Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

benefits of collegiate education to those who might otherwise have passed their lives in the ignorance and degradation of their ancestors. That our intelligence of this kind has not been more full in our first volume, has not been owing to neglect. The extent of this department, and the multitude of interesting facts which it presents, made a systematic arrangement peculiarly desirable; while at the same time, considerable research was indispensable, in some cases, to procure exact information. A report embracing the leading facts in tliis department, will, we hope, be prepared in season for an early number of our next volume. In this, as well as in other spheres of human improvement, it is gratifying to observe education recognised as the surest and most successful instrument of effecting good, and as that which, though others may occasionally be more r»|rid and striking, seems to be the destined method of elevating the human race to a character generally if not universally—marked by whatever is pure, noble, amiable, or happy. Sunday schools—another fruit of christian philanthropy—are advancing with increased rapidity in the melioration of society. The number of schools of this description is immense. Their benefits are invaluable to all classes. To the illiterate and the neglected they furnish instruction and counsel, without which the young must unavoidably grow up in the accumulation of evil habits and misery, if not of crimes and punishment. To tbe better taught they aid the domestic department of their education, and provide them with larger advantages for religious and moral improvement

The condition of these schools is not a little interesting to persons who take a pleasure in observing the progress of improvement in education. A simple, familiar, and explanatory style is gaining ground in the manner of imparting instruction. The Sunday school Union of this country, an institution of great extent, and which is effecting much in this department, gives a decided preference to this method, which cannot fail to introduce it widely in American Sunday schools.— This is, we think, a point of great importance in connection with the developement of the mind, and the formation of character. It is of the highest moment that while intelligible and natural instruction is becoming more and more prevalent in ordinary schools, religious and moral impressions should not be left to depend on mechanical acts of learning and saying by rote what is not rendered accessible to the understanding, or interesting and impressive to the heart. One feature in the character of recent improvement is the vast superiority or current school books. The plan and design of such works are, to a much greater extent than heretofore, accommodated to the juvenile mind. A systematic and strictly scientific arrangement are'sacrificed to one which is intelligible and practical. The order of the mind in its natural progress is consulted in preference to that of the subject abstractly considered. The formation of mental habits is regarded, and the discipline which every science and every book may be made to administer, is becoming a matter of more distinct attention. These improvements are conspicuous in books prepared for the earliest stages of education. Among works of this character it is hardly necessary to mention Colburn's treatises on arithmetic, which are now in use in most schools where the teacher* are anxious that their pupils should enjoy the benefits of improvement in school books. There are perhaps no works in any branch of education, which have effected so much for the instructer as well as for the learner—none that hare thrown so much light at once on the theory and the practice of teaching, or that have exhibited in so happy a manner the natural progress of the mind, in its development under a judicious discipline. These few unpretending volumes have carried into the humblest of oux schools the philosophy of instruction, and have, in numerous instances, roused the attention of teachers to the use of the inductive method in other and very different branches of education. In geography, the valuable little work of Mrs. Willard* deserves particular notice, as attempting a simple and intelligible method, by which this branch is brought within the scope of maternal care, and by which all intelligent teachers, from the primary schools upward, may improve the aspect of geographical instruction, so as to follow the natural progress of the mind, and cultivate those practical habits of attention and research, which are so serviceable to the business of life. In the department of grammar, the works of Mr. Cardell are effecting a reformation which is much needed in the method of teaching the elements of this branch. Since Latin has ceased to sit as ' queen' among the languages, and to usurp a dominion over every other, how different soever in its character, it is high time that the English should assert its dignity, and receive that distinct attention to which it is entitled. It has long enough been tortured into the shape and attitude of a language with which it has very little in common, and by which its beauty and its power have been greatly diminished or obscured. We hope that time is not distant when it will not any longer be thought necessary to tramel children at a common school, with the whole equipment of the nomenclature and arrangement adopted by Latin grammarians; while the young learners have no other object in view, than a competent and practical knowledge of their native tongue. The application of the inductive method to the study of the ancient languages has, within a few years, been much facilitated by elementary works prepared on the plan recommended by Locke,—that of using a simple narrative in conjunction with a literal translation. These manuals are becoming more numerous in England; and they will soon, we hope, be reprinted in this country. The prevailing method of teaching renders the study of Latin a dry and repulsive task, for at least the first year of the learners' progress; and by its unjustifiably slow and tedious manner of imparting knowledge, usurps a most unwarrantable proportion of the time and attention of youth; especially when we consider that of all the boys who enter a Latin school, a very small number ever turn their initiatory labor to any account, but, in fact throw away the invaluable hours of early life, which might have been devoted to useful acquisitions in practical knowledge. The new method adopted in the books just mentioned, is, on the contrary, pleasant and expeditious, as well as thorough. There is no delay for idle formalities ; the learner is led at once to his object. In his very first efforts, he is conscious of the progress he is making; and he goes on with a cheerful impulse which accelerates his ad- .

* Geography for Beginners.

VOL. J. %

vances. He thus redeems a large portion of time for other branches of study, and for useful accomplishments. In the first stages of elementary education, much has been done of late to facilitate instruction by the use of a simpler method of teaching the art of reading. The system of Fulton and Knight, which is now so prevalent in Scotland and in England, and which corresponds exactly to that recommended by the Edgeworths,—is an invaluable expedient for saving time and labor, and at the same time furnishing the most thorough discipline. Greater improvements, bowerer, are now making in this department. The most valuable of these is fully exemplified in Worcester's Primer, in which the leading feature of the plan is to let children become acquainted with words as they do with all other ocular objects, not piecemeal, not letter by letter, but at once and in the aggregate; the synthetic process preceding the analytic, as it naturally does. The latter method will be found still more speedy and efficacious than the other. Our future numbers will furnish specimens of instruction on this plan. The year which has elapsed since the commencement of the Journal, has furnished some valuable contributions to the improvement of education, in the increasing number of reading books, designed for the diffusion of useful knowledge or of literary taste. It is a circumstance highly propitious to the intellectual and moral character of the young, that the books which they are daily perusing, and which necessarily leave deep impressions on the memory, are acquiring an aspect so friendly to their best interests. Several useful works of this kind, in various departments, have been brought forward in our notices; and in thus recommending them, we have not, we trust, proposed an unnecessary addition to the expenses of education. In schools where it is not advisable to introduce such works generally among the scholars, a single copy of each book,—passed, as it is read, from hand to hand, and introduced in the way of reward or recreation to proper classes,—may leave lasting and useful impressions on the minds of youth. The dissemination of intelligence and the general improvement of society, may thus be silently but effectually promoted to an indefinite extent.

The limits to which we are now restricted, will not permit us to indulge in a wider survey of our present subject; and we have but little space left in which to say anything of the future direction and character of our own efforts.

We may say, briefly, that the demands of improvement, as well as a persona conviction of duty, will lead us to reserve our pages more strictly for tbe admission of such matter as seems best adapted to promote practical reformation in instruction. We shall thus, we trust, render the Journal more valuable to parents and instructers who are desirous of using it as an assistant in their exertions for the expanding minds committed to their charge, and more serviceable to tbe views of school committees who are disposed to furnish the teachers whom they employ, with such aid as may be derived from our pages.

In casting a glance forward on the probable progress of another year, we must look to the support of those classes of the community that have just been mentioned, as most interested in our exertions. We feel called on to particularise another class of readers who may render effectual assistance not merely to our labors, but to the advancement ofsociety—we mean the clergy; who may naturally be expected to take a deeper concern in the affairs of intellectual and moral improvement, than any other body of men. Their aid lias, iudeed, to a considerable extent, been cheerfully afforded hitherto. But more, perhaps, might jet be done, by the pulpit being oftener employed for the purpose of urging the duty of general exertion for the improvement of education. Something might thus be effected more worthy of the example of our ancestors, and the interests of our country,—something more directly conducive to the advancing melioration of our race. ANSWERS TO CORRESPONDENTS. The unusual labor necessarily demanded by the preparation of the closing number of this volume, has put it out of our power to furnish our usual notices of school and juvenile books. Among the works which claimed particular attention we can only hastily mention the annual supply of juvenile publications for the season, furnished by Messrs. Munroe &. Francis, of this city.— Their selections for the present year seem peculiarly happy in many particulars which will be mentioned more at length in next number. In the same department have been received an interesting selection from works published by Messrs. Wood and Son, New York. Similar publications, embracing the series of the American Sunday School Union, have also come to hand. Of these there are many which we shall take an early opportunity of recommending to our readers. The review of the Classical Reader will be given in our next; also several notices which have been unavoidably postponed.

« ForrigeFortsett »