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We have heard and seen some severe language about the evils of cramming lately, and it cannot be too strongly condemned. Examinations are supposed to be the final cause of the mischief, but it seems to me not the examinations themselves that ought to be blamed, but the improper way of preparing for them, and the simple and radical remedy for that is the more thorough and connected education of children from their earliest years, by which means the desired knowledge would be so steadily gained that no cramming would be needed. Not that I wish to advocate preparing the candidates by pressing them earlier with learning; nothing can be further removed from the mean. ing of Fröbel and his interpreters. His plan of treating the young minds simply gives them greater power of learning in after years, and what instruction they do receive is not in the form of arbitrary rules, but of principles that will be useful to them in any future.
In a few years the difference between children whoso powers have been developed in a Kindergarten, and those who have been merely " taught" in the usual routine, will make itself felt; meanwhile it is perhaps not surprising that many parents are disappointed to find when the time comes for leaving the Kindergarten proper at six or seven years old, that their cbild can neither read nor write, and very likely cannot even print or make the figures for a sum upon bis slate.
They need not fear, however. He will quickly overtake even those older than himself who have not undergone the same training, for his capacities and senses have had the advantage of a thorough all-sided education that leaves him ready to advance in any direction. His ear has been led to perceive niceties of sound and therefore of pronunciation; his eye, exercised in analysing forms, will not be confused by the band d, the p and q, when they come before him in the reading lesson, and his hand, steadied by long practice in tracing the lines of bis scored slate and book, will soon perform all that is required of it. As to “sums," when once he has connected the figures on his slate with the same count of objects in his Kindergarten experience, he will be far ahead of his companions in grasping their power, and he will have a clearer idea of abstract numbers than can ever be got into the heads of his comrades by the ordinary methods.
This is the report of teachers receiving Kindergarten pupils, and comparing them with others in their class, even when subjected to a different style of teaching from that to which they have been accus. tomed; but, to do them and the system full justice, they ought to remain for a couple of years in what is called the Transition class before passing to the ordinary school. Here the instruction in reading and writing is given in a manner according with Fröbel's system; the “occupations" take more the form of lessons in geometry, &c., and less of amusement. The learning of poetry is introduced, or rather the learning of little songs is carried on to advanced pieces. Natural history is more systematically studied, and what is called Home Geography is added to the list of subjects. .. .
The home geography hour is always a favourite one. It includes, as weeks go on, as many subjects as Huxley's Physiography, and somewhat after the same fashion. A few words will explain what I mean,
There is a proposition, for instance, that the children shall measure the entrance or front hall, but before that can be done it is necessary for them to learn the measures that people use for such a purpose, and the alacrity with which this is accomplished contrasts very pleasantly with the committing to memory of the same “tables " for use at some distant and indefinite period. The measures being learned and the tools explained, the young surveyors and their leaders set to work. When they have measured the hall they "plot" it, wbich they can manage very fairly on those useful scored slates and books. In doing this they realize what is often a puzzle, at first, to much older people unaccustomed to consider such things--how a map or plan represents the corresponding country or building, and they have thus gained another practical experience. Further, I need only say that the class. rooms are taken next with their contents, tables, desks, forms, &c., then the garden, then the road, for which they get the help of good Ordnance maps, and so on.
A chemist, well-known in the north of England forty years ago, was once visiting a boys' school that I know something of, and kindly offered a lecture, leaving the subject to be named by the boys after he appeared at the lecture table. “Will you give them so much liberty as that ? " asked the principal. “Oh, yes," answered his visitor; "you know, we can connect anything with everything." Some of the old boys may remember the cluster of ivy buds stripped of leaves that the lecturer found upon the desk, and which furnished him with a text for a most interesting discourse. This power of connecting "anything with everything" suggests the thought that a very wide range of subjects may be coupled with home geography. But for teaching of this kind a special training is needed, and at present the number of trained Kiudergarteners is limited. There is still a lingering prejudice in many minds against the profession of teaching that dictates the “Poor girl; I hope she may never need it," with which the announcement of your daughter's preparation for it is met. Would not the "poor girl!” be more fittingly applied to the one who, considering her education finished, settles down at home with no duties, no love of study, no idea how to spend her time? A great deal is expected from mothers in these dsys, but mothers cannot do everything. They need help, while others of their sex are demanding work. What better work can they have than this ? Fröbel was wise in calling upon women everywhere, and of all classes, to sit themselves for it.
We cannot complete the list of advantages gained by a child who passes through the Kindergarten and Transition class without adding that he has learned to love work. He has also learned to work steadily and in concert with others, which implies no small amount of self-control and self-denial. In the nursery he was the centre of interest for his family circle;. if his affections were called out and cultivated, it was most likely only towards his own relations. They were his papa and mamma, his big brother or baby sister that he was to love and try to please. It could scarcely be otherwise; and was right in the beginning, but at three years old Fröbel thought this state of things had lasted long enough, that the time was come for the little one to take a wider view of life, and be brought under the educating influence of numbers. The companionship of other children is desirable for him at this age, because it will help to develop his latent powers as well as expand his sympathies. It will, no doubt, also give opportunities for displaying latent failings, but it does not create the failings, and the earlier in life they are discovered and reduced to their corresponding virtues the better.',
With the proviso that there shall be one of Fröbel's “guiding spirits” to watch over the little company, we may accept his opinion on this point as the consequence of his great experience, and if we act upon it we shall soon find ourselves ready to endorse it as the result of our own. '. But if Fröbel's method is so advantageous for children from bomes with nurseries set apart for them, is it not equally good for those who are less favoured in their outward circamstances ? Assuredly it is; indeed I believe it would be found of more value to our future artisans than even to their prospective employers. May the day speedily arrive when they can try the experiment for themselves !
Reviews. PALLISER'S PLANE Geometry: Moffatt and Paige.—This is a very good treatise on the subject by a practical teacher, and being of a good size is of much more worth than the “cheap and nasty" series too much supported by school teachers generally.
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