lessor happened to be given in a rural region, where objects of the kind in question were easily obtained. But, not less zeal for collecting specimens for juvenile cabinets, would sometimes be manifested in the more confined sphere of city life, an instance of which it would be difficult for the writer to forget. An eager group of little collectors were scrambling for specimens around the temporary shed of the stone-masons occupied in the erection of a public building. They were busily replenishing their pock. ets with such pieces as struck their fancy, and stopping now and then to compare specimens, or each to examine his own more closely. Drawing near to the juvenile company of geologists, as their heads were clubbed together in earnest inspection of a specimen, the observer heard one exclaim, “Well, I do not think it is the right kind. For, you know, Mr. Holbrook said the way to spell granite was not g-r-a-n-i-t-e, but “mica, quartz, and feldspar.' Now, there is not a bit of mica in any of these stones.” The observer happened to know of Mr. Holbrook's visits to the school to which the boys belonged; and, as he saw that the little students had just found their way to the exact spot in investigation where Mr. H. would be glad to meet them, so as, by means of a little closer analysis, to enable them to detect the difference between granite and “sienite,” he relieved their anxiety by telling them that they had better not throw away the pieces they had picked up, but carry them to the school-room, next morning, and ask Mr. Holbrook to tell them why there was no mica in their specimens, and what those black specks were. One of the little explorers returned to his home, on the following day, to tell, with a face all radiant with intelligence, about the quarries of Syene, in Egypt, the quarries of Quincy, and those of the “Granite” State, and even to go into some details, in which neither of his parents was sufficiently versed in science to follow him satisfactorily. Analysis, in its Connection with the Discipline of the Perceptive Faculties.—An eminent writer has truly said that a dwarf, behind his steam-engine, may remove mountains. Analysis is the correspondent power of the intellect. It is the grand instrument in all the operations of the perceptive faculties. It is observation working scientifically; and, of all the implements of science, it is the keenest in its edge, the truest in its action, and the surest in the results which it attains. It is the key to knowledge, in all departments of intelligence; and, perfection in its processes is the crown of glory on the head of him who stands foremost in the field of scientific research. Education, as the power which trains and forms the mental habits, has no higher boon which it can confer, as the result of years of practice and discipline. Valuable, however, as this process is, education, in the history of the past, could lay but slight claims to the merit of having formed the mental habits which it implies; since the means and opportunities of analytic intellection were withheld or neglected, to a very great extent, in consequence of the omission to provide the requisite objects and exercises for the discipline of the perceptive faculties. Education, while it consisted chiefly in arbitrary forms of exercise on abstract principles, connected with formulas in language and in number, drawn from the sciences of grammar and arithmetic, precluded the exercise of perception, by causing the learner to assume, instead of investigating, the primary facts of language and of number. At the present day, we obey the law of inductive procedure, and substitute personal observation and distinct perception for wide assumption and broad assertion. This is true of, at least, the modes and methods of all who profess to teach philosophically, as not mere instructors, but educators of the mind. Still, there remains much to be done with reference to the early direction and training of the intellectual faculties, so as to ensure the selection and presentation of the proper materials on which the intellect should be exercised in the first stages of its course of discipline. Analysis, as a process of observant mind, implies the presence of objects which, by its solvent power, it is to reduce to component elements; and, as the real object, the fact, the actual relation, precede, in the order of nature and development, the ideal image, the intellectual abstraction, the logical deduction, early education in its primary operations, should conform to this law of order and of progress, and, in prescribing its first forms of exercise and discipline, should obviously draw its materials from the external universe of palpable realities, and not from the internal world of pure thought, in which the young mind possesses so little conscious power. Nor is it well for the mind that the habit of analytical observation and study, so indispensable to its successful action, in all forms of acquisitive exercise, should be deferred to the later stages of intellectual culture. Facility in analysis, acquired by practice on the accessible forms and relations of external objects, is easily transferred, by analogy, to the arithmetical exercise of resolving complicated numbers into their simpler constituent groups; or, the grammatical one of reducing a perplexing period to its primary elements, and these, in turn, to their component parts. Progress in mathematical science and linguistic study, would be much surer and zore rapid, if instead of being demanded of the earlier stages of mental progress, it were postponed to a period subse. quent to that of analytical exercise, practised, for years, on objects perceptible to the senses.

Analysis, as the systematic process of examination, is one and the same thing, in whatever direction it is applied; its power as an instrument of discipline, is as fully felt in investigating the structure of a plant as that of a sentence; and, the intelligent teacher, while superintending such a process, will feel the same weight of obligation resting on him in the one case as in the other. He will, accordingly, be watchful over the manner in which the process is conducted, that it be not superficial, or hasty, or partial, but thorough-going, deliberate, and exhaustive, as far as it ought to extend; and, that it be furnished with faithful expression, or record, at every step of its progress. It is thus only that the indispensable broad line of distinction can be drawn, which gives certainty to knowledge, by separating what has been examined from what has not been, and measures what is known by what has been done.

