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prised if none of you give the answer I am thinking of. As soon as I ask the question, those who are under seven years old, that think they can give an answer, may raise their hand. What is this EAR or corn for 7° Several of the children raise their hands, and the teacher points to one after another, in order, and they rise and give their answers. Mary. It is to feed the geese with. John. Yes, and the hens too, and the pigs. Sarah. My father gives corn to the cows. By this time the hands of the youngest scholars are all down, for, having been taken a little by surprise, their knowledge is exhausted. So the teacher says that those between seven and ten years of age may raise their hands. Several instantly appear. The teacher again indicates, by pointing, those who may give the answer. Charles. My father gives corn to the horses, when the oats are all gone. Daniel. We give it to the oxen and cows, and we fat the hogs upon corn. Laura. It is good to eat. They shell it from the cobs, and send it to mill, and it is ground into meal. They make bread of the meal, and we eat it. This last pupil has looked a little further into domestic economy than those who answered before her. But, by this time, perhaps before, the five minutes have been nearly expended, and yet several hands are up, and the faces of several are beaming with eagerness to tell their thoughts. Let the teacher then say, “We will have no more answers to-day. You may think of this matter till to-morrow, and then I will let you try again. I am sorry to tell you that none of you have mentioned the use I was thinking of, though I confess I expected it every minute. I shall not be surprised if no one of you give this answer to-morrow. I shall now put the ear of corn in my desk, and no one of you must speak to me about it till to-morrow. You may now take your studies.” The children now breathe more freely, while the older ones take their studies, and the next class is called. In order to success, it is absolutely necessary that the teacher should positively refuse to hold any conversation with the children on the subject, till the next time for “general exercise.” During the remainder of the forenoon, the teacher will very likely observe some signs of thoughtfulness on the part of those little children who have been habitually dull before. And, perhaps some child, eager to impart a new discovery, will seek an opportunity to make it known during the forenoon. “Wait till to-morrow,” should be the teacher's only reply. Now let us follow these children as they are dismissed, while they bend their steps toward home. They cluster together in groups, as they go down the hill, and they seem to be earnestly engaged in conversation. “I do n’t believe it has any other use,” says John. “Oh, yes, it has,” says Susan ; “our teacher would not say so, if it had not. Besides, did you not see what a knowing look he had, when he drew up his brow, and said he guessed we could n't find it out !” “Well, I mean to ask my mother,” says little Mary; “I guess she can tell.” By and by, as they pass a field of corn, Samuel sees a squirrel running across the street, with both his cheeks distended with “plunder.” At home, too, the ear of corn is made the subject of conversation. “What is an ear of corn for, mother 7" says little Mary, as soon as they have taken a seat at the dinner table. Mother. An ear of corn, child why, don't you know? It is to feed the fowls, and the pigs, and the cattle; and we make bread of it, too— Mary. Yes, we told all that; but the teacher says that is not all. Mother. The teacher 7 Mary. Yes, ma'am ; the teacher had an ear of corn at school, and he asked us what it was for ; and, after we had told him every thing we could think of, he said there was another thing still. Now I want to find out, so that I can tell him. The consequence of this would be that the family—father, mother, and older brothers and sisters—would resolve themselves into a committee of the whole on the ear of corn. The same, or something like this, would be true in other families in the district; and, by the next morning, several children would have something further to communicate on the subject. The hour would this day be awaited with great interest, and the first signal would produce perfect silence.
