The Infant System
Samuel Wilderspin

Part 3 out of 7

of the body on the arms; and this exercise will be found to strengthen
the muscles, and give vigour to the whole frame. In a large school
there should be two swings of this kind,--one for the girls, and the
other for the boys. The teachers must, however, be careful the first
few weeks, to train the children to look about them: this they are
but little disposed to do, hence the most impressive manner should be
adopted, and I will venture to say, should any injury be sustained
by the children, the fault _will not be theirs_. The effect of the
instruction thus urged will be valuable in other cases; for a child,
thus taught to watch against accident, will be careful in passing
crossings, and going through crowded streets, and thus be likely to
escape many dangers into which others fall. This exercise may also be
accompanied by instruction, as the children may repeat "The Cow," or
"The Sheep," or any other lesson, as the measure of the time
during which four may have the swing. It will, moreover, afford an
opportunity for detecting the selfishness of some children, by their
wishing to keep the ropes too long, and the passion of others, from
the vehemence with which they will insist on their rights; but, as on
such occasion, both are to be forbidden to swing any more that day,
they will soon learn to bear and forbear.

In the event of a child being thrown down from standing in the way,
all the children should be placed in the gallery, and this one shewn
them. If it appear hurt, all will pity it; let then the question be
put, How did this happen? and the answer will be, perhaps, "Please,
sir, because he did not make use of his eyes." Here, then, is full
opportunity to inculcate caution, and to inform and benefit the whole.
For example: the master may say, How many senses have we? The children
will answer, Five. _Master_.--Name them. _Children_.--Hearing, seeing,
smelling, tasting, and feeling. _M_. Where are the organs of sight?
_C_. Here (pointing to the eyes). _M_. Look at this child, and see if
he has them. (Here an inspection will take place, the sufferer will
look sheepish, and begin to perceive he has not made the best use of
the sense of seeing, whilst the singular observations of the children
will sharpen his faculties, and make such an impression as to cause
him to be more cautious in future; and many a scholar who is sitting
in judgment will profit by the circumstance.) I have known the lives
of several children saved by such simple lessons, and they are of as
much importance as any that are taught, though I am not quite sure
that all the teachers will think so. Too many, to save trouble, will
find fault with the swing; and I have known several instances where
the swing had been taken down in consequence. We have found the swing
answer in all three countries; it strengthens the muscles, which, in
physical education, is a matter of the highest importance. It has been
introduced into juvenile schools with similar success; and, also, in
ladies' boarding-schools I have personally inspected tine effects
produced. Under all these circumstances, and in every instance, I have
found the most beneficial effects produced, provided the exercise was
properly regulated and superintended. It will not do, therefore, to
have this important part of the system dispensed with. The teachers
must be present at all the exercises in the play-ground, or, more
properly speaking, the training-ground. Non-attention to this is a
capital error; and, if persisted in, must be followed with dismissal.



_Teachers should practice what they teach--Necessity of patience--Mere
automatons will not do for infant teachers--Disadvantage of using
excessive restraint--A master and mistress more efficient than two
mistresses--Objections to the sole government of females--Two frequent
use of Divine names should be avoided--General observations._

* * * * *

--"Such authority, in shew, When most severe and minist'ring all its
force, Is but the graver countenance of love, Whose favour, like the
clouds of spring may lower, And utter now and then an awful voice,
But has a blessing in its darkest frown, Threat'ning at once and
nourishing the plant."--_Thomson_.

* * * * *

I enter on this chapter with a full recollection of the painful sense
of incompetency I endured on becoming "a teacher of babes;" and this,
I trust, will enable me to offer any remarks on the present subject
with the humility that is desirable, blended with the confidence of
experience. It is a very common idea, that almost any person can
educate little children, and that it requires little or no ability;
but it will be found, on an enlightened and correct estimate of the
work, that this is a very great mistake: and I regret that this
mistake has been made by those who professed to understand the system,
and who have written upon it. But there is just this slight difference
between theory and practice: theory supposes such and such things to
be correct, which was my own case; but twelve months only of practical
effort very soon convinced me I was wrong. How frequently, for
instance, may we find children, ten or twelve years of age, who cannot
answer the most simple question, and who, nevertheless, have been to
school for several years. To give the children correct notions, is a
part of education seldom thought of: but if we really wish to form the
character of the rising generation, and to improve the condition of
society generally, the utmost attention must be given to this object.
Little, I should think, need be said to prove, that few ideas are
given in dame-schools. There may be a few as to which an exception
should be made; but, generally speaking, where the children of
mechanics are usually sent before the age of seven years, no such
thing is thought of. The mind of a child is compared by Mr. Locke to a
sheet of blank paper, and if it be the business of a tutor to
inscribe valuable lessons on the mind, it will require much patience,
gentleness, perseverance, self-possession, energy, knowledge of
human nature, and, above all, piety,--simple, sincere, and practical
piety,--to accomplish so great a work with propriety and success.

Whoever is in possession of these requisites, with the addition of a
lively temper, pleasing countenance, and some knowledge of music,
may be considered as a proper person to manage an infant school;
and whoever has charge of such an institution will find numerous
opportunities of displaying each and all of these qualifications.
It would be almost useless to attempt to cure the bad tempers of
children, if the master should encourage and manifest such evil
tempers in his own conduct; for children are not indifferent to what
they see in others: they certainly take notice of all our movements,
and consequently the greatest caution is necessary. It will be of
little purpose to endeavour to inculcate suitable precepts in the
minds of the children, unless they see them shine forth in the conduct
of the teacher.

How strangely it would sound, if, when a teacher was explaining to his
pupils the sin of swearing, a child should say, "Please, sir, I heard
you swear;" and it is just the same as to those faults which some
may consider of minor importance,--such as the indulgence of angry
passions,--in the presence of children. It must always be understood,
that the essence of the plan is to allow the children to speak,--not
what they do not feel and think, which has been but too general,--but
what they do think and feel. This children will always do if rightly
trained. Yes, with modesty and decorum, but with power! What will the
old class of pedagogues say to this? What! allow pupils to tell you of
your faults! Certainly; they know them; at least, those committed in
their presence. They talk of them to themselves, why not to us? Some
of the best _lessons_ I ever got were under similar circumstances.

Persons, in such circumstances, cannot be too circumspect, as every
trifling fault will be magnified, both by parents and children.
Indeed, character is of so much importance, that the designs of
benevolent individuals are very often frustrated by appointing
improper persons to fill such situations. I have seen, more than once,
the interests of two hundred babes sacrificed to serve one individual;
and persons have been chosen merely because they had been unfortunate,
and to serve them they have been placed in a situation disagreeable
to themselves, and unprofitable to the children. It is one thing
to possess certain information, but it is another to be able to
communicate that information to infants. Patience is a virtue
absolutely indispensable, as it will frequently take the master or
mistress a whole hour to investigate a subject that may appear of
little or no importance: such as one child accusing another of
stealing a trifle,--as a plum, a cherry, a button, or any other thing
of little value. The complainant and defendant will expect justice
done to them by the master or mistress; and in order to do this, much
time and trouble will, in some cases, be necessary. Should a hasty
conclusion be formed, and the accused be punished for what he has not
been guilty of, the child will be sensible that an injury has been
done him, feel dissatisfied with his tutors, and, consequently,
will not pay them the respect they ought to have. Besides, it will
frequently be found, on examination, that the accuser is really the
most in fault, and I think I have convinced many children that this
has been the case, and they have retired satisfied with my decision.
For when a child is convinced that justice will be done him, he will
open his case freely and boldly; but if he has any idea that it will
be otherwise, he will keep one half of the facts in his own mind, and
will not reveal them. I once formed a hasty conclusion in the case of
two children, and happened to decide directly contrary to what I ought
to have done; the consequence was, that the injured child endeavoured
to do that for himself which he found I had not done for him, and
pleaded his own cause with the opposite party in the play-ground; but
finding that he could not prevail on him, and being sensible that he
had been wronged, he was so much hurt, that he brought his father the
next day, and we re-considered the case; when it was found that the
child was correct, and that I was wrong. Here I found how necessary it
was to exercise the utmost patience, in order to enable me to judge
rightly, and to convince my little pupils, that I had the greatest
desire to do them justice. I compare an infant school to a little
commonwealth, the head or governor of which is naturally the master.
An infant school master or mistress is not to consider anything
relating to the rights of his little community, as trifling or
unimportant. However justly it might be considered such in itself,
yet, comparatively, it is a matter of moment to the parties concerned,
and such therefore it should be esteemed by him who is the arbitrator
of their rights and the legislator and judge of the infant state. He
will have, indeed, to act the part of counsel, judge, and jury; and
although the children cannot find words to plead their own cause, yet
by their looks and gestures, they will convince you that they know
when you have rightly decided; and it appears to me, that the future
conduct of the children in the world, will depend, in a great measure,
upon the correctness of the master's decisions.

One would suppose, to hear the observations of some persons, that mere
automatons would do for masters and mistresses. By them the system is
considered as every thing, while the persons who are to teach it, have
been considered as secondary objects; but a system, however perfect in
itself, will be productive of little good, unless it be committed to
persons possessed of some degree of skill; as the best watch will
go wrong, if not properly attended to. We cannot, therefore, be too
circumspect in the choice of the persons to whom we commit the care
and education of the rising generation. There is something so powerful
in correctness of deportment, that even infants respect it; and this
will operate more on their minds than many imagine. It does not
appear necessary to me, that children should be kept under excessive
restraint by their tutors; they should rather be encouraged to make
their teacher their confidant, for by this means he will become
acquainted with many things, the knowledge of which it is essential
he should possess, both as it regards himself; and the welfare of his
pupils. If the child be enthralled, he will seek some other persons
to whom he may open his little mind, and should that person be
ill-disposed, the most serious consequences will not unfrequently
follow. I know the source from whence all assistance is derived, and I
am taught to believe, that such assistance will not be withheld from
those who diligently seek it. I am well aware that I shall have to
render an account of my stewardship to the Almighty, for every child
that may have been placed under my care, and I feel that to do so
unblameably, requires much assistance from above.

Let not those, then, who are similarly circumstanced with myself;
think that I address them in the spirit of arrogance, with a
pre-conceived opinion of my own sufficiency. I wish that all who teach
may be more fit for the situation than I am. I know many who are an
honour to their profession, as well as the situation they fill; but, I
am sorry to say, I think they do not all meet with the encouragement
they merit. It is not always those who do their duty the best that are
most valued; but if a man's conscience do not upbraid him, he has in
its approval a high reward.

And now, as to a matter on which there is some difference of opinion,
_viz_., whether women are or are not as fit for conductors of infant
schools as men; my decided opinion is, that _alone_ they are not.
There should be in every school a master and a mistress. In the first
place, in an infant school, the presence of the man, as of a father in
a family, will insure a far greater degree of respect and attention on
the part of the children. This does not arise from the exercise of any
greater degree of harshness or severity than a mother would be capable
of using; nor is it to be attributed, as some suppose, to the less
frequent presence of the father in the case of many families, but is
rather to be accounted for by an intuitive perception of the greater
firmness and determination of the character of the man. To those who
deny this, I would give as a problem for solution, a case by no means
unfrequent, and which most of my readers will have witnessed,--a
family in which the mother--by no means incurring the charge of
spoiling the child, by sparing the rod--is less heeded, less promptly
obeyed in her commands, than a father who seldom or never makes use of
any such means. The mother scolds, threatens, scourges, and is at last
reluctantly and imperfectly obeyed; the father, either with reference
to his own commands, or seconding those of the mother, _speaks_,
and is instantly regarded. The idea of disputing his authority, or
neglecting or disobeying his laws, never once enters the minds of his
children. Exactly the same is it in an infant school,--the presence of
a man insures attention and gains respect from the children, not only
at first, whilst the novelty of such control might be supposed to
operate, but permanently; as I am sure all who have candidly examined
the schools where two women preside, and those conducted by a man and
a woman, must have seen.

