« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
final choice, generally speaking, more intelligent and deliberate than would ordinarily be possible, if left to the more cursory and less responsible examination of local authorities or individual teachers. It is difficult to perceive what better safeguard against hasty judgment, partial and interested examinations, and injudicious selection could be provided, than by making the choice a matter of solemn official duty, under legislative supervision, and subject to proper approval. Mistaken estimates of the real value of books may occur when the most conscientious scrutiny is exercised; but it can hardly be questioned that the probabilities of error and misjudgment will be incalculably diminished, and the best security for the introduction of only good books afforded that the nature of the case admits of, by entrusting the choice to officers chosen for the purpose, acting under official responsibility and taking time to choose wisely.
The effect of using unitorm books upon the character and efficiency of the schools themselves, is also in the highest degree beneficial. The use of different textbooks relating to the same subject in the same school, it will at once be perceived, must distinctly interfere with tliat complete classification of pupils, on which much of the order and efficiency of schools depends. There must necessarily exist as many classes as there are books in use; and the unavoidable result of multiplying the number of classes, must be to abridge the time and degree of attention devot. ed to each. Now it is well known that one of the great secrets of all effective teaching is the reducing the number, and increasing the interest and thoroughness of the recitations, by disposing the pupils into larger classes. Not only does the presence of a large number of fellow-pupils give scope and intensity to emulation, and importance and impressiveness to the exercise, but more than all, it enables the teacher to bestow sufficient time and care to make the recitation thorough, and the literary or moral lesson it inculcates, indelible. Neither thoroughness nor method is possible in a school where the teacher's time is so distracted by a multiplicity of recitations, as to prevent or disincline him from taxing his best resources, and from bringing to bear all those personal illustrations and elucidations of the subject, which are necessary to adapt the lessons to the different capacities of the learners, ard to add vitality and animation to all. We know of nothing better calculated to secure order, and to give impressiveness and thoroughness to the instruction imparted, than by such a classification of scholars as the use of the same text-books will both render easy, and naturally suggest.
Scarcely less desirable is the use of similar books in the different schools. The transfer of teachers from one district to another is a change constantly going on, and must be calculated upon as one of the permanent evils connected with our school system. Where different text-books are in use in different schools, the teacher's removal necessarily introduces him to duties to which he can do but iinperfect justice, from being compelled to use books with which he is unacquaint. ed. The inore familiar he may be with one set of books, and therefore the more accomplished and useful in his vocation, the greater will be his embarrassment in employing those he is unaccustomed to ; and not a little of the time, study and interest which are especially needed at the outset of his career, will be wasted in the effort to accustom himself to the use of unknown books. Both his tastes and interests will incline him to prefer the books he has before used; and if he has in
fluence enough to effect it, a change of text-books, with all the attendant cost, interruption and confusion, will be the result.
The removal also of pupils from one district to another, a change much more frequently occurring, will be attended with similar discouragement and confusion, while different books are in use. Having become familiarized to one method of study, in the use of text-books, the pupil is compelled to go back to the re-acquisition of the same knowledge by another method, and is confused by the differing, if not contradictory teachings of the different books. His interest in the study languishes as his perceptions of the subject taught become vague and confused; and study becomes a task, when it should be a delight.
A great and needless expense also, in the purchase of new books, will be saved to the parents, by the use of the same books in all the schools. Teachers passing from one school to another will find no occasion for seeking change, and books purchased for one school will answer for all schools. Removal of residence will not necessitate the change and re-purchase of school books, while a sense of familiarity will make the pupil contented and at home in one school as well as another.
This is but a mere tithe of what can be said in favor of a uniformity of textbooks throughout the entire State. Arguments on its behalf accumulate as we write, and urge their claims for presentation. But the foregoing are deemed sufficient for the present. Shall ihey not be carefully weighed and considered, and secure the willing and substantial aid of all school officers, parents, teachers and friends of education, in the full and practical establishment of the principles of State uniformity? This aid will be found prompted by the highest considerations of self-interest and of duty, and to be demanded by a principle against which its enemies only can say, that its general application is impracticable.
