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The peculiar traits of each character should be developed ; it should not be attempted to impress a foreign mark upon them; just actors are wont to select not the best parts, but those most suitable to them.
It should not be claimed that there is no art or science of training up to virtue. Remember how absurd it would be to believe that even the most trifling employment has its rules and methods, and at the same time that the highest of all departments of human effort-virtue—can be mastered without instruction and practice.
We came into the world entirely ignorant, and with incapable bodies, but with the capacity to learn.
Man learns incredibly much in the first years of his life, by mere experience, without any instruction at all.
Impressions on the senses supply the first materials of knowledge. Therefore it will be well to present these impressions in a proper order. Especially should the results of sceing be compared with those of feeling.
By motion they learn the idea of space, so that they no longer grasp aster distant objects.
Children speak at first a universal natural language, not articulated, but accented and intelligible.
Nurses understand this language better than others, and talk to the children in it.
What words are used in it are indifferent; it is only the accent which is important.
It is assisted also by the children's gestures and the rapid play of their features.
Crying is their expression for hunger, heat, cold, &c.
Their grown up guardians endeavor to understand this crying and to stop it; but often misunderstand it, and try to stop it by flattery or blows.
The first crying of children is a request.
They begin by helping themselves, and end by causing themselves to be waited on.
All the bad conduct of children arises from weakness.
Before we come to our understandings, there is no morality in our actions; although we sometimes see manifestations of it in the susceptibilities of children to the actions of others.
The tendencies of children to destructiveness are not the result of wickedness, but of vivid impulses to activity.
Children should be helped when it is necessary; but no notice should be taken of their mere notions; and they should be made to help themiselves as much as possible.
Causeless crying will be best cured by taking no notice of it. For even children dislike to exert themselves for nothing.
Crying can be soothed by drawing the child's attention to some striking object, without letting it know that you are paying it any special attention.
Costly playthings are superfluous. Cheap and simple ones are precisely as good.
Nurses can entertain children very much by telling them stories.
Some few easily pronounced words should be often pronounced to the child, names of things which should be shown to them at the same time,
ROUSSEAU. (To be continued.)
WHETHER the absurd method of teaching Geography, which obtained in the early part of the present century, is now practised to any considerable extent, or not, in our country, is matter of conjecture. In districts remote from educational centres, where few if any conventions of teachers are held, and opportunities for comparing views among members of the fraternity are rare, improvements are tardily introduced, and the traditional modes of a less enlightened day, are, in such localities at least, doubtless adhered to. The memoriter lesson is marked, “Get from here to here," and, the language learned and recited “word for word like the book,” according to order, the pupil is dismissed with approbation, — "perfect, not having missed a word.” Ay; he had missed no word; but what ideas has he acquired? What has he learned of the form of the countries; their relative positions on the earth; the habits of their people; their productions, climate, and so forth? Can he give you any rational account of any of these? Is he able to describe the form of the territory, or its surroundings ? Can he indicate the direction of it from his own home, or answer any of the numerous inquiries that the subject naturally suggests to the mind ?
When we confine ourselves to the strict and meagre definition of the word geography,-a description of the earth, — we exclude a
a large amount of valuable knowledge, which is so intimately connected with geography, as to be claimed as part and parcel with it; orif this is saying too much — should, at any rate, be studied along with it.
There is not, perhaps, in the whole range of studies introduced into our schools, one so suggestive as that of geography; a study which so naturally introduces so extensive a circle of connected subjects; subjects that can more appropriately and naturally be taken up with geography than by themselves or in any other connection. Geography, therefore, needs to be taught; and, without wholly discarding the text-book, the subject should exist mainly in the teacher's
mind, that, having drawn, as it were, the text from the book,
the discourse upon it should emanate from the living soul of the instructor. Thus, and thus only, as it seems to me, can that life and spirit be imparted to it so indispensable to infuse the principle of reality.
Hence, there exists a necessity, more or less pressing, for introducing, in these Letters, some account of what may, perhaps, be considcred a better method than that of our fathers.
The most effectual way of teaching geography, unquestionably, is to visit the spot of earth under consideration, and there make it the subject of inspection, remark and explanation. No description in language can equal this, nor convey to the mind of the learner any conception of the reality to be compared to it. Next to this is the sceing of the figure of it in material form, with due proportions preserved, - the larger the better, — with all the variety introduced that belongs to the original, as far as the size of the copy will admit. Next, a drawing of the same, including all the lines and boundaries, representing countries, districts, cities, seas, rivers, lakes, mountains, &c.
Proceeding in this order, then, — first by personal inspection, second by the artificial globe, and third by maps,— we are prepared for the filling up of language, describing to the learner whatever he may not fully comprehend, and furnishing such information respecting the productions, people, climate, government, and institutions of the region, as are most important to be known.
