Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

careful teacher, this will be found a much more efficacious course, than endless drilling on the dull unmeaning columns of a spelling book. BOOKS FOR CHILDREN. The Juvenile Miscellany, for the instruction and amusement of youth. Boston: September, 1826. 18mo. pp. 107. The prospectus of this publication was copied in our last; and a slight and cursory perusal of the first number as our own sheets were correcting was all the attention which it was then in our power to devote to it. A more deliberate reading, if it has enabled us to detect what seem to be some slight faults, has by no means diminished the pleasure derived from the leading features of the work. For the Miscellany will be found to bear reperusing, and to be worthy of it. The first question which naturally arises respecting a Juvenile book—Is it intelligible ?—may be very safely put in this case. Though we cannot hejp thinklcg that the work would be greatly aided in this respect by assuming a given age within which its readers should be supposed to be. A subdivision in the arrangement would then enable every young reader to find something adapted to his capacity. This point is the more deserving of attention from the importance of forming very early in life a taste for reading—without which, whatever talent there may be, there can be no intelligence. The Miscellany has one very valuable recommendation: it is always interesting and often amusing. Books which must be laboriously perused under a sense of duty, are not likely to be useful to Juvenile readers. Let pedagogues and scholastics declaim as they may; if children are to receive instruction to advanttigc, it must be given in a pleasing form. There is throughout the work more of a happy blending of pleasure with profit than can be found in most books of the kind. The taste which pervades the pages of the Miscellany is generally of such a character as cannot but have a powerful though tacit influence on the minds and style of its readers. A few improprieties in phraseology, however, and errors in the typography seem to have escaped in the unavoidable confusion of a first number.

But it is the moral influence of this publication about which parents will feel most anxious. In this respect there is, we think, very little to which even a rigid critic could object, and certainly much that has a tendency to cherish what is 'honorable and lovely and of good report.'

On the whole, the editor of the Miscellany and her contributors have already stamped on this work a character for useful, entertaining, and elevated thought, which creates high expectations for the future numbers, and which lays a wellfounded claim on the gratitude and the support of the community. ANSWERS TO CORRESPONDENTS. Received since our last: Emerson's Primary Lessons in Arithmetic, Willey's First Spelling Book, Bossut's Phrase Book, and Word Book, in one volume, Cook's Student's Companion, Kelley's American lnstructer, Boston Prize Book No. VI., Blake's Historical Reader, Report of the Ohio Committee of Common Schools. Proposed Society of Education. This subject, we are gratified to find, is attracting the earnest attention of the friends of improvement in various quarters. Many interesting and valuable letters have been received, containing suggestions of great moment. When a few more shall have come to hand, we shall transcribe the substance of them, so ai to give the more important views of all, in one connected form. In the meantime, more communications might be serviceable to this great object, and enable whoever may take the lead in such an undertaking, to conduct the business with greater certainty of success.

AMERICAN

JOURNAL OF EDUCATION. No. XI. NOVEMBER, 1826. Vol. I.

•ON THE SYSTEMS OF EDUCATION ESTABLISHED IN UNIVERSITIES,
AND ON THE MEANS OF IMPROVING THEM. [From Professor Jardine's Outlines of Philosophical Education.] The Under-graduale Course, (continued.)

With regard, in the next place, to the writing of essays on the
subjects discussed in the lectures, it cannot fail to be considered
as a most fruitful source of improvement, and eminently suited to
the circumstances of English colleges. I am perfectly aware, that
essays are prescribed at present in the universities of England, and
in that of Ireland; but, as I have already remarked, they are usu-
ally confined to subjects unsuitable for very young students, and
frequently so restricted, indeed, as to exclude under-graduates al-
together from competition. The great use of this kind of exercise
must arise from the skill with which it is adapted, not only to the
acquirements and previous habits of the pupil, in the outset of his
philosophical studies, but especially to his progress in knowledge
and maturity of talent, according as these may happen to be dis-
played, at every subsequent stage of his advancement. At first,
the subject prescribed ought to be simple, and, at the same time,
susceptible of copious illustration. The essay itself ought not to
be long; and the pupil should even be directed, in his earlier efforts,
how to distribute his materials, and to connect his paragraphs. In
these acts of attention and assistance, we discover the judgement
and usefulness of the teacher; and in prosecuting the plan of essay-
writing, to the extent to which it might easily be carried within thewalls even of the larger English colleges, a thousand occasions
would present themselves to the intelligent tutor, for giving a
greater degree of efficiency to our mode of teaching, than we our-
selves have ever been able to attain.
Vol i. • 81

[merged small][graphic][merged small]