Another objection to the sole government of females (I mean the class
of females who are likely to accept such situations) in these schools,
is, they have not the physical strength, nor, at present, intellectual
powers, sufficient for the task. In saying thus, I trust I shall not
be suspected of wishing to offend my fair countrywomen. That they have
not sufficient physical strength is the intention of nature; that they
are deficient in mental energy is the defect of education. I trust,
therefore, that no offence will be assumed where no blame is attached.
It has been a point much disputed, whether there be really an original
and intrinsic difference in the mental powers of the two sexes, and it
has been of course differently decided by the respective disputants.
With this I shall have nothing to do; but these things are certain;
that the minds of _both_ are capable of much greater activity and more
important results than have been generally supposed; and that whilst
education has not done what it ought for man, it has done far less for
woman. This it is, then, which affords an additional argument in my
mind for a master and a mistress. For let it not be imagined, that
I would dismiss women altogether from the system--that I think them
useless or even dispensable in an infant school. If, indeed, one
or the other _must_ be done without, and I had my choice, I should
certainly give my voice for a woman; but to carry the system into full
effect requires _both_. There is ample opportunity for the offices of
maternal love, of which man is at best but a poor imitator; neither
can it be denied, that an active intelligent woman is a useful
auxiliary to the labours of the man in the duties of the school. The
authoritative presence of the man is the more necessary in the infant
system, because one grand object is, to rule without harshness, and
by that principle of love which is in no degree incompatible with the
respect felt for a kind but judicious schoolmaster. Some children,
indeed, so far as regards authority, might be very well managed by a
mistress only, but then it must be recollected that an infant school
exhibits every variety of temper and disposition; and even were it
otherwise, the objection as to intellectual incompetence and physical
strength, before adverted to, would still hold good.

Such, indeed, is the opinion of the unfitness of females for the
occupation of teaching, in Scotland, that in many places the very idea
of it is scouted. The people of that country have scarcely heard of a
_school-mistress_, even for the youngest children; and certain it is,
that education is much better conducted in Scotland than in most other
places. If the minds of children are to be cultivated, and a firm and
decided tone given to their characters, say they, what can be the use
of sending them to a school conducted by a woman only? And I must
candidly admit, that I perfectly agree with them on this head, and
have therefore deemed it my duty to be thus explicit on the matter.[A]

[Footnote A: I am sorry to say that, at this time, the people
of Scotland have been led into the same error, of which I have
complained. I did hope they would never have allowed themselves to be
led away from their old, judicious, and workable plans, far the sake
of party, or fashion; but so it is, and it is much to be regretted:
however, it is a consolation to know that it is not universal.]

One thing I must add, by way of conclusion: to render any man or woman
competent to discharge the duties of the situation efficiently, the
_heart_ of the teacher must be in the school. If there be not the zeal
of the amateur, the skill of the professor will be of little avail.
The maxim will apply to every species of occupation, but it is
peculiarly true as to that of an infant school teacher. To those who
can feel no other interest than that which the profit gives to the
employment, it will soon become not only irksome, but exceedingly
distasteful. But certain I am that it is possible to feel it to be
what it is--an employment not only most important, but likewise most
interesting. It is one which a philosopher might choose for the study
of the human character, and a philanthropist for its improvement.

One word more, and I have done. I have seen what I could have wished
had been otherwise, viz., not sufficient discrimination used in giving
_religious instruction_; improper times have been chosen, too much
_shew_ has been made of it, too much freedom has been used with _the
divine names_; and I have sometimes been so shocked at the levity
displayed, as to have considered it little less than _profanation_.

I wish to lay the utmost stress on what has been stated, as a failure
on the part of a master and mistress is most grievous and lamentable.
I have seen schools, where little or nothing has been done, because of
the inefficiency of the teachers. Moral and religious qualifications
are confessedly of the first importance, but those which are mental
are to be highly estimated. I differ with a gentleman who has written
on this subject, when he says, that any clever boy who has been
educated in a national school, will accomplish the end; because
the system through which he has passed neither gives a sufficient
knowledge of _things_ nor of _words_, nor does it sufficiently develop
the faculties to prepare him for such a service.

One cause of failure in these respects has been undoubtedly the paltry
remuneration which some receive, and I would earnestly recommend the
supporters and conductors of infant schools to try the effect of
liberality by all the means they can command. Persons of talent ought
to be found for this work, and then they should be appropriately paid;
but if _any_ are to be deemed suitable, and if the having them at a
low rate be a special reason for their engagement, it would be better
at once to revert to the old system, than to destroy, by such means,
the public confidence in the plans now suggested.

I entertain a full conviction that the infant system will flourish
most where I once least expected its adoption: I mean in Scotland,
because of the high importance attached to the essential
qualifications of teachers, and because of the attention and kindness
which they continually receive.

It is to be lamented that most of the schools connected with the
established church are managed by women only, whilst the schools
connected with the dissenters are generally conducted by a man and
woman; the consequence is, that the children educated under the
dissenters will be better taught than those connected with the
established church, which is an error I should be glad to see remedied
as soon as possible. I have no need to speak in favour of infant
school masters, as many of them have been the greatest enemies I ever
had, whilst on the contrary, the mistresses have generally been very
friendly to me, and not been subject to those petty jealousies which
the masters have too frequently evinced; nevertheless, the subject
treated of in this place involves a principle which cannot be conceded
without doing great injury to the infant system, and on those grounds
I advocate the necessity of a master in conjunction with the mistress.
Many teachers, and other persons who have written on the subject, have
talked largely of making improvements, whilst the hints given in this
book have been entirely neglected; as this was the first book that
ever was written on the subject, and the writer of it the first man
that ever brought the thing practically to bear, it sounds a little
odd, that people should talk about improvements before they have
pointed out the errors of the original inventor. Others again have
borrowed largely from me, and have neither had the good manners nor
the common honesty to say from whence they got their information.
Societies have been formed at the eleventh hour, after the infant
system had been twenty years in practice, who puff off books written
by some of their own members, which do not contain the original idea,
whilst my books, for some cause best known to themselves, have never
been recommended, or indeed ever mentioned, though I could take page
after page from those modern writers on the subject, and justly claim
them as my own. This is not what one ought to expect amongst people
who call themselves Christians: a truly good man is delighted to do
justice to his fellow-men, because in doing so, he never fails to
obtain justice himself; but there are some persons whose minds are so
truly selfish that they cannot see how good can accrue to themselves,
if they do what is right to others: and I regret to say I have met
with not a few, who have been engaged in the art of teaching, who have
been guilty of the mean and contemptible conduct I have hinted at
above, and it is to deter others from falling into the same errors
that I have ventured to allude to this subject at all. It would be
invidious to mention names, which I could very easily do, and should
this be persisted in, if I am spared, I shall most certainly mention
the parties by name. I would not be understood to say that no
improvements can be made in the infant system: far from it. No doubt
it will be improved, and that to a great extent; but that will only be
in process of time, and by practical people, who understand more
of the nature of the infant mind than I do, and may hereafter have
greater experience than I have had; but they must work hard for it,
as I have done, and be doers as well as talkers: and when I see such
improvements made, I trust the Almighty will enable me to be the first
to acknowledge them. At present, however, though I have travelled over
a large space, and visited many hundred schools, and also opened many
hundred, and have not yet seen the mighty improvements of which I have
read so much, and I do beg that those teachers who may be engaged in
the system will be kind enough to try my plans, prior to introducing
so many crotchets of their own. They are to recollect we never
intended to make prodigies of the little children; it never was our
object to teach them things that were only fit for men and women: the
fact must never be lost sight of that they are infants, and that as
infants they must be treated.

It is very easy for any one to theorise, and form schemes for the
education of children, and to introduce changes which may appear
beneficial. Fancy is very prolific, and a number of books may easily
be read, and yet the right knowledge not be gained. The chief book
to be studied is the infant mind itself, considered as a great and
wonderful work of the Creator, with a sincere desire to know all
its faculties and powers, and the various simple laws by which its
operations are governed. The teacher ought also to turn his thoughts
within himself, to study his own mind, especially in his recollections
of very early childhood, and the modes by which knowledge is gradually
acquired. These things, carefully and dilligently done, will give more
information on the proper method of educating and developing the young
mind than the perusal of a hundred volumes. This I have endeavoured
all my life to do, and have had to deal with many thousands of
children who have been to me a book for constant study. From this
extensive observation and experience, all my plans have been formed,
and my opinions derived. If any one has done the same, or more, to him
I will gladly concede; but I am not aware that any one individual, not
even Pestalozzi, has run a similar career.



_Classification--Getting the children into order--Language--Lessons
on objects--Rules to be observed by parents--Daily routine of
instruction--Opening prayer and hymn--Object or developing
lessons--Synopsis of a week's instruction--Cleanliness--Never frighten
children--Guard against forgetfulness--Observe punctuality--Be
strictly accurate in your expressions--Guard against the entrance of
disease--Maxims for teachers--Resolutions_.

* * * * *

"Whate'er is best administer'd is best."--_Pope_.

* * * * *

Having had considerable practice in teaching children in the various
parts of England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales, it may be necessary to
give a few hints on the subject of organizing an infant school. I
have generally found on opening one, that the children had no idea of
acting together. In order, therefore, to gain this object, it will be
found necessary to have recourse to what we call _manual lessons_,
which consist in the children holding up their hands all at one time,
and putting them down in the same manner; throwing the right or the
left foot out; putting their hands together, or behind them; or rising
from their seats all at one time; clapping hands, which is a very good
exercise; holding up their hands and twirling the fingers; holding up
the forefinger and bringing it down on the palm, in time to some tune;
imitating the action of sawing wood, and the sound produced by the
action of the saw; doing this both ways, as it is done in the saw-pit,
with both hands, and by the carpenter with the right; imitating the
cobbler mending shoes, the carpenter plaining wood, the tailor sewing,
and any other trade which is familiar and pleasing to children.

This we do in the first instance, because it is calculated to please
the infants, and is one grand step towards order. After the first day
or two, the children will begin to act together, and to know each
other; but until this is the case, they will be frequently peevish,
and want to go home; any method, therefore, that can be taken at first
to gratify them, should be adopted; for unless this can be done, you
may be sure they will cry. Having proceeded thus far, we have then to
class them according to their capacity and age, and according as they
shew an aptitude in obeying your several commands. Those who obey them
with the greatest readiness may be classed together.

I have found it difficult, at all times, to keep up the attention of
infants, without giving them something to do; so that when they are
saying the tables in arithmetic, we always cause them to move either
their hands or feet, and sometimes to march round the school. The best
way we have yet discovered is the putting their hands one on the other
every time they speak a sentence. If they are marching they may count
one, two, three, four, five, six, &c.

