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EARLY TRAIN IN G.
Aprioris MS AND SUGGESTIONS-ANCIENT AND MODERN.
We are physiologically connected and set forth in our beginnings, and it is a matter of immense consequence to our character, what the connection is. In our birth we not only begin to breathe and circulate blood, but it is a question hugely significant whose the blood may be. For in this we have whole rivers of predispositions, good or bad, set running in us—as much more powerful to shape our future than all tuitional and regulative influences that come after, as they are earlier in their beginning deeper in their insertion, and more constant in their operation.
Here, then, is the real and true beginning of a godly nurture. The child is not to have the sad entail of any sensuality, or excess, or distempered passion upon him. The heritage of love, peace, order, continence and holy courage is to be his. He is not to be morally weakened beforehand, in the womb of folly, by the frivolous, worldly, ambitious, expectations of parents-to-be, concentrating all their nonsense in him. His affinities are to be raised by the godly expectations, rather, and prayers that go before; by the steady and good aims of their industry, by the great impulse of their faith, by the brightness of their hope, by the sweet continence of their religiously pure love in Christ. Born, thus, of a parentage that is ordered in all righteousness, and maintains the right use
of every thing, especially the right use of nature and marriage, the child
will have just so much of heaven's life and order in him beforehand, as have become fixed properties in the type of his parentage.
Observe how very quick the child's eye is, in the passive age of infancy, to catch impressions, and receive the meaning of looks, voices, and motions. It peruses all faces, and colors, and sounds. Every sentiment that looks into its eyes, looks back out of its eyes, and plays in miniature on its countenance. The tear that steals down the cheek of a mother's suppressed gries, gathers the little infantile face into a responsive sob. With a kind of wondering silence, which is next thing to adoration, it studies the mother in her prayer, and looks up piously with her, in that exploring watch, that signifies unspoken prayer. If the child is handled fretfully, scolded, jerked, or simply laid aside unaffectionately, " no warmth of motherly gentleness, it feels the sting of just that which * felt towards it; and so it is angered by anger, irritated by irritation, setted by fretfulness; having thus impressed, just that kind of impatience or ill-nature, which is felt towards it, and growing faithfully into the bad mold offered, as by a fixed law. There is great importance, in this manner, even in the handling of infancy. If it is unchristian, it will beget unchristian states, or impressions. If it is gentle, ever patient and loving, it prepares a mood and temperJike its own. There is scarcely room to doubt, that all most crabbed, hateful, resentful, passionate, illnatured characters; all most even, lovely, firm and true, are prepared, in a great degree, by the handling of the nursery. To these and all such modes of feeling and treatment as make up the element of the insant's life, it is passive as wax to the seal. So that if we consider how small a speck, falling into the nucleus of a crystal, may disturb its form; or, how even a mote of foreign matter present in the quickening egg, will suffice to produce a deformity; considering, also, on the other”hand, what nice conditions of repose, in one case, and what accurately modulated supplies of heat in the other, are necessary to a perfect product; then only do we begin to imagine what work is going on, in the soul of a child, in this first chapter of life, the age of impressions. I have no scales to measure quantities of effect in this matter of early training, but I may be allowed to express my solemn conviction, that more, as a general fact, is done, or lost by neglect of doing, on a child's immortality, in the first three years of his life, than in all his years of discipline afterwards. And I name this particular time, or date, that I may not be supposed to lay the chief stress of duty and care on the latter part of what I have called the age of impressions; which, as it is a matter somewhat indefinite, may be taken to cover the space of three or four times this number of years; the development of language, and of moral ideas being only partially accomplished, in most cases, for so long a time. Let every Christian father and mother understand, when their child is three years old, that they have done more than half of all they will ever do for his character. What can be more strangely wide of all just apprehension, than the immense efficacy, imputed by most parents to the Christian ministry, compared with what they take to be the almost insignificant power conferred on them in their parental charge and duties. Why, if all preachers of Christ could have their hearers, for whole months and years, in their own will, as parents do their children, so as to move them by a look, a motion, a smile, a frown, and act their own sentiments and emotions over in them at pleasure; if, also, a little farther on, they had them in authority to command, direct, tell them whither to go, what to learn, what to do, regulate their hours, their books, their pleasures, their company, and call them to prayer over their own knees every night and morning, who could think it impossible, in the use of such a power, to produce almost any result? Should not such a ministry be expected to fashion all who come under it to newness of life? Let no parent, shifting off his duties to his children, in this manner, think to have his defects made up, and the consequent damages mended afterwards, when they have come to their maturity, by the comparatively slender, always doubtful, efficacy of preaching and pulpit harangue. DR. BushNELL. Christian Nurture.
APHORISMS ON EDUCATION. 3
“A virtuous and noble education ” is whatever tends to train up to a healthy and graceful activity our mental and bodily powers, our affections, manners, and habits. It is the business, of course, of all our lives, or, more properly, of the whole duration of our being. But since impressions made early are the deepest and most lasting, that is, above all, education which tends in childhood and youth to form a manly, upright, and generous character, and thus to lay the foundation for a course of liberal and virtuous self-culture.
Alonzo Potter. The School and Schoolmaster.
