The Infant System
Part 6 out of 7
beasts, fishes, flowers, insects, &c., all of which tend to shew the
glory of God; and as colours attract the attention of children as soon
as any thing, they eagerly inquire what such a thing is, and this
gives the teacher an opportunity of instructing them to great
advantage; for when a child of his own free will eagerly desires to be
informed, he is sure to profit by the information then imparted.
We use also pictures of public buildings, and of the different trades;
by the former, the children acquire much information, from the
explanations which are given to them of the use of buildings, in what
year they were built, &c.; whilst by the latter, we are enabled to
find out the bias of a child's inclination. Some would like to be
shoemakers, others builders, others weavers, others brewers, &c.;
in short it is both pleasing and edifying to hear the children give
answers to the different questions. I remember one little boy, who
said he should like to be a doctor; and when asked why he made choice
of that profession in preference to any other, his answer was,
"Because he should like to cure all the sick people." If parents did
but study the inclinations of their children a little more, I humbly
conceive, that there would be more eminent men in every profession
than there are. It is great imprudence to determine what business
children shall be of before their tempers and inclinations are well
known. Every one is best in his own profession--and this should not be
determined on rashly and carelessly.
But as it is possible that a person may be very clever in his business
or profession, and yet not be a Christian, it has been thought
necessary to direct the children's attention particularly to the
Scriptures. Many difficulties lie in our way; the principal one arises
not from their inability to read the Bible, nor from their inability
to comprehend it, but from the apathy of the heart to its divine
principles and precepts. Some parents, indeed, are quite delighted if
their children can read a chapter or two in the Bible, and think that
when they can do this, they have arrived at the summit of knowledge,
without once considering whether they understand a single sentence of
what they read, or whether, if they understand it, they _feel_ its
truth and importance. And how can it be expected that they should
do either, when no ground-work has been laid at the time when they
received their first impressions and imbibed their first ideas? Every
one comes into the world without ideas, yet with a capacity to receive
knowledge of every kind, and is therefore capable, to a certain
extent, of becoming intelligent and wise. An infant would take hold
of the most poisonous reptile, that might sting him to death in an
instant; or attempt to stroke the lion with as little fear as he would
the lamb; in short, he is incapable of distinguishing a friend from
a foe. And yet so wonderfully is man formed by his adorable Creator,
that he is capable of increasing his knowledge, and advancing towards
perfection to all eternity, without ever being able to arrive at the
I am the ardent friend of _religious_ education, but what I thus
denominate I must proceed to explain; because of the errors that
abound on this subject. Much that bears the name is altogether
unworthy of it. Moral and religious sentiments may be written as
copies; summaries of truth, admirable in themselves, may be deposited
in the memory; chapter after chapter too may be repeated by rote, and
yet, after all, the slightest salutary influence may not be exerted
on the mind or the heart. These may resemble "the way-side" in the
parable, on which the fowls of the air devoured the corn as soon as
it was sown; and hence those plans should be devised and pursued from
which we may anticipate a harvest of real good. On these, however, my
limits will only allow a few hints.
As soon as possible, I would have a distinction made between the form
and power of religion; between the grimaces and long-facedness so
injurious to multitudes, and that principle of supreme love to God
which he alone can implant in the heart. I would exhibit too that
"good will to man" which the gospel urges and inspires, which regards
the human race apart from all the circumstances of clime, colour,
or grade; and which has a special reference to those who are most
necessitous. And how can this be done more hopefully than by
inculcating, in dependence on the divine blessing, the history,
sermons, and parables of our Lord Jesus Christ; and by the simple,
affectionate, and faithful illustration and enforcement of other parts
of holy writ? The infant system, therefore, includes a considerable
number of Scripture lessons, of which the following are specimens:
JOSEPH AND HIS BRETHREN.
The following method is adopted:--The picture being suspended against
the wall, and one class of the children standing opposite to it, the
master repeats the following passages: "And Joseph dreamed a dream,
and he told it to his brethren; and they hated him yet the more. And
he said unto them, Hear, I pray you, the dream which I have dreamed;
for behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and lo! my sheaf
arose and also stood upright; and behold, your sheaves stood round
abort, and made obeisance to my sheaf."
The teacher being provided with a pointer will point to the picture,
and put the following questions, or such as he may think better, to
Q. What is this? A. Joseph's first dream. Q. What is a dream? A. When
you dream, you see things during the time of sleep. Q. Did any of you
ever dream any thing?
Here the children will repeat what they have dreamed; perhaps
something like the following:--Please, sir, once I dreamed I was in a
garden. Q. What did you see? A. I saw flowers and such nice apples. Q.
How do you know it was a dream? A. Because, when I awoke, I found I
was in bed.
During this recital the children will listen very attentively, for
they are highly pleased to hear each other's relations. The master
having satisfied himself that the children, in some measure,
understand the nature of a dream, he may proceed as follows:--
Q. What did Joseph dream about first? A. He dreamed that his brother's
sheaves made obeisance to his sheaf. Q. What is a sheaf? A. A bundle
of corn. Q. What do you understand by making obeisance? A. To bend
your body, which we call making a bow. Q. What is binding sheaves? A.
To bind them, which they do with a band of twisted straw. Q. How many
brothers had Joseph? A. Eleven. Q. What was Joseph's father's name? A.
Jacob, he is also sometimes called Israel.
Master.--And it is further written concerning Joseph, that he dreamed
yet another dream, and told it to his brethren, and said, Behold, I
have dreamed a dream more; and behold the sun and moon and eleven
stars made obeisance to me.
Q. What do you understand by the sun? A. The sun is that bright object
in the sky which shines in the day-time, and which gives us heat and
light. Q. Who made the sun? A. Almighty God. Q. For what purpose did
God make the sun? A. To warm and nourish the earth and every thing
upon it. Q. What do you mean by the earth? A. The ground on which we
walk, and on which the corn, trees, and flowers grow. Q. What is it
that makes them grow? A. The heat and light of the sun. Q. Does it
require any thing else to make them grow? A. Yes; rain, and the
assistance of Almighty God. Q. What is the moon? A. That object which
is placed in the sky, and shines in the night, and appears larger than
the stars. Q. What do you mean by the stars? A. Those bright objects
that appear in the sky at night. Q. What are they? A. Some of them are
worlds, and others are suns to give them light. Q. Who placed them
there? A. Almighty God. Q. Should we fear and love him for his
goodness? A. Yes; and for his mercy towards us. Q. Do you think it
wonderful that God should make all these things? A. Yes. Q. Are there
any more things that are wonderful to you? A. Yes;--
Where'er we turn our wondering eyes,
His power and skill we see;
Wonders on wonders grandly rise,
And speak the Deity.
Q. Who is the Deity? A. Almighty God.
Nothing can be a greater error than to allow the children to use the
name of God on every trifling occasion. Whenever it is necessary, it
should, in my opinion, be commenced with Almighty, first, both by
teacher and scholars. I am convinced, from what I have seen in many
places, that the frequent repetition of his holy name has a very
SOLOMON'S WISE JUDGMENT.
Q. What is this? A. A picture of Solomon's wise judgment. Q. Describe
what you mean? A. Two women stood before king Solomon. Q. Did the
women say any thing to the king when they came before him? A. Yes; one
woman said, O my Lord, I and this woman dwell in one house, and I had
a child there, and this woman had a child also, and this woman's child
died in the night. Q. To whom did the women speak when they said, O my
Lord? A. To king Solomon. Q. What did the woman mean when she said, we
dwell in one house? A. She meant that they both lived in it. Q. Did
the woman say any thing more to the king? A. Yes; she said the other
woman rose at midnight, and took her son from her. Q. What is meant by
midnight? A. Twelve o'clock, or the middle of the night. Q. What did
the other woman say in her defence? A. She said the live child was
hers, and the other said it is mine; this they spake before the king.
Q. When the king heard what the women had to say, what did he do? A.
He said bring me a sword; and they brought a sword before the king. Q.
Did the king do any thing with the sword? A. No; he said, divide the
child in two, and give half to the one, and half to the other. Q. What
did the women say to that? A. One said, O my Lord, give her the living
child, and in nowise slay it; but the other said, let it be neither
mine nor thine, but divide it. Q. What took place next? A. The king
answered and said, Give her the living child, and in nowise slay it,
she is the mother thereof. Q. What is meant by slaying? A. To kill any
thing. Q. To which woman was the child given? A. To the woman that
said do not hurt it. Q. What is the reason that it was called a wise
judgment? A. Because Solomon took a wise method to find it out. Q. Did
the people hear of it? A. Yes, all Israel heard of it, and they
feared the king, for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him to do
judgment. Q. What is meant by all Israel? A. All the people over whom
Solomon was king? Q. If we want to know any more about Solomon where
can we find it? A. In the third chapter of the first book of Kings.
Q. Now my little children, as we have been talking about king Solomon,
suppose we talk about our own king; so let me ask you his name? A.
King William the Fourth.[A] Q. Why is he called king? A. Because he is
the head man, and the governor of the nation. Q. What does governor
mean? A. One that governs the people, the same as you govern and
manage us. Q. Why does the king wear a crown on his head? A. To denote
that he governs from a principle of wisdom, proceeding from love.
Q. Why does he hold a sceptre in his hand? A. To denote that he is
powerful, and that he governs from a principle of truth. Q. What is a
crown? A. A thing made of gold overlaid with a number of diamonds and
precious stones, which are very scarce? Q. What is a sceptre? A. A
thing made of gold, and something like an officer's staff. Q. What is
an officer? A. A person who acts in the king's name; and there are
various sorts of officers, naval officers, military officers, and
civil officers. Q. What is a naval officer? A. A person who governs
the sailors, and tells them what to do. Q. What is a military officer?
A. A person who governs the soldiers, and tells them what to do. Q.
What does a naval officer and his sailors do? A. Defend us from our
enemies on the sea. Q. What does a military officer and his soldiers
do? A. Defend us from our enemies on land. Q. Who do you call enemies?