Having classed them, and found that each child knows its own place in
the school, you may select one of the cleverest of each class for a
monitor. Some of the children will learn many of the tables sooner
than the others; in this case, the teacher may avail himself of their
assistance, by causing each child to repeat what he knows in an
audible manner, the other children repeating after him, and performing
the same evolutions that he does; and by this means the rest will soon
learn. Then the master may go on with something else, taking care to
obtain as much assistance from the children as he can, for he will
find that unless he does so, he will injure his lungs, and render
himself unfit to keep up their attention, and to carry on the business
of the school.

When the children have learned to repeat several of the tables,
and the monitors to excite their several classes, and keep them in
tolerable order, they may go on with the other parts of the plan,
such as the spelling and reading, picture lessons, &c., which will
presently be described. But care must be taken that in the beginning
too much be not attempted. The first week may be spent in getting them
in order, without thinking of anything else; and I should advise
that not more than sixty children be then admitted, that they may be
reduced to order, in some measure, before any more are received, as
all that come after will quickly imitate them. I should, moreover,
advise visitors not to come for some time after a school is opened,
for several reasons; first, because the children must be allowed time
to learn, and there will be nothing worth seeing; secondly, they take
off the children's attention, and interfere with the master: and,
lastly, they may go away dissatisfied, and thereby injure the cause
which they intend to promote.

In teaching infants to sing, I have found it the best way to sing the
psalm or hymn several times in the hearing of the children, without
their attempting to do so until they have some idea of the tune;
because, if all the children are allowed to attempt, and none of them
know it, it prevents those who really wish to learn from catching the
sounds. Nothing, however, can be more ridiculous or absurd than the
attempts at singing I have heard in some schools. And here, I
would caution teachers against too much singing; and also against
introducing it at improper times. Singing takes much _out_ of the
teacher, which will soon be felt in the chest, and cause pain and
weakness there; and, if persevered in, premature _death_; and with
women much sooner than men. This is another reason why one of each
sex should be employed in the work. Singing is an exhilarating and
exciting lesson; the children always like it: but even they are
injured by the injudicious management of it, and by having too much of
it each day; or the having two or even three exciting lessons at the
same time. For example: I have seen children singing, marching, and
clapping hands at the same time; and they are prompted and led by the
teachers to do so. Here are three exciting lessons together, which
ought to be separate: the result is, a waste of energy and strength,
on the part of teacher and children, which is sometimes fatal to both.
The exciting lessons were intended to be judiciously blended with the
drier, yet necessary, studies. If the latter are neglected, and the
former only retained, no greater perversion of the plans could occur,
and a more fatal error could not be committed.

You must not expect order until your little officers are well drilled,
which may be done by collecting them together after the other children
are gone, and instructing them in what they are to do. Every monitor
should know his work, and when you have taught him this, you must
require it to be done. To get good order, you must make every monitor
answerable for the conduct of his class. It is astonishing how some
of the little fellows will strut about, big with the importance of
office. And here I must remark, it will require some caution to
prevent them from taking too much upon themselves; so prone are we,
even in our earliest years, to abuse the possession of power.

The way by which we teach the children hymns, is to let one child
stand in a place where he may be seen by the rest, with the book in
his hand; he then reads one line, and stops until all the children in
the school have repeated it, which they do simultaneously; he then
repeats another, and so on, successively, until the hymn is finished.
This method is adopted with every thing that is to be committed to
memory, so that every child in the school has an equal chance of

I have mentioned that the children should be classed: in order
to facilitate this, there should be a board fastened to the wall
perpendicularly, the same width as the seats, every fifteen feet, all
round the school; this will separate one class from another, and be
the cause of the children knowing their class the sooner. Make every
child hang his hat over where he sits, in his own class, as this will
save much trouble. "Have a place for every thing, and every thing in
its place." This will bring the children into habits of order. Never
do any thing for a child that he is able to do for himself; but teach
him to put his own hat and coat on, and hang them up again when
he comes to school. Teach every child to help himself as soon as
possible. If one falls down, and you know that he is able to get up
himself, never lift him up; if you do, he will always lie till you can
give him your aid. Have a slate, or a piece of paper, properly ruled,
hanging over every class; let every child's name that is in the class
be written on it, with the name of the monitor; teach the monitor the
names as soon as you can, and then he will tell you who is absent.
Have a semicircle before every lesson, and make the children keep
their toes to the mark; brass nails driven in the floor are the best,
or flat brass or iron let into the floor. When a monitor is asking
the children questions, let him place his stool in the centre of the
semicircle, and the children stand around him. Let the monitors ask
what questions they please, they will soon get fond of the process,
and their pupils will soon be equally fond of answering them. Suppose
the monitor ask. What do I sit on? Where are your toes? What do you
stand on? What is before you? What behind you? Let the monitors be
instructed in giving simple object lessons on any familiar substance,
such as a piece of wood, of stone, of iron, of paper, of bone, of
linen, &c. Let them question their class as to the qualities first,
and then the various uses to which the object is applied. These
lessons will be of incalculable benefit to the children, and give them
an early desire to inquire into the nature, qualities, and uses of
every natural object they come into contact with. We will suppose the
monitor holds in his hand a piece of leather; he first asks, "What is
this?" The children will simultaneously exclaim, "A piece of leather."
This being answered, he will proceed to the qualities, and will have
either from his class, or by his own help, the following answers: "It
is dry, it is smooth, it is hard, it is tough, it is pliable, it is
opaque," &c. He will then question them as to its uses, and will ask,
"What is made from leather?" A. Boots and shoes. Q. What use is it of
else? A. Books are bound with it; and so on through all its uses. He
will then ask them how leather is made, and give them information
which he has himself previously received from the teacher as to the
mode of tanning leather, and the various processes which it goes
through. Indeed, there is no end to the varied information which
children may thus receive from simple natural objects. At first they
will have no idea of this mode of exercising the thinking powers. But
the teacher must encourage them in it, and they will very speedily
get fond of it, and be able to give an answer immediately. It is very
pleasing to witness this. I have been much delighted at the questions
put, and still more so at the answers given. Assemble all the very
small children together as soon as you can: the first day or two they
will want to sit with their brothers or sisters, who are a little
older than themselves. But the sooner you can separate them the
better, as the elder children frequently plague the younger ones;
and I have always found that the youngest ones are the happiest by

In all cases let teachers be careful to avoid the "parrot system," and
to remember that while it is necessary to infuse a certain amount of
information into the child's mind, it can only be made its own by
drawing it back again and getting its own ideas upon it--this is
called development, which is a thing universally disregarded in almost
every school I have seen; and it is a general complaint made by almost
every modern writer on education; and many have objected to the infant
system on this account, because the teachers of it were not acquainted
with its end and essence. The true infant system is a system of
development; no other system can be of lasting benefit to the country
in general, nor to the pupils in particular; the genuine infant system
is not subject to the fundamental errors so much complained of; it has
been invented for the purpose of operating upon all the faculties, and
the machine must not be condemned merely because the teachers do not
know how to work it; but every committee, and each individual in a
committee, appear to lose sight of these principles, in order to try
how much originality may be displayed, and thus utility is sacrificed
to novelty; thus we may find as many infant systems as there are days
in the year; and I have been made chargeable by certain writers for
the errors of others; but these writers have not condescended to
examine into the merits of the system for which I have been so many
years an advocate.

But enough of this: we will now suppose that the little flock are
brought by thus time into something like order; we are next to
consider the means of securing other objects. Although the following
rules for this purpose are given, it must not be supposed, that they
are presented as a model not to be departed from. If they can
be improved so much the better, but some such will be found

* * * * *


_To be observed by the Parents of Children admitted into the ----
Infant School_.


Parents are to send their children clean washed, with their hair cut
short and combed, and their clothes well mended, by half-past eight
o'clock in the morning, to remain till twelve.


If any child be later in attendance than nine o'clock in the morning,
that child must be sent back until the afternoon; and in case of being
later than two in the afternoon, it will be sent back for the day.


Parents may send their children's dinners with them in the morning, so
that the children may be taken care of the whole day, to enable the
mother to go out to work. This can only be done where the teachers
reside on the premises.


If a child be absent for a length of time, without a notice being sent
to the master or mistress, assigning a satisfactory reason for the
absence, such child will not be permitted to return again to the

Saturday is a holyday.[A]

[Footnote A: In Ireland the schools do not commence business till ten
in the morning, and the children remain till three, and do not go home
in the interval. In Scotland the rules are nearly similar.]

*** It is earnestly hoped that parents will see their own interest, as
well as that of their children, in strictly observing these rules; and
they are exhorted to submit to their children being governed by the
master and mistress; to give them good instruction and advice; to
accustom them to family prayer; but particularly to see that they
repeat the Lord's prayer, when they rise in the morning, and when they
retire to rest, and assist in their learning the commandments; and to
set before them a good example; for in so doing, they may humbly
hope that the blessing of Almighty God will rest upon them and their
families; for we are assured in the holy Scriptures, that if we train
up a child in the way he should go, when he is old he will not depart
from it, Prov. xxii. 6. Therefore parents may be instrumental in the
promotion of the welfare of their children in this life, and of their
eternal happiness in the world to come.

* * * * *

On each of these rules I will make a few remarks.

_First rule_. Some parents are so habitually dirty, that they would
not wash their children from one week's end to another, unless
required so to do; and if it be done for them, they will not be so
thankful as when compelled to do it themselves. This I have found from

_Second rule_. This has its advantages; for it would not be right
to punish the children when the fault rests with their parents;
consequently, by sending them home, the real authors of the evil are
punished. Many parents have told me, that when their children were
at home, they employed themselves in singing the alphabet, counting,
patting their hands, &c. &c.; that it was impossible to keep an infant
asleep, that they were glad to get them out of the way, and that they
would take care that they should not be late again.

But there is no rule without an exception. I have found that this has
its disadvantages; for some of the elder children, when they wanted a
half-holiday, would take care to be late, in order to find the door
shut, although they were sent in proper time by their parents; this,
when detected, subjects them to a pat on the hand, which is the only
corporeal punishment we have. If this rule were not strictly enforced,
the children would be coming at all hours of the day, which would put
the school into such disorder, that we should never know when all the
children had said their lessons.

_Third rule_. This is of great service to those parents who go out
to work; for by sending their children's dinners with them, they are
enabled to attend to their employment in comfort, and the children,
when properly disciplined, will be no additional trouble to the
teacher, for they will play about the play-ground, while he takes his
dinner, without doing any mischief.

_Fourth rule_. Many persons will keep their children away for a month
or two when nothing is the matter with them, consequently the children
will lose almost all they have learned at school. Besides this,
children are kept out, who perhaps would attend regularly, and we
should never know how many children were in the establishment. If,
therefore, a parent does not attend to this rule, the child's name is
struck off the book.