The teacher now takes the ear of corn from the desk, and displays it before the school; and quite a number of hands are instantly raised, as if eager to be the first to tell what other use they have discovered for it. The teacher now says, pleasantly: “The use I am thinking of you have all observed, I have no doubt; it is a very important use indeed; but, as it is a little out of the common course, I shall not be surprised if you can not give it. However, you may try.” “It is good to boil : * says little Susan, almost springing from the floor as she speaks. “And it is for squirrels to eat,” says little Samuel. “I saw one carry away a whole mouthful, yesterday, from the cornfield.” Others still mention other uses, which they have observed. They mention other animals which feed upon it, or other modes of cooking it. The older pupils begin to be interested, and they add to the list of uses named. Perhaps, however, none will name the one the teacher has in his own mind; he should cordially welcome the answer, if perchance it is given; if none should give it, he may do as he thinks best about giving it himself on this occasion. Perhaps, if there is time, he may do so—after the following manner:— “I have told you that the answer I was seeking was a very simple one; it is something you have all observed, and you may be a little disappointed when I tell you. The use I have been thinking of for the ear of corn is this:—It is to plant. It is for seed, to propagate that species of plant called corn.” Here the children may look disappointed, as much as to say, “we knew that before.” The teacher continues: “And this is a very important use for the corn; for if for one year none should be planted, and all the ears that grew the year before should be consumed, we should have no more corn. This, then, was the great primary design of the corn; the other uses you have named were merely secondary. But I mean to make something more of my ear of corn. My next question is:—Do other PLANTs have seeds 2 *t Here is a new field of inquiry. Many hands are instantly raised ; but, as the five minutes by this time have passed, leave them to answer at the next time. “Have other plants seeds 2" the children begin to inquire in their own minds, and each begins to think over a list of such plants as he is familiar with. When they are dismissed, they look on the way home at the plants by the roadside, and when they reach home, they run to the garden. At the table, they inquire of their parents, or their brothers and sisters. At the next exercise, they will have more than they can tell in five minutes, as the results of their own observation and research. When enough has been said by the children, as to the plants which have seeds, the next question may be:— Do All PLANts have seeds? This question will lead to much inquiry at home, wherever botany is not well understood. There are many who are not aware that all plants have seeds. Very likely the ferns (common brakes,) will be noticed by the children themselves. They may also name several other plants which do not exhibit their apparatus for seed-bearing very conspicuously. This will prepare the way for the teacher to impart a little information. Nor is there any harm in doing so, whenever he is satisfied that the mind has been suitably exercised. The mind is no longer a “passive recipient;” and he may be sure that, by inquiry, it has increased its capacity to contain, and any fact which now answers inquiry, will be most carefully stored up. The next question may be:—Do trees have seeds? As the children next go
"The children themselves will be sure to find some new answers to such questions as the above. In giving in substance this lecture to a gathering of teachers, in the Autumn of 1845, in one of the busy villages of New York, where, also, the pupils of one of the district schools were present, by invitation, I had described a process similar to that which has been dwelt upon above. I had given the supposed answers for the first day, and had described the children as pressing the question at home. When I had proceeded as far as to take up the ear of corn, the second day, and had spoken of the possibility that the true answer to the question might not be given, I turned almost instinctively to the class of children at my right, saying, “Now what is the ear of corn for 2 " A little boy, some six years of age, who had swallowed every word, and whose face glowed as if there was not room enough for his soul within him, bounded upon his feet, and forgetting the publicity of the place, and the gravity of the chairman of the meeting, clapping his hands forcibly together, “It's to pop 1" he ex...!?" emphatically, very much to the amusement of the audience. His mind had been traked up.
t Plant is here used in the popular sense.
out, their eyes are directed to the trees above them. The fruit-trees, the walnut, the oak, and perhaps the pine, will be selected as those which have seeds. They will, however, mention quite a number which do not, or which they think do not have seeds. Among these may be the elm, the birch, and the Lombardy poplar. After hearing their opinions, and the results of their observations, take one of their exceptions, as the subject of the next question :-Does the elm have seeds 7 This will narrow their inquiries down to a specific case, and every elm in the district will be inquired of as to its testimony on this point. If the children can any of them collect and give the truth in the matter, so much the better; but if they, after inquiring of their parents and their grandparents, as I have known a whole school to do, come back, insisting that the elm has no seeds; after hearing their reasons for their belief, and perhaps the opinions of their parents, you may promise to tell them something about it at the next exercise. This will again awaken expectation, not only among the children but among the parents. All will wish to know what you have to bring out. Great care should be taken not to throw any disparagement upon the opinions of parents. After giving the signal for attention, you may proceed as follows:— “Has the elm-tree any seeds 7 Perhaps, children, you may recollect, after the cold winter has passed away, that, along in the latter part of March, or the first of April, we sometimes have a warm, sunny day. The birds perhaps appear and begin to sing a little, and as you look up to the elm, you notice that its buds seem to swell, and you think it is going to put out its leaves. Every body says we are going to have an early spring. But, after this, the cold, frosty nights and windy days come on again, and then you think the leaves can not come out so early. Now, if you observe carefully, the leaves do not come out till about the 20th of May, or perhaps the 1st of June. Did you ever see any thing like what I have described 7” “Yes, sir; we remember that.” “Well, the next time you see the buds begin to open, just break off a twig of a good large tree, and you will find they are not the leaf-buds. But, if you will watch them carefully for two or three weeks, you will find that each bud will put out some beautiful little