A. Persons that wish to hurt us and do us harm. Q. What does a civil
officer do? A. Defend us from our enemies at home. Q. What do you mean
by enemies at home? A. Thieves, and all bad men and women. Q. Have
we any other enemies besides these? A. Yes, the enemies of our own
household, as we may read in the Bible, and they are the worst of all.
Q. What do you mean by the enemies of our own household? A. Our bad
thoughts and bad inclinations. Q. Who protects and defends us from
these? A. Almighty God. Q. Are there any other kind of officers
besides these we have mentioned? A. Yes, a great many more, such as
the king's ministers, the noblemen and gentlemen in both houses
of parliament, and the judges of the land. Q. What do the king's
ministers do? A. Give the king advice when he wants it. Q. And what do
the noblemen and gentlemen do in both houses of parliament? A. Make
laws to govern us, protect us, and make us happy. Q. After they have
made the laws, who do they take them to? A. To the king. Q. What do
they take them to the king for? A. To ask him if he will be pleased to
approve of them. Q. What are laws? A. Good rules for the people to go
by, the same as we have rules in our school to go by. Q. Suppose the
people break these good rules, what is the consequence? A. They are
taken before the judges, and afterwards sent to prison. Q. Who takes
them before the judge? A. A constable, and afterwards he takes them to
prison, and there they are locked up and punished. Q. Ought we to love
the king? A. Yes, and respect his officers. Q. Do you suppose the king
ever prays to God? A. Yes, every day. Q. What does he pray for? A.
That God would be pleased to make him a wise and good man, so that he
may make all his people happy. Q. What do the Scriptures say about the
king? A. They say that we are to fear God and honour the king. Q. Who
was the wisest king? A. King Solomon. Q. How did he become the wisest
king? A. He asked God to give him wisdom to govern his kingdom well;
and God granted his request. Q. Will God give our king wisdom? A. Yes,
he will give him what is best for him. It says in the Bible, if any
man lack wisdom let him ask of God, for he giveth all men liberally,
and upbraideth not. Q. What is the best book to learn wisdom from? A.
The Bible. Q. Is the queen mentioned in the Bible? A. Yes; it is said
queens shall be thy nursing mothers. Q. Who came to Solomon besides
the two women? A. The queen of Sheba, she came to ask him questions.
Q. When he answered her questions what happened? A. The queen was so
much delighted with his wisdom, that she gave him a hundred and twenty
talents of gold, and spices in abundance. Q. How much is one talent
of gold worth? A. Five thousand, four hundred, and seventy-five
sovereigns. Q. Did she give him anything more? A. Yes, she gave him
precious stones. Q. What are precious stones? A. Diamonds, jasper,
sapphire, chalcedony, emerald, sardonyx, sardius, chrysolite, beryl,
topaz, chrysoprasus, jacinth, amethyst. Q. Did king Solomon give the
queen of Sheba anything? A. Yes, he gave her whatsoever she desired,
besides that which she brought with her. Q. Where did she go? A. She
went away to her own land. Q. What part of the Bible is this? A. The
ninth chapter of the second book of Chronicles, Master. The queen is
mentioned in other places in the Bible, and another day I will tell in
[Footnote A: This lesson was written in the life time of our late
sovereign. It can easily be applied by the judicious teacher, and made
to bear upon present circumstances, and I earnestly hope that her
present gracious Majesty may become patroness of infant education. Not
infant education travestied, but the thing itself.]
THE NATIVITY OF JESUS CHRIST.
The picture being suspended as the others, and a whole class being in
the class-room, put the pointer into one of the children's hands, and
desire the child to find out the Nativity of Jesus Christ. The other
children will be on the tip-toe of expectation, to see whether the
child makes a mistake; for, should this be the case, they know that
one of them will have the same privilege of trying to find it; should
the child happen to touch the wrong picture, the teacher will have at
least a dozen applicants, saying, "Please, sir, may I? Please, sir,
may I?" The teacher having selected the child to make the next trial,
say one of the youngest of the applicants, the child walks round the
room with the pointer, and puts it on the right picture; which will be
always known by the other children calling out, "That is the right,
that is the right." To view the child's sparkling eyes, who has found
the picture, and to see the pleasure beaming forth in his countenance,
you might imagine that be conceived he had performed one of the
greatest wonders of the age. The children will then proceed to read
what is printed on the picture, which is as follows: "The Nativity of
our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ;" which is printed at the top of the
picture. At the bottom are the following words: "And she brought forth
her first-born son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him
in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn."--We then
proceed to question them in the following manner:--
Q. What do you mean by the Nativity of Jesus Christ? A. The time he
was born. Q. Where was he born? A. In Bethlehem of Judea. Q. Where did
they lay him? A. In a manger. Q. What is a manger? A. A thing that
horses feed out of. Q. What was the reason they put him there? A.
Because there was no room in the inn. Q. What is an inn? A. A place
where persons lodge who are travelling, and it is like a public house.
Q. What do you mean by travelling? When you go from one place to
another; from London into the country, or from the country into
London. Q. Is any thing else to be understood by travelling? A. Yes,
we are all travelling. Q. What do you mean by all travelling? A. We
are all going in a good road or else in a bad one. Q. What do you mean
by a good road? A. That which leads to heaven. Q. What will lead us to
heaven? A. Praying to God and endeavouring to keep his commandments,
and trying all we can to be good children. Q. Can we make ourselves
good? A. No; we can receive nothing, except it be given us from
heaven. Q. What is travelling in a bad road? A. Being naughty
children, and not minding what is said to us; and when we say bad
words, or steal any thing, or take God's name in vain. Q. Where will
this road lead to? A. To eternal misery.
Here we usually give a little advice according to circumstances,
taking care always to avoid long speeches, that will tend to stupify
the children. If they appear tired, we stop, but if not, they repeat
the following hymn, which I shall insert in full, as I believe there
is nothing in it that any Christian would object to.
Hark! the skies with music sound!
Heavenly glory beams around;
Christ is born! the angels sing,
Glory to the new-born King.
Peace is come, good-will appears,
Sinners, wipe away your tears;
God in human flesh to-day
Humbly in the manger lay.
Shepherds tending flocks by night,
Heard the song, and saw the light;
Took their reeds, and softest strains
Echo'd through the happy plains.
Mortals, hail the glorious King
Richest incense cheerful bring;
Praise and love Emanuel's name,
And his boundless grace proclaim.
The hymn being concluded, we put the following questions to the
Q. Who was the new-born king? A. Jesus Christ. Q. Who are sinners? A.
We, and all men. Q. What are flocks? A. A number of sheep. Q. What are
shepherds? A. Those who take care of the sheep. Q. What are plains? A.
Where the sheep feed. Q. Who are mortals? A. We are mortals. Q. Who
is the glorious king? A. Jesus Christ. Q. What is meant by Emanuel's
name? A. Jesus Christ.
Here the teacher can inform the children, that Jesus Christ is called
by a variety of names in the Bible, and can repeat them to the
children if he thinks proper; for every correct idea respecting
the Saviour which he can instil into their minds will serve as a
foundation for other ideas, and he will find that the more ideas the
children have, the more ready they will be in answering his questions;
for man is a progressive being; his capacity for progression is his
grand distinction above the brutes.
LAZARUS RAISED FROM THE DEAD.
The picture being suspended as before described, we proceed thus:--
Q. What is this? A. Jesus Christ raising Lazarus from the dead. Q. Who
was Lazarus? A. A man who lived in a town called Bethany, and a friend
of Christ's. Q. What is a town? A. A place where there are a great
number of houses, and persons living in them. Q. What do you mean by a
friend? A. A person that loves you, and does all the good he can for
you, to whom you ought to do the same in return. Q. Did Jesus love
Lazarus? A. Yes, and his sisters, Martha and Mary. Q. Who was it that
sent unto Jesus Christ, and told him that Lazarus was sick? A. Martha
and Mary. Q. What did they say? A. They said, Lord, behold he whom
thou lovest is sick. Q. What answer did Jesus make unto them? A. He
said, this sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God. Q.
What did he mean by saying so? A. He meant that Lazarus should be
raised again by the power of God, and that the people that stood by
should see it, and believe on him. Q. How many days did Jesus stop
where he was when he found Lazarus was sick? A. Two days. Q. When
Jesus Christ wanted to leave the place, what did he say to his
disciples? A. He said, let us go into Judea again. Q. What do you mean
by Judea? A. A country where the Jews lived. Q. Did the disciples say
any thing to Jesus Christ, when he expressed a wish to go into Judea
again? A. Yes, they said, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone
thee, and goest thou thither again? Q. What did Jesus Christ tell
them? A. He told them a great many things, and at last told them
plainly that Lazarus was dead. Q. How many days had Lazarus lain in
the grave before he was raised up? A. Four. Q. Who went to meet Jesus
Christ, when she heard that he was coming? A. Martha; but Mary sat
still in the house. Q. Did Martha say anything to Jesus when she met
him? A. Yes, she said, Lord, if thou hadst been here my brother had
not died. Q. Did Martha tell her sister that Jesus Christ was come? A.
Yes; she said, the Master is come, and calleth for thee. Q. Did Mary
go to meet Jesus Christ? A. Yes; and when she saw him, she fell down
at his feet, and said, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had
not died. Q. Did Mary weep? A. Yes, and the Jews that were with her.
Q. What is weeping? A. To cry. Q. Did Jesus weep? A. Yes; and the Jews
said, Behold, how he loved him. Q. Did the Jews say any thing else? A.
Yes; they said, Could not this man that opened the eyes of the blind,
have caused that even this man should not have died? Q. What took
place next? A. He went to the grave, and told the persons that stood
by to take away the stone. Q. And when they took away the stone, what
did Jesus Christ do? A. He cried, with a loud voice, Lazarus, come
forth; and he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot, with
grave clothes, and his face was bound about with a napkin.--Jesus
saith unto them, loose him, and let him go; and many of the Jews which
came to Mary, and had seen these things which Jesus did, believed
on him. Q. If we wanted any more information about Lazarus and his
sisters, where should we find it? A. In the Bible. Q. What part? A.
The eleventh and twelfth chapters of John.