Costly apparatus and splendid cabinets have no magical power to make scholars. As a man is, in all circumstances under God, the master of his own fortune, so is he the maker of his own mind. The Creator has so constituted the human intellect, that it can only grow by its own action; and it will certainly and necessarily grow. Every man must therefore educate himself. His books and his teachers are but his helps; the work is his. A man is not educated until he has the ability to summon, on an emergency, his mental powers in vigorous exercise to affect his proposed object. It is not the man who has seen the most, or read the most who can do this; such an one is in danger of being borne down, like a beast of burden, by an overloaded mass of other men's thoughts. Nor is it the man who can boast merely of native vigor and capacity. The greatest of all the warriors who went to the siege of Troy, had not the preeminence because nature had given him strength, and he carried the largest bow; but because self-discipline had taught him how to bend it.
Education is development, not instruction merely—not knowledge, facts, rules—communicated by the teacher, but it is discipline, it is a waking up of the mind, a growth of the mind—growth by a healthy assimilation of wholesome aliment. It is an inspiring of the mind with a thirst for knowledge, growth, enlargement—and then a disciplining of its powers so far that it can go on to educate itself. It is the arousing of the child's mind to think, without thinking for it; it is the awakening of its powers to observe, to remember, to reflect, to combine. It is not a cultivation of the memory to the neglect of every thing else; but is a calling forth of all the faculties into harmonious action.
DAvid PAGE. Theory and Practice.
Oh, woe to those who trample on the mind,
We regard education as the formation of the character, physical, intellectual, and moral; as the process by which our faculties are developed, cultivated, and directed, and by which we are prepared for our station and employment, for usefulness and happiness, for time and eternity- W. C. Woodbridge.
All intelligent thinkers upon the subject now utterly discard and repudiate the idea that reading and writing, with a knowledge of accounts, constitute education. The lowest claim which any intelligent man now prefers in its behalf is, that its domain extends over the threefold nature of man; over his body, training it by the systematic and intelligent observance of those benign laws which secure health, impart strength and prolong life; over his intellect, invigorating the mind, replenishing it with knowledge, and cultivating all these tastes, which are allied to virtue; and over his moral and religious susceptibilities also, dethroning selfishness, enthroning conscience, leading the affections outwardly in good-will towards man, and upward in gratitude, and reverence to God.
Far above and beyond all special qualifications for special pursuits, is the importance of forming to usefulness and honor the capacities which are common to all mankind. The endowments that belong to all, are of far greater consequences than the peculiarities of any. The practical farmer, the ingenious mechanic, the talented artist, the upright legislator or judge, the accomplished teacher, are only modifications or varieties of the original man. The man is the trunk; occupations and professions are only different qualities of the fruit it yields. The development of the common nature; the cultivation of the germs of intelligence, uprightness, benevolence, truth that belong to all; these are the principal, the aim, the end,-while special preparations for the field or the shop, for the forum or the desk, for the land or the sea, are but incidents.
The great necessities of a race like ours, in a world like ours, are: a Body, grown from its elemental beginning, in health; compacted with strength and vital with activity in every part; impassive to heat and cold, and victorious over the vicissitudes of seasons and zones; not crippled by disease nor stricken down by early death; not shrinking from bravest effort, but panting, like flectest runner, less for the prize than for the joy of the race; and rejuvenant amid the frosts of age. A Mind, as strong for the immortal as is the body for the mortal life; alike enlightened by the wisdom and beaconed by the errors of the past; through intelligence of the laws of nature, guiding her elemental forces, as it directs the limbs of its own body through the nerves of motion, thus making alliance with the exhaustless forces of nature for its strength and clothing itself with her endless charms for its beauty, and, wherever it goes, carrying a sun in its hand with which to explore the realms of nature, and reveal her yet hidden truths. And then a Moral Nature, presiding like a divinity over the whole, banishing sorrow and pain, gathering in earthly joys and immortal hopes, and transfigured and rapt by the sovereign and sublime aspiration to KNow ANdoo the will of God.
The series of lectures, of which the following are a part, was addressed, originally, to students pursuing a course of professional study, under the author's direction, in the Merrimack (N.H.) Normal Institute, and in the New England Normal Institute, Lancaster, Massachusetts. The course, as delivered, extended to the subjects of physical, moral, and asthetic culture; including, under the latter heads, remarks on principle as the foundation of character, and suggestions on the cultivation of taste. In the delivery of the lectures, it was deemed important to avoid the unfavorable influence of formal didactic exposition, in a course of professional lectures to a youthful audience. Equal importance, however, was attached to a strict observance of the systematic connection of topics, and the theoretic unity of the whole subject. The method adopted, therefore, in the routine of the lecture-room, was to treat a given point daily, in a brief oral address on one prominent topic, selecte from the notes embodying the plan of the whole course. At the suggestion of Dr. Henry Barnard, the notes, in their connected form, were transcribed for insertion in his Journal; and the lectures on Intellectual Education were selected for this purpose, rather as an experiment, on the part of the author, in his uncertainty how far it might be advisable to present the whole series. But the unexpectedly favorable reception which the course on intellectual education has met from teachers, both at home and abroad, would have induced the writer to transcribe the other portions of the series, had health and time permitted. The subjects here referred to, however, will be introduced, from time to time, as may be practicable, in future numbers of Dr. Barnard's Journal. The thoughts presented in the following pages, the author hopes, may serve to attract the attention of teachers who are so situated as to occupy the ground not merely of instructors but of educators, who have it in their power to control, to some extent, the plan and progress of education; and all teachers of the requisite zeal and thoughtfulness, even in the most limited sphere of responsibility, can do much in this way, by their personal endeavors in instruction. It is not in one de
partment only, or in one stage, that the field of education needs resurveying