Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

habits of attentive observation, careful examination, and close analysis, as well as those of orderly arrangement, enlarged contemplation, and systematic classification, which the thorough study of nature is so happily adapted to insure. But it should never be forgotten by the teacher that it is the extent to which the student is induced to carry the personal observation and actual collection of natural objects, and the care and fidelity with which he arranges his specimens according to the requirements of scientific classification, which determine how far the higher powers of his mind will be benefited by the study. There are too many seminaries, even now, in which the teacher, far from following the instructive personal example of the eminent authority to whom we have just referred, and joining their students in the actual exploration of nature, in the field exercises of observing and collecting, permit them to stay within doors, and “study " the whole subject by book. The value of personal observation and actual investigation, as the only sure means of rendering the educational materials furnished in external nature, and in the action of the percipient intellect on these, conducive to the development and discipline of the mind's reflective power, is evinced in all the other relations and departments of physical science. The study of astronomy, as commonly conducted in our seminaries of all grades, has been, till recently, a process of mere bookwork, of committing to memory the successive sentences of a manual, and repeating them by word of mouth. The actual observation of the heavens was a thing not thought of but as a matter of occasional gratification to curiosity; while, to render astronomy an effective instrument of mental culture, capable of awakening attention and eliciting reflection, the nightly survey of the varying aspects of the firmament, in conjunction with the passing hours, and the actual positions, or apparent shifting of the planetary bodies, should be continued till the eye finds itself, so to speak, at home in that upper world of wondrous facts, and the observer can literally “call the stars by name.” Many teachers have it easily in their power to render the young mind this noble service, which may stamp a thoughtful character on its habits of action for a whole life-time. Happily, many of our colleges are now enabled to offer to those who enjoy the superior opportunities of study afforded by such seminaries, the facilities for actual observation, which modern science and art so amply provide, in this department of education. But, in most of our higher schools and academies,—even in some which are favored with the possession and occasional use of a telescope, the actual study of the heavens, even with the naked eye, or the humblest endeavor to note the position and movements of the heavenly bodies, so as to enable the learner intelligently to read the sky, remains, as yet, a thing seldom attempted.

Were early education in this department rightly conducted, the young student would be prepared to receive with delight those sublime revelations of astronomical science which exhibit the laws of order and subordination,--of mutual influence and adjustment, ruling in the apparent “wilderness of worlds,” and indicating the controlling power of that Reason which presides in eternal supremacy over the universe.

CoNcluding Explan ATIONs.

The brief and imperfect survey of the ground and principles of intellectual culture, which is here concluded, was, as has been intimated, originally presented in the form of conversational oral lectures to successive classes of young teachers and of persons intending to enter on the occupation of teaching. The views presented in these lectures were adapted, therefore, to the mental circumstances of students to some of whom any form of systematic investigation on the subject of intellectual discipline was wholly new, and to many of whom the philosophy of education was, as yet, a field unexplored. This fact will serve to explain the strictly elementary character of the preceding discussion, and the familiar style of its illustrations, as well as the frequentiteration of special topics; while the vast importance of the subject itself, in relation to the anticipated office and duties of the teacher, as the educator and guardian of the young mind, together with the acknowledged too general neglect of such considerations, rendered it necessary that the lecturer should endeavor to present the whole work of education in the impressive light of the highest relations and principles of human action.