I have had children at the early age of four years, ask me questions
that I could not possibly answer; and among other things, the children
have said, when being examined at this picture, "That if Jesus Christ
had cried, softly, Lazarus, come forth, he would have come."--And when
asked, why they thought so, they have answered, "Because God can do
anything;" which is a convincing proof that children, at a very early
age, have an idea of the Omnipotence of the Supreme Being. Oh, that
men would praise the Lord for his goodness to the children of men!
PICTURE OF THE LAST SUPPER.
Q. What is this? A. A picture of the Last Supper. Q. What do you mean
by the last supper? A. A sacrament instituted by Jesus Christ himself.
Q. What do you understand by a sacrament? A. There are two sacraments,
baptism and the holy supper, and they are both observed by true
Christians. Q. We will speak about baptism presently, but as we have
the picture of the holy supper before as, let me ask if it is called
by any other name? A. Yes; it is said that Jesus kept the passover
with his disciples, and when the even was come he sat down with them,
and as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it,
and gave to his disciples, saying, Take, eat, this is my body. Q. What
took place next? A. He took the cup, and when he had given thanks,
he gave it them, saying, This is my blood, the blood of the New
Testament, which is shed for many. Q. Did Jesus command this ordinance
to be observed by his people? A. Yes; he said in another place, This
do in remembrance of me (Luke xxii. 19). Q. What ought those persons
to remember who do this? A. They should remember that Jesus Christ
died on the cross to save sinners. Q. Is any thing else to be
understood by the sacrament of the Lord's supper? A. Yes, a great deal
more. Q. Explain some of it. A. When they drink the wine, they should
recollect that they ought to receive the truth of God into their
understandings. Q. What will be the effect of receiving the truth
of God into our understandings? A. It will expel or drive out all
falsehood. Q. What ought they to recollect when they eat the bread?
A. They should recollect that they receive the love of God into their
wills and affections. Q. What will be the effect of this? A. It will
drive out all bad passions and evil desires; for it is said, he that
eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me and I in him
(John vi. 27). Q. Is any thing more to be understood by these things?
A. Much more, which we must endeavour to learn when we get older. Q.
How will you learn this? A. By reading the Bible and going to a place
[Footnote A: There are many more of similar lessons, and, if any
thing, more simple, which accompany the pictures and apparatus which
I supply for Infant Schools; the profits from which will assist to
enable me, if I am blessed with health and strength, still further to
extend the system.]
Allow such things as these to be brought before the infant mind: let
the feelings of the heart, as well as the powers of the understanding,
be called into exercise; let babes have "the pure milk of the Word"
before "the strong meat;" let as little stress as possible be laid on
"the mere letter," and as much as possible on "the spirit" of "the
truth;" let it be shewn that piety is not merely rational, but in the
highest degree practicable; let this be done with diligence, faith,
and prayer, and I hesitate not to say, that we shall have an increase
of the religion of the _heart_.
Religious instruction may be given in other ways. Let the teacher take
a flower or an insect, and ask the, children if they could make such a
one; and I never found one who would answer, "Yes." A microscope will
increase the knowledge of its wonders. The teacher may then make a
needle the subject of remark; the children will admit that it is
smooth, very smooth; let him tell them it is the work of man, and
as such will appear imperfect in proportion as it is examined; and
shewing them it through the microscope, they will perceive it is rough
and full of holes. As a contrast, let him take a bee, obtain their
observations on it as it is, give them a short history of it, and they
will acknowledge its superiority over the needle. But on viewing it
through the microscope, astonishment will be increased, and I have
heard many say at such a time, "O sir, how good (meaning _great_) God
must be!" The sting may then be pointed out, as _unlike_ the needle,
and perfectly smooth; and thus truth may be imparted in a manner the
most interesting and delightful.
The influence of such considerations on _character_ is obvious. When
the _greatness_ of God is spoken of, allusion may be made to our
pride, and to the importance of humility; his _goodness_ may suggest
the evil of unkindness, and the importance of benevolence; and
his _truth_ may lead to remarks on its necessity, and the sin of
A small plot of ground may moreover be appropriated to the children;
some grains of wheat, barley, or rye may be sown, and they may be told
that, at a certain time, they will spring forth. Often will they go,
and anxiously watch for this; and at length they will say perhaps,
"Please, sir, such a thing has come up; we know it is so, for it is
just what you said it would be." Week after week the progress of
vegetation will be observed, and the fulfilment of the master's
promise will greatly tend to increase _his_ influence. So great will
_he_ appear, that his words and commands will be more regarded; while
it will be his object to trace the wonders which he predicted to their
divine Source. I have frequently observed, on such occasions, what I
should term an act of infant worship. Often has the question been put
to me, "Please, sir, is it wicked to play?" as if the spirit were
awed, and transgression against God were regarded with dread. Caution
has been also discovered in the use of the divine name; and I have
listened with delight to such remarks as these: "Please, sir, when we
sing a hymn, we may say Gad, or if we talk about the sun, we may say
God made it; and it isn't taking his name in vain, is it? But when we
talk of God as boys do in the street, that is very wicked!"
The following facts will illustrate the benefit of scriptural
A little boy, about four years and a half old, belonging to an Infant
School, went to see his cousin, a little girl about his own age. At
bed-time, the little boy, to his great surprise, saw her get into bed
without having said her prayers. The little fellow immediately went up
to the side of the bed, and put this question to her: "Which would you
rather go to, heaven or hell?" The little girl said, "I don't know!"
"Not know!" said the boy; "Why, wicked people go to hell, and the
good go to heaven, a happy place." The little girl then said, "Why,
I should like to go to heaven." "Ah!" but replied the little fellow
again, "You did not say your prayers; and all that go heaven pray to
God." She then said, "Will you teach me to pray your prayer?" "If
I lived with you," said he, "I would; but if you go to the Infant
School, they will teach you to say your prayers, and sing hymns too."
One day, while the teacher of an Infant School was speaking to his
little children, from the conversation of our Lord with the woman
of Samaria at the well, a gentleman present asked the following
questions: "Where should we go to worship God?" When a little boy
answered, "To a throne of grace." "And where is a throne of grace?"
"Any where," answered the boy; "for where we kneel down, and pray to
God with our hearts, we are _then_ at a throne of grace."
There are times when the children are in a better state to receive
religious instruction than others. A teacher of observation will
soon perceive this, and act accordingly; if, however, the thing is
overdone, which it may be, and which I have seen, then the effect is
fatal. Hypocrisy will take the place of sincerity, and the heart will
remain unaffected and unimproved.
A little boy, the subject of the following anecdote, being six years
of age, and forward in his learning, I considered him fit to be sent
to another school; and informed the parents accordingly. The father
came immediately, and said, he hoped I would keep him till he was
seven years of age; adding, that he had many reasons for making the
request. I told him, that it was the design of the Institution to take
such children as no other school would admit; and as his child had
arrived at the age of six, he would be received into the national
school; moreover, as we had a number of applications for the admission
of children much younger, I could not grant his request. He then said,
"I understand that you make use of pictures in the school, and I have
good reason to approve of them; for," said he, "you must know that I
have a large Bible in the house, Matthew Henry's, which was left me by
my deceased mother; like many more, I never looked into it, but kept
it merely for show. The child, of course, was forbidden to open it,
for fear of its being spoiled: but still he was continually asking me
to read in it, and I as continually denied him; indeed, I had imbibed
many unfavourable impressions concerning this book, and had no
inclination to read it, and was not very anxious that the child
should. However, the child was not to be put off, although
several times I gave him a box on the ear for worrying me; for,
notwithstanding this usage, the child would frequently ask me to read
it, when he thought I was in a good humour; and at last I complied
with his wishes; 'Please, father,' said the child, 'will you read
about Solomon's wise judgment' 'I don't know where to find it,' was
the reply. 'Then,' says the child, 'I will tell you; it is in the
third chapter of the first book of Kings.' I looked as the child
directed, and, finding it, I read it to him. Having done so, I was
about to shut up the book; which the child perceiving, said, 'Now,
please, father, will you read about Lazarus raised from the dead?'
which was done; and, in short," said the father, "he kept me at it for
at least two hours that night, and completely tired me out, for there
was no getting rid of him. The next night be renewed the application,
with 'Please, father, will you read about Joseph and his brethren?'
and he could always tell me where these stories were to be found.
Indeed, he was not contented with my reading it, but would get me into
many difficulties, by asking me to explain that which I knew nothing
about; and if I said I could not tell him, he would tell me that I
ought to go to church, for his master had told him, that that was
the place to learn more about it; adding, 'and I will go with you,
father.' In short, he told me every picture you had in your school,
and kept me so well at it, that I at last got into the habit of
_reading for myself_, with some degree of delight; this, therefore, is
one reason why I wish the child to remain in the school." A short time
afterwards, the mother called on me, and told me, that no one could be
happier than she was, for there was so much alteration in her husband
for the better, that she could scarcely believe him to be the same
man. Instead of being in the skittle-ground, in the evening, spending
his money and getting tipsy, he was reading at home to her and his
children; and the money that used to go for gambling, was now going
to buy books, with which, in conjunction with the Bible, they were
greatly delighted, and afforded both him and them a great deal of
pleasure and profit.
Here we see a whole family were made comfortable, and called to a
sense of religion and duty, by the instrumentality of a child of six
years of age. I subsequently made inquiries, and found that the whole
family attended a place of worship, and that their character would
bear the strictest investigation.
The following anecdote will also shew how early impressions are made
on the infant mind, and the effects such impressions may have in the
dying moments of a child. A little boy, between the age of five and
six years, being extremely ill, prevailed on his mother to ask me to
come and see him. The mother called, and stated, that her little boy
said be wanted to see his master so bad, that he would give any thing
if he could see him. The mother likewise said, she should herself be
very much obliged to me if I would come; conceiving that the child
would get better after he had seen me. I accordingly went; and on
seeing the child considered that he could not recover. The moment I
entered the room, the child attempted to rise, but could not. "Well,
my little man," said I, "did you want to see me?" "Yes, Sir, I wanted
to see you very much," answered the child. "Tell me what you wanted
me for." "I wanted to tell you that I cannot come to school again,
because I shall die." "Don't say that," said the mother, "you will
get better, and then you can go to school again." "No," answered the
child, "I shall not get better, I am sure; and I wanted to ask master
to let my class sing a hymn over my body, when they put it in the
pit-hole." The child, having made me promise that this should be done,
observed, "You told me, master, when we used to say the pictures, that
the souls of children never die; and do you think I shall go to God?"