On the admission of every child, the parents should be supplied with a
copy of the preceding rules, as this will prevent them from pleading
any excuse; it should be fastened on pasteboard, otherwise they will
double it up and put it into their pockets, and forget all about it;
but being on pasteboard, they may hang it up in their dwellings. The
short exhortation that follows, it is hoped, may have its use, by
reminding the parents of their duty to co-operate with those persons
who have the welfare both of themselves and their children at heart.
The reasons for the holiday of Saturday are, first, that the teacher
requires a rest, the infant system being so laborious. Second, that
the school-room requires to be thoroughly cleaned; and, thirdly, that
many of the mothers are obliged to wash the children's clothes on a
Saturday because they have not a sufficient change, and if they do
not have the Saturday, they will break the Sabbath by washing them on

I shall next speak of the _daily routine_ of instruction.

If we would be successful in our labours, we most ask for help,--we
must solicit aid from that Being who never yet denied it when
sincerely and fervently implored. A minister who desires to instruct
his flock with effect, never fails to commence his work with
supplication; and certainly every teacher must ask for help, and
instruct his pupils to do so too, if he really wish to be successful.
If the wisest and best of men ask assistance from God to teach their
fellow-men, and feel and know it to be necessary so to do, who would
not ask assistance to instruct infants?

"To lead them into virtue's path,
And up to truth divine."

If we had only to educate the _head_, prayer might be less necessary.
But the promoters of _infant schools_ want to affect the _heart_;
to operate upon the will and the conscience, as well as on the
understanding; to make good men rather than learned men--men of
_wisdom_, rather than men of _knowledge_: and he who has this work to
accomplish, should remember the Saviour's declaration, "Without me
ye can do nothing." Whilst therefore I would avoid too frequent
repetition of the divine names in tire presence of the children, and
never fail to let them know the difference between talking religion
and doing religion, and in every case avoid the very appearance of the
form without the essence, I would in such case, avoid long prayers,
and take care that what was said in their presence should be short,
and to the point, keeping in mind the scripture maxim, to avoid long
repetitions as the heathen do, who think they shall be heard for their
much speaking; and little children cannot have the simple truths of
the Word pourtrayed to them in too simple a manner.

To use prayers with little children composed of hard words taken from
scholastic theology, is contrary to common sense. How is it possible
that they can either understand or feel them? To utter prayer before
them in dull and melancholy tones, and with grimaces of countenance,
is calculated to give a false and gloomy impression of religion, and
has often done so. I have known little children alarmed and frightened
at such things; for sounds and appearances speak more strongly to
them than words.--Christ said of the Pharisees, "they disfigure their
faces." Our Saviour's direction is, after this manner, pray ye--"Our
Father," thus directing us to draw near to the Most High God as a
heavenly father, rich in mercy to all them that call upon him. True,
indeed, it is that "all have sinned," but a "new and living way" is
provided whereby we may "draw near with boldness to a throne of grace
to obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." Cowper never
penned a truer line than this;

"True piety is cheerful as the day;"

and such an impression of it should ever be given to the young. The
best prayer of a master for his children, is the perpetual and strong
desire of his heart for God's blessing upon them, which, when genuine
and sincere, will without doubt be recorded on high, and will also
urge him on to a faithful and unceasing discharge of his duties
towards them. To possess this is indeed to "pray without ceasing," and
will prevent an unnecessary multiplication of "long prayers," "vain
repetitions," and "much speaking."

But to proceed. The children being assembled, should be desired to
stand up, and immediately afterwards to kneel down, all close to their
seats, and as silently as possible: those who are not strong enough to
kneel, may be allowed to sit down. This being done, a child is to
be placed in the centre of the school, and to repeat the following

"O God, our heavenly Father, thou art good to us: we would serve thee;
we have sinned and done wrong many times. Jesus Christ died on the
cross for us. Forgive our sins for Jesus' sake; may the Holy Spirit
change our hearts, and make us to love God; help us to-day to be good
children and to do what is right. Keep us from wicked thoughts and
bad tempers; make us try to learn all that we are taught; keep us in
health all the day. We would always think of God, and when we die may
we go to heaven. God bless our fathers and mothers, and sisters and
brothers, and our teachers, and make us obedient and kind, for Jesus
Christ's sake. Amen."

Perhaps it would be better under all the circumstances, to use a
simple prayer out of the Book of Common Prayer.

The children afterwards repeat the Lord's prayer, and then sing a
hymn; for instance, the following:

When first the morning light we see,
And from our beds arise,
We to our God should thankful be,
Who every want supplies.

'Twas God who made the brilliant sun,
That gives all day its light;
And it was God who made the moon
And stars, which shine at night.

The fish that in the water swim,
The beasts upon the land,
Were all created first by Him,
And shew His mighty hand.

The food we eat, the clothes we wear,
'Tis God alone can give;
And only by His love and care,
Can little children live.

Then let us ever caution take,
His holy laws to keep;
And praise him from the time we wake,
Until again we sleep.

Immediately after this they proceed to their lessons; which are fixed
to what are called lesson-posts. To each of these posts there is a
monitor, who is provided with a piece of cane for a pointer. This post
is placed opposite to his class; and every class has one, up to which
the monitor brings the children three or four at a time, according
to the number he has in his class. We have fourteen classes, and
sometimes more, which are regularly numbered, so that we have one
hundred children moving and saying their lessons at one time. When
these are gone through, the children are supplied with pictures, which
they put on the post, the same as the spelling and reading lessons,
but say them in a different manner. We find that if a class always
goes through its lessons at one post, it soon loses its attraction;
and consequently, although we cannot change them from post to post in
the spelling and reading lessons, because it would be useless to put a
child to a reading post that did not know its letters, yet we can do
so in the picture lessons, as the children are all alike in learning
the objects. One child can learn an object as quick as another, so
that we may have many children that can tell the name of different
subjects, and even the names of all the geometrical figures, who do
not know all the letters in the alphabet; and I have had children,
whom one might think were complete blockheads, on account of their
not being able to learn the alphabet so quickly as some of the other
children, and yet those very children would learn things which
appeared to me ten times more difficult. This proves the necessity of
variety, and how difficult it is to legislate for children. Instead,
therefore, of the children standing opposite their own post, they go
round from one to another, repeating whatever they find at each post,
until they have been all round the school. For instance, at No. 1 post
there may be the following objects; the horse, the ass, the zebra, the
cow, the sheep, the goat, the springing antelope, the cameleopard, the
camel, the wild boar, the rhinoceros, the elephant, the hippopotamus,
the lion, the tiger, the leopard, the civet, the weazel, the great
white bear, the hyena, the fox, the greenland dog, the hare, the mole,
the squirrel, the kangaroo, the porcupine, and the racoon. Before
commencing these lessons, two boys are selected by the master, who
perhaps are not monitors. These two boys bring the children up to a
chalk line that is made near No. 1 post, eight at a time; one of the
boys gets eight children standing up ready, always beginning at one
end of the school, and takes them to this chalk line, whilst the other
boy takes them to No. 1 post, and delivers them up to the charge of
No. 1 monitor. No. 1 monitor then points to the different animals with
a pointer, until the name of every one that is on his plate has been
repeated; this done, he delivers them to No. 2 monitor, who has a
different picture at his post; perhaps the following: the fishmonger,
mason, hatter, cooper, butcher, blacksmith, fruiterer, distiller,
grocer, turner, carpenter, tallow-chandler, milliner, dyer, druggist,
wheelwright, shoemaker, printer, coach-maker, bookseller, bricklayer,
linen-draper, cabinet-maker, brewer, painter, bookbinder. This done,
No. 2 monitor delivers them over to No. 3 monitor, who may have a
representation of the following African costumes: viz. Egyptian Bey,
Ashantee, Algerine, Copts woman, Mameluke, native of Morocco, Tibboo
woman, Egyptian woman, Fellah, Bedouin Arab, Turkish foot soldier,
Maltese, Rosettan, native of Cairo, Turkish gentleman, Bosjesman,
native of Coronna, native of Namacqua, Caffree, native of Tamaha,
native of Ebo. Having repeated these, No. 3 monitor hands them over to
No. 4, who perhaps has an engraved clock face, with hands composed of
two pieces of wood, over which paper in the shape of clock hands has
been pasted; he gives the children a lesson from this object, explains
to them the difference between the minute and second-hand, shews them
their uses, and points out the dots which mark the minutes, and the
figures which divide it into hours, makes them count the seconds, and
soon tell the hour. No. 4 then gives the class to No. 5 monitor, who
has at his post a representation of the mariner's compass; he explains
its uses, shews them the cardinal points, tells them how it was
discovered, and then he will move the hands around, beginning at the
north, and making the children repeat as he moves the hands, north,
north-north-east, north-east, east-north-east, east, east-south-east,
south-east, south-south-east, south, south-south west, south-west,
west-south-west, west, west-north-west, north-west, north-north-west,
north. The degrees, &c., may be considered as going too far for
infants; we therefore reserve them until we treat of juvenile schools.
We have not thought it necessary to name all the points of the
compass, but have confined ourselves to the principal ones. No. 5 then
hands the class to No. 6, who has on his post representations of the
following fishes, viz., whale, sword fish, white shark, sturgeon,
skate, John Dorey, salmon, grayling, porpoise, electrical eel, horned
silure, pilot fish, mackerel, trout, red char, smelt, carp, bream,
road goldfish, pike, garfish, perch, sprat, chub, telescope carp, cod,
whiting, turbot, flounder, flying scorpion, sole, sea porcupine, sea
cock, flying fish, trumpet fish, common eel, turtle, lobster, crab,
shrimp, star fish, streaked gilt head, remora, lump fish, holocenter,
torpedo. No. 6, then gives the class to No. 7; and as variety is the
life and soul of the plan, his post may be supplied with a botanic
plate, containing representations of the following flowers:--daffodil,
fox-glove, hyacinth, bilberry, wild tulip, red poppy, plantain, winter
green, flower de luce, common daisy, crab-tree blossom, cowslip,
primrose, lords and ladies, pellitory of the wall, mallow, lily of
the valley, bramble, strawberry, flowering rush, wood spurge, wild
germander, dandelion, arrow-head. No. 8 monitor has on his post a set
of geometrical figures, illustrated by the representation of objects
either natural or artificial of the same shape; thus a triangle
illustrated by one side of a pyramid, a square, a pentagon, a hexagon,
a heptagon, an octagon, a nonagon, a decagon. No. 9 monitor has
another set of geometrical definitions on the same principle, as a
perpendicular line, a horizontal line, an oblique line, parallel
lines, curved lines, diverging or converging lines, an obtuse angle,
a circle. No. 10 a different set of geometrical shapes, viz.
sociles-triangles, scolene-triangles, rectangle, rhomb, rhomboid,
trapezoid, trapeziums, ellipse or oval. Having arrived at No. 11, the
class find here the European costumes, viz. Englishman, Frenchman,
Russian, Swiss, Italian, German, Scotchman, Welchman, Irishman, Turk,
Norwegian, Spaniard, Prussian, Icelander, Dutchman, Dane, Swede,
Portugese, Corsican, Saxon, Pole. No. 11 monitor delivers them to
No. 12, and there they may find pictures representing Negroes,
Otaheiteans, Highlanders, American Indians, East Indians, Laplanders,
Greeks, Persians, Sandwich Islanders, Turks, English, Chinese, Dutch,

