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of systematic exercise for youths at school and college, to which important subject we shall be glad if we can succeed in directing attention.
Mr. Carter's Lecture on the Study of Geography contains, according to our views, the correct principles on which this useful and necessary branch of knowledge should be taught. It will not be denied, that nearly all that is learned of this science, at ordinary schools, consists in connecting a question and answer by some artificial association,' and 'in repeating a passage, containing important information, with verbal accuracy. The consequence is, that any questions not contained in the book, or even the very questions of the book, if slightly modified, completely disconcert the young learner; and we should not be surprised in the least were we to witness such a specimen of precocious talent as Mr. Carter quotes from Miss Hamilton:-' A child, after answering all his questions, and giving an accurate account of the statistics of Turkey, on being asked, "Where is Turkey?"-a question not in the book-replied, " In the yard with the poults.
Mr. Carter objects decidedly to the usual plan of beginning geography by presenting to the pupil a map of the world, in connexion with which he is taught something about its artificial divisions, its mountains, rivers, &c., and many minute particulars (not always very correct), of which it is impossible that he can form any distinct notion or by way of giving him still more general views, he is introduced at once to the solar system, from which he descends to the earth and its great divisions. China, Tartary, and Africa occupy as much of his attention as his native state, or rather more. Such an absurd system never has but one result, that of leaving the pupil entirely destitute of any clear conception of the subject. It is only by comparing what he reads of mountains, rivers, &c., in other countries, with the mountains and rivers which he sees about him, that the pupil can form any idea of what is meant by mountains five thousand feet high, or rivers whose courses are several thousand miles in length.
The correct plan,' says Mr. Carter, for an elementary work on geography, would therefore enable the learner to begin at home, with a description, and, if practicable, with a map, of the town in which he lives. Or, if that should be found too particular, the instructor must supply the description, and the map begin with the pupil's own county or state, in which he will of course be most interested. From thence he may proceed to the whole country of kingdom, and thence to the more general divisions of the earth. The maps will of course be reduced in their scale, and the descrip
tion grow less and less minute, as the places are further removed, or from any cause become less interesting. This presents the geography of the earth in perspective; and it should be so. We need to know most, other things being equal, concerning those places which are nearest to us.'
Mr. Carter then proceeds to give some very useful directions for teaching children how to draw maps of the district in which they live on a small black board or a slate. A very few exercises of this kind will show them the meaning of plans or maps on different scales; they will be taught to fix with sufficient accuracy the four cardinal points of the compass, then to define one place with reference to the position of another, and thus, from forming a clear notion of the relative positions and distances of a few places around them, they can ascend to the comprehension of maps on a smaller scale, including a greater area of country. We consider Mr. Carter's views on the teaching of geography as the only sound and rational way of making this branch of knowledge either attractive or intelligible to young learners.
Mr. Thayer's lecture On the Spelling of Words, and a Rational Method of Teaching their Meaning' is an humble topic, but one of the very first importance, particularly in those schools where the acquirements of the pupils are limited to the common rudiments of knowledge. How much time is wasted in that most tiresome and ridiculous practice of teaching children to spell by committing to memory a column of hard words, and then uttering them, letter by letter! and how little of the meaning of what children read in common schools is ever comprehended! Mr. Thayer's lecture contains so much good advice on this subject, derived from actual experience, that we are sorry to see such a specimen of bad taste as the following sentence in the third paragraph of his Introduction: 'I shall therefore be brief, plain, and direct; and not aspiring to offer a single new idea on this branch-lying at the very threshold of the temple of education-to those who have ministered any long time at its altar, I shall hope rather to aid those who have been recently invested with its robes.' Such attempts at fine writing usually terminate in bad writing, of which this sentence is not the only specimen which we could select from these discourses. The justness of the thought and the effect of the reasoning are not unfrequently impaired by the tinsel ornaments with which they are set off. The substance of Mr. Thayer's advice as to spelling seems to us to be included in the following sentence:·
A preferable course would be, to assign a portion in the reading book of each class, to be written on slates to dictation, and subse
quently examined by the teachers or monitors, who, after checking any errors that might occur, should return the slates to their respective owners for correction, by the books or otherwise.' In fact, spelling, or the orthography of a language should be taught by writing, an opinion, we believe, that is now pretty well established, but not sufficiently put into practice. As to defining the meanings of words, Mr. Thayer proposes several excellent methods; first, by giving orally the explanation of words as they occur to the pupil in his lesson: secondly, the pupil, after the lesson, should be required to explain such words to the teacher, and to write them on a slate as a spelling lesson: thirdly, a paraphrase of the story or lesson in the pupil's language, written on a slate, by which the teacher would ascertain how far the pupil comprehended what he read fourthly, the student to be required to substitute for certain words marked by the teacher, other words which are synonymous; for this last purpose a dictionary is to be used. We do not feel quite so sure about the value of the fourth exercise, though we see some advantage in it; but with such dictionaries as are in common use and such common teachers as use them, we are afraid the pupil would be taught to consider as synonymous many words which differ widely in meaning.