"You ask me a difficult question, my little boy," said I. "Is it,
sir?" said the child, "I am not afraid to die, and I know I shall
die." "Well, child, I should not be afraid to change states with you;
for if such as you do not go to God, I do not know what will become of
such as myself; and from what I know of you, I firmly believe that
you will, and all like you; but you know what I used to tell you at
school." "Yes, sir, I do; you used to tell me that I should pray to
God to assist me to do to others as I would that they should do to
me, as the hymn says; and mother knows that I always said my prayers,
night and morning; and I used to pray for father and mother, master
and governess, and every body else." "Yes, my little man, this is part
of our duty; we should pray for every one; and, I think, if God sees
it needful, he will answer our prayers, especially when they come from
the heart." Here the child attempted to speak, but could not, but
waved his hand, in token of gratitude for my having called; and I can
truly say, that I never saw so much confidence, resignation, and true
dependence on the divine will, manifested by any grown person, on a
death-bed, much less by a child under the tender age of seven years. I
bade the child adieu, and was much impressed with what I had seen. The
next day the mother called on me, and informed me that the child had
quitted his tenement of clay; and that just before his departure had
said to her, and those around him, that the souls of children never
die; it was only the body that died; that he had been told at school,
while they were saying the pictures, that the soul went to God, who
gave it. The mother said that these were the last words the child
was known to utter. She then repeated the request about the children
singing a hymn over his grave, and named the hymn she wished to
have sung. The time arrived for the funeral, and the parents of the
children who were to sing the hymn made them very neat and clean, and
sent them to school. I sent them to the house whence the funeral was
to proceed, and the undertaker sent word that he could not be troubled
with such little creatures, and that unless I attended myself the
children could not go. I told him that I was confident that the
children would be no trouble to him, if he only told them to follow
the mourners two and two, and that it was unnecessary for any one to
interfere with them further than shewing them the way back to the
school. I thought, however, that I would attend to see how the
children behaved, but did not let them see me, until the corpse was
arrived at the ground. As soon as I had got to the ground, some of the
children saw me, and whispered, "There's master;" when several of them
stepped out of the ranks to favour me with a bow. When the corpse was
put into the ground, the children were arranged round the grave, not
one of whom was more than six years of age. One of them gave out the
hymn, in the usual way, and then it was sung by the whole of them;
and, according to the opinions of the by-standers, very well. The
novelty of the thing caused a great number of persons to collect
together; and yet, to their credit, while the children were singing,
there was not a whisper to be heard; and when they had finished the
hymn, the poor people made a collection for the children on the
ground. The minister himself rewarded one or two of them, and they
returned well stored with money, cakes, &c. This simple thing was
the means of making the school more known; for I could hear persons
inquiring, "Where do these children come from?" "Why, don't you know?"
replied others, "from the Infant School." "Well," answered a third,
"I will try to get my children into it; for I should like them to be
there of all things. When do they take them in, and how do they get
them in?" "Why, you must apply on Monday mornings," answered another;
and the following Monday I had no less than forty-nine applications,
all of which I was obliged to refuse, because the school was full.[A]
[Footnote A: This circumstance took place in the heart of London, and
some of the chief actors in it are now men and women; and should
this meet the eye of any of them, I am sure they will not forget the
circumstances, nor entirely forget their old teacher.]
When teachers are conversing with their children, they should always
take care to watch their countenances, and the moment they appear
tired, to stop. An hour's instruction when the children's minds and
hearts are engaged, is better than many hours effort, when they are
thinking of something else. In addition to thirty-four pictures of
Scripture history, we have sixty of natural history, each picture
having a variety of quadrupeds, birds, fishes, and flowers. The first
thing we do is to teach the children the names of the different
things; then to distinguish them by their forms; and, lastly, they are
questioned on them as follows: If the animal is a horse, we put the
pointer to it, and say--
What is this? A. A picture of a horse. Q. What is the use of the
horse? A. To draw carts, coaches, waggons, drays, fire-engines,
caravans, the plough and harrow, boats on the canal, and any thing
that their masters want them. Q. Will they carry as well as draw? A.
Yes, they will carry a lady or gentleman on their backs, a sack of
corn, or paniers, or even little children, but they must not hit them
hard, if they do, they will fall off their backs; besides, it is very
cruel to beat them. Q. What is the difference between carrying and
drawing? A. To carry is when they have the whole weight on their
backs, but to draw is when they pull any thing along. Q. Is there any
difference between those horses that carry, and those horses that
draw? A. Yes; the horses that draw carts, drays, coal-waggons, stage
waggons, and other heavy things, are stouter and much larger, and
stronger than those that carry on the saddle, and are called draught
horses. Q. Where do the draught horses come from? A. The largest
comes from Leicestershire, and some come from Suffolk, which are
very strong, and are called Suffolk punches. Q. Where do the best
saddle-horses come from? A. They came at first from Arabia, the place
in which the camel is so useful; but now it is considered that those
are as good which are bred in England? Q. What do they call a horse
when he is young? A. A foal, or a young colt. Q. Will he carry or draw
while he is young? A. Not until he is taught, which is called breaking
of him in. Q. And when he is broke in, is he very, useful? A. Yes; and
please, sir, we hope to be more useful when we are properly taught.
Q. What do you mean by being properly taught? A. When we have as much
trouble taken with us as the horses and dogs have taken with them. Q.
Why, you give me a great deal of trouble, and yet I endeavour to teach
you. A. Yes, sir, but before Infant Schools were established, little
children, like us, were running the streets.[A] Q. But you ought to
be good children if you do run the streets. A. Please, sir, there is
nobody to tell us how[B], and if the man did not teach the horse, he
would not know how to do his work.
[Footnote A: This answer was given by a child five years of age.]
[Footnote B: This answer was given by a child six years of age.]
Here we observe to the children, that as this animal is so useful to
mankind, it should be treated with kindness. And having questioned
them as to the difference between a cart and a coach, and satisfied
ourselves that they understand the things that are mentioned, we
close, by asking them what is the use of the horse after he is dead,
to which the children reply, that its flesh is eaten by other animals
(naming them), and that its skin is put into pits with oak bark, which
is called tanning; and that when it is tanned it is called leather;
and leather is made into shoes to keep the feet warm and dry, and that
we are indebted to the animals for many things that we both eat and
wear, and above all to the great God for every thing that we possess.
I cannot help thinking that if this plan were more generally adopted,
in all schools, we should not have so many persons ascribing
everything to blind chance, when all nature exhibits a God, who
guides, protects, and continually preserves the whole.
We also examine the children concerning that ill-treated animal, the
ass, and contrast it with the beautiful external appearance of the
zebra; taking care to warn the children not to judge of things by
their outward appearance, which the world in general are too apt to
do, but to judge of things by their uses, and of men by their general
character and conduct. After having examined the children concerning
the animals that are most familiar to us, such as the sheep, the cow,
the dog, and others of a similar kind, we proceed to foreign animals,
such as the camel, the elephant, the tiger, the lion, &c. &c. In
describing the use of the camel and the elephant, there is a fine
field to open the understandings of the children, by stating how
useful the camel is in the deserts of Arabia; how much it can carry;
how long it can go without water; and the reason it can go without
water longer than most other animals; how much the elephant can carry;
what use it makes of its trunk, &c. All these things will assist the
thinking powers of children, and enlarge their understandings, if
managed carefully. We also contrast the beautiful appearance of the
tiger with its cruel and blood-thirsty disposition, and endeavour to
shew these men and women in miniature, that it is a dangerous plan
to judge of things by outward appearances, but that there is a
more correct way of judging, which forms a part of the business of
education to explain.
The children are highly delighted with these pictures, and, of their
own accord, require an explanation of the subjects. Nay, they will
even ask questions that will puzzle the teacher to answer; and
although there is in some minds such a natural barrenness, that, like
the sands of Arabia, they are never to be cultivated or improved,
yet I can safely say, that I never knew a child who did not like the
pictures; and as soon as I had done explaining one, it was always,
"Please, sir, may we learn this?" "Please, teacher, may we learn
that?" In short, I find that I am generally tired before the children;
instead of having to apply any magisterial severity, they are
petitioning to learn; and this mode of teaching possesses an advantage
over every other, because it does not interfere with any religious
opinion, there being no body of Christians that I know, or ever heard
of, who would object to the facts recorded in the Bible, being thus
elucidated by pictures. Thus a ground-work may be laid, not only of
natural history, but of sacred history also; for the objects being
before the children's eyes, they can, in some degree, comprehend them,
and store them in their memories. Indeed, there is such attraction in
pictures, that you can scarcely pass a picture-shop in London, without
seeing a number of grown persons around the windows gazing at them.
When pictures were first introduced into the school, the children told
their parents; many of whom came and asked permission to see them; and
although the plates are very common, I observed a degree of attention
and reverence in the parents, scarcely to be expected, and especially
from those who could not read.
It is generally the case, that what we have always with us, becomes so
familiar, that we set little store by it; but on being deprived of it
for a time, we then set a greater value on it: and I have found this
to be the case with the children. If the pictures we make use of in
the schools be exposed all at once, and at all times, then there would
be such a multiplicity of objects before the eyes of the children,
that their attention would not be fixed by any of them; they would
look at them all, at first, with wonder and surprise, but in a short
time the pictures would cease to attract notice, and, consequently,
the children would think no more of them than they would of the paper
that covers the room. To prevent this, and to excite a desire for
information, it is always necessary to keep some behind, and to let
very few objects appear at one time. When the children understand,
in some measure, the subjects before them, these may be replaced by
others, and so on successively, until the whole have been seen.