To enter into a thorough explanation of the uses to which such lessons
as these may be applied would make a volume of itself, which at
present I have no time to write[A]; but it may be necessary, for the
sake of teachers generally, to shew the uses to which a few of them
may be applied, and leave it to their own ingenuity to go on is a
similar manner with the great variety of lessons we have of this
description, and which infants are quite competent to learn. Take the
European costumes as an example. When the children are thoroughly
acquainted with each of the representations, and can name them
themselves, or if too young to name them, can point them out if they
are named by the teacher, they may then be told that the Englishman is
born in a country called England, and that London is the capital, and
that capital means the greatest town or city. Care must be taken that
every thing is thoroughly explained, and that the pupils understand
the meaning of the terms used. You then windup this much by telling
the pupils that Englishman means the man, England the country, and
London the chief city; that England is the country they live in, if
you are teaching English children. That Frenchman means a man that
lives in a country called France, which is separated from England by
a part of the sea called the English channel; that Paris is the chief
town or capital. The teacher may here mention some remarkable events
connected with the history of France, and tell the children that
France and England have been often fighting against each other, but
that they are now at peace, and that we should be as kind and good to
Frenchmen as to any other men, because God likes to see all men live
friendly with each other. The children are then told that Russian
means a man living and born in Russia; that Russia is a country where
there is much ice and snow, and which is very cold; that Petersburgh
is the chief town, and that the people of Russia drive over the ice
and snow in sledges, which are carriages without wheels. That Swiss
means an inhabitant of a country named Switzerland, which is almost in
the centre of Europe, and has no sea near it; that it is a very pretty
country, full of beautiful lakes and mountains; that a lake is a very
great pond of water, and that mountains are very high rocky places,
and that the tops of the mountains in Switzerland are always covered
with snow; that the Swiss people are very brave, and fought very hard
for their freedom, that is, that no other people should be masters
over them; that the capital or chief town of Switzerland is Berne.
When the teacher comes to the Italian, he will say that he is an
inhabitant of a country called Italy, which is a very beautiful place;
that Rome is the capital, and was once the greatest city in the world.
In speaking of the Scotchman, the teacher may tell the children that
Scotland is not separated from England by any sea, but the three
countries called England, Scotland, and Wales, all form one island,
which is entirely surrounded by the sea; that the people who live in
the north, and cold parts of Scotland, are called Highlanders, and are
very brave and hardy; that Edinburgh is the capital. When the Welchman
is under the children's notice, the teacher will tell them that he
lives in a pretty country called Wales, which is joined to England,
that is, no sea divides them, that the chief town is London, although
London is in England and not Wales, because Wales has been governed by
the same king as England for many hundred years, and the eldest son of
the King of England is called Prince of Wales. When the teacher points
out the Irishman, he may tell his class that he lives in an island
near England, separated or divided from it by a part of the sea called
the Irish Channel; that Dublin is the chief city, and that Ireland is
governed by the same queen as England is. Speaking of the German, he
may say that he lives in a country of which the chief town is Vienna.
He may tell the children that the Turk lives in a country called
Turkey; that it is a very warm place, and its chief town is
Constantinople; that the Norwegian lives in a cold country called
Norway, whose chief town is Christiana; that the Spaniard lives in a
country called Spain, the chief town of which is Madrid; that many
of the oranges we eat come from Spain; that the Prussian lives in a
country called Prussia, the chief town of which is Berlin; that the
Icelander lives in a very cold place, called Iceland, which is an
island; that it is a place surrounded by water on every side; that
there is a great mountain in Iceland which is called a burning
mountain, because flames of fire often come out from the top of it.
That the Dutchman lives in a country called Holland; that the people
of that country are remarkable for being very clean, and that most of
the dolls which little English girls play with, are made by children
in Holland; that Amsterdam is the chief town or capital. The children
are told that the Dane lives in a country called Denmark. The teacher
may state that many hundred years back the Danes conquered England,
but that a brave English king, called Alfred, drove them all away
again; that Copenhagen is the capital or chief town; that the Swede
lives in a country called Sweden, and that Stockholm is the chief
town; that the Portuguese live in a country called Portugal, the
capital of which is Lisbon; that the Corsican lives in an island
called Corsica, the capital of which is Bastia; that the Saxon lives
in a country called Saxony, the chief town of which is Dresden. In
telling the children that the Pole lives in a country called Poland,
the chief town of which was Warsaw, the teacher should explain to them
that Poland has been conquered by the Russians, and taken from the
Poles, and shew how unjust this was of the Russians, and also how
the Poles fought very bravely to defend their country, but that the
Russians being stronger, and having larger armies, they were at last

[Footnote A: I have since written a volume for juvenile schools; where
the principles are carried out. This can be had of the publisher.]

Having in this manner told the children as simply as possible, a
little about each country, the teacher should then tell the principal
rivers; thus: The principal rivers of England are, the Thames, the
Severn, the Trent, the Mersey. London, the capital of England, is is
built on the banks of the River Thames; and ships from all parts of
the world sail up this river, to bring us various things which we
could not get without sending to other countries for them; such as tea
and coffee and sugar. The principal rivers of France are, the Seine
and the Rhone; the Seine is the river on which the capital of France,
Paris, is built. The principal rivers of Russia are, the Wolga, the
Don, the Nieper, the Dwina, and the Vistula. The Wolga is a very great
river, being three thousand miles long. The Rhine, which is one of the
largest rivers in Europe, rises in Switzerland. The principal rivers
of Italy are, the Po, the Arno, and the Tiber; the chief town of
Italy, Rome, is built on the banks of the Tiber. Rome was once the
greatest city in the world. The principal rivers of Germany are, the
Danube, the Rhine, and the Elbe; of Scotland, the Clyde and Tweed; of
Ireland, the Shannon, Barrow, Boyne, Suire, and Nore. The capital of
Ireland, Dublin, is built on a small river called the Liffey. The
principal rivers of Turkey are, the Danube and the Don; of Spain, the
Guidalquiver; of Portugal, the Tagus, on which the chief town, Lisbon,
is built; and of Saxony, the Iser. In the same manner the children may
receive instruction fitted for their tender understanding, concerning
the other parts of the globe, always keeping in mind that, unless they
are made to comprehend thoroughly what is given to them, it is quite
useless to attempt to give them the lessons at all. When giving
the lessons on African costumes, the teacher should explain in the
simplest manner, that the Egyptian Bey is the chief governor of a
country in Africa called Egypt; that Africa is one of the four great
parts into which our earth is divided; that the Nile is a great river
flowing through Egypt, which, at certain times of the year, overflows
its banks, and that this fertilizes the ground, and causes the corn to
grow, which, but for this, would be withered with the sun, because
but very little rain ever falls in Egypt; that the cause of the Nile
overflowing its banks is, the great rains which fall in the countries
from whence the Nile flows: that the Ashantee is an inhabitant of
another country of Africa, where the people are very ignorant, and do
not know as much as the little children of an infant school: that the
Algerine lives in a part of Africa called Algiers: the people there
are very wicked and cruel, and used at one time to take the ships of
every other country that they met on the seas, and make slaves of the
people they found in them; but they cannot do so now, because the
French have conquered them, and taken all their ships from them: that
the Bedouin Arabs are people who rove about from place to place,
amongst the great sandy deserts of Africa, and rob travellers who are
passing over those deserts: the teacher should explain that these
deserts are very large places, covered with sand, and the sun is so
hot that no tree or shrub, or grass, will grow there, and there is no
water to be had, so that travellers carry water in leathern bottles on
the backs of camels; that camels are large animals, much larger than a
horse, which are very useful in those warm countries, because they can
carry very heavy loads on their backs, and go a great time without
water. The Copts woman should be pointed out to the children, and
notice should be taken of the large veil before her face. The Mameluke
should be pointed out as belonging to a fierce tribe of soldiers. When
speaking of the natives of Morocco, it should be mentioned that the
Moors at one time had possession of Spain; that the Maltese is a
native of an island called Malta; that Cairo (a picture of a native
of which is in the lesson) is the chief city of Egypt. That the
Bosjesman, native of Coronna, native of Namacqua, Caffree, native of
Tamaka and of Ebo, belong to the savage nations of Africa, of which
but little is known, who are of a black colour, and go with very
little clothes on them, because the country is so warm.

From the lesson supposed to be at No. 12 lesson-post, a good deal of
information may be given. The teacher may be thus supposed to address
the children, pointing to each picture, as he describes it.

Little children, this is a picture of negroes: they live in Africa,
but are often stolen from their own country to be made slaves of.
Africa is a very hot part of the world, and the poor negroes are
black, and have short black woolly hair, something like the hair on a
black sheep; but we must not laugh at them for this; it was God who
made them as well as he made you; and those poor negroes are very mild
and quiet people, and like to amuse themselves by singing and dancing.
You see the negroes in this picture; they are carrying a black lady in
a kind of basket, called a palanquin: a pole goes through this, and
they hold it on their shoulders. The next picture represents some of
the people who live in a country called Otaheite; they are strong,
stout people, and very mild and friendly. They are not black like the
negroes; their complexion is of a pale brown, with black eyes and very
handsome white teeth. The next picture represents Scotch Highlanders:
they live in the cold parts of Scotland; they are very strong and
healthy, and able to bear cold and hanger very well. They are fond of
playing on the bagpipes. This is a picture of American Indians: they
live in America, and are of a reddish colour; they build their huts in
the thickest forests, as far from the white men as they can. The next
is a picture of East Indians: their country is in the warmest part of
Asia, and from it comes a great many beautiful things, such as ladies
wear for shawls and dresses; there are a great many people in the East
Indies, and twenty-five millions are subject to the Queen of England.

The Laplanders live in a very cold country, called Lapland, in which
the ground is covered with snow all the year round; they are very
happy notwithstanding, for God gives every people means to be happy,
if they are good and love him; they have nice little huts to live in,
and sledges to travel with, which are drawn by rein-deer--we will read
about the rein-deer by and by. The Laplanders are kind to strangers,
and are very brave, although they are the smallest people in the

This is a picture of Greeks: they were once a very great and powerful
people, but afterwards the Turks conquered them; they have now,
however, a king of their own.

The Persians, of whom this is a picture, live in a country of Asia
called Persia, from whence the most beautiful silks, carpets, leather,
gold and silver lace, and pearls, are brought. The Persian women are
very handsome, and wear the most beautiful clothes of any women in the
world--we should not like them the better for this, for handsome faces
and fine clothes will not make people good or happy, unless they try
to be so themselves.

This is a picture of the natives of the Sandwich islands: they are
a very friendly people, and live together without fighting or
quarrelling; they make mats and canoes, and the women make cloth.

The Turks (this is a picture of some of them) are very fine handsome
people; they wear very long beards; and they shave their heads and
wear white turbans instead of hair; they are very fond of drinking
coffee and smoking from great long pipes.

The English are represented in this picture: you are English
children--England is a very great country, and the Queen of England
has many ships in every part of the world; and a great many places,
many thousand miles away, belong to England.

This picture represents the Swiss: they are a very brave, honest, good
people, and their country is very beautiful; a great many clocks and
watches are made in Switzerland.

This is a picture of the Chinese: they wear very curious dresses; and
the ladies in China squeeze their feet very much, in order to make
them small, which they think a great beauty. Tea comes from China, and
is the leaf of a small plant.

This picture represents the Dutch: they are a very clean and
industrious people, and the little children there are never idle.