Inspection, as a Disciplinary Process for the Perceptive Faculties. —When analysis has faithfully performed its peculiar task, and singled out for observation the very last component element in the object of investigation, there remains yet, to the attentive teacher, another stage of perceptive progress to be accomplished by his pupil, under the suggestive direction of a mind which has already traveled the path of knowledge. The searching inspection of the individual elements which compose a complex whole-an inspection so minute, that each element may be described and defined in its distinctive unity of constitution and character, and, in the clearly traced relation which it bears to the whole, as well as in each of its own chief characteristics, or prominent features,--becomes, perhaps, in turn, an element in some wide-sweeping induction, for purposes of comparison and classification.

Elementary botany, that which a young child is perfectly competent to study, and which requires but the seeing eye and the attentive mind, to examine and describe the different parts of a plant, or even a root, a stem, a bud, or a leaf-abounds in the best of materials for exercise in close and minute examination of details. To render this process a tendency and a habit of his pupil's mind, is here the office of the educator. Yet, this is but one of the numerous resources of nature on which he may draw for the cultivation of the highest traits of intellectual skill and expertness, as attributes of the young minds, which it is his business to train to the highest pitch of mental power to which he can raise them. .

In the examination of a plant, for example, he does not limit the attention of his pupils to the mere analysis of the whole into its parts. Every part, separately, he makes an object of distinct inspection and investigation, in every light in which observation or science enables him to hold it up. No feature of individual character is suffered to escape notice,—no detail, how minute soever it may be, in which it differs from, or resembles, a correspondent point of form or function, in another specimen of kindred character.

In lessons on animal life, to use another example, the juvenile student, under the charge of the watchful teacher, is directed to observe the fact, which minute inspection discloses, that, in one instance, where he would naturally, at first glance, think that he has seen two feet; he will actually discover, on closer inspection, two hands; that, in observing the figure of the chimpanzee, he has been contemplating neither biped nor quadruped, but a quadrumanous (four-handed) animal; and, that this distinction is founded chiefly on the careful examination of the member which he had been accustomed to call a toe, but which is, in reality, a thumb, designed to aid in the actions of grasping and climbing, which are so important to the animal's mode of life. The close inspection of one member thus becomes, for the time, the turning point on which the young student depends for the recognition of a grand distinction in nature, and for the true understanding and proper appreciation of the scientific term in which this distinction is recorded.

Interrogation, as an Instrument of Intellectual Discipline.—In the language of general writers on subjects connected with the experimental and tentative processes of science, man is said to interrogate nature. The figure is a most suggestive one to the teacher, with reference to his business and duties. It presents man in his appropriate attitude of an attentive and docile child of Nature, inquiring trustfully of her concerning the causes which lie too deep for mere intuition, but which her maternal spirit is ever ready to reveal to earnest desire and faithful endeavor. The human parent and the teacher stand, to the young mind, in the same oracular relation, as expounders and interpreters of the great volume of creation. But, how seldom is the inquiring spirit of childhood encouraged to avail itself of its lawful provision for the furnishing of that knowledge which it consciously craves, as the sustenance of its life! How seldom does the teacher feel the full force of the obligation which the inquisitive habits of childhood lay upon him, to encourage the spirit of curiosity which prompts the many questions of the child! How seldom does he feel that his business is to incite, and juite and prompt, and enliven,


in every way possible to him, this primary instinct, which impels the mind toward the goal of knowledge! How seldom does he enter into the spirit of the wise suggestion of the poet; and, even when in the very act of feeding the intellectual appetite, so contrive as “by giving" to “make it asks” Book Questions—The teacher is not usually so remiss in regard to the importance of interrogation, as a stimulus to intelligence, so far as concerns his own resort to that process. Far from it! He knows its value, as a pointer or guide-post, to definite results. Nor are there wanting instructors so reliant on interrogatory forms, and so distrustful of their own power to devise them, that they conduct the whole business of a lesson, following literally the numerous questions printed on the page of the text-book. Such questions, it is true, are not to be despised and rejected in the wholesale style in which they are sometimes disposed of by the young and sanguine teacher, who has just begun to see their inadequacy to the purposes and wants of personal instruction. The printed question, even when extended to minutiae, may be rendered very serviceable to the formation of habits of faithful application and close study, as well as accurate recapitulation; if the young student is directed to make use of it as a test, in regard to the exactness of his preparation for a personal examination on the subject of his lesson; if he is duly trained not to regard the printed question as merely the teacher's part in a verbatim mechanical dialogue between the master and himself, in which the last word in the sentence of the one speaker forms the literal “cue" to the first word in that of the other, but, as a criterion of his knowledge of the subjects, as a friendly intimation that, if he can not furnish an answer to the question before him, he is so far deficicnt in his preparation to give intelligently an account of the part of the subject to which the question refers. Children's Questions.—But, it would be more to the purpose of the young teacher's business, if—instead of the printed aid offered to him in what should be his own part of a lesson, and which, if he respects his own mind, he will draw only from his own resources, according to the needs of the pupil-the page of the text-book abounded, rather, in the questions which children would like to ask, for their personal information. The judicious instructor will always make free use of interrogation, as a means of ascertaining or aiding the degree of his pupil's intelligence. But, he will not overlook the fact that this process, like that of the printer, in taking his proof impression, is to certify a result, not to create it. The questions which the child is permitted or encouraged to put to his teacher, are,

« ForrigeFortsett »