The improvement of the students in philosophy, taste, and composition, would be promoted at once, and by the same means. Their natural abilities would receive regular and appropriate culture; and, what is more valuable than all these advantages put together, the young men, taught in this way, would acquire a force, and ready use, of all their intellectual faculties; and would be qualified for higher pursuits in the paths of science, or for engaging more successfully in the business of active life. The object of the teacher who follows this practical method, as I have already repeatedly observed, is not so much to convey knowledge, as to put into the hands of his pupils an instrument for acquiring it by their own exertions; not so much to give them an abstract view of mind, in general, as to make them thoroughly acquainted, from experience and reflection, with all its powers and modes of operation, in the acts of perceiving, remembering, forming judgements, conducting a process of reasoning, and generalising particular inferences, lie undertakes not to confer upon them the riches of learning to any given amount, or of any specified description; but rather such a degree of improvement, and such a ready use of their intellectual powers, as like the philosopher's stone, will convert into gold every thing to which they are applied. In the outset of the course, accordingly, he regards knowledge as valuable to youth, on hardly any other account than as it constitutes the materials of thinking, and the means of carrying on a practical system of instruction; convinced that, if he succeed in training his students to reason, to inquire, to arrange their thoughts clearly, and to clothe them with ease in a suitable form of expression, the principal end of an academical education will assuredly bo attained. It is not to be inferred, from any thing now stated, that the judicious perusal of select authors, even during the course of the session, ought to be altogether disregarded. On the contrary, the lecture system when properly conducted, by frequent reference to works connected with the several subjects discussed, necessarily leads to the perusal of a variety of publications; and the only danger attending it, is, that the reading of the students may become desultory and promiscuous, and consequently unprofitable. To prevent this, I usually specify such parts of every work as ought to be read in the meantime, being those, of course, that are most nearly allied to the business in hand; requesting the young men to postpone the farther examination of its contents till the ensuing vacation, when they have more leisure to profit by such studies. During the term, there is no time for extensive reading, the attention of the students being chiefly taken up with exercises which they have to write, and with preparing for the daily examinations. The lectures, indeed, so far from precluding the advantage of private study, are meant to afford directions for reading: while the practice of essay writing carries with it, to the student, a very strong inducement to consult authors, both in order to obtain materials, and to ascertain the justness of his own conclusions. The great object, however, at this stage of his progress, is the improvement of his faculties, to which mere reading is supposed to contribute but in a subordinate degree, and is therefore not made the principal part of his occupation. In justice, however, to a system, of which I have not hesitated to point out what appear to me the defects, I may add, that the English plan of education by means of books, conversation, and abridgements, is infinitely superior to the Scots mode by lecture, when not accompanied with regular examinations, and a systematic, progressive course of themes. Of the latter mode of conducting philosophical education, if education it ought to be called, I am unwilling to speak in terms which its absurdity suggests to my mind. But it is not to this very imperfect method that I now direct the attention of the reader; and, while indulging in a few remarks on the plan pursued in the English and Irish colleges, I may be permitted still farther to observe, that in the subjects selected by the tutors, there seems to be, in some instances, at least, a neglect of mental philosophy, and of that natural logic which is founded upon the knowledge of our own intellectual powers. In one college, classical literature is almost the sole study; in another, mathematics, and the higher parts of algebra, engross all the attention; but in scarcely any, do we find a regular process of intellectual culture, going on, conducted with a reference to the natural order of the human faculties, their growth, their progress and maturity. It is, therefore, with the view of supplying some defects, and correcting some errors, as upon the most candid construction they appear to me, in several of our academical institutions, that I have presumed to bring into public notice, the plan of teaching the first philosophy class in this university, now firmly established from a conviction of its usefulness. To give full effect, however, to this method of teaching philosophy, the office of tutor, in the several colleges, ought to be permanent. Such an arrangement seems absolutely essential to success, in the art of teaching; for this art, like all others, being founded on practice and observation, must derive, from that quarter, all the improvement of which it is susceptible. Upon the erroneous supposition, that the art of teaching consists in the mere communication of knowledge, it has been inferred, that wherever a person has acquired a certain portion of science, or literature, he is immediately qualified to instruct others. But knowledge and intellect are not the only qualifications of a teacher, nor even the most important. On the contrary, it is sufficiently confirmed by experience, that tLe most profound scientific attainments, the finest imagination, and the most exquisite taste, do not, of themselves, qualify their possessor for becoming a discriminating or useful teacher. The knowledge which will most avail him, in aiding the endeavors of youth, is that which is drawn from a strict attention to the developement of the intellectual powers and habits, and from a close and continued intercourse with his pupils, in all their efforts, in their success, and in their failure.* A teacher, no doubt, when he enters upon his office, must gain experience at the cost of his students, on the same principle that a young physician improves in skill, at the hazard of his patients; but in colleges, where the tutors have their eyes fixed on senior fellowships, or church-livings, from the moment they enter upon their duty, it is impossible that much progress can be made by them in this difficult art. In this way, there is a constant and rapid succession of inexperienced tutors thrown into the most active department of colleges; and education, viewed in reference to its most important objects, never can rise above a state of infancy. The tutors relinquish their office, just when they are becoming qualified to fill it. The appointment, indeed, according to the notion prevalent in such places, is seldom considered of high estimation; it may be filled by any one who has been elected to a fellowship, and it is abandoned by all, whenever a favorable opportunity occurs. In such circumstances, then, we may safely infer there can be nothing of that ardor and enthusiasm so necessary to carry a teacher through the drudgery of his professional duties. There can be no such thing as an art of education. The old and the inexperienced quit the helm, and the vessel is left to the direction of those who have scarcely made one voyage. In any other art, it would be thought singular indeed, if those who were appointed to teach it were persons who, from their age or practice, had the fewest opportunities, and the most limited experience, who were to continue in that office only a very short time, who considered it merely as a temporary employment, and who, moreover, * To a hasty reader there may appear to be ideas stated here which are unfavorable to monitorial instruction. A little reflection, however, will serve to remind those who peruse these pages with attention that the author objects to the brief term commonly assigned to the office of tutor and to the inexperience necessarily consequent on such an arrangement. The above remarks were not meant to apply to a rotation of the office of tutor in circumstances where every individual is previously furnished with practice and experienr*, as would ne the case on the monit'iial plan, and least of all can the observations of professor Jardine apply to cases where the whole business of instruction is conducted under the eye of the professor, as would also take place under the new system, and as actually took place in professor J irdine's own class, in the department of composition, which Whs (omlucted by mutual instruction—the more accomplished students superkitendins the less advanced.—Ed.

« ForrigeFortsett »