The last picture represents the Tartars: they live in Asia, and wander
about without any fixed dwelling, not staying in one place longer than
while it gives them food for themselves and their horses, of which
they have a great many. Horses are wild in Tartary.

The reader will at once perceive what a feast is afforded to the young
mind in these object lessons; the objects are accurately copied from
nature, and the costumes from the best sources, so that the infant
mind is expanded by viewing a proper representation of the real thing
through the fit organ, the eye. It is astonishing what infants will
learn through the sense of seeing, and it is remarkable that our
systems of education for young and old, should not have been founded
on a knowledge of the high importance of this medium for communication
and information; the youngest child may learn to distinguish one
object from another to an endless variety, and I could produce
children who could point me out a thousand objects, if I called them
by their proper names, who perhaps could not themselves name twenty of
the objects out of the thousand; by this it will be seen we first give
them the object, and language itself follows in due course.

Whenever a clear idea or notion is given to the mind by a picture or
object, it is then easy to impart the information that is naturally
connected with it; and this will then be most strongly retained,
according to the law of association, which is one of the most
important principles to be kept in view in imparting instruction to
both young and old. Lead on FROM _something known_ TO _something
unknown_, is a golden rule,--a most valuable axiom that all teachers
should ever bear constantly in mind. What important lessons may be
given in a field, wood, or forest! How much better is the thing itself
for a lesson, than the representation of it! And what a class of
teachers are wanted for this work? Yet sure I am that in due time the
Great God will raise such up from amongst his people, to the glory of
His name, and the benefit of succeeding generations. May greater minds
than the humble writer of this, be called to work in this blessed
vineyard for the good of the species, and for the diminution of crime;
and, oh! may they be able to dive into the recesses of the wonderful
works of God, to grapple with the difficulties therein found, and
bring to light some of the hidden mysteries, for the instruction of

When this book was first written, thirty-two years ago, some of the
ideas were universally scouted, yet I have lived to see the day that
the very men who sneered at the views first made known in this book,
adopt precisely the same principles, and even go much further that I
ever intended, or even thought suitable for infant minds, and quietly
puff this off as a new discovery in infant training; so much the
better, portions of the public will hear them, and they would not
listen to me; and if the end is answered, it is of little consequence
through what means that end is gained. It is satisfactory to know that
the principles first developed in the infant plan are found equally
applicable to older children, and I have had the pleasure of seeing
those principles carried out in many schools throughout the country,
too numerous to mention individually.

It will be seen from what has been said that the plan of the children
marching from one post to the other, is the very thing for infants, as
exercising and developing their locomotive powers, a thing exceedingly
desirable for young children. The great error of the old infant
system, or in other words, the dame-school plan, was the keeping the
pupils rivetted to their seats; here they are marching from one place
to another, and get ting food for every sense. Take as another example
the picture of the trades; the monitor says to his little pupils as
they come up. What does a fishmonger sell, the answer is, fishes of
many sorts, such as salmon, cod, herring, and mackerel. Q. What does a
mason do? A. Cut stones into their proper shapes, polish some sorts,
and cut ornaments on others. Q. What does a hatter sell? A. Hats, for
men, women, and little children. Q. What does a cooper do? A. Mend
casks and make them. Q. What does a butcher mean? A. One that sells
beef, mutton, pork, &c. Q. What do they call butchers in Scotland? A.
Fleshers. Q. What does a blacksmith mean? A. One that makes different
things from iron, and sometimes shoes horses. Q. What does a fruiterer
mean? A. A person that sells all sorts of fruits, such as apples,
pears, plums, cherries, gooseberries, strawberries, &c. Q. What does
a distiller mean? A. A man that makes rum, brandy, whiskey, and other
liquors. Q. What does a grocer mean? A. A man that sells tea, coffee,
sugar, spices, and many other things. Q. What does a carpenter mean?
A. A man that cuts up wood, makes benches; it was a carpenter made our
gallery. Q. What does a turner mean? A. A man who makes snuff-boxes,
bed-posts; It was a turner who made the balls on our arithmeticon. Q.
What does a tallow-chandler mean? A. A man that buys and sells candles
of different sorts. Q. What does milliner mean? A. A person that makes
ladies' caps, tippets, and things for little children. Q. What does
a dyer mean? A. A man that dyes cloths of different colours. Q. What
does a druggist mean? A. One that sells drugs of different kinds, such
as nutgalls, alum, bark, &c. Q. What does wheelwright mean? A. A man
that makes carts, wheelbarrows, &c. Q. What does a shoe-maker do? A.
Makes shoes for men and women and little boys and girls. Q. What does
a printer do? A. Print lessons for little children to read; newspapers
and books for men to read. Q. What does a coach-maker make? A.
Coaches, gigs, omnibuses, cabs, and things of that sort. Q. What does
a bookseller do? A. Sells books of different sorts, pictures, paper,
sealing-wax, &c. Q. What does a bricklayer do? A. Builds walls, the
brick part of houses, &c. Q. What does a linen-draper do? A. Sells
linen to make shirts, printed calico to make frocks, and many other
things of that kind. Q. What does a cabinet-maker do? A. Makes tables,
chairs, and presses, and other things to furnish houses with. Q. What
does a brewer do? A. Makes ale and porter. Q. What does a painter
mean? A. One who paints insides of houses, doors, window shutters, and
such things. Q. What does a bookbinder do? A. Puts covers on books.

These lessons being all supplied by me, more explanation in this place
may be unnecessary, but as a further guide to teachers of infant
schools, I subjoin a synopsis of a week's course of instruction which
has been adopted in many schools.

* * * * *


TIME.--_Mornings_. School to assemble at nine o'clock, and to leave at

_Afternoons_. School to assemble at two o'clock, and to leave at four
in winter, and five in summer.


_Morning_. When assembled, to offer the appointed prayer, after which
a hymn is to be sung; then slates and pencils are to be delivered to
the children; after which they are to proceed with their letters and
spelling. At half-past ten o'clock to play, and at eleven o'clock to
assemble in the gallery, and repeat the picture lessons on natural
history after the monitor in the rostrum.

_Afternoon_. Begin with prayer and hymn as in the morning; picture
lessons on Scripture history to be repeated from the lesson-post, and
to be questioned on them afterwards in the gallery.


_Morning_. Usual prayer and hymn. Letters and spelling from the
lesson-posts. Play. Gallery; repeat the addition and subtraction

_Afternoon_. Prayer and hymn. Multiplication table; the monitor asking
the question, and the children answering. Reading lessons. Play.
Gallery; numeration and spelling with brass figures and letters.


_Morning_. Prayer and hymn. Letters and spelling. Play. Gallery;
master to teach geometrical figures and musical characters.

_Afternoon_. Prayer and hymn. Practice pence and shilling tables.
Play. Gallery; master to give lessons on arithmetic. Extempore
teaching on men and things, &c. &c.


_Morning_. Prayer and hymn. Letters and spelling. Division, weights,
measures, and time, from the rostrum. Play. Gallery; same lessons as
Monday morning.

_Afternoon_. Prayer and hymn. From the lesson-posts epitome of
geometry and natural history. Gallery; brass letters and figures.
Extempore teaching on men and things, taking care that all such
teaching shall be illustrated by substances.


_Morning_. Prayer and hymn. Letters and spelling. Tables in
arithmetic, at the master's discretion. Play. Gallery; lessons on
geography, maps, globes, &c.

_Afternoon_. Prayer and hymn. Scripture pictures on the lesson-posts,
and questions on them in the gallery.


_Morning_. Prayer and hymn. Letters and spelling. Tables of arithmetic
from the rostrum. Play. Gallery; lessons on the transposition frame,
and on geometry from the brass instrument. Religious instruction
should have a prominent part in the business of every day, and
especially so every Saturday morning.

N.B. If visitors wish any particular lessons to be gone through, and
the children appear disposed, the master is not bound to adhere to
the above rules, neither at any other time, if the children appear
particularly disinclined.

* * * * *

There are a few other matters, on which, before concluding this
chapter, I must speak, as claiming the attention of infant school
conductors. First attend to


Although we have referred to this before, yet, as it is of
considerable importance not only to the children but to those around
them, it may not be amiss to take up a little more of the reader's
time, and to state the different plans that have been devised, in
order to make the children as clean as possible. In one case, a trough
was erected, and a pipe provided to convey the water into it; but
before it had been up a month, it was found, that instead of answering
the end intended, it had quite a contrary effect; for the children
dabbled in the trough, and made themselves ten times worse than they
were, by wetting themselves from head to foot; besides which, it
frequently caused them to take cold, of which the parents complained.
Some took their children away without notice; others came and gave
the master what they called "_a good set down_." It was, therefore,
thought necessary to forbid the children washing themselves, and
to wash all that came dirty. But it was soon found that the dirty
children increased so fast, that it required one person's time
to attend to them; besides which, it had another bad effect, it
encouraged the parents in laziness; and they told me, when I
complained of their sending the children to school dirty, "That indeed
they had no time to wash their children; there was a trough in the
school for that purpose, and the persons who had charge of the school
were paid for it, and ought to do it." In consequence of this, the
trough was taken away, and it was represented to the parents, that it
was their duty to keep their children clean; that unless they did so,
they would be sent home to be washed; and if they persisted in sending
them without being washed, there would be no alternative left but to
dismiss them from the school altogether. This offended some of the
parents, and they took their children out of the school, but many
afterwards petitioned to have them readmitted. I mention this merely
to prevent others, who may be concerned in the establishment of infant
schools, from incurring an unnecessary expense, and to shew that the
parents will value the school equally as well if you make them wash
their children, as if you did it for them.

The plan that we have acted upon to enforce cleanliness, is as
follows: As soon as the children are assembled in the school, the
monitors cause them to hold out their hands, with their heads up; they
then inspect their hands and their faces, and all those who are dirty
are desired to stand out, to be examined by the master, who will
easily perceive whether they have been washed that morning; if not,
they are sent home to be washed, and if the mother has any sense of
propriety, she will take care that it shall not often occur. But it
may be found, that some have been washed, and been playing with the
dirt, when coming to school, which some children are very apt to do;
in this case they have a pat on the hand, which generally cures them.
There is much trouble at first, to keep the children quite clean; some
of their parents are habitually dirty, and in such cases the children
will be like them; these will, therefore, require more trouble than
others, but they will soon acquire cleanly habits, and, with proper
management, become as cleanly as any of the other children. As soon
as a child is taken into the school the monitor shows him a certain
place, and explains to him, that when he wants to go into the yard, he
is to ask him, and he will accompany him there. Of course there are
separate accommodations for each sex, and such prudential arrangements
made as the case requires, but which it is unnecessary further to

[Footnote A: This is a subject of the highest importance in moral
training, and deserve the serious attention of committees as well as
teachers: inattention to these matters, may demoralize every child
that enters the school. In many schools throughout the country I have
seen great want of attention to this subject, the seats were too high,
the circular holes too large, causing fear on the part of the infants,
and also bad habits. The seats should be the same height as the seats
in the school--six inches, and nine inches high, the diameter of the
holes seven inches and nine inches--the teachers should constantly
visit these places, inculcate habits of delicacy and cleanliness.
Such habits formed in childhood are never forgotten. Superfine
dressy teachers, will be too proud, and too high, to attend to these
things--but the judicious mother or matron will at once see their
importance and act accordingly--"as the twig is bent the tree's