Some persons have objected to the picture of Christ being represented
in the human form, alleging that it is calculated to make the children
think he was a mere man only, and have thought it better that be
should not be represented at all; the man that undertakes to please
all will soon find out his mistake, and, therefore, be must do the
best he can, and leave the objectors to please themselves; yet it is
a great pity little children should suffer from the ill-grounded
objections of those who cannot do better. On visiting a school, take
notice of the pictures hanging about, if they are dusty, and have not
the appearance of being well-used, be sure that the committee have
never seen a good infant school, or that the teacher has never been
properly trained, and, therefore, does not know how to use them.
ON TEACHING BY OBJECTS.
_Object Boards--Utility of this Method_.
* * * * *
"The eyes will greatly aid the ears."
* * * * *
As I have before said that it is our object to teach the children from
objects in preference to books, I will mention a method we adopt for
the accomplishment of this purpose. It consists of a number of boards,
of which, and of their use, the following description will convey an
The boards are about sixteen inches square, and a quarter of an inch
thick: wainscot is the best, as it does not warp. These will go into
the groove of the lesson post: there should be about twenty articles
on each board, or twenty-five, just as it suits the conductors of the
school; there should be the same quantity of things on each board, in
order that all the children may finish at one time; this will not be
the case, if there be more objects on one board than another. I will
give an account of a few of our boards, and that must suffice, or I
shall exceed the limits I have prescribed to myself.
The first board contains a small piece of gold in its rough state, a
piece of gold in its manufactured state, a piece of silver in both
states, a piece of copper in both states, a piece of brass in both
states, a piece of iron in both states, a piece of steel in both
states, a piece of tinfoil, a piece of solder, a screw, a clasp nail,
a clout nail, a hob nail, a spike nail, a sparable, and a tack.
These articles are all on one board, and the monitor puts his pointer
to each article, and tells his little pupils their names, and
encourages them to repeat the names after him. When they finish at one
post they go to the next.
The next board may contain a piece of hemp, a piece of rope, a piece
of string, a piece of bagging, a piece of sacking, a piece of canvass,
a piece of hessian, a piece of Scotch sheeting, a piece of unbleached
linen, a piece of bleached linen, a piece of diaper linen, a piece of
dyed linen, a piece of flax, a piece of thread, a piece of yarn, a
piece of ticking, a piece of raw silk, a piece of twisted silk, a
piece of wove silk, figured, a piece of white plain sills, and a piece
of dyed silk, a piece of ribbon, a piece of silk cord, a piece of silk
The next may contain raw cotton, cotton yarn, sewing cotton,
unbleached calico, bleached calico, dimity, jean, fustian, velveteen,
gause, nankeen, gingham, bed furniture, printed calico, marseilles,
flannel, baise, stuff; woollen cloth and wool, worsted, white, black,
The next may contain milled board, paste board, Bristol card, brown
paper, white paper of various sorts, white sheep skin, yellow sheep,
tanned sheep, purple sheep, glazed sheep, red sheep, calf skin, cow
hide, goat skin, kid, seal, pig leather, seal skin, wash leather,
The next may contain about twenty-five of those wood animals which
are imported into this country, and are to be had at the foreign toy
warehouses; some of them are carved exceedingly well, and appear very
like the real animals.
The next may contain mahogany, and the various kinds of wood.
The next may contain prunings of the various fruit trees, all about an
inch long, or an inch square.
The next may contain the different small articles of ironmongery,
needles, pins, cutlery, small tools, and every other object that can
be obtained small enough for the purpose.
The lessons are to be put in the lesson-post the same as the picture
lessons; and the articles are either glued, or fastened on the boards
with screws or waxed thread.
I would have dried leaves provided, such as an oak leaf, an elm
leaf, an ash leaf, &c. &c. The leaves of ever-greens should be kept
separate. These will enable a judicious instructor to communicate a
great variety of valuable information.
On some things connected with such instruction I find I arrived at the
same conclusions as Pestalozzi, though I have never read his works,
and for some years after my first efforts, did not know that such
a person existed. I mean, however, to give my views on teaching by
objects more fully in a work I hope soon to prepare, to be entitled
"The Infant Teacher in the Nursery and the School."
The utility of this mode of teaching must be obvious, for if the
children meet with any of those terms in a book which they are
reading, they _understand them immediately_, which would not be the
case unless they had seen the _object_. The most intellectual person
would not be able to call things by their _proper names_, much less
describe them, unless he had been taught, or heard some other person
call them by their right names; and we generally learn more by mixing
with society, than ever we could do at school: these sorts of lessons
persons can make themselves, and they will last for many years, and
help to lay a foundation for things of more importance.
I am convinced the day is not far distant when a museum will be
considered necessary to be attached to every first rate school for the
instruction of children.
Sight is the most direct inlet for knowledge. Whatever we have seen
makes a much stronger impression upon us. Perception is the first
power of mind which is brought into action, and the one made use
of with most ease and pleasure. For this reason object lessons are
indispensable in an infant school, consisting both of real substances
and of pictures. The first lesson in Paradise was of this kind, and we
ought therefore to draw instruction from it. "And out of the ground
the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the
air; and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them: and
whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name of
_Exercise--Various positions--Exercise blended with
instruction--Arithmetical and geometrical amusements_.
* * * * *
"Would you make infants happy, give them variety, for novelty has
charms that our minds can hardly withstand."
* * * * *
As an Infant School may be regarded in the light of a combination of
the school and nursery, the _art of pleasing_, forms a prominent part
in the system; and as little children are very apt to be fretful, it
becomes expedient to divert as well as teach there. If children of
two years old and under are not diverted, they will naturally cry
for their mothers: and to have ten or twelve children crying in the
school, it is very obvious would put every thing into confusion. But
it is possible to have two hundred, or even three hundred children
assembled together, the eldest not more than six years of age, and yet
not to hear one of them crying for a whole day. Indeed I may appeal to
the numerous and respectable persons who have visited Infant Schools,
for the truth of this assertion; many of whom have declared, in my
hearing, that they could not have conceived it possible that such a
number of little children could be assembled together, and all be so
happy as they had found them, the greater part of them being so very
young. I can assure the reader, that many of the children who have
cried heartily on being sent to school the first day or two, have
cried as much on being kept at home, after they have been in the
school but a very short time: and I am of opinion that when children
are absent, it is generally the fault of the parents. I have had
children come to school without their breakfast, because it has not
been ready; others have come to school without shoes, because they
would not be kept at home while their shoes were mending; and I have
had others come to school half dressed, whose parents have been either
at work or gossipping; and who, when they have returned home, have
thought that their children were lost; but to their great surprise and
joy, when they have applied at the school, they have found them there.
Need any thing more be advanced than these facts, to prove, that it is
not school, or the acquirement of knowledge, that is disagreeable to
children, but the system of injudicious instruction there pursued.
Children are anxious to acquire knowledge, and nothing can be more
congenial to their taste than association with those of their own age;
but we ought not to wonder that little children should dislike to go
to school, when, as in most of the dames' schools, forty or fifty,
or perhaps more, are assembled together in one room, scarcely large
enough for one-third of that number, and are not allowed to speak to,
or scarcely look at each other. In those places, I firmly believe,
many, for the want of proper exercise become cripples, or have their
health much injured, by being kept sitting so many hours; but as
children's health is of the greatest consequence, it becomes necessary
to remedy this evil by letting them have proper exercise, combined as
much as possible, with instruction; to accomplish which many measures
have been tried, but I have found the following to be the most
The children are desired to sit on their seats, with their feet out
straight, and to shut each hand; and then ordered to count a hundred,
or as many as may be thought proper, lifting up each hand every time
they count one, and bringing each hand down again on their knees
when they count another. The children have given this the name of
blacksmith, and when asked why they called it blacksmith, they
answered, because they hammered their knees with their fists, in the
same way as the blacksmith hammers his irons with a hammer. When they
have arrived at hundred (which they never fail to let you know by
giving an extra shout), they may be ordered to stand up, and bring
into action the joints of the knees and thighs. They are desired to
add up one hundred, two at a time, which they do by lifting up each
foot alternately, all the children counting at one time, saying, two,
four, six, eight, ten, twelve, and so on. By this means, every part of
the body is put in motion; and it likewise has this advantage that by
lifting up each foot every time, they keep good time, a thing very
necessary, as unless this was the case, all must be confusion. They
also add up three at a time, by the same method, thus, three, six,
nine, twelve, fifteen, eighteen, and so on; but care must be taken not
to keep them too long at one thing, or too long in one position, thus
exercising the elbow joints, by pushing them out and drawing them back
as far as possible.
Come here, my dear boy, look at baby's two hands,
And his two little feet upon which baby stands;
Two thumbs and eight fingers together make ten;
Five toes on each foot the same number again.
Two arms and two shoulders, two elbows, two wrists,
Now bind up your knuckles, make two little fists;
Two legs and two ancles, two knees, and two hips.
His fingers and toes have all nails on their tips.
With his hands and his feet he can run, jump, and crawl,
He can dance, walk, or caper, or play with his ball;
Take your hoop or your cart, and have a good race,
And that will soon give you a fine rosy face.
Oh! what would my boy do without his two hands;
And his two little feet upon which baby stands!
They're the gift of kind heaven for you to enjoy,
Then be thankful to heaven, my dear little boy.
Having done a lesson or two this way, they are desired to put their
arms out straight, and to say, one and one are two, two and one are
three, three and one are four, four and one are five, five and one are
six, six and two are eight; and in this way they go on until they are
desired to stop.
It should be observed, that all _graceful_ actions may be adopted. I
am sorry to find, from visits to various schools, that the movements
of the children have degenerated into buffoonery; they have been
allowed to put themselves into the most ridiculous postures, and have
thus raised objections which would not otherwise have been urged. As,
however, the whole Infant System is designed to make the _children
think_, I would urge the _teachers_ to guard against their being
automatons. Let them mark every impropriety with promptitude, and
correct it with judgment.