After all that has been said in opposition to my official recommendation, I have as yet scen no cause for making any material changes in my list. There are many other books-Readers, Geographies, Arithmetics, &c.—that are highly meritorious, and of them I have not hesitated to say that they were worthy of commendation; but never having officially recommended but one series of text-books for use in the schools of the State, I am prepared still to give to that series my entire and hearty approval. My reasons therefor may be found in the following brief review or analysis of the leading books on the recommended list:
I commence with Sanders' New Series of Readers, and shall confine myself to a few points of peculiar excellence possessed by these popular books. It may be as well to state at the outset, that they are not mere revisions of a former series, but are in all respects nou, save in the plan of instruction which they unfold. Their distinguishing features are, –
1. The child is taught to read by the use of intelligible words only-beginning with those of the least, as those of two letters, and gradually advancing to those of greater length.
2. The words that compose the reading lessons of the Primer, First and Second Readers, are arranged in spelling lessons, to be learned by the pupil before he is required to use them in the reading lessons.
3. All the difficult words of each reading lesson in the Third and Fourth Readers, are formed into lessons for spelling, with definitions.
4. The instructions in the sounds and power of the letters, as well as the rules for spelling, are more clearly presented in Sanders' New Speller, Definer and Analyzer, than in any other work of the kind.
5. The words in the Speller, Definer and Analyzer are so arranged as to exhibit their definitions by comparison, contrast, or analysis, in connection with their orthography and pronunciation.
6. The spelling and pronunciation throughout are uniformly in accordance with that of Dr. Webster.
7. The primary books contain more lessons of easy reading than other works, there being over one hundred pages made up of monosyllables.
8. The progression from one book to another is more regular, gradual and philosophical than is usually found in other books.
9. The character of the lessons are such as is not only adapted to interest and instruct in the art of reading, but at the same time to impart some moral or scientific truth.
10. This series contains a greater variety, both in style and subjects, than is usually found in other books of the kind.
11. The practical instruction in the Rhetorical Principles of reading and speaking, contained in the Third, Fourth and Fifth Readers, and also in the Young Ladies' Reader, and their application to the reading exercises, throughout the entire series, constitute a distinguished characteristic of these books.
In the foregoing essential respects, I regard Sanders' Readers as greatly superior to every other series submitted to my examination.
The series of Arithmetics, named on our list, was commenced at the suggestion and under the supervision of President Day, of Yale College, who furnished the leading idea on which the several books are constructed, and has contributed more or less to the contents of each. His eminent Mathematical abilities, and his long and most successful experience as a teacher give the highest assurance of thoroughness, clearness and excellence. Prof. Thomson, whom President Day selected to carry out his idea, was a practical teacher of large experience, and thus qualified to know where there was room for improvement in the elementary treatises in com
His several works have met with the general favor of practical teachers for the following reasons:
1. For their eminently practical character.
2. For the clearness and precision with which the Rules and Principles are stated.
3. For the strictly scientific arrangement of subjects; there being "a place for every thing, and every thing in its place."
4. For the appositeness and felicity with which the principles of the science are illustrated. The right thing is said at the right place and in the right way.
5. For the number and variety of examples and problems, and their progressive arrangement
6. Because in nearly cvery article, something is gained in the mode of presenting the subject-clearness and precision being remarkable throughout.
7. Because they give the "why and wherefore" of the various rules and operations.
8 For their comprehensiveness and unity of plan. Instead of a few "disgieta
membra” thrown together without regard to their harmony or relation to each ther, the principles are arranged consecutively, and the entire science presented in ymmetry.
9. For the perspicuity and clearness of the language-à quality of very great mportance. The style and language of the books put into the hands of children, ave often a decisive influence upon their mental traits and tastes.
10. Because they do not take things for granted which require proof, nor presume he learner to be acquainted with subjects of which he has never before heard.
11. Because they do not anticipate principles, nor use one principle in the exlanation of another before it has itself been demonstrated and explained.
12. For their adaptation to the purposes of instruction. Every practical teacher nows that a text-book may be very elaborate and erudite, and yet be a very uneachable book. These Arithmetics, being the re-production of the author's own xperience as a teacher, and designed to meet the actual wants of pupils as he found hem, are peculiarly casy to teach, and make the work of both instructor and pupil leasant, because methodical and clear.
13. For their just appreciation of the real difficulties of the science to the beginher, and for the discriminating suggestions and observations thrown in to remove hese difficulties, and to stimulate the learner to renewed efforts.
14. For the specimens of exact logical reasoning which they present to the earner, while he is acquiring practical and useful knowledge.
15. For the amount of valuable information pertaining to business transactions, Ind matters of science, not found in other works of the kind.