It is common for many persons to threaten to put children into the
black hole, or to call the sweep to take them away in his bag, when
they do not behave as they ought; but the ill effects of this mode of
proceeding may be perceived from the following fact. I knew a child,
who had been to one of those schools where the children of mechanics
are usually sent, called dames' schools, which was kept by an elderly
woman, who, it seems, had put this child into the coal-hole, and told
him, that unless he was a good boy, the black man would come and take
him away; this so frightened the child, that he fell into a violent
fit, and never afterwards could bear the sight of this woman. On the
mother getting the child admitted into our school, she desired me to
be very gentle with him, relating to me all the above story, except
that the child had had a fit. About a fortnight after the admission of
the child, he came running one day into the school, exclaiming, "I'll
be a good boy, master! master! I'll be a good boy." As soon as he
caught sight of me, he clung round, and grasped me with such violence,
that I really thought the child was mad; in a few minutes after this
he went into strong convulsions, and was such a dreadful spectacle,
that I thought the child would die in my arms. In this state he
remained for about twenty minutes, and I fully expected he would be
carried out of the school a corpse. I sent for the mother, but on her
arrival I perceived she was less alarmed than myself; she immediately
said, the child was in a fit, and that I had frightened him into it. I
told her that she was mistaken; that the child had only just entered
the school, and I was ignorant of the cause of his fright; but several
of my little scholars soon set the matter to rest, by stating the
particulars of the fright, which they observed when coming to school.
It seems that a man was in the street, who sweeps chimneys with a
machine, and just as the little fellow passed him, he called out,
"Sweep;" this so alarmed the child, that he thought the man was going
to take him, and was affected by his fears in the way I have stated.
The child, however, getting better, and the mother hearing what the
children said, begged my pardon for having accused me wrongfully, and
then told me the whole particulars of his first fright and the woman
and the coal-hole. I had the greatest difficulty imaginable to
persuade him, that a sweep was a human being, and that he loved little
children as much as other persons. After some time, the child got
somewhat the better of his fears, but not wholly so. He had but one
fit afterwards. This shews how improper it is to confine children by
themselves, or to threaten them in the manner described. Many persons
continue nervous all their lives through such treatment, and are so
materially injured, that they are frightened at their own shadow.

It is also productive of much mischief to talk of mysteries, ghosts,
and hobgoblins, before children, which many persons are too apt to
do. Some deal so much in the marvellous, that I really believe they
frighten many children out of their senses. I recollect, when I was a
child, hearing such stories, till I have actually been afraid to look
behind me. How many persons are frightened at such a little creature
as a mouse, because the nature of that little creature has not been
explained to them in their infancy. Indeed, children should have all
things shewn them, if possible, that they are likely to meet with: and
above all, it should be impressed upon their minds, that if they meet
with no injury from the living, it is most certain the dead will never
hurt them, and that he who fears God, need have no other fear. It is
also common with many persons, to put a disobedient child into a room
by itself. I cannot approve of this method, as the child is frequently
frightened into quietness without improving his temper in the
least; if it be day time it is not so bad, but if it be dark, the
consequences are often serious, and materially injure the constitution
of the child. The more I reflect upon this subject, the more do I see
its impropriety. I would rather use the rod, in moderation, and mercy.
I am sure it is better for the disobedient and unruly child, and more
according to the dealings of the Creator with us all. I can truly say
my punishments, which have not been slight, have done me good. As
children we cannot see these things; as men and thinkers, we can. Yea!
and kiss the rod.


The circumstance I am about to mention, shews how necessary it is to
teach by example as well as precept. Many of the children were in the
habit of bringing marbles, tops, whistles, and other toys, to the
school, which often caused much disturbance; for they would play with
them instead of attending to their lessons, and I found it necessary
to forbid the children from bringing anything of the kind. After
giving notice, therefore, two or three times in the school, I told
them that if any of them brought such things, they would be taken away
from them. In consequence of this, several things fell into my hands,
which I did not always think of returning, and, among other things, a
whistle belonging to a little boy. The child asked me for it as he
was going home, but having several visitors at the time, put him off,
telling him not to plague me, and he went home. I had forgotten the
circumstance altogether, but it appears the child had not; for some
time after, while I was lecturing the children upon the necessity of
telling truth, and on the wickedness of stealing, the little fellow
approached me, and said, "_Please, sir, you stole my whistle_." "Stole
your whistle!" said I; "did I not give it you again?" "No, teacher,
I asked you for it, and you would not give it to me." I stood
self-convicted, being accused in the middle of my lecture, before all
the children, and really at a loss to know what excuse to make, for
I had mislaid the whistle, and could not return it to the child.
I immediately gave the child a halfpenny, and said all I could to
persuade the children that it was not my intention to keep it.

However, I am satisfied that this trifling mistake of mine did more
harm than I was able to repair during some time; for if we wish to
teach children to be honest, we should never take anything from them
without returning it again. Indeed, persons having charge of children
can never be too cautious, and should not, on any account whatever,
break a promise; for experience has taught me that most children have
good memories, and if you once promise a thing and do not perform it,
they will pay very little attention to what you say afterwards.


A little girl, whose mother was dead, was often absent from school.
She was never at a loss for excuses, but from their frequency I was at
last induced to suspect their truth. None of the children knew where
she resided; so I was obliged to send the eldest boy in the school
home with her, to ascertain whether or not her stories were true. I
gave the boy positive directions to make haste back; but, much to my
surprise, I saw no more of him for six hours. When he returned, he
told me that the little girl refused to shew him where she lived; and
had taken him so far, that he at last determined to leave her, but
could not find his way back sooner. In the evening I went myself,
according to the direction I had entered in the admission-book, but
found that the family were removed, and the persons in the house could
not tell me where they had gone to reside. I saw nothing of the child
for the five following days, when a woman who had the care of her and
her little brother in arms, came to inquire the reason why the girl
came home at such irregular hours, stating, that sometimes she came
home at half-past eleven, at other times not till two, and sometimes
at three in the afternoon: in short, often an hour after school was
over. I told her that the child was frequently absent, and that it was
five days since I had seen her. The woman appeared quite surprised,
and told me, that she had always sent the child to school at the
regular time; that when she came home before the usual hour, she said
her governess had sent all the children home a little sooner; and if
she came home after the time, then she said that there had been some
ladies visiting the school, and that the children had been kept for
their inspection.

Here I must acknowledge, that I have frequently detained children a
little while after school-hours, when we have had visitors, but since
it furnishes the children with an excuse for going home late, I think
it would be better to discontinue the practice; and would hint to
those ladies and gentlemen who feel inclined to visit such schools,
that they should come between the hours of nine and twelve in the
forenoon, or two and four in the afternoon. I have only to observe,
that the child I have been speaking of came to the school very
regularly afterwards.

There is another subject too important to be passed without notice; I
mean the punctual attendance of the pupils. If the teachers are firm,
and determined, to secure this, _it can be done_. In Ireland, where
the value of time and punctuality is least understood, the thing was
accomplished,--whilst no better lesson can be given to those who have
to work for their daily bread, than punctuality. If a child cannot
attend school at nine, how can it attend work at six in the morning?
Be firm, and the object is gained.


One day when the children were assembled in the gallery, having none
of their usual lessons at hand, I took from my pocket a piece of
paper, and promised them that if they would answer me every question
I put concerning the paper, I would at last make a paper boat. I
proceeded in the following manner: "What is this?" "What colour?"
"What is its use?" "How made!" "What made of?" &c. These questions
being answered according to their different views, and having folded
the paper into a variety of forms, and obtained their ideas upon such
forms, I proceeded to fulfil my promise of forming it into the shape
of a boat; but the children, seeing me at a loss, exclaimed, "Please,
sir, you can't do it;" which proved the fact, as I had forgotten the
plan, and was obliged to make the confession. "Then, sir," rejoined
one of the boys, "you should not have promised."

In the course of my observations I had frequently enjoined the
children to make every possible use of their thinking powers, but it
appears I had at the same time forgotten to make use of my own, and
consequently had been betrayed into a promise which I was not able to

I remember some other instances:

One of the children happened to kick another. The injured party
complained to the person who then had the charge of the school,
saying, "Please, sir, this boy kicked me." It being time for the
children to leave school, the master waved his hand towards the gate
through which the children pass, thoughtlessly saying, at the same
time, "Kick away;" meaning that the complainant was to take no more
notice of the affair, but go home. The complainant, however, returning
to the other child, began kicking him, and received some kicks
himself. A friend was present, and seeing two children kicking each
other, he very naturally inquired the reason. "Please, sir," replied
the children, "master told us!" "Master told you," says the gentleman,
"that cannot be; I'll ask him." He accordingly inquired into the truth
of the affair, and received for answer, "Certainly not." "Yes," said
the child, "you did, sir; did not I tell you just now that a boy
kicked me?" "Yes," says the master, "you did." "Then, please sir,"
says the child, "you told me to go and kick away!" The master
immediately recollected that he had said so.

This fact shews how improper it is to say one thing to a child and
mean another. These children were under the influence of obedience,
_and in the light of truth_, and being in that light, they could see
from no other, and very naturally concluded the master meant what he
had said.

One day some visitors requested I would call out a class of the
children to be examined. Having done so, I asked the visitors in what
they would wish the children to be examined; at the same time stating
that they might hear the children examined in natural history,
Scriptural history, arithmetic, spelling, geography, or geometry. They
choose the latter, and I proceded to examine the children accordingly;
beginning with straight lines. Having continued this examination for
about half an hour, we proceeded to enter into particulars respecting
triangles; and having discoursed on the difference between isosceles
triangles and scalene triangles, I observed that an acute isosceles
triangle had all its angles acute, and proceeded to observe that a
right-angled scalene triangle had all its angles acute. The children
immediately began to laugh, for which I was at a loss to account, and
told them of the impropriety of laughing at me. One of the children
immediately replied, "Please, sir, do you know what we were laughing
at?" I replied in the negative. "Then, sir," says the boy, "I will
tell you. Please, sir, you have made a blunder." I, thinking I had
not, proceeded to defend myself, when the children replied, "Please,
sir, you convict yourself." I replied, "How so?" "Why," says the
children, "you said a right-angled triangle had one right angle, and
that all its angles are acute. If it has one right angle, how can all
its angles be acute?" I soon perceived the children were right, and
that I was wrong. Here, then, the reader may perceive the fruits of
teaching the children to think, inasmuch as it is shewn that children
of six years of age and under were able to refute their tutor. If
children had been taught to think many years ago, error would have
been much more easily detected, and its baneful influence would not
have had that effect upon society which at this day unfortunately we
are obliged to witness.

At another time I was lecturing the children in the gallery on the
subject of cruelty to animals; when one of the little children
observed, "Please, sir, my big brother catches the poor flies, and
then sticks a pin through them, and makes them draw the pin along the
table." This afforded me an excellent opportunity of appealing to
their feelings on the enormity of this offence, and, among other
things, I observed, that if the poor fly had been gifted with the
powers of speech like their own, it probably would have exclaimed,
_while dead_, as follows:--"You naughty child, how can you think of
torturing me so? Is there not room in the world for you and me? Did I
ever do you any harm? Does it do you any good to put me in such pain?
Why do you do it, you are big enough to know better? How would you
like a man to run a piece of wire through your body, and make you draw
things about? Would you not cry at the pain? Go, then, you wicked boy,
and learn to leave off such cruel actions." Having finished, one of
the children replied, "How can any thing speak if it is dead?" "Why,"
said I, "supposing it could speak." "You meant to say, sir," was the
rejoinder, "_dying_ instead of _dead_."

