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REWARD-GIVING IN SUNDAY SCHOOLS.
Mr. Editor, -I think that the checks of many a right-hearted Christian teacher must have been tinged with a blush of honest shame, when reading the letter of a Sunday School Secretary, of Cambridgeshire, in the February Magazine, on this subject. That such arguments and assertions should be presented to the great body of Sunday-school teachers, in the present day, by one of their own number, is to my mind, a very lamentable and humiliating fact. Whether the article is the real expression of the mind of the writer, I am at a loss to decide ; but, supposing the latter to be the case, 1 beg to offer to my brother, and all others whom it may concern, a few observations in reply.
In the first paragraph, after quoting the admirable principle laid down by a Union Secretary in the January Magazine, p. 42, your correspondent observes, " that there are many children attending Sunday schools who are too young to imbibe this, and who would seldom, if ever, be in time for the opening services of the schools, if no rewards were given.” Now, really this is too bad. Where did the worthy Secretary get his information from? On what fact does he ground his assertion, that these little ones would seldom, if ever, be in time, if no rewards were given ? I must beg leave, in the name of the young ones, to deny this sweeping statement
In the school, which it is my happiness to superintend, we have an unusually large proportion of very young children, but we have quite as many present at the opening service now, without any reward or inducement, as we had some years back, when we practised the ticket system, and I will engage to say also, quite as many as in schools generally where the system still prevails.
Passing by the illustration, which all hinges on " probably," " perhaps," and such like terms, (and indeed, the same may be said of the entire article, which from first to last, is based on opinion, unsustained by a single fact), we come to a startling sentence, “It is very difficult, indeed, almost impossible, to teach children to come to the Sunday school, because it is right, if you do not bestow rewards for so doing.” Now, here again, in the name of the maligned little ones, I must enter my protest. It is neither “almost impossible," nor “very difficult,” nor at all difficult, but the simplest thing imaginable, if the teachers will only heartily enter into it. Against these vague surmises I will place this fact,--that our school, where rewards have not been given for years, is larger in proportion to the congregation, than any other school in the town. Your correspondent proceeds to argue that we are to begin by holding out some little inducement, and when they are old enough they may love to attend from better motives. I have heard of reasoning backwards, and this certainly is a fair specimen; begin wrong, and by and by they will set themselves right-begin by appealing to their lower, their selfish motives, and as they grow older they will acquire a taste for the higher and more spiritual motives. Nos Sir, begin right-teach them to love and serve God, as both their duty and their highest pleasure, and not for what they can get by it. Let our friend turn to p. 80 in the February magazine, and he will find this homely truth,
"To unlearn is harder than to learn, &c.," and every teacher can vouch for the correctness of the axiom; but according to his theory we are to sow to the ignoble, and expect to reap the noble-to sow to the flesh, and expect to reap the spirit. This is certainly contrary to the Scripture rule, that whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. There is, alas, in the present day, far too much of this commercial element in the churchso much service for so much return-and how can it be wondered at, when in the Sunday school--the very nursery of the church—we give the first lesson, taking the little ones, just as their minds are opening, and teaching them to do right, not for the pleasure there is in doing it, but for the sake of what they can get by it.
A step further on, after having got the child to attend school by means of this fictitious inducement, it is assumed, that "he May, sometime or other, be so struck by the prayer that is offered up to the throne of grace, by the superintendent or teacher opening school, as to cry out, 'what must I do to be saved?” And equally true, he may not, and so far as I can judge, the chances are, that the child will be thinking more about the tickets than the prayer ; at any rate, I can speak again from experience, and say, that a large number of our own children are really, in the best sense, hopeful characters—and many of them are at this very time anxiously enquiring their way to Zion, with their faces thitherward.
The hope expressed in the closing sentence, " that where no such practice exists, they may see ample reason to adopt rewards at once,” is, I very much fear, thrown away. I have not the slighest idea that where once discontinued they will ever be renewed. No, Sir, “No man having tasted the old wine straightway desireth new, for he saith the old is better.” Adopt them at once! What turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, after having been free from these trammels for years, after having taught our little ones to love God from pure and holy motives ; after having witnessed a large amount of fruit from seed thus sown, shall we stoop again to the earthly, selfish, debasing element ? No, verily, let us who are free, stand fast in our liberty, and take heed, lest we become again entangled with the yoke of bondage, and let us show to our brethren who doubt it, that children are susceptible of right impressions; can appreciate pure motives, and do come to our schools, and come early too, not for the loaves and fishes, but because they love to be there. I wish our friend from Cambrigeshire could pop in, and hear our little ones, as they sing with a gusto
" For 'tis there we all agree,
Yours very truly,
A COUNTRY SUPERINTENDENT.
TALENT AND CHARACTER. A TALENT is perfected in solitude ; a character in the stream of the world.--GOETHE,
EFFECTS OF PARENTAL OPPOSITION.