I have specified these methods not as being the only ones practicable,
or fit to be adopted, but merely, as hints to the judicious teacher,
who will doubtless think of many others, conducive to the same end:
and the more he can diversify them the better. It is the combination
of amusement with instruction, which, in my opinion, renders the
system so successful; and unimportant or improper even as it may
appear to some, is of more real service in the management of young
children, than all the methods of restraint and coercion, which have
been hitherto but too generally pursued.
The children may also learn the pence and multiplication tables, by
forming themselves into circles around a number of young trees, where
such are planted in the play-ground. For the sake of order, each class
should have its own particular tree; that when they are ordered to the
trees, every child may know which tree to go to; as soon as they are
assembled around the trees, they are to join hands and walk round,
every child saying the multiplication table, until they have finished
it; they then let go hands, and put them behind, and for variety's
sake, sing the pence table, the alphabet, hymns, &c. &c.; thus the
children are gradually improved and delighted, for they call it play,
and it is of little consequence what they call it, so long as they are
edified, exercised, and made happy.
This plan is calculated to impress the lessons on their memories, and
is adapted for fine weather, when they can go out to play, as it is
called. But as in wet or snowy weather, they cannot go out of the
school, we then have recourse to the mode previously mentioned.
Besides it is necessary that children should have exercise in winter
as well as in summer, in wet as well as in dry weather; for this
purpose we have several swings in the school-room, made of cord only,
on which the children are allowed to swing, two at a time. The time
that they are permitted to be on the swing, is according to what they
have to repeat. If it is the pence table, they say--
Twenty pence are one and eightpence,
That we can't afford to lose;
Thirty pence are two and sixpence,
That will buy a pair of shoes.
Forty pence are three and fourpence,
That is paid for certain fees;
Fifty pence are four and twopence,
That will buy five pounds of cheese.
Sixty pence will make, five shillings,
Which, we learn is just a crown;
Seventy pence are five and tenpence,
This is known throughout the town.
Eighty pence are six and eightpence,
I'll always try to think of that;
Ninety pence are seven and sixpence,
This will buy a beaver hat.
A hundred pence are eight and fourpence,
Which is taught in th' Infant School;
Eight pence more make just nine shillings,
So we end this pretty rule.[A]
[Footnote A: A covered play-ground is desirable where practicable.]
As soon as the table is thus gone through, the children who are on the
swings get off, and others supply their places, until, probably,
the pence table has been said twenty times; then we go on with the
multiplication table, until the children have repeated as far as six
times six are thirty-six; when the children on the swings get off and
are succeeded by two more on each swing; they then commence the other
part of the table, beginning at six times seven are forty-two, until
they have finished the table. During this time it should be borne
in mind, that all the children are learning, not only those on the
swings, but those who are sitting in the school; and it is surprising
to see with what alacrity the children will dispatch their other
lessons, when it is a wet day, in order to get to the swings. In
addition to the knowledge acquired by this method, it is admirably
calculated to try their courage. Many little boys and girls, who at
first are afraid to get on the swings, will soon swing standing on
one leg, and perform other feats with the greatest dexterity, at once
showing their increased courage and greater activity. We generally
let four or five children come to a swing, and those that can seat
themselves first, are entitled to the first turn, for they are never
lifted on. In the anxiety to get on the swing, some of them will
perhaps get out of temper, especially those who are not disciplined;
but when this is detected they are not allowed to swing that day,
which soon makes them good-natured to each other, and very cautious
not to get into a passion. Thus, in some degree, their bad tempers are
corrected, which is very desirable. It is a current remark, that bad
workmen find fault with the tools; and lazy teachers find fault with
the swings, because they must perpetually watch the children. We are
so tinctured with the old plan of _rivetting_ the children to _seats_,
that I despair of ever seeing the opposite plan become general in my
time. As soon as two children are seated on each swing, to preserve
order, the others retire (generally speaking) in the greatest good
humour to their seats.
Some will, I know, be apt to exclaim, surely this is encouraging and
fostering bad feelings--creating enmity and ill-will amongst the
children; but I say, No, it is teaching them to feel a spirit of
generous emulation, as distinguishable from that of ill-nature or
Beside the swings, in many schools they have a very useful addition to
the play-ground. I mean the gymnastic pole.
Although it is most proper for the master in the play-ground to relax
altogether the brow of magisterial severity, yet there is no occasion
for him to withdraw the influence of love. He will not prove a check
to the enjoyment of the children, if, entering into the spirit of
their innocent pastimes, he endeavours to heighten their pleasures by
a judicious direction of their sports.
Among other amusements, which his ingenuity may suggest, I would
mention a geometrical amusement, which is very practicable. First, let
a certain number of children stand in a row. Opposite to these let one
or more children be placed as directors to order the change of figure.
A straight line, we will suppose, is the first thing shown by the
position of the children; the next thing to be formed is a _curve_, by
the advancement of each end; then a half-circle,--a circle, by joining
hands in a ring;--two equal parallel lines, by the division of the
number in action; next a square,--triangle, &c. &c. These changes
may either be made at the command of the master, or, as we before
proposed, of one or more children acting as officers to direct these
Had it been constantly borne in memory that God is the creator of the
body of a child as well as of its mind; and that the healthy action of
both is requisite for happiness and usefulness, more attention would
have been paid to the due and proper exercise of children than has
hitherto been done. He has implanted an instinctive impulse to
activity in every young child, which displays itself in almost
incessant motion, where there is perfect health, and when there is
opportunity. To restrain this unnecessarily, is therefore to act in
opposition to the laws of nature; and the end must be a certain injury
to the child. To prevent this evil, and to act in obedience to these
laws, the various actions of clapping the hands, folding the arms,
twisting the fists, and various other motions have been introduced.
By these means a spirit of restlessness, which would undoubtedly show
itself under unnecessary restraints, is converted into a motive of
obedience, and thus even a moral influence is produced, by what
would appear a mere childish play. They may all be gone through with
elegance and propriety: and no rude or indelicate action should be
allowed. Many masters are too free in making a show of these exercises
to visitors, who are perhaps amused with them, but this is to divert
them from their proper use. They were only invented to be introduced
at intervals, when the children's attention began to flag, or to give
them that proper exercise which their tender age required. How has
everything connected with the infant system been burlesqued! and thus
sensible persons have been led to despise infant education, which
if rightly understood by them, would be seen to be one of the most
powerful moral engines that can be put into action for the welfare of
our fellow-creatures, especially of the poorer classes.
_Infant ditties--Songs on natural history--Moral lessons in
verse--Influence of music in softening of the feelings--Illustrative
* * * * *
"Music hath charms"
* * * * *
Music has been found a most important means of _mental_ and _moral_
improvement. Its application took place from my finding a great
difficulty in teaching some children, especially the younger ones, to
sound their letters; and hence I determined to set the alphabet to a
simple tune. I sang it frequently to the children when they were low
or dispirited, and although none attempted the same sounds at first,
I had the satisfaction of observing unusual attention. My next effort
was very injudicious; for I urged on them the imitation of these
sounds before they were actually capable of so doing; and hence, as
more reflection would have shewn, only discordance arose. Having told
them then to listen _only_, as they did at first, I soon discovered
that having learned the tune through the proper organ--the ear, they
were able to imitate it with the voice. We then by the same means
marked the distinction between vowels and consonants with a tune that
was longer and rather more difficult. As the monitor always pointed
out the letters in succession while the children were singing,
attention was excited and secured, and error effectually prevented, as
correct time and tune could not be kept unless every child sung the
Success as to the alphabet led to the adoption of music in the
teaching of arithmetic. This was available in two ways, first by
combining with it physical exercise, and then by tasking the faculties
of observation. The former was effected as follows: the children sang,
one is the half of two, two is the half of four, three is the half of
six, &c. &c., and then brought one hand down on the other alternately,
without however making too much noise, so as to interrupt the time;
the latter was accomplished by the arithmeticon, which has already
been explained. A few specimens of the ditties thus used shall now be
given; and several others, both hymns and moral songs are to be found
in the Manual, recently published by myself in conjunction with a
FOUR SEASONS FOR HUMAN LIFE.
Our days four seasons are at most,
And Infancy's the time of Spring;
Oh! with what trouble, care, and cost,
Must we be taught to pray and sing.
In Summer as our growth proceeds,
Good fruit should hang on every branch;
Our roots be clear'd from evil weeds,
As into knowledge we advance.
Our Autumn is the season, when
Temptations do our minds assail.
Our fruits are proved in manhood; then
Let not sin, death, and hell prevail.
For Winter brings old age and death,
If we've good fruits laid up in store;
Soon as we gasp our latest _breath_,
We land on a _triumphant shore_.
FOUR SEASONS OF THE YEAR.
On March the twenty-first is Spring,
When little birds begin to sing;
Begin to build and hatch their brood,
And carefully provide them food.
Summer's the twenty-first of June,
The cuckoo changes then his tune;
All nature smiles, the fields look gay,
The weather's fair to make the hay.
September, on the twenty-third,
When sportsmen mark at ev'ry bird,
Autumn comes in; the fields are shorn,
The fruits are ripe; so is the corn.
Winter's cold frosts and northern blasts,
The season is we mention last;
The date of which in _truth_ we must
Fix for December--twenty-first.
All human beings must (with birds and beasts)
To be complete, five senses have at least:
The sense of hearing to the ear's confined;
The eye, we know, for seeing is design'd;
The nose to smell an odour sweet or ill;
The tongue to taste what will the belly fill.
The sense of feeling is in every part
While life gives motion to a beating heart.
THE MASTER'S DAILY ADVICE TO HIS SCHOOL.
If you'd in wisdom's ways proceed,
You intellectual knowledge need.
Let science be your guiding star,
Or from its path you'll wander far.
'Tis science that directs the mind,
The path of happiness to find.
If _goodness_ added is to _truth_,
'Twill bring reward to every youth.
THE GOOD CHILDREN'S MONEY-BOX.
All pence by the generous deposited here,
When holidays come I will equally share.
Among all good children attending this school,
I should wish not to find a dunce or a fool.
Then listen, all you, who a prize hope to gain,
Attend to your books, and you'll not hope in vain.
