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This Manual may be used with great advantage simply as Bible Selections for Reading in school. The “ Exercises ” may be read by the Teacher to the listening school, or they may be read responsively by Teacher and Pupils; but, as the result of my own experience in the use of these “Responsive Exercises,” their happiest and most efficient service is secured only when they are committed to memory, and recited responsively.
They give far more satisfaction to the young when they have made them their own, and are confined to no book in the use of them. When Teacher and Pupils, face to face, eye speaking to eye, can give back and forth these beautiful and impressive responses, the truth assumes to itself an added power and eloquence. The full volume of voice in a concert recitation gives dignity and effect to the utterance. And if the Teacher respond from a heart warm with the love of the truth, his or her response will bear back upon the hearts of the pupils a reflex influence as strong and persuasive as is the love and respect existing between them.
But objections will occur to some.
“Is this method practicable? Is it adapted to all schools, and to pupils of all ages ? Will it not take too much time from the already crowded labors of the day?”
Both teachers and schools are variously adapted to the use of the different methods previously indicated. Each teacher, therefore, may choose for himself or herself that method which promises the best results.
Five years of happy, successful experience in the use of these Bible Exercises, in a school of both sexes and of all ages from five to sixteen years, has answered these questions to my own abundant satisfaction.
I have found the Bible, by this method, a pillar of strength in government and moral influence. And these Responsive Exercises, memorized, became, with the pupils, the favorite general exercise of the day.
No Bible tasks were required. Not more than ten minutes were allowed daily to the Bible lesson. On commencing a new exercise, but one or two responses were learned the first day; these were practised, however, with the greatest care as to correctness of the wording, distinctness of articulation, concert of voices, and beauty of expression. Thus these ten minutes proved most efficient practice in articulation and elocution. Then followed a short prayer, making some passage just recited prominent. The next morning, the lesson of the previous day was first reviewed, and a little more added thereto. Thus the Exercise grew day by day to completion; the teacher always taking the greatest care so to vary it that weariness should never be the result.
It is not the quantity of Bible truth thrust upon the young that is to be effectual in their lives. A little, every day, pleasantly and feelingly impressed, will bring forth fruit in the life that now is, and the life to come.
In this method of responsive recitation, the Bible is made its own commentator, it impresses its own truths. And this is well, since comment so easily slides into sectarian grooves.
Two uniform positions are found necessary for a school, in order to secure that attention and stillness which are indispensable to the enjoyment of this method. First position, that of attention, to be maintained during the lesson; and second position, that of devotion, the bowed head.
As the term opens with the Bible, progresses with it, so it may close with it.
After the ordinary reviews of Examination are finished, let Teacher and Pupils together rehearse the lessons of Divine Wisdom treasured during the term, and ample testimony will be given to the impressive beauty of the exercise.
As teachers, let us not rest satisfied with this exchange, --so much arithmetic, geography, and grammar for so much money. Let us work on a higher plane, — work with the great Future in view. Let us educate the children and youth of America to be a strength and an ornament to their country