A feature radically characteristic of the series, is the union of the inductive and ynthetic modes of study. It has been the author's aim to combine the advantaces of both these systems, and it is believed that he has been more successful than ny other author of mathematical works. In defending his Arithmetics against an attack made upon them by Prof. Dodd of the Transylvania University, Dr. Thomson the following notice of his plan, and analysis of the two systems :
“This method of instruction is in accordance with the well known law of nature, first the blade, then the ear, and then the full grown corn in the ear.' So in Arithmetic, the child obtains his first idea of number by the simple process of observing che toys and other familiar objects around him. At length, perceiving that a cerain property is common to everything with which he is acquainted, he forms a conception of this property without reference to any particular thing, and thus obains the abstract idea of number. In a similar manner, children begin to make unerical calculations about their playthings and other sensible objects. They gradually observe that the same operations may be applied to all things around them, however dissimilar; and, at length, perceive that these operations may be performed without reference to sensible objects. Thus, from the examination of indiciiluul things, they form the abstract idea of member; from the examination of quirticular truths they deduce general principlex; and these general principles n turn, form the basis of other processes of reasoning, until they are led step by step, from the simplest combinations of numbers to the highest and most complex calculations in the science.
Finally, this method secures all the essential benefits both of the Inductive and Synthetic moles of instruction, and at the same time avoids their defects. It teaches the pupil the seperate principles of the science from the examples he solves, and trains him to analyze and reason for himself; which are the crowning excellencies of the Inductive method. In the next place it furnishes him with a general rule
for reference and review, together with a variety of examples to familiarize its application; and these are the chief advantages claimed for the Synthetic method. In addition to this, the method we advocate, teaches the pupil whence the rule is derived, the reasons upon which it is based, and the "why and wherefore" of every step in the operation. We thus avoid the untold evils of taking so many things upon trust, of memorising rules which are not and cannot be understood, and especially of this aimless, mechanical "cyphering," which the Synthetic method so often inficts upon our schools. On the other hand, our method teaches the pupil to classify individual principles, and from them to deduce general rules and formulas; it carries his mind forward from particular ideas to those universal truths, which constitute the science of numbers; and thus it effectually remedies the partial, and incorrect views of the subject, which are incident to the Inductive method. These, then, are some of the reasons which led us to adopt the plan of uniting the Inductive with the Synthetic mode of instruction. They are sufficient to show that this methol, when properly carried out, shortens the road to a knowledge of Arithmetic."
Few branches pursued in our common schools are as important as Geography; too much care, therefore, cannot be exercised in the selection of text-books on this subject. After a deliberate and impartial examination of all the systems within my reach, I cannot avoid the conclusion that Cornell's series is decidedly the best. As there are few of its competitors that can rival it in beauty of external appearance, so there are none that approach it in excellence of matter. Cornell's Geographies surpass all others now before the public in the following respects :
1. In philosophic arrangemont, the spirit of their motto being faithfully carried out—"first, the blade ; then, the ear; after that, the full corn in the ear.” 2. In the gradual progression of their steps, whereby the difficulties usually encountered by beginners are removed. 3. In presenting one thing at a time and impressing it on the mind before another is introduced. 4. In the adaptation of each part to the age and grade of scholarship for which it is intended. 5. In the adınirable mode they prescribe for memorizing the contents of a map. 6. In their full explanations and explicit directions for describing the natural divisions of the carth, saring the teacher time and labor. 7. In their judicious selection of facts, the usual mass of irrelevant details pertaining to Astronomy, llistory, Zoology, Botany &c., being rigidly excluded. 8. In the appropriate and instructive character of their illustrations. 9. In consistency between maps and text. 10. Above all, in their great crowning feature—the introduction into the maps of such places only as are mentioned in the book—thus saving the pupil from the discouraging necessity of groping for a given locality amid a labyrinth of crowded names.
These merits characterize the whole Cornell series in a preeminent degree ; some of them are original with the authoress and confined to her books. Any one of them would be singly almost enough to entitle her system to preference; taken together and in conjunction with minor excellencies which pertain to her volumes individually, thcy leave no doubt in my mind as to its decided superiority. So clearly is every fact presented, with such analytical precision is one branch of the subject kept distinct from another, so carefully is all that does not legitimately fall within the province of the science excluded, that from either Cornell's Intermediate or Higher Geography alone, I beliere a far better idea of the earth and the localities on its surface will be obtained, than by going through the whole series of any other author. The knowledge acquired from Cornell's books must be well digested and