There is in this collection a lecture by Mr. Oliver' On the Advantages and Defects of the Monitorial System,' which we think contains a very fair view of the real merits of this mode of instruction. But the besetting sin of Americans, the love of fine writing, and the pedantic display of classical learning, very much diminish the value of Mr. Oliver's address. The real good sense that is in it, suffers from communion with such sentences as the following. Mr. Oliver is speaking of false quantities passing unnoticed in classes superintended by monitors, and he adds, let it suffice merely to say, that they were terrific enough to make the bones of Porson rattle beneath the incumbent ground, and to frighten the manes of Bentley into annihilation.' But setting aside this rant, and some nonsense about the interminable variety of Homer's dialects, Mr. Oliver has, in our opinion, clearly shown, that the monitorial system can only be used successfully in such parts of education as are of the more simple and mechanical kind. Where large numbers are taught in a limited time, we are inclined to think that the very simplest elements of knowledge may be taught in an inferior degree by the aid of the monitorial system. We say in an inferior degree, for it is absurd to suppose they can be taught as well as by an experienced teacher. The advantages of the system are, that a
great number may be taught something by it, who otherwise would have no opportunity of learning anything. Again, Mr. Oliver shows, that in the teaching of arithmetic, &c., monitors may be usefully employed in the mechanical duties of inspecting, checking answers, &c. But to suppose that monitors can ever expound principles, instruct the more advanced pupils in languages, or indeed do anything beyond the duties of inspection and such as we have alluded to, we believe to be an absurdity. And we cannot conceive how any man, who knows any one subject well and has been accustomed to teach, can labour to persuade either himself or others, that boys can teach boys. To teach anything well, a man must know much more of his subject than is contained in text books or required by his pupils. It is only from the completeness of his own knowledge that he can derive that variety of illustration, and that facility of finding suitable comparisons with the thing to be explained, which constitute a great part of the science of teaching; it is only from a full comprehension of the whole matter that he is enabled to adapt his explanations and questions to the capacity and progress of his class. The difference between a man of complete knowledge who applies himself to teaching, and a person who, as the phrase is, can teach up to a certain point, is this-the former will certainly teach the pupils as much as they are capable of learning; the latter will just as certainly fall short of this point, and teach what he does teach with less accuracy and completeness.
Mr. Johnson's lecture on linear drawing, on the importance of making it a part of school education, and the mode of teaching it, deserves much praise, though we are not inclined to approve altogether of the order in which he has classed his lessons. On the advantage of accustoming the pupil to draw plane geometrical figures in their due proportions, there can be no doubt; it gives a degree of precision to the hand and eye which is the very foundation of drawing. But besides drawing triangles, quadrilaterals, &c., in a certain proportion of parts, it is useful for the pupil to be able to draw Îines of a definite length; for example, one inch, two inches,
After the pupil has made some proficiency in this first part, Mr. J. adds, the simple rules of perspective are to be explained as they severally occur.' We wish the lecturer had been more explicit on this head, because there are great difficulties in explaining familiarly the principles and practice of perspective to young learners. Among the best methods, we think, are the use of a few simple solids, (which Mr. J.
afterwards recommends) placed on a table in various positions. The pupil should be taught to observe how the various lines are projected on the flat surface, the table; and he will thus readily learn the proper mode of delineating such solids on paper. It is a good plan, perhaps, for the teacher, to draw a specimen for the pupils from the solid which is before him. From these solids also, the pupil will learn something of the principles of light and shade. Care should be taken that the light come only in one direction, or from one side of the room, and for this purpose drawing by the light of a single candle is often a good exercise. Mr. Johnson recommends these models to be perfectly white, in which recommendation we fully concur. But we differ from him in recommending the delineation of the different human features and limbs, with the heads or whole form of animals,' as one of the early stages in his lessons. Besides this, we
object to such delineations being made from copies. In our opinion the human form should never be delineated except from real objects, and as it is infinitely the most difficult branch of the art, so also it should be the last practised or attempted. Plaister busts and figures, executed often with great accuracy, can now be bought so cheap, that no school can complain of want of proper materials for this branch of the art. On the whole, we think that there are many useful suggestions in Mr. Johnson's lecture, though we do not entirely agree with him, nor always fully comprehend his meaning.
There is no lecture in the whole volume which we have read with so much pleasure, as Mr. Colburn's, On the Teaching of Arithmetic.' It is a perfect model of what a discourse on such a subject ought to be, plain, clear, and convincing, without any superfluous words, and without the least attempt at fine writing. Most of the principles which he endeavours to inculcate, are equally applicable to other branches of knowledge, and similar to those which have been enforced in various articles of this Journal. The following short extract will explain Mr. C.'s general views, and also serve as a specimen of his style.
By the new system the learner commences with practical examples, in which the numbers are so small that he can easily reason upon them; and the reference to sensible objects gives him an idea at once of the kind of result which he ought to produce, and suggests to him the method of proceeding necessary to obtain it. By this he is immediately thrown upon his own resources, and is compelled to exert his own powers. At the same time, he meets with no greater difficulties than he feels himself competent to over