flowers, brightly colored, and slightly fragrant. If you will still continue to watch them, you will find, as the flowers fall off, that seedvessels are formed, shaped very much like the parsnip seed. These will grow larger and larger every day, and by and by they will turn brown, and look as if they were ripe. Just about this time the leaves will come out; and soon after, these seeds, during some windy day or night, will all fall off. The ground will be covered with thousands of them. Perhaps you have seen this.” “Yes, sir,” says John ; “Grandpa calls that elm-dust.” “Perhaps next year you can watch this, and ask your parents to examine it with you. But the five-minutes are ended.” Now, information thus communicated will never be forgotten. The mind, having been put upon the stretch, is no longer a passive recipient. The next question :-How are seeds disseMiNated 7–(of course explaining the term—“disseminated.”) This will bring in a fund of information from the pupils. They will mention that the thistle-seed flies, and so does the seed of the milkweed ; that the burs of the burdock, and some other seeds, are provided with hooks, by which they attach themselves to the hair of animals or the clothing of men, and ride away to their resting-place, which may be a hundred miles off. Some fall into the water, and sail away to another shore. Some, like the seed of the touch-me-not, are thrown to a distance by the bursting of the elastic pericarp; others, as nuts and acorns, are carried by squirrels, and buried beneath the leaves. These facts would mostly be noticed by children, when once put upon observation. Next question:—Are plants propagated in any other way than by seeds 7 This question would call their attention to the various means of natural and artificial propagation, by layers, by offsets, by suckers, by grafting, by budding, &c. Again :-Hare any plants more ways than one of natural propagation 7 Some have one way only—by seeds, as the annual plants; some have two—by seeds, and by roots, as the potato; some have three—as the tiger-lily, by sidebulbs from the roots, by stalk-bulbs, and by the seeds. This can be extended indefinitely. Let it be remembered that the above has been given simply as a specimen of what could easily be done by an ingenious teacher, with as common a thing as an ear of corn for the text. Any other thing would answer as well. A chip, a tooth, or a bone of an animal, a piece of iron, a feather, or any other object, could be made the text for adroitly bringing in the uses of wood, the food and habits of animals, the use and comparatire calue of metals, the covering of birds, their migration, the covering of animals, &c., &c. Let the teacher but think what department he will dwell upon, and then he can easily select his text; and, if he has any tact, he can keep the children constantly upon inquiry. The advantages of the above course are many and great. 1. It immediately puts the minds of the children into a state of vigorous activity. They feel that they are no longer passive recipients. They are incited to discover and ascertain for themselves. They are, therefore, profitably enployed, both in and out of school; and, as a consequence, are more easily governed. A habit of observation is easily cultivated in them; and what an advantage is this for a child . It is almost unnecessary to remark that many people go through the world, without seeing half the objects which are brought within their reach. It would be the same to them if their eyes were half the time closed. If they travel through a country presenting the most beautiful scenery, or the most interesting geological features, they see nothing. They grow up, among all the wonders of God’s works, amid all the displays of his wisdom, of his design, to no purpose. They study none of the plans of nature; and by all the millions of arrangements which God has made, to delight the eye, to gratify the taste, to excite the emotions of pleasure instead of pain, they are neither the happier nor the wiser. What a blessing, then, it is to a child, to put his mind upon inquiry; to open his eyes to observe what his Creator intended his intelligent creatures should behold, of his goodness, his wisdom. his power. And how far superior is he, who teaches a child to see for himself, and to think for himself, to him who sees and thinks for the child, and thus practically invites the pupil to close his own eyes, and grope in darkness through the instructive journey of life. 2. It is of great service to the parents in the district, to have this wakingup process in operation. Our children are sometimes our best teachers. Parents are apt to grow rusty in their acquirements, and it is, no doubt, one of the designs of providence, that the inquisitiveness of childhood should preserve them from sinking into mental inactivity. Who can hear the inquiries of his own child after knowledge, without a desire to supply his wants Now it is right for the teacher to use this instrumentality to wake up mind in his district. Parents, by the course I have recommended, very soon become interested in these daily questions of the teacher; and they are often as eager to know what is the next question as the children are to report it. This course, then, will supply profitable topics of conversation at the fire-side, and very likely will encourage also the pursuit of useful reading. It will moreover soon awaken a deeper interest in the school, on the part of the parents. They will begin to inquire of one another as to this new measure; and when they find by conference that the feeling in this matter is becoming general, they will desire to visit the school, to witness this as well as the other operations of the teacher. This will secure parental co-operation; and thus, in every way, the influence of the school will be hightened. It is no small thing for a teacher to enlist the interest of his patrons in the success of his school; and this is the most happily done through the pupils themselves. 3. It wakes up the teacher's own mind. This is by no means the least important point to be gained. The teacher, by the very nature of his employment, by daily confinement in an unhealthy atmosphere, by teaching over and over again that with which he is quite familiar, by boarding with people who are inclined to be social, and by the fatigue and languor with which he finds himself oppressed every night, is strongly tempted to neglect his own improvement. There are but few who rise above this accumulation of impediments, and go on, in spite of them, to eminence in the profession. A large proportion of all who teach, rely upon the attainments with which they commence; and, in the course of two or three years, finding themselves behind the age, they abandon the employment. This is very natural. Any man who treads in a beaten track, like a horse in a mill, must become weary, however valuable the product may be which he grinds out. It is essential that he should keep his own interest awake by some exercise of his ingenuity, and that he should compel himself to be industrious by undertaking that which will absolutely demand study.