A Sunday school girl, ten years old, was spoken of as going to her school in opposition to the wishes of her parents. She persisted till she was actually forbidden, and told that if she continued to go, she would be turned away from home. Her father said that he was going to be obeyed or he would turn her adrift, and let her find a home for herself. Both her parents, and all the family besides this little girl, were exceedingly regardless of religion. They attended no place of worship, and all were banded together against this little girl. So on this Sabbath morning all were sitting together after breakfast, when she went up stairs and prepared herself for the Sunday school. On coming down, she told her father she was going to the Sunday school, that she hoped he would not be offended, that it was God's holy day, and God had commanded to keep the Sabbath holy; that she could not keep it holy and stay at home, and do as they all did; but when she went to the Sunday school she felt sure she was doing right, and when she stayed away she felt sure she was doing wrong. So she had made up her mind to go, and bidding them all an affectionate and pleasant "good morning,” she started for her school. The father went to the window and watched her on her way for some time. At length he said " I think I will go after her." The mother said, “I think I will go too" So they both went to the Sunday school. There was a rule of the school that they would not receive visitors except on certain occasions. When these parents came to the door, they were told what the rule was, and they went on to state the reasons of their coming, and begged hard to be admitted, that they might see for themselves what the Sunday school was. They were admitted, attended to the exercises of the school, were well pleased, spoke kindly to their little daughter after school, and invited her to go home. She said, “Oh! no, not now, come into the church, let us hear the sermon, then we will go home.” They went into the church, heard, were awakened, and went home in a state of deep anxiety. Their religious convictions deepened. They felt the need of pardon, sought and obtained it. That father, mother, and that little daughter, all stood together in a little time, to make a public profession of their faith in Christ.
PESTALOZZIAN PRINCIPLES AND THEIR CONSEQUENCES.
The actual substance of Pestalozzi's principles of education may be thus stated :
1. The basis of education is not to be constructed, but to be sought ; it exists in the nature of man.
2. The nature of man contains an inborn and active instinct of development; is an organized nature ; and man is an organized being.
3. True education will find that its chief hindrances are, passive obstructions in the way of development; its work is more negative than positive.
4. Its positive work consists in stimulation : the science of education is a theory of stimulation, or the right application of the best motives.
5. The development of man commences with natural perceptions through the senses ; its highest attainment is, intellectually, the exercise of reason; practically, independence.
6. The means of independence and self-maintenance is, spontaneous activity.
7. Practical capacity depends much more upon the possession of intellectual and corporeal power, than upon the amount of knowledge. The chief aim of all education, instruction included,) is therefore the development of these powers.
8. The religious character depends much less upon learning the Scriptures and the catechism, than upon the intercourse of the child with a God-fearing mother and an energetic father. Religious education, like all other, must begin with the birth of the child; and it is principally in the hands of the mother.
9. The chief departments for the development of power, are form, number and speech. The idea of elementary training is, the notion of laying, within the nature of the child, by means of domestic education (the influence of father, mother, brothers, and sisters,) the foundations of faith, love, of the powers of seeing, speaking, and reflecting, and by the use of all the means of education, according to the laws and methods of development included within nature itself.
The consequences follow of themselves. They are these :
1. The family circle is the best place for education; the mother's book the best school-book.
2. All instruction must be based upon training the intuitive faculty. The first instruction is altogether instruction in seeing; the first instruction on any subject must be the same, in order to obtain a fruitful, active and real comprehension of it. The opposite of this is the empty and vain mode of mere verbal instruction. First, the thing itself should be taught, and afterward, as far as possible, the form, the representation, and
The first portion of instruction consists in naming things and causing the names to be repeated, in describing them and causing them to be described. After this, it should be the teacher's prime object to develope spontaneous activity, and for that purpose to use the forementioned progressive and inventive method of teaching.
4. Nothing should be learnt by rote without being understood ; the practice of learning by rote should be confined to mere matters of form. In the method of oral communication with the scholars is to be found an adequate measure for estimating the clearness and activity of the scholar's power of seeing, and his knowledge.
5. The chief inducements to the right and the good are not fear and punishment, but kindness and love.
HUMILITY ONE SIGN OF GREATNESS. I BELIEVE the first test of a truly great man is his humility. I do not mean by humility doubt of his own power, or hesitation in speaking his opinion; but a right understanding of the relations between what he can do and say, and the rest of the world's sayings and doings. All great men not only know their business, but know usually that they know it; and are not only right in their main opinions, but they usually know that they are right in them ; only they do not think much of themselves on that account. Arnolfo knows that he can build a good dome at Florence; Albert Dürer writes calmly to one who had found fault with his work, “It cannot be better done;" Sir Isaac Newton knows that he has worked out a problem or two that would have puzzled any one else: only they do not expect their fellow-men, therefore, to fall down and worship them; they have a curious undersense of powerlessness, feeling that the greatness is not in them, but through them; that they could not do or be anything else than God made them. And they see something divine and God-made in every other man they meet, and are endlessly, foolishly, incredibly merciful. The slightest manifestation of jealousy or self complacency is enough to mark a second rate character of the intellect.-Ruskin.
THE ANIMAL ECONOMY,
You should remember that injustice to any one part of the frame is felt by sympathy with every other part of your animal household-Health is in equilibrium. If you unduly tax any one power or portion of the frame, you do it at the expense of the health and strength of some other portion. Look at a person with weak lungs, but large mental powers, Alas! alas ! and this person will read, will think. The poor lungs say, we are very weak; take us out for a walk to-day." The brain says, "My dear, hold your tongue; I want to read this book." The lungs say, "We feel very hungry; you know we did not have our fair proportion of blood yesterday; you, dear brain, you took not only your own portion, but a large proportion of ours. O, now do pay us back to-day." "My dear lungs," says the brain, " I must master this section of chemistry to-day.” “Ah, to-day," say the lungs, “we feel weaker than ever; really you do take so much blood, dear brain ; you do require so much looking after, I am quite fagged and exhausted, and alas! I am very sorry to say it, but there is the lower portion of my right lung; I have not been able to send any blood to it at all, and it is getting very dangerous, very weak. Now, to day, throw aside the books; just let us take a gentle walk together.” “Pooh ! pooh !" says the brain, “I am in a most delightful reverie." - Re of a Water Patient at Malvern.