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The whole subject, notwithstanding our many valuable recent improvements in processes and methods, physical and moral, as well as intellectual, needs a careful reconsideration as to its true requirements, and a thorough revision of our plan of procedure and modes of culture.
It is true that, in seminaries of education of every grade, we are ceasing from a blind following of prescription imposed by the past. Mental discipline, rather than intellectual acquisition, is now more generally recognized as the true aim of education; and liberal changes and generous allowances, as regards the adaptation of text-books and plans of instruction, have accordingly been made. But, as yet, the point of view selected by most even of our most considerate and genial counselors on the great theme of education, has been far from a commanding one. It has been that of subjects and sciences and departments of knowledge, with their respective demands upon the mind, instead of that of the mind itself, and its divine laws of action and progress, as prescribed by its own constitution and wants, its appetites and instinctive preferences. To attract attention to these, as the true principles of education, is the chief aim of the suggestions embodied in the following pages.
CULTIVATION OF THE PERCEPTIVE FACULTIES.
INTRoductory Observations.—The circumstances in which the following lectures were delivered, will, it is thought, account for the prominence given in them to many things merely elementary, as regards the science of mind and the philosophy of education. An audience favored with the advantages of high intellectual culture, or of long experience in instruction, o loubtless, have required a dif‘erent treatment of many topics .. in such a course of lectures as the present. But a losg series of yet soccupied in the training of teachers, has proved to the author of the present communication, that the greater number of candidates for the office of instruction, and of those to whom its duties are comparatively new, need noshing so much as an elementary knowledge of motion; and of logic, in their connection with education, as the science which teaches the appropriate development and discipline of the mind. *
The Teacher's Aim in Instruction—Few teachers, at the present day, regard knowledge as the great end even of intefetual &luca. tion. Few are now unwilling to admit that the chief aimsof"their daily endeavors, as instructors and educators, should be to train, develop, and discipline the powers by which knowledge is acquired, rather than to attempt the immediate accumulation of knowledge itself. In prattice, however, and, more particularly, in the case of young teachers, and of those who follow the occupation as a transient one, and not as the vocation of a life-time, the eagerness for definite and apparent results, or even showy acquirements, too often induces the instructor to confine his attention to the mere mechanism of specific processes, —to the committing to memory, and the repetition of a set task, with or without the aid of explanation. This course he knows will nominally secure a single point in practice or effect. He thinks, perhaps, that, although not fully understood or appreciated now, it will certainly benefit the mind of his pupil at some future day, when his mind is more mature. Hence, we still have, in our school routine, too much of mere rule and repetition, detached fact and specific direction, the lesson of the hour and the business of the day, and too little of the searching interrogation, close observation, reflective thought, and penetrating investigation, by which alone the mind can be trained to the acquisition of useful knowledge, or the attainment of valuable truth. Necessity of Plan and Method.—The master builder, when he goes to oversee his workmen, and watch their progress in the work of raising the edifice, for the construction of which he has entered into contract, never fails to carry with him his plan of erection, and with that in his hand, for constaht reference, gives directions for even the minutest details in .#. He does nothing but in execution of his plan, and in strict agordance with it. The master builder thus reads a lesson to the gnaster instructor, (inward builder.) who, although he needs not plan in hand, for his peculiar work, needs it no less, ever present to his mind, if he wishes to become “a workman that needeth not to be ashamed;" if, in a word, he would enjoy the conscious pleasure of referring every day's labor to its destined end of building up the mental fabric in strength, and symmetry, and enduring beauty... • The young teacher, as he reviews the business of the day with his pupils—and would that this were a daily practice in every school!—
*The series of lectures of which the present forms a part, extended to the departments of physical and moral training. But those on the progress of intellectual culture. are selected as more easily presented in the form of a series of articles for an educational Journal.
should ever refer, in his own mind, at least, to the general effect of .
every exercise, as tending to the great results of education,--to the expansion of the mind, to the formation of habits of observation and inquiry, to control over attention, to the clearing and sharpening of the percipient faculties, to the strengthening of the mind's retentive power, to securing, in a word, intellectual tendency and character, as the basis of moral development and habit. The teacher, not less than the builder, should ever have, in his mind's eye, the plan of his edifice; aud while, during the whole process of erection, he wastes no time on fanciful theory or fantastic ornament, every operation which he conducts should be, to his own consciousness, part of a great whole, tending to a grand consummation. Text-books, processes, exercises, apparatus of every description, are properly, but the pliant tools, or the subject material, in the hands of the skillful teacher, by means of which he does his great work of “building up the being that we are;” and all these aids he arranges, selects, modifies, and applies, according to the system suggested by his plan and purpose. As the overseer and artificer of the mental fabric of character, the