Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

intermeddle with all wisdom.” If the operative could reach the present scale of training among those who live at ease, he would see that scale recede from him to as distant a remove as that where it now stands. He may raise himself: but we speak not concerning the individual, only of the class. There is not proscription. All of heaven-born genius may rise. One and another strikes aside from the beaten track. The giant throws off the mountain which lay upon him. The children, whose probable lot is labour, are taught how honourable labour is. Betimes they ought to be employed in it, or, if it be suddenly imposed, it will awake an unconquerable dislike. Habits of industry must be formed. The school should be one of industry as well as of general knowledge. A long seclusion in study is therefore impossible. Their powers are needed for the means of supporting themselves and their families. We will now enquire into the methods which might be pursued.

We can but place ourselves in firm resistance to the theory which urges, as the final cause of education, the mere preparation of men for particular positions in society. Bring them up, it is said, for what they are to be. Teach them the parts they are to perform. Where this destination is certain, the discipline may be so directed. It ought not, nevertheless, to stop at that point. But how is this to be foretold ? Still it is at best a low, unworthy, view. We say, Educate man as man, for what he is, for what he can

only be, as accountable and immortal man. Incline your instructions to his probable pursuits and duties on earth. Give not, however, to these your stress. They are comparatively little matters.. Chiefly awake the moral sense. Draw out the soul. Enthrone the conscience. Leave out of your consideration, for a while, every idea of earthly circumstance, condition, lot. Eternity must be your mark. Here is the man. He is only great in his intellectual and moral nature. He stands before you with all his awful capacities. Educate him! Your process must answer to him ! Your purpose must answer to him! Teach him aright, and every incidental relation and function of earth will be included: but that being shall be seen unfolded in his unearthly greatness, and travelling on in the way everlasting !

The anomalous character of popular education may not infrequently surprise us. We might suppose that its first business would be to teach the child to understand the mother-tongue. As this must be the inlet of all knowledge, it might be expected that it would be the first and main instruction. No one loves to read a language, classic or modern, who is stumbled by one or more words in every sentence. To guess the meaning, is to become the author ourself. And can we doubt, that the manner of learning to read is often mechanical and unreasoning ? Comparatively speaking, how few of a class or of a school can read, if this be understood to imply an intelligent act! Every

kind of knowledge is often imparted, rather than that of the vernacular. The English Language is very composite. All terms of art, and nearly all of theology, are grafted on our Saxon stock. These, however, are in constant use. A man must be accounted wholly ignorant who does not understand them. In very infancy they may be explained. Grammar, and even etymology, may be simplified. Words may be classed, and particles defined. As the knowledge of other languages is not attempted in most of the schools where our poor receive instruction, our language must be taught from itself. The child cannot be made to take any interest in what he does not understand. He will no longer delight to read than as he catches the meaning. Leave difficulties at his every step, and his course will soon be stayed. Show him the import of what he even spells, the connection of syllables, and the family of similar words,—make this matriculation your grand means, if not your chief end, - and you prepare him for all disclosures. The inverted rule has been to instil other knowledge, and to leave him as he can to gather this : the more proper rule assuredly is, to instil this knowledge, if even the necessity follow that he be left to gather other knowledge as he can. This is the instrument and capacity for every acquisition.

! The art of Writing is not to be valued only for its convenience. It puts him who employs it, in any way beyond that of a copyist, into the capacity of a thinker. The reader is not compelled to think : the writer of the simplest epistle must. The bonds of an intellectual and holy fellowship thus unite the ends of the earth. Distance is annihilated, separation obviated, by this invention. No one can employ it but to be raised in the scale of social and reflective being. Education of the lowest sense is belied when this is neglected. - Arithmetic is not only of the greatest advantage as a technical calculation,—a check on fraud, a guide to providence, an exercise of mind, —it is the science of number. While it is probable that the larger class of these humble pupils will advance no further than the simpler elements of what is denominated ciphering, — the mathematical mind of the amplest powers must begin here, and may find in the easiest figures of the slate or sand, the rough draught and rude germ of its future severest analyses and noblest diagrams.

But we fear that the spirit of the age tends almost wholly to a sordid, utilitarian, usufruct, discipline of the youthful mind. Our ambition is to base all upon Grammar learning. It is easy to raise the laugh against the shepherd-boy and the plough-boy versed in classical studies. Yet such are found on Scotia's plains and hills, sometimes reading their former lessons still. In many of the Foreign Schools those noble languages are taught. The design of our Native Foundations, shamelessly perverted by a grasping aristocracy! was obviously to train the poor in such literature. It is impossible to extol its advantages in too earnest terms. No education so opens the mind. None so quickens the understanding. None so prepares for every other species of knowledge. None so refines the taste. None so creates the inner world of lofty images and variegated thoughts. Such a seasoning of the people's mind would be of incomparable value. The whole social edifice would be raised. Its universality would prevent any of those ill consequences which are often feared. Those who towered into superior stations would require just as much preeminence and originality to claim them, as they do now. There would be an equal level for them to spurn. There would be as large a crowd for them to surpass.

There is one Means which possesses vast capabilities, and which might be tried with great power on our population. Hitherto it has been considered the pastime, an infant holiday. Yet the school which receives all but the babe, is a mighty power. It draws out the full mimetic tendency of infancy, fills not only the memory with results, but with the rules of working them; gives to the earliest childhood the handle of the profoundest calculations and reasonings ; crowns the little elfin with the honours which many a brow, time-worn and pensive, lacks. It has been truly said, nothing is so beautiful as the mind of a child. It is contrary to all evidence, that this indoctrination is superficial, or its impression fugitive.

cro

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »