A careful analysis of the various duties of life can not fail to show that what man most needs for their successful performance, is a generous and full development of all his powers. A knowledge of the facts related to each specific duty is very important, but higher than this is that developed strength and ability, that power of discernment and application, that can change the dead facts of knowledge into the living realities of human action. Knowledge may guide and enlighten, but discipline gives strength of soul, self-poise, grasp, inspiration, and these are the lucky winners of success in all the duties and conflicts of life. It is not the mere possession of facts that insures success, but their right application, and this involves comprehension, judgment, insight--in a word, ability. In every department of human effort and endeavor, the source of man's success is soul power. The high function of education is, therefore, to develop man's inward forces and powers; to establish correct habits of thought and feeling, of aim and of action.

The relative value of every school study is to be determined by the application of the following tests, in the order of their statement:

1. What is its worth as a means of mental development ?

2. What is the practical worth of its facts for the purposes of guidance in complete living ?

In the use of these tests it should be remembered that the disciplinary value of a given class of facts depends as much on the method of their acquisition as on the facts themselves. In mental training method stands before matter; the how before the what. We have not space for proof or illustration.

We wish to add that discipline, training, should be the ruling aim in primary as well as in higher education. Every exercise, every recitation should be guided by the laws of mental development. Instead of cramming the pupil's memory with abstractions and generalizations, he is to be taught to abstract and generalize; instead of merely memorizing the results of other's reasoning, he is to learn how to reason. Thought is the practical and potential result of school training


The grasping of the abstract principles and generalizations of language requires a maturity and subtilty of the reasoning powers and the judgment, which children as a class do not possess. Indeed both philosophy and experience unite in affirming that grammar is not a child's study. It belongs, as we stated last month, to the same period of mental development as elementary algebra; and the fact that it is generally taken up by pupils at least two years too early, is an explanation of the poverty of the results attained, whatever the method of teaching adopted. Hence the first step to be taken in reforming instruction in English grammar, is the postponement of the study to a later period, and the devotion of the time now wasted in the premature study of its technical abstractions, rules and formulas, to a thorough and progressive course of training in the use of language-in sentence-making and composition.

We hold further that when pupils are sufficiently advanced to undertake the study of grammar, they should not begin with classifications and rules. The remark of Dr. Hill respecting the study of ancient languages, applies here. Grammatical principles are to be reached through language, and the facts of language must be taught before their classification. The great aim of the teacher should be to teach the pupil to classify and generalize discovered facts, and not simply to commit the results of the author's efforts in these directions. The guiding maxims here are “ Facts before classification," and " Classification through facts.”

Another suggestion is important. The principles and forms which constitute the science of language, can best be reached through synthesis, that is, by beginning with the sentence in its simplest form, composed only of its essential elements, and then adding one modifying element after another until the sentence is built up in all its completeness. The pupil, in other words, is to learn the nature and use of modifiers by actually modifying his own ideas in the given manner. Synthesis is the natural road to grammar. It must precede analysis, and both must precede and prepare the way for etymology and parsing

For the assistance of young and inexperienced teachers, we here sketch a series * of exercises or lessons embodying the above principles, and constituting a preparation for the use of the ordinary text-book in grammar. These lessons are designed to give the pupil a clear insight into the structure of the simple sentence and also to afford him practice in the use of the pen.

[blocks in formation]

1. Names. Show the difference between an object and its name. Let the pupils give the names of the various objects in the school-room ; write the same on the blackboard. Require the pupils to write on slate or paper the names of say twenty objects seen in coming to school. The names should be written neatly in paragraph form, thus :

Exercise I. Fences, trees, shrubs, flower, thistle, leaf, sticks, stones, man, horse, carriage, road, pebble, gravel, sand, rails, birds, sun, cloud, and sky.

At the next recitation these names should be read by the pupils, and all errors in spelling, in the use of capitals and punctuation marks, in the forming of compound words, in ending the line when a word is divided, etc., should be pointed out by the teacher, and, as far as possible, illustrated on the blackboard. When the exercise has been carefully corrected by the teacher, it should be neatly copied with ink by the pupil, and headed, as above, Exercise I. A small blank-book, properly ruled, and made of good paper, should be provided for this purpose. One or more additional exercises, including the names of objects found in the pupils' homes, on the farm, etc., may be given to secure accuracy. We wish to say here, once for all, that every exercise in this course should be carefully corrected by the teacher, and neatly copied by the pupil. The exercises should be properly headed and numbered.

*This series of exercises was published in the third volume of the Monthly (1863). The earnest and growing demand for assistance in this direction induces us to republish it with material modification and improvement.

2. Number. It will be noticed that the pupils have used both singular and plural names in the preceding exercises. Call attention to this fact, and develop clearly the idea of number as the property of a name.

Let the pupils read the names in the preceding exercise, and state whether they are singular or plural. Have the pupils bring into the class at the next recitation twenty singular names and the same names written in the plural, thus:

Tree, bird, fence, flower, pebble, bush, horse, man, sheep, etc.
Trees, birds, fences, flowers, pebbles, bushes, horses, men, geese, sheep, etc.

If preferred the singular and plural forms may be written together, thus : Tree, trees; bird, birds; fence, fences, etc.

The pupils should be required to tell how the plural of each name has been formed; to select the names that have the same form in the singular and plural, etc.

3. Class. In the above exercises the pupils will discover that there are names which represent an individual object, and, consequently, have no plural. Their attention may thus be called to the fact that those names which have both a singular and a plural form, apply to classes of objects. Develop the idea of class, and require the pupils to classify the objects in the school-room, on the play-grounds, etc. Illustrate the difference between common names and proper names. Write on the blackboard twenty common names, and require the class to write in connection with each the proper name of some object belonging to the class of objects designated, thus:

City, Columbus; river, Ohio; street, Broadway; girl, Mary; island, Iceland; country, England; farmer, Mr. Jones; emperor, Napoleon; etc.

This exercise should be repeated until the pupils show that they are familiar with the difference between common and proper names.

The fact that proper names must always begin with a capital letter, is here to be taught and familiarized.




1. Action Predicated. Develop the idea of action, and require the class to predicate (term to be explained) action of different objects. Write the word

ts, for example, on the blackboard. and ask the class to tell you what cats do. Write the action given on the board, forming a sentence, thus: “Cats purr.” Proceed in this manner until you have written sentences expressing several actions. The sentences should be arranged in one paragraph, thus: Cats purr. Cats mew. Cats hunt. Cats eat. Cats lap. Cats sleep. Cats

Cats walk. Cats climb. Cats scratch. Cats bite. Cats see. Cats hear. Cats feel. Etc.

Call on the pupils to give the word in each sentence, that is the name of the object and the word that denotes the action. For the next lesson give the names of two objects, as birds and bees, and require the pupils to predicate as many actions of each as they may be able. If but few actions belong to the objects selected, a larger number may be given. The pupils may now be required to select from ten to twenty objects, and affirm an action of each.

Explain finally how several sentences, affirming different actions of the same object, may be contracted into one sentence, as, “The bird fies, walks, hops,

[ocr errors]

sings, sees, and hears.” Point out the use of the comma and the word "and.” In correcting these exercises, the teacher may at first indicate the errors by marks understood by the class. It will soon be better, however, to state the number of errors of each kind, and require the pupils to look them out, as for example: Errors in capitals, 3; in periods, 2; in spelling, 4; in syllabication, 1.

2. Quality Predicated. Develop the idea of quality by means of a familiar object-lesson. Hold up an object, an apple for example, and lead the pupils to recognize its various qualities: first those which the eye reveals, as round, green or red, large or small, fair, etc. : then those revealed by the sense of touch, as smooth or rough, hard, soft, or mellow, withered, etc.; then by the sense of taste, as sour, sweet, tart, pleasant, juicy, etc. Write sentences upon the blackboard affirming several of these qualities of an apple. Let the class designate the words denoting respectively the name of the object, the quality predicated, and the copula (term to be explained).

For the next lesson several objects may be named, and the class required to bring in sentences predicating appropriate qualities of each. The words paper, chalk, coal, iron, sugar, salt, snow, ice, glass, leather, horse, tree, etc., will be found easy and suitable. The qualities given should relate to a particular object.

As soon as the pupils become skillful in determining the qualities of objects and in forming sentences, let the several qualities of the same object be expressed in one sentence, as, “ Glass is hard, smooth, transparent, and brittle." The exercise may be varied by naming a quality, and requiring the class to affirm the name of several objects, as, “Glass is smooth.” “Paper is smooth." “Water is smooth,” etc. Then these different sentences may be contracted into one, as, “Glass, paper, and water are smooth."

3. Class Predicated. Review the previous lesson on class. Write on the blackboard the names of ten well-known objects, and require the class to write sentences affirming to what class of objects each belongs, thus:

Grass is an herb. Man is an animal. Water is a liquid. Milk is a liquid. Iron is a mineral. A pebble is a mineral. John is a scholar. William is a carpenter. The violet is a flower. Snakes are reptiles. Flies are insects.

Require the class to point out the n me of the object, the word denoting its class, and the word by means of which the latter is predicated of the former. Several exercises of this character should be given. Contracted sentences may be formed by predicating the same class of several objects, as, “Iron, lead, copper, stones, glass, and earth are minerals."

4. Place and Condition Predicated. The idea of place or position may be readily familiarized by taking a pencil and holding it over a book, and asking, “Where is the pencil ?” “The pencil is over the book.” Placing it under the book, “Where is the pencil now?” “The pencil is under the book.” Explain that in each of these sentences we do not say that the pencil does anything, that it has any quality, or that it belongs to a class of objects. We simply affirm its place or position. Write on the blackboard the names of several objects which may be seen by the pupils, and require them to write sentences giving the position of each. Give two or three lessons of this kind. The class may then be

required to write sentences having the following words and phrases denoting place in the predicate: Here; there; in town; in the country; in the city; on the table; out of town; in the water; in the sky; etc.

The idea of condition may be developed in a similar manner, and sentences written containing such phrases in the predicate as, in doubt; in perplexity; in danger; in peril; on the advance; on the retreat; on the increase; etc.

The four classes of simple sentences given above present the four generic forms of predication. If the exercises have been faithfully written, examined, and copied, they have familiarized the pupil with the essential elements of a thought, and initiated him into the art of sentence-making. The sentences written by the class should now be analyzed, the pupils' being required in each instance to state what is predicated (action, quality, class, condition or place); to name the subject and predicate; and to separate the latter, except when action is predicated, into its copula and attribute—the word or words denoting quality, class, condition, or place.

Next month we will take up the modifiers of the subject and predicate.


We have on hand seventy-five sets of the first six numbers of the current volume, which we will send to any subscriber, prepaid, for fifty cents a set. This presents to our July subscribers a good opportunity to obtain the preceding six numbers, and thus complete their volume.

[ocr errors]

Our next number will contain an excellent paper by Hon. E. D. Mansfield on The Power and Influence of the Teacher," and other superior contributions from eminent educators. We are striving to make the Monthly still more worthy of the very.. high commendation it is receiving. In our advertising pages will be found testimonials which show that its present reputation is creditable to Ohio teachers.

We invite the special attention of those of our readers who are interested in classical instruction, to the paper written by President Hill, of Harvard College, and signed by President Woolsey, of Yale College, and President Sears, of Brown University. It will be noticed that the views expressed respecting the amount of grammatical drill necessary in beginning the study of a foreign language, are in harmony with the recommendations of Mr. Mill. While we admit the force of the objection to the writing of formal exercises in Latin or Greek, we still regard the construction of imitative sentences, composed chiefly of the elements, as a valuable feature of an elementary course.

Gallia County INSTITUTE.—Mr. Editor : The first teachers' institute ever held in Gallia county convened on the 26th of August in the city of Gallipolis, and continued in session five days. One hundred and seventy-two teachers were in attendance, and all appeared to appreciate, in a marked degree, the opportunity enjoyed of preparing themselves to fill their positions better in the future than they had done in the past. The instructors were Capt. Wm. Mitchell, of Columbus, and Prof. W. H. Young, of Athens. H. J. Caldwell, of Gallipolis, gave one lesson on Geography. The instruction was all very practical, and can be used in the schools. The evening lectures

« ForrigeFortsett »