is taught first, each step in advance must be accompanied by a reduction in size, and that thus smallness is a proof of advancement.
(To be continued.)
The Cities of the plate. When a man crosses the Atlantic on a visit to America, whether he turn to the North or South, he is sure to see big things-big mountains, big rivers, big prairies, a big creation with bigger men, big nations, big cities. Very big places are Montevideo and Buenos Ayres, the two principal cities of the River Plate.
Montevideo and Buenos Ayres both lie on the estuary of the Plate at the distance of about 120 miles; the former near the mouth, on the northern, the latter more inland, on the southern shore. The River Plate, or Rio de la Plata (so called because it was thought to be the highway to rich silver mines), is an estuary formed by the meeting of two great rivers--the Uruguay and the Parana, which, with their many tributaries, bring down to the Atlantic the waters of the Plate regioni.e., of little less than half the continent of South America; a large watercourse, second only to that of the Amazon, which drains the other half of the same continent, and which flows into the same ocean 2000 miles to the north of the Plate. The mouth of the Plate, however, is considerably wider than that of the Amazon itself.
The whole of the Plate region, with all to the west and south of it, belonged in former times to Spain, the boundaries of whose colonies, with the Portuguese possessions of Brazil, had never been even approxi. mately traced. On the expulsion of the Spaniards in the early part of this century, the Plate country split up into various territories, parts of which are now known as Bolivia, Paraguay, and Uruguay; but the great bulk of it constitutes the Argentine Republic-a confederacy of 14 provinces or states, of which Buenos Ayres is still the head. A portion of the land lying between the Uruguay and the sea, and
bordering on Brazil in the north, became an independent, separate state, under the name of Republica Oriental del Uruguay, and Montevideo was made its capital. The Argentine Republic in its present limits, has an area exceeding half a million square miles, with a population of more than two millions. The Republic of Uruguay is only 73,000 square miles in extent, with between 100,000 and 500,000 inhabitants.
Montevideo has the advantage of a magnificent position. It is built on a little tongue of land jutting out into the sea, and swept over by its breezes, rising between two bays or coves, one of which, on the eastern or left side as one approaches the land, constitutes the barbour, the shore which encircles it measuring about six miles, and terminating with the Cerro, or Mont—an isolated hill, 450 feet high, which gave the name to the city. This hill, shaped like a squat pyramid with broad sides, is crowned at the top with an old fort. Montevideo is a handsome, well-built, and tolerably well. paved town, and onght to be also well drained; for its main line of thoroughfares runs from end to end along a high level ridge, from which transversal streets have an easy slope to the sea on three sides. Montevideo is like most other South American towns; very large, with straight streets, and broad squares, all laid out at right angles, with low, flat-roofed houses and tall miradors, or watch-towers, or terraces, with nothing original or remarkable as to the beauty of its public buildings; but with elegance, if not taste, in its private dwellings; a profusion of Italian marble about its halls, courts, and staircases, and no end of luxury in the storing of its shops and the furnishing of its apartments.
Montevideo is out of all proportion with the State that belongs to it; an overgrown head on a dwarfish body, like some of the figures in Punch's caricatures; the capital absorbs more than one-fifth of the population of the whole country (105,000 out of 450,000).
Far different are the conditions of Buenos Ayres, and it is difficult to understand what may have induced Don Pedro de Mendoza, in 1535, to chose that spot for the seat of government and the centre of business of the whole region of the Plate. Whatever may bave been the state of the estuary at that epoch, it has been in later years, and is now so rapidly filling up with silting sands, and with the deposit of the great rivers, that large steamers like those of the Royal Mail and Pacific Companies are compelled to anchor out in the river at the distance of ten or twelve miles from Buenos Ayres, and even the river steamers, tugs, and tenders, and the smallest boats cannot at low water approach the Custom-house pier; so that passengers and goods bave to be transferred to and landed in high-wheeled carts drawn by horses, some of which are not unfrequently drowned in the clumsy operation. It is thus reckoned that the cost of landing a cargo at Buenos Ayres is almost higher than the freight paid for the conveyance of the same merchandise all the way across the Atlantic from Liverpool.
The fate of Ravenna in the middle ages, and that which awaits Venice in our own days, seems equally to threaten Buenos Ayres. The sea is fast receding from it, and will leave it like the helpless hulk of a wrecked ship, high and dry and sand-whelmed on the shore.
A.city, however, does not live on foreign trade alone or on maritime enterprise. Buenos Ayres has immense resources in the boundless territory in its rear, and must always be the capital of half a continent. As a seat of Government and a centre of social life, this city has been for three centuries and a half the favourite residence of those great landowners among whom in Spanish times the country was parcelled out. I had been told before I came here that I should find in Buenos Ayres “a city four times as large as Montevideo." And so it may be admitted to be, not as to population (though it is now supposed to have reached 250,000, including the suburbs), nor exactly as to area, for its streets are narrower than those of Moutevideo, and spaco is of little account in these new regions), but as to life and movement; for Buenos Ayres has decidedly more stir and bustle, more wealth in the shops, more style and grandeur in some of its edifices-in short, higher pretensions to the rank of a great capital, not only tban Montevideo, but than Lima and Santiago, and perhaps than any city in South America, Rio Janeiro alone excepted. But Buenos Ayres, though a newlooking, is an old city, and has many of the inconveniences, without any of the charms of quaintness and orininality which age imparts to all it touches in the Old World.
Buenos Ayres lies close to the mud of the River Plate ; but all its streets run up from the water-edge for about 20 feet to an upper level which continues unbroken throughout the city and its suburbs. The city cannot, therefore, be seen to advantage on any side, nor can any view of the surrounding country be caught from any point in its streets, or in its largest squares.
The Earth. Proofs of Rotundity (including an account of Trigonometrical Survey).
1. It has been circumnavigated in every direction which the configuration of the land allows.
2. When a vessel recedes from the land, a spectator on shore loses sight of the hull, then of the lower sails, and finally of the tops of the masts. To those on board, the same phenomenon is observed; they lose sight of the shore, then of the houses, then the tops of spires and lastly the tops of high hills (and mountains if any are in the vicinity). These appearances must be occasioned by the convex shape of the earth intervening between the spectator on shore and those on board the vessel. The effect of distance only diminishes the size and brightness of objects, and in no way alters their forms.
3. The sun rises earlier to the east and later to the west of us, but if the earth were a plane he would be visible over all the world at the same time. Sunrise is earlier six seconds for every mile we travel eastward in Great Britain
4. If we travel north or south, the pole star appears to ascend or descend according to the space passed over, and while stars with which we are familiar will appear to sink, new stars appear.
5. When ascending after sunset, aeronauts have observed that as they ascend in the air the sun comes again into view, rising on the r western horizon, while the earth below them is in profound darkness.