We will suppose, then, that there is in the school-room an artificial globe, to which the attention of all the pupils is to be called, and the representation of its great natural divisions of land and water pointed out; first, so far as the “four quarters of the globe ” are concerned, and the oceans and seas connected therewith. This is as far, perhaps, as the subject could be successfully unfolded to all classes and all ages and grades of mind in the school at once.
The lowest class, or beginners in the study, should now be taught the definitions of the names of the simplest objects, – land and water, - the pupils, at the same time, sketching them, one by one, on their slates or paper, — the teacher having first given their forms and names on the black-board. If the learners first copy the figures from the teacher's drawings, there can be no objection. Many would, doubtless, nced this assistance, particularly the very young, at the start. There is no injury done to them by this kind of aid. It is necessary only to stop short of the point where the child's mind and thought are to be principally exercised. At first he will and must be an imitator. Nay, the same instruction must be again and again repeated.
To say that the child is “stupid” will never enlighten him. It may, and doubtless will, mortify him, perhaps discourage him, and excite a spirit of anger or dislike towards the teacher. But great consideration must be exercised towards children, whose stock of ideas is very scanty, and who are entitled to, not only a large extension of patience on the part of the teacher, but of encouragement also.
When the lesson – which should be a short one - has occupied a sufficient amount of time and attention, the black-board should be sponged clean, and the sketches of the pupils be removed from slates and papers. The catechetical exercise should follow; and, as the pupil answers the question, “ What is a cape ?” he should be required to draw it on the black-board. It will be found useful, at first, mnemonically, to present certain questions in pairs,— giving those relating to land divisions along with the similar ones in connection with the water, as an island and a lake; a small island and a pond; a cape and a bay; a sea and a continent, &c.
When these simple terms for natural divisions have been fully mastered, so as to be known by sight and name, the child should commence map-drawing. Let it begin with his own play-ground or house-lot, extended to the public square, mall, common, or other wellknown enclosure in his neighborhood, and thus carried on till the town or village is pictured before him. If he is capable of it, he should be required to introduce the various mountains, hills, rivers, lakes, ponds, brooks, &c., that are embraced within the limits of the sketch; but this would usually be too much to expect from beginners. Encourage him to attempt all that he can be reasonably expected to accomplish; but nothing more than he can comprehend and explain.
As he advances in grade, he will be able, with similar leading of the teacher, to give the outline of the State in which he lives. This, like the first step, may be made a very interesting class exercise. Let, for example, the subject be the State of Massachusetts. One boy gives, on the black-board, the form of the whole territory; th9 next is directed to mark the most easterly county; another the next in course; and so on to the most westerly. The most southerly is then described, followed by the next onward toward the north, till the most northerly is indicated. The members of the class are then called on for criticisms, and any one who detects an error in the form or locality of any county, is sent to the board to correct it.
The rivers, mountains, and cities or large towns, are then “located” in the same way; and, if appropriate instruction has been previously given, questions may be put as to the peculiarities of any of them, -as the heights of the mountains; the character of the
rivers— whether navigable, or not; whether used for power in manufacturing, or otherwise ; whether affording fish, or not, and what varieties ;- and of the cities, as for what, of a remarkable nature, they are distinguished. These details, and others in variety, will, however, as a general thing, be found better adapted to a more advanced stage in the course. But, as far as is attempted, all should be done thoroughly; the exercise to be repeated, from time to time, till every member of the class. is familiar with every part of the lesson, and each one can draw the whole, with a good degree of accuracy, from memory.
It is well for the pupil to fix in his mind the resemblance which any country or district of country bears to any object with which he is familiar; as Italy, in the form of a boot; South America, resembling a shoulder of mutton; and the like. Let this resemblance be real or fancied, it will aid him in his task.
When the pupils shall, by this method, have caught the inspiration from the teacher, they may be furnished with an engraved skeleton or outline map, selected at the teacher's discretion, for practice by them. selves. Much time, which would otherwise, perhaps, be lost or wasted in idleness, may be thus occupied in filling it up, improving their knowledge of geography, and their style of writing and printing, at the same time.
Some schools that I have known have, by a similar course, become remarkably expert in map-drawing, -- securing accuracy of form and proportion, as well as beauty of coloring and penmanship, in the various styles of chirography and pen-printing.*
The other States of the Union may be taken up in the same way, followed by a combination of the New England States; the Middle, the Southern and Western ; and, finally, making a grand review of the United States, in one map. Frequent reviews, from point to point, would be necessary to keep the mind familiar with the ground gone
Before proceeding further with the American continent, it would be well to cross the Atlantic, and take up the British Islands; sketch the outline of Great Britain, and fill up, as on this side of the water. Thence, cross the Channel to the continent of Europe; make an outline of the whole, and divide the countries as was done by the counties in the lesson on the State of Massachusetts. Subsequently, draw the countries separately, and practise upon them till the form of each one becomes as familiar to each pupil's eye as that of his
* That of William B. Fowle, of Boston, especially.