Come, children, listen to me now,
And you shall hear about the cow;
You'll find her useful, live or dead,
Whether she's black, or white, or red.
When milk-maids milk her morn and night,
She gives them milk so fresh and white;
And this, we little children think,
Is very nice for us to drink.
The curdled milk they press and squeeze,
And so they make it into cheese;
The cream they skim and shake in churns,
And then it soon to butter turns.
And when she's dead, her flesh is good,
For _beef_ is our true English food;
But though 'twill make us brave and strong,
To eat too much we know is wrong.
Her skin, with lime and bark together,
The tanner tans, and makes it leather;
And without _that_ what should we do
For soles to every boot or shoe?
The shoemaker cuts it with his knife,
And bound the tops are by his wife,
And then he nails it to the last.
And after sews it tight and fast.
The hair that grows upon her back
Is taken, whether white or black,
And mix'd with mortar, short or long,
Which makes it very firm and strong.
The plast'rer spreads it with a tool,
And this you'll find is just the rule,
And when he's spread it tight and fast,
I'm sure it many years will last.
And last of all, if cut with care,
Her horns make combs to comb our hair;
And so we learn--thanks to our teachers,
That cows are good and useful creatures.
Hark now to me, and silence keep,
And we will talk about the sheep;
For sheep are harmless, and we know
That on their backs the wool does grow.
The sheep are taken once a year,
And plunged in water clean and clear;
And there they swim, but never bite,
While men do wash them clean and white.
And then they take them, fat or lean,
Clip off the wool, both short and clean,
And this is call'd, we understand,
Shearing the sheep, throughout the land.
And then they take the wool so white,
And pack it up in bags quite tight;
And then they take those bags so full,
And sell to men that deal in wool.
The wool is wash'd and comb'd with hand,
Then it is spun with wheel and band;
And then with shuttle very soon,
Wove into cloth within the loom.
The cloth is first sent to be dyed;
Then it is wash'd, and press'd and dried;
The tailor then cuts out with care
The clothes that men and boys do wear.
Come, children, let us now discourse
About the pretty noble horse;
And then you soon will plainly see
How very useful he must be.
He draws the coach so fine and smart,
And likewise drags the loaded cart,
Along the road or up the hill,
Though then his task is harder still.
Upon his back men ride with ease,
He carries them just where they please;
And though it should be many a mile,
He gets there in a little while.
With saddle on his back they sit,
And manage him with reins and bit,
The whip and spur they use also,
When they would have him faster go.
And be the weather cold or hot,
As they may wish he'll walk or trot;
Or if to make more haste they need,
Will gallop with the greatest speed.
When dead his shining skin they use,
As leather for our boots and shoes;
Alive or dead, then, thus we see
How useful still the horse must be.
The cow, the sheep, the horse, have long,
Been made the subject of our song;
But there are many creatures yet,
Whose merits we must not forget.
And first the dog, so good to guard
His master's cottage, house, or yard,--
Dishonest men away to keep,
And guard us safely while we sleep.
For if at midnight, still and dark,
Strange steps he hears, with angry bark,
He bids his master wake and see,
If thieves or honest folks they be.
At home, abroad, obedient still,
His only guide his master's will;
Before his steps, or by his side,
He runs or walks with joy and pride.
He runs to fetch the stick or ball,
Returns obedient to the call;
Content and pleased if he but gains
A single pat for all his pains.
But whilst his merits thus we praise,
Pleased with his character and ways,
This let us learn, as well we may,
To love our teachers and obey.
[Footnote A: The following tale, though not adapted for the younger
children of an Infant School, and too long to be committed to memory
by the elder ones, might be read to such by the master, and would
serve as an admirable theme for conversation. It is likewise well
adapted as a tale for family circles.]
THE TWO HALVES.
"What nice plum-cakes," said JAMES to JOHN,
"Our mother sends! Is your's all gone?"
"It is," JOHN answered; "is not thine?"
"No, JOHN, I've saved one half of mine;
"It was so large, as well as nice,
I thought that it should serve for twice,
Had I eat all to-day, to-morrow
I might have mourn'd such haste in sorrow;
So half my cake I wisely took,
And, seated in my favourite nook,
Enjoyed alone, the _double pleasure_,
Of present and of future treasure."
"I, too," said JOHN, "made up my mind
This morning, when our mother kind
Sent down the cakes so nice and sweet,
That I but half to-day would eat,
And half I ate; the other half--"
JAMES stopp'd his brother with a laugh;
"I know what you're about to say,--
The other half you gave away.
Now, brother, pray explain to me,
The charms which you in _giving_ see.
Shew me how _feasting_ foes or friends
Can for your _fasting_ make amends."
"A poor old man," said JOHN, "came by,
Whose looks implored for charity.
His eyes, bedimm'd with starting tears,
His body bowed by length of years,
His feeble limbs, his hoary hairs,
Were to my heart as silent prayers.
I saw, too, he was hungry, though
His lips had not informed me so.
To this poor creature, JAMES, I gave
The half which I had meant to save.
The lingering tears, with sudden start,
Ran down the furrows of his cheek,
I knew he thank'd me in his heart,
Although he strove in vain to speak.
The joy that from such acts we gain
I'll try for your sake to explain.
First, God is pleased, who, as you know,
Marks every action that we do;
That God 'from whom all blessings flow,'
So many JAMES to me and you.
_Our mother_, next, had she but seen
Her gifts of kindness so employ'd,
Would _she_ not JAMES, well pleased have been;
And all my feelings then enjoy'd?
_The poor old man_, was _he_ not pleased?
Must not his load of sorrow be,
Though but for one short moment, eased,
To think, 'Then some one feels for me.'
But still you ask, of all this pleasure,
How much will to _the giver_ fall?
The whole, rich, undiminish'd treasure,--
_He_ feels, _he_ shares the joy of _all_.
We eat the cake, and it is gone;
What have we left to think upon?
Who's pleased by what we then have done?
How many pray, JAMES, more than one?
The joys by sympathy supplied
Are many, great, and dignified.
But do not on my word rely,
Whilst you, dear JAMES, the fact may try;
And if you do not find it true,
I'll next time eat _both halves_ with you!"
* * * * *
It is desirable that the master should add instrumental to vocal
music. He should be able to play on the violin, flute, or clarionet,
but, as he must speak much, the former is to be preferred. Such is the
influence of the weather, that children are almost always dull on dull
days, and then a little music is of great advantage. On wet days, when
they cannot go into the play-ground, it assists them in keeping the
step when they march, it cheers and animates their spirits, and, in
some measure, compensates for their privations. It will also aid
Music may be employed, moreover, to soften the feelings, curb the
passions, and improve the temper, and it is strange that it should not
have been employed till the operation of the Infant System, to which
it is absolutely indispensable. When, for instance, after a trial by
jury, as explained in a former page, the children have been disposed
to harshness and severity, a soft and plaintive melody has produced
a different decision. To recite one case; when I was organizing the
Dry-gate School in Glasgow[A], a little girl in the gallery had lost
of her ear-rings (which, by the way, like beads, is a very improper
appendage, and ought by all means to be discouraged), and on
discovering the fact, commenced a most piteous lamentation. I made
inquiry for it immediately, while the children were seated in the
gallery, but in vain; and I subsequently found it in the hands of a
little girl at the bottom, who was attentively examining it, and who
gave it me the moment it was demanded. On asking the children what was
to be done in this case, they said she should have a pat of the hand.
I then showed, that had she intended to steal it, she would have
secreted it, which she did not, and that her attention was so absorbed
by it, that she had not heard my inquiry; but one little boy was not
satisfied; he said, "She kenned right weel it was nae her ain;" but
after singing a simple and touching air, I was pleased to find his
opinion changed. "Perhaps, sir," he said, "ye may as weel forgie her
this ance, as she is but a wee thing."
[Footnote A: This school has since become a very important Normal
school, from which many others have emanated, the head master
being the one I originally instructed: Mr. Stowe, also, one of the
directors, has applied the principles of the Infant School System to
the instruction of older children, which is called Stowe's Training
System; being applied to juveniles, with great success. I know of no
school, except the Dublin Normal Schools, equal to those, and of no
masters superior to those I have seen who have been taught there.]
The music chosen for children should be easy and simple, fluent and
varied. Hymn tunes should be of a rather lively character, as the more
dull and sombrous are not well adapted to the infant ear. Airs for
the tables or exercising songs are required to be very cheerful and
inspiring, and then they tend to excite pleasure and liveliness, which
should often be aimed at in an infant school.
As children take much interest in singing, and readily learn verses by
heart, so as to sing them, although not properly instructed in their
meaning or rightly understanding them, singing has been considered by
many persons the "soul of the system." This is a grievous error as
regards the intellectual advancement of the children, and still worse
as regards their health and that of the teacher. I have at times
entered schools as a visitor when the mistress has immediately made
the children show off by singing in succession a dozen pieces, as if
they were a musical box. Thus to sing without bounds is a very likely
way to bring the mistress to an early grave, and injure the lungs of
the dear little children. Use as not abusing is the proper rule,
tar all the new modes of teaching and amusing children that I have
introduced; but it has often appeared to me that abuse it as much as
possible was the rule acted upon. Call upon the first singers of the
day to sing in this manner, and where would they soon be?
_Method of instruction--Grammatical rhymes_.
* * * * *
"A few months ago, Mr. ---- gave his little daughter, H----, a child
of five years old, her first lesson in English Grammar; but no
alarming book of grammar was produced on the occasion, nor did the
father put on an unpropitious gravity of countenance. He explained
to the smiling child the nature of a verb, a pronoun, and a
* * * * *
It has been well observed, "that grammar is the first thing taught,
and the last learnt." Now, though it is not my purpose to pretend that
I can so far simplify grammar, as to make all its rules comprehensible
to children so young as those found in infant schools, I do think
that enough may be imparted to them to render the matter more
comprehensible, than it is usually found to be in after years.