It will, of course be understood that in this case I purposely misused
a word, and the children being taught to think, easily detected it.


It may, probably, be considered presumption in me, to speak of the
diseases of children, as this more properly belongs to the faculty;
but let it be observed, that my pretension is not to cure the diseases
that children are subject to, but only to prevent those which are
infectious from spreading. I have found that children between the ages
of two and seven years, are subject to the measles, hooping
cough, fever, ophthalmia, ringworm, scald-head, and in very poor
neighbourhoods, the itch--and small-pox. This last is very rare, owing
to the great encouragement given to vaccination; and were it not for
the obstinacy of many of the poor, I believe it would be totally
extirpated. During the whole of the time I superintended a school, I
heard of only three children dying of it, and those had never been
vaccinated. I always made a point of inquiring, on the admission of
a child, whether this operation had been performed, and, if not, I
strongly recommended that it should be. If parents spoke the truth, I
had but few children in the school who had not been vaccinated: this
accounts, therefore, for having lost but three children through the

The measles, however, I consider a very dangerous disorder, and
we lost a great many children by it, besides two of my own. It is
preceded by a violent cough, the child's eyes appear watery, and it
will also be sick. As soon as these symptoms are perceived, I would
immediately send the child home, and desire the parents to keep it
there for a few days, in order to ascertain if it have the measles,
and if so, it must be prohibited from returning to school until well.
This caution is absolutely necessary; as some parents are so careless,
that they will send their children when the measles are thick out upon

The same may be said with respect to other diseases, for unless the
persons who have charge of the school attend to these things, the
parents will be glad to get their children out of the way, and will
send them, though much afflicted, without considering the ill-effects
that may be produced in the school. Whether such conduct in the
parents proceeds from ignorance or not, I am not able to say, but this
I know, that I have had many parents offer children for admission,
with all the diseases I have mentioned, and who manifested no
disposition to inform me of it. The number of children who may
be sick, from time to time, may be averaged at from twenty to
thirty-five, out of two hundred, we have never had less than twenty
absent on account of illness, and once or twice we had as many as

Soon after I first took charge of the establishment, I found that
there were five or six children in the school who had the measles;
the consequence was, that it contaminated the whole school, and about
eight children died, one of my own being of that number. This induced
me to be very cautious in future, and I made a point of walking round
the school twice every day, in order to inspect the children; and
after the adoption of this plan, we did not have the measles in the

The hooping-cough is known, of course, by the child hooping; but I
consider it the safest plan to send all children home that have any
kind of cough; this will cause the mother to come and inquire the
reason why the child is sent home; and it can be ascertained from her
whether the child has had the hooping-cough or not.

With respect to fever, I generally find the children appear chilly
and cold, and not unfrequently they are sick. I do not, however, feel
myself competent to describe the early symptoms of this disorder, but
the best way to prevent its gaining ground in the school is to send
all the children home who appear the least indisposed.

As to the ophthalmia, I can describe the symptoms of that disease,
having had it myself, together with the whole of my family. It
generally comes in the left eye first, and causes a sensation as if
something was in the eye, which pricks and shoots, and produces great
pain: the white of the eye will appear red, or what is usually called
blood-shot; this, if not speedily attended to, will cause blindness;
I have had several children that have been blind with it for several
days. In the morning, the patients are not able to unclose their
eyes for some time after they are awake. As soon as I observe
these appearances, I immediately send the child home; for I have
ascertained, beyond a doubt, that the disease is contagious, and if a
child be suffered to remain with it in the school, the infection will
speedily spread among the children.

As children are frequently apt to burn or scald themselves, I will
here insert a method for adoption in such cases. It is very simple,
yet infallible; at least, I have never known it to fail. It is no
other than the application of common writing ink. One of my own
children burnt its hand dreadfully, and was cured by immediately
washing it all over with that liquid. Several children burnt their
hands against the pipe that was connected with the stove in the
school-room, and were cured by the same means. One boy, in particular,
took hold of a hot cinder that fell from the fire, and it quite singed
his hand; I applied ink to it, and it was cured in a very short time.
Let any one, therefore, who may happen to receive a burn, apply ink
to it immediately, and he will soon witness the good effects of the
application. Thirty-three years' experience has proved to me that
_stoves_ in any school are a nuisance: the common fire place is better
than heating with hot air, hot water, or stoves of any description
that I have yet seen. The grate being low, as at railway stations, is
an improvement and answers well. Had theorists seen the white faced
dull eyed children that I have seen, where stoves are used, and felt
the head aches which I have felt, they would soon banish them from
every school.




* * * * *

I should recommend the adoption of the following resolutions of an
intelligent and zealous committee, and that a copy of them be sent to
each master and mistress.

"That as this infant school is established for the express purpose of
carrying into the fullest effect the system of Mr. Wilderspin, which
the committee are convinced is practicable and excellent, the master
be desired to make himself perfectly acquainted with it, in its
physical, mental, and moral bearings, by a study of Mr. Wilderspin's
works on the subject, and particularly of the last and most complete

"That the rules as printed be strictly adhered to by the master.
That children who are ill, having hooping-cough, ringworm, or other
contagious disease, be refused admission until perfectly restored.
That the business of the school begin precisely at the time appointed,
and that during the shortest days the signals for leaving school be
not given till four o'clock precisely.

"That except during the time given, according to the system, to play,
the whole be occupied by the mistress as well as the master in the
instruction of the children, and that the plan laid down in Mr.
Wilderspin's book, be followed as nearly as possible, so that the
apparatus already provided may be gradually brought into action, and
the children have all the advantages of the system; the master and
mistress so dividing their labour that all the children may be

"That the master and mistress pay the utmost attention to the children
learning to read.

"That when a child is absent a week, the master state the cause to the
treasurer, to prevent mistakes as to the payments, and that when a
child declines attending or is excluded, immediate notice be given to
the secretary of the ladies' committee.

"That the master be desired to go on with the business of the school
when visitors who are members of the committee are present, and only
to pay particular attention to those who may be strangers, and who
require information.

"That all applications from the master be made to the committee
through the secretary.

"That all orders from the committee to the teachers be conveyed
through the same channel."



_Original intention of the gallery--What lessons are adapted for
it--Its misapplication--Selection of teachers--Observations--Gallery
lessons an a feather--A spider--A piece of bog-turf--A piece of
coal--Observations on the preceding lessons--Scripture lessons in
the gallery--The finding of Moses--Christ with the doctors--Moral
training--Its neglect in most schools--Should be commenced in
infancy--Beneficial effects of real moral culture--Ignorance of
teachers--The gallery most useful in moral training--Specimen of a
moral lesson--Illustrations of moral culture--Anecdotes--Simpson on
moral education--Observations--Hints to teachers_.

There is no part of the infant system which has been more
misunderstood, than the system of giving lessons in the gallery; and
hence I have thought it necessary to devote a larger space to the
subject, than I did in the former editions of this work. The gallery
was originally intended by me, to give the children such lessons as
appealed directly to the senses, either orally or by representative
objects: thus the teaching arithmetic by the frame and balls, inasmuch
as it appealed to the eye as well as to the understanding, was
suitable for a gallery lesson. The same observations hold good with
respect to a Scripture picture, or the representation of an animal,
a tree, or any object that can be presented to the eye. We have also
found it very useful in teaching the catechism, or anything that is to
be committed to memory, and this part of our plan has proved so useful
and successful, that it has been adopted in many schools for older
children of both sexes, I mean in the Normal schools of Glasgow and
Edinburgh, the Corporation Schools of Liverpool, and the government
Model Schools at Dublin. In the two latter the arrangements, both in
the fittings up of the play-grounds, galleries, and school-rooms, were
made under my especial inspection, and I have no doubt that the use of
the gallery, when it becomes more generally known in large schools,
will become universal.

The taught should see the face of the teacher in these lessons, and
the teacher should see the face of the taught: it establishes a
sympathy between both to the advantage of each. The face is the index
to the mind, and at times shews the intention, even without words.
Some animals can read this index: the horse, the dog, the elephant,
and many of the higher order of animals. Children can always read the
countenance of the sincere, the wise, and the good. Yea! mere infants
can. Reader! Don't smile! were this the time and place, I could
demonstrate these opinions by _facts_. This is not a book for
controversy and metaphysical disquisition; but for use to teachers.
When the children and teachers see each other, as in the gallery, the
effect is highly beneficial. This may be proved by any teacher. As to
the cause for this effect, it would be out of place to argue it here.
I therefore simply state it is true. Sympathy is a power destined to
be of use in teaching, and hereafter will be better understood.

Many friends to infant education, and casual visitors, having found
these erections in infant schools, have concluded that the children
should always be sitting on them, which is a fatal error, and deprives
the children of that part of the system which legislates for the
exercise of their locomotive powers, such as the spelling and reading
lessons, and the method of teaching object lessons, as described in
another part of this work: the consequence has been, that the schools
have become mere parrot-schools, and the children are restless and
inattentive. And this has not been the only evil that has attended a
misapplication of the gallery; for the teachers, for want of knowing
the system properly, have been at a loss how to occupy the time of the
children, and scores of teachers have ruined their own constitutions,
and also the constitutions of some of the children, by the perpetual
talking and singing, which, I am sorry to say, too many consider to be
the sum total of the system: and I may state here, that the children
should never be more than one hour at a time, or, at most two hours,
during the day, in the gallery. All beyond this is injurious to the
teacher, and doubly so to the little pupils. The forenoon is always
the best time for gallery lessons; the teacher's mind is more clear,
and the minds of the children are more receptive. After the children
have taken their dinner they should be entertained with the object
lessons, a small portion of spelling and reading, and the rest of the
afternoon should be devoted to moral and physical teaching in the
play-ground, if the weather will at all permit it. The more you
rob your children of their physical education to shew off their
intellectual acquirements, the more injury you do their health and
your own; and in the effort to do too much, you violate the laws of
nature, defeat your own object, and make the school a hot-bed of
precocity, instead of a rational infants' school for the training
and educating infants. I have been blamed, by writers on the infant
system, for that which I never did, and never recommended; I have been
made answerable for the errors and mis-conceptions of others, who have
not troubled themselves to read my writings; and, in their anxiety
to produce something new and original, have strayed from the very
essential parts of the plan, and on this account I am charged by
several writers with being unacquainted with the philosophy of my own
system. I thought three-and-thirty years ago that if I could arrest
public attention to the subject, it was as much as could be expected.
I knew very well at that time that a dry philosophical detail would
neither be received or read. My object was to appeal to the senses of
the public by doing the thing in every town where practicable. By this
method I succeeded, where the other would have failed, but it by no
means followed that I was unacquainted with the philosophy of my
own plans, merely because I preferred the doing of the thing to the
writing about it. Believing, however, that the time has now arrived,
and that the public mind is better prepared than it was then, I have
thought I might venture to go a little more into detail, in order to


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