To some of the readers of this journal, therefore, the whole series of these lectures may have seemed common-place and uninteresting; and to others the course of analysis may have seemed too abstract and philosophical for the ordinary purposes and business of education. The contributor of this and the preceding communications of the series to the pages of this journal can only plead, in answer to both classes of objections, that, for inany years, his personal field of observation and of action has made it necessary for him to endeavor to meet the wants of ingenuous minds, conscious of deficiencies in their own course of early training, and earnestly desirous of the guiding light of the simplest, yet the highest, educational principles, to direct their own efforts for the advancement of others. Successive years, occupied in three of our New England States, in endeavoring to aid the noble aspirations of those whose daily labors form the ground of the intellectual and moral hope of the community, have convinced the writer that the teacher's professional wants are most satisfactorily met when elementary principles of education are simply stated and practically illustrated, and the highest relations of human duty are presented as the motives to personal and professional action.—Long may the “plain living and high thinking” of their ancestry continue to characterize the teachers of New England 1 The allusions made, in the course of the preceding discussion, to existing defects in “higher” seminaries, might seem uncalled for in a course of remarks addressed to young teachers. To explain this apparent intrusion, it may be sufficient to say, that some of the classes to which these lectures were originally addressed included among their members individuals who, though young both in years and experience, were graduates of the highest class of literary institutions, were anticipating professional employment in such establishments, and were attending the course of lectures with reference to the application, in their personal instructions, of the principles under discussion. Apart, however, from this relation of circumstances, the consideration of principles of education, and methods of instruction, necessarily extends through the whole educational course of training; and defective methods of teaching are but little less injurious in the higher than in the lower forms of culture. The fact, moreover, is undeniable, that the renovation of the character of instruction, whether at home or abroad, has uniformly commenced in the primary stages of education, and won its way gradually upward;—a circumstance easily accounted for, when we recollect that, in the reformation, now so generally effected in elementary teaching, more regard has been paid to the wants of the mind, and less to the demands of subjects, than formerly was the case in the management of primary schools, or than is now, in the customary regulation of institutions of the highest nominal order, in most of which the subject of study is still too uniformly regarded in preference to the instrument of study. To some readers of the journal, the intellectual philosophy, involved in the principles adopted in the preceding analysis of mental action and development, may not seem satisfactory, as not according, in express terms, with established authorities on such topics. To objections of this character the author can only suggest that, in the circumstances of many of those to whom his lectures were addressed, it was not practicable to assume the data of a previous course of study in intellectual philosophy; and all that could properly be done, on his part, was to interweave, with his suggestions for the guidance of

instructors in their professional endeavors, such elementary views of mental action and tendency as might afford intelligible ground for these suggestions.

At the same time, the writer feels free to say that, following the counsels of his own instructor, the venerable Jardine, (a student and successor of Dr. Reid,) he could not adopt any “system" of intellectual philosophy as such. All systems hitherto offered have contributed useful suggestions for the guidance of inquiry. But none, as yet, can be regarded as exhaustive or complete. The mind, as a subject of study, has not yet received the humble measure of justice which we yield to a plant or a mineral,—a careful observation and close examination of its own character, apart from the obscuring influence of the conflicting views and metaphysical speculations of great writers and eminent authorities. But, to the teacher, philosophi. cal theory is a doubtful aid, compared to his own daily inspection of the mind itself, in its actual working and obvious tendencies. He is, if he understands his position, himself a primary observer, authority and reporter, in the science of mind, as developed in the processes of education. IIis work is that of a living philosopher, in act. To his young disciples, he is Plato, and Socrates, and Aristotle, embodied in one person –opening to their expanding minds the highest spiritual, moral, and intellectual relations of truth.

The ground thus assigned as the field of the teacher's labor, is not too high to be assumed by any instructor, whatever be the nominal rank of the seminary in which he teaches. A mind accustomed to large views, and working on broad principles, will, unconsciously and necessarily, adopt methods correspondent, and will radiate, from its own action, light and truth throughout the sphere of its influence. Nowhere is this statement more strikingly verified than in the case of an intelligent teacher, in the direction and instruction of an elementary school. It is in this sphere that ingenuity, and tact, and originality, and skill are most needed, in endeavors to develop intellectual capabilities, and build up the great fabric of mental power. Nowhere else, in the whole field of education, is the demand so urgent for a thorough insight into the nature and working of the mind, for the light to guide its advances, or the power to mold its expanding character.