The great mystery of grammar results, in my opinion, from not making
the children acquainted with the things of which the words used are
the signs, and moreover, from the use of a number of hard words,
which the children repeat without understanding. For instance, in the
classification of words, or the parts of speech, as they are called,
_nouns, substantives_, and _adjectives_, convey, as terms, no idea to
the minds of children; and, in spite of the definitions by which their
import is explained, remain to them as unintelligible as the language
of magical incantation. That the children can easily comprehend the
difference between words which express the names of things, and
those which express their qualities, and between words which express
actions, and those which express the nature of those actions, is
undeniable; and this is just what should be taught in an infant
school. In the first place, let the children be accustomed to repeat
the names of things, not of any certain number of things set down on a
lesson card, or in a book, but of any thing, and every thing, in the
school-room, play-ground, &c.: next let them be exercised in telling
something relating to those things--_their qualities_; as for
instance, the school-room is _large, clean_, &c.,--the children
are _quiet, good, attentive_, &c.--the pictures are _pretty_: the
play-ground is _pleasant_, &c. Having accustomed the children, in this
manner, first to give you the _names_ of things, and then to observe
and repeat something respecting them--you have gained two ends; you
have, first, taught the children to be observant and discriminative;
and, secondly, you have taught them to distinguish two distinct
classes of words, or _names_ and _qualities_; and you may now, if
you please, give them terms by which to distinguish these respective
classes, viz. _substantives_ and _adjectives_. They will no longer be
mysterious words, "signifying nothing," but recognized signs, by which
the children will understand and express definite ideas. The next
thing you have to teach them is, the distinction betwixt singular and
plural, and, if you think proper, masculine and feminine; but before
you talk to the children about _plural number_ and _masculine gender_,
&c., let them be made acquainted with the realities of which these
hard-sounding words are the signs.
Having made the classification of words clear and comprehensible, you
next proceed to the second grand class of words, the verbs, and their
adjuncts, the _adverbs_. With these you will proceed as with the
former; let action be distinguished by words;--the children _walk,
play, read, eat, run_; master _laughs, frowns, speaks, sings_; and
so on; letting the children find their own examples; then comes the
demand from the master for words expressing the manner of action. How
do the children _walk?--slowly, quickly, orderly_. How do they _read,
eat run!_ How does the master _laugh, speak, sing?_ The children now
find you ADVERBS, and it will be quite time enough to give them terms
for the classification they thus intuitively make, when they have a
clear idea of what they are doing. When this end is attained, your
children have some ideas of grammar, and those clear ones. There is no
occasion to stop here. Proceed, but slowly, and in the same method.
The tenses of the verbs, and the subdivision into active, passive, and
neuter, will require the greatest care and attention which the
teacher can use, to simplify them sufficiently for the children's
comprehension; as it will likewise enable them to understand the
nature and office of the other classes of words. As, however, it is
not my intention to write a grammar here, but merely to throw out a
few hints on the subject, I shall leave the further development of
the plan to the ingenuity of those who may think fit to adopt its
principles, as above laid down.
English Grammar doth us teach,
That it hath nine parts of speech;--
Article, adjective, and noun,
Verb, conjunction, and pronoun,
With preposition, and adverb,
And interjection, as I've heard.
The letters are just twenty-six,
These form all words when rightly mix'd.
The vowels are a, e, o, i,
With u, and sometimes w and y.
Without the little vowels' aid,
No word or syllable is made;
But consonants the rest we call,
And so of these we've mention'd all.
Three little words we often see,
Are articles,--_a, an_, and _the_.
A noun's the name of any thing--
As _school_, or _garden, hoop,_ or _swing_.
Adjectives tell the kind of noun--
As _great, small, pretty, white,_ or _brown_.
Instead of nouns the pronouns stand,
John's head, _his_ face, _my_ arm, _your_ hand.
Verbs tell of something being done--
To _read, write, count, sing, jump_, or _run_.
How things are done the adverbs tell--
As _slowly, quickly, ill_, or _well_.
Conjunctions join the nouns together--
As men _and_ children, wind _or_ weather.
A preposition stands before
A noun, as _in_ or _through_ a door.
The interjection shows surprise--
As, _oh!_ how pretty, _ah!_ how wise.
The whole are called nine parts of speech,
Which, reading, writing, speaking teach.
Three little words we hear and see
In frequent use, _a, an_, and _the_;
These words so useful, though so small,
Are those which articles we call.
The first two, _a_ and _an_, we use
When speaking of one thing alone;
For instance, we might wish to say
An _oak_, a _man_, a _dog_, a _bone_.
_The_ speaks of either one or more,--
The cow, the cows, the pig, the pigs,
The plum, the plums (you like a score),
The pear, the pears, the fig, the figs.
An oak, a man; means _any_ oak,
Or _any_ man of all mankind;
A dog, a bone, means _any_ dog,
Or _any_ bone a dog may find.
This article we only use
Whenever it may be our wish
To speak of some determined thing,
As thus;--_the_ bird, _the_ ox, _the_ fish.
By which we mean not _any_ bird,
That flying in the air may be,
Or _any_ ox amongst the herd,
Or _any_ fish in stream or sea.
But some one certain bird or ox,
Or fish (let it be which it may)
Of which we're speaking, or of which
We something mean to write or say.
Remember these things when you see
The little words, a, an, and the.
These words so useful, though so small
Are those which articles we call.
Nothing can be more absurd than to compel young children to commit
to memory mere abstract rules expressed in difficult and technical
language. Such requires a painful effort of the mind, and one
calculated to give a disgust against learning. _Grammar was formed on
language and not language by grammar_, and from this it necessarily
follows, that children should acquire a considerable store of words
from a knowledge of reading and of things, before their minds are
taxed by abstract rules. To be thoroughly understood they require
words to be compared with words, and one word to be compared with
another; and how can this be done without the memory being amply
supplied with them previously. Such simple instruction as this chapter
directs may easily be given; but to attempt much more would be like
endeavouring to build an elegant and ornamental structure before you
had collected materials to build with.
THE ELLIPTICAL PLAN OF TEACHING.
_Method Explained--Its success_.
* * * * *
"He tried each art."--_Goldsmith_.
* * * * *
All persons acquainted with children are aware of the torpor of some
minds, and of the occasional apathy of others, and to this it is
necessary to provide some counteraction. This is done effectually by
what is called the elliptical plan, according to which, words are
omitted in a narrative or poem repeated by the teacher, for the
purpose of being supplied by the children.
These exercises are very agreeable to the children, and by them some
features of the mental character become conspicuous. Children are
usually sensible of their need of instruction, but if they can make
it appear that any of their statements are original, their delight is
especially manifest. There seems, too, a dislike at first, to take any
trouble to arrive at the truth; careless children will therefore guess
several times; but an observant teacher will at once perceive that
there is no effort of the understanding, point it out to the child,
and thus prevent its recurrence.
Dr. Gilchrist observes, in a letter sent to me, "You have now the
whole method before you, and I shall boldly stake all my hard-earned
fame, as a practical orientalist, on the salutary consequences that
will spring from the adoption of short elliptical tales at your
My usual practice with respect to the elliptical method of teaching,
is, to deliver some appropriate, simple, extemporaneous tale, leaving
out but few words at first, and those such as must obviously strike
the children; as they get used to the plan, I make the omissions more
frequent, and of words less obvious. The following specimens will
render the whole plain to the understandings of my readers.
A gardener's youngest[a] ---- was walking among the
fruit[b] ---- of his father's[c] ----, he saw a little[d]
---- fly up and sit on one of the[e]---- of the trees;
the[f] ---- lifted a stone, and was going to[g]---- it at
the poor[h]---- which seemed to[i]---- most sweetly
My[k] ---- is[l] ---- of moss and hair,
The[m] ---- are[n]---- and sheltered there;
When[o]---- soon shall my young[p] ---- fly
Far from the[q]---- school[r]---- eye."
The[s]---- eldest[t]---- who understood the[u]----
of birds came up at that moment, and[v]----
out, throw down the[w] ----, you hard-hearted[x] ----
and don't[y] ---- the innocent[z] ---- in the middle of his
song; are you not[aa]---- with his swelling red-breast,
his beautiful sharp eye, and above all with the[bb] ---- of
his notes, and the familiar[cc] ---- he assumes, even in
the[dd] ---- of a[ee]---- like you? Ask your youngest[ff]
---- here if she remembers the[gg]---- which her good[hh]
---- read to her yesterday of a very[ii]---- boy, who
was very[kk]---- to a harmless green[ll] ---- which
he caught[mm] ---- for hunger, among the[nn]---- in the[oo]
---- of winter.
[Footnote a: Son]
[Footnote b: trees]
[Footnote c: garden]
[Footnote d: bird]
[Footnote e: branches]
[Footnote f: boy]
[Footnote g: throw]
[Footnote h: bird]
[Footnote i: sing]
[Footnote k: nest]
[Footnote l: built]
[Footnote m: eggs]
[Footnote n: laid]
[Footnote o: hatched]
[Footnote p: ones]
[Footnote q: roaming]
[Footnote r: boy's]
[Footnote s: gardener's]
[Footnote t: son]
[Footnote u: notes]
[Footnote v: called]
[Footnote w: stone]
[Footnote x: rogue or boy]
[Footnote y: disturb or hurt]
[Footnote z: bird]
[Footnote aa: pleased or delighted]
[Footnote bb: sweetness or melody]
[Footnote cc: air]
[Footnote dd: presence]
[Footnote ee: naughty boy]
[Footnote ff: sister]
[Footnote gg: story]
[Footnote hh: mother, aunt &c.]
[Footnote ii: naughty or good]
[Footnote kk: cruel or kind]
[Footnote ll: finch or linnet]
[Footnote mm: perishing or dying]
[Footnote nn: snow]
[Footnote oo: depth or middle.]
The following little verses upon the same principle have been found
to answer extremely well, by putting one child in the rostrum, and
desiring him purposely to leave out those words that are marked, the
other children will fill them up as he goes.
I must pray
Both ---- and day.
Before ---- eat
I must entreat,
That ---- would bless
To me ---- meat.
I must not play
On God's own day,
But I must hear
His word with fear.
It is a sin
To steal a pin
Much more to steal
A greater thing.
I must work,
And I must pray,
Back to Full Books