- Visit to the Teachens' SEMINARY, Andover, Mass. The following account of a visit to the Teachers' Seminary, at Andover, Mass., appeared in the “Annals of Education ” for August, 1832:—
The building for the Teachers' Seminary, in Andover, is pleasantly situated and handsomely constructed. . It has two stories, besides the basement. I could not help contrasting this large, elegant, airy mansion, with the multitude of school-houses, which are every where to be found, whose narrow dimensions and miserable construction, better fit them for prisons than for places of instruction. The first or lower story embraces the principal school room, a spacious entrance, and a room for a library. The entrance contains suitable places for depositing hats, clothes, &c., and a stairway. The second or upper story includes, besides the stairway and entrance, a room for the preparatory school, with a recitation room adjoining; a room for geological, mineralogical, and botanical specimens, and a room for lectures in philosophy, astronomy, &c., with the necessary apparatus. Part of the basement story is occupied as a chemical lecture room and laboratory. The rest is designed as a workshop, and is, to some extent, already used for that purpose. All these rooms are furnished with appropriate seats, and with desks, where these are necessary. The desks and seats of the principal school room are on an inproved lan. The seats consist of a chair firmly fixed to the floor, with a very low back. The apparatus and specimens necessary in the illustration of natural science, are arranged in the several rooms appropriated to their use. The electrical apparatus, in particular, is very fine. The ninerals, and geological specimens are already numerous, and are rapidly accumulating, through the exertions of the teachers and their pupils. The cheinical laboratory is well supplied. The library contains 200 to 300 volumes, very judiciously selected. Every facility might be afforded for the comfort, and convenience, and progress of a much larger number than have ever yet attended. It does not seem to be generally known that there is a school of this kind existing in New England, sustaining the high character which might justly be challenged by this institution. The higher department is under the immediate care of Rev. S. R. Hall. He is assisted in this departinent by Mr. F. A. Barton, and in the preparatory department by Mr. L. Tenney, both of whom appear to be well qualified for their task. School books of a good character are selected, and the most approved methods of instruction adopted. ã. while books, and apparatus, and hard study, are deemed indispensable to thorough and efficient progress, much is accomplished by familiar, conversational lectures, giving the student ample opportunity for asking questions, suggesting doubts, &c. No attempts are made to hurry through a science, for the sake of having gone through it; but constant, and as it appears to me, successful efforts are made to teach every thing to which the pupil's attention is called thoroughly. In both departinents of the school, there is nothing of that routine of mere memory work which is so often witnessed in our schools. Those methods are pursued, generally speaking, in every exercise, which give employment to the whole intellect, and not to certain favored faculties merely, while the rest are suffered to lie neglected. If any faculty has not been properly developed, in the early years of instruction, a course is here pursued which is most happily adapted to awaken and excite its slumbering energies, and bring it into habits of cheerful, healthy, vigorous action. The spelling lessons are usually short. Few, if any, words are studied according to the arbitrary arrangement of most dictionaries and spelling books. Sometimes the teacher dictates a series of words, which the pupils write on their slates; at others, they are requested to select all the words of a certain class which they can recollect, and write theim down, thus forming their own spelling lessons. By classes of words is meant all which belong to a certain occupation, art, tribe of animals, &c., Thus, at one time, their spelling lesson will consist of the names of all the birds of prey they can think of; at another, of all the implements used in husbandry, or in some mechanical occupation. The examination of these lessons by the instructor, is often accompanied by much useful and familiar conversation on various topics, not excluding moral and religious subjects. Many other methods of teaching spelling are adopted. I was never before so thoroughly convinced of prevailing deficiencies in teaching reading, as while witnessing the performances of these pupils. I was so much ashamed of my own neglect of distinctness, and propriety of enunciation, that I resolved at the moment never to read or speak before others again, till I had subjected myself to a thorough drilling on these points. Arithmetic was also taught in a very judicious manner, in both the higher and lower departments. Great attention was paid to the difficult subject of carrying. Threequarters of an hour of close attention is given to penmanship once in two days. In both o: of the institution, every branch is pursued, as far as possible, independently of every other. By this is meant that every study has its appropriate hour and space, and when that hour arrives, it is exclusively attended to. In the higher department, the exercises for every day of the week are written down plainly and minutely, and a monitor rings a bell at the arrival of the time for every new exercise. So exact is the order, and so accustomed to it have the students become, that, so far as