Alphabet, mere drilling on, injurious,
p. 15; error of opmitting the sounds
of letters, 81; recognition of the
forms of letters, 38.
Analogy, the medium of expression, 63.
Analysis, preliminary of intellectual
faculties, 11 ; as a process, facilitated
by training on objects, 29; its disci-
plinary character and value, 46, 47.
Apparatus, educational, provision of 26.
Art, pictorial, as a discipline of the per-
ceptive faculties, 30.
Articulation, practice of 32.
Attention, definition of 13; as a volun-
tary act, 34, 35; promptness of 35 ;
earnestness, 36; closeness, 37; aided
by the microscope, conducive to al-
phabetic instruction, to mathematical
attainments, 38; tenacity of its val-
ue, how attained, 39 ; ultimate effects
on mental power, 40.
Classification as a disciplinary process,
• 55; its appropriate materials for early
training, 56.
Communication, the result of the action
of the expressive faculties: viewed
as a power, 78; its intellectual and
moral effects, its value, 79.
Comparison, as a disciplinary, exercise
for the expressive faculties, its influ-
ence on rational, and reflective pro-
cesses, 53; its relations to classifica-
tion and induction, to order, method,
law; Principles, rule; proper materi-
als for its exercise,"54.
Composition, practice of; defective
methods, S5; seasonable training, 86.
Conception, etymology and acceptation
of the term, 106; different views of
, this faculty, 107; its susceptibility of
culture, its intellectual and moral val-
ue, 10s.
Concluding explanations, 152.
Consciousness, etymology of the term,
10s; fitness of its application, diffe
ent opinions of the nature of this fac-
ulty, 10: ; educational view ; intel-
lectual and moral offices of conscious-
ness, 110; its educational culture, 111.
Culture, intellectual, outline of 11, 12.
Curiosity, the actuating principle of the
perceptive faculties, 14.
Deduction, as a process of reason, 115.
Direction, as a didactic process, 51; ex-
emplified, 52.
Drawing, its effects as a discipline of
the perceptive faculties, 30; common
mistake regarding its relation to the
cultivation of taste, 91.
Elocution, as a discipline of the ear; its
connections with music, oratory, poe-
try, 33; errors in instruction, so : in
theory, exemplified by Dr. Whately,
87, 90.
Euotion, its offices in expression; a re-
sult of sensibility, 59; naturally spon-
taneous and involuntary, the language

of sympathy, its various forms, 60:
its different effects; its influence on
language, 61. .
Boon isigo, neglect of, 81, 99,
00.
Enunciation, its connection with articu-
lation and pronunciation, 32.
Errors in education-in the order of
cultivation, 13; in school regime,
16, 19; in the cultivation of the
expressive faculties, repression, 76;
limited exercise in passive forms, 80 ;
incorrect example, false alphabetić
training, 81: neglect of the meaning
of words, defective reading exercises,
82, S3; arbitrary methods of teaching
grammar, composition, S4, S5 ; rhet-
oric, elocution, Sti—, 0; drawing, mu-
sic, vocal o instrumental, 91–93;
remedies for these errors, 9.3–100.
Etymology of terms applied to mental
action, and educational relations, 18,
49, 50, 101, 106, 107, 108, 111, 112,
116, 117.
Expressive faculties, cultivation of:
their place in the order of action and
development, 57 ; classification of,
5S ; their actuating o 70; their
tendency, 75.3 result of their action,
78; their educational processes, 80,
93—100.
Fancy, its effects on expression, 64.
Feeling, the actuating principle of the
expressive faculties, 70; an incite-
ment to sympathy, an instigation; in-
fluenced by imagination and volition ;
its influence on the artist, 71; the
child, the adult, the actor and his au-
dience, the orator, the poet, and on
all forms of expression, 72; on moral
character; on art, as exemplified in
music, 73; on language and litera-
ture; its subjection to the guidance
of education, 74.
Furniture, intellectual, for schoolrooms,
16.
Gesture, a subject of cultivation, 90.
Grammar, methods of instruction, 84.
85.
Holbrook, Josiah, an example to teach-
ers, 44.
Imagination, significance of the term;
sphere of the faculty, 64. -
Imitation, its tendencies; drawing, as
an imitative art; music, 65.
Inference, as a process of reason, 116.
Information, as a guide to observation,
51, 52.
Inquiry. the actuating principle of the
reflective faculties; its analogy to cu-
riosity, 121. - - - -
Inspection of objects, as a disciplinary
exercise; exemplified in botany, 4s;
in zoölogy, 49. - -
Interrogation, as an intellectual disci-
pline, 49; book questions, children's
questions, 50; leading questions, 51.

[graphic]
« ForrigeFortsett »