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objects of education, and their relative value—of the commencement of instruction in reading-of choice of books-of tones and articulation of the care that should be taken in the use of religious books, that their great object be constantly kept in view; of the sacred Scriptures, and some other suitable books on religion-of the use of catechisms—the committing of Scripture to memory by daily lessons, &c. &c.
The fifth chapter is properly a continuation of the preceding, and exhibits some views that ought to be most religiously regarded in the instruction of children. The following passage, at the opening of the chapter, relates to an evil, of which we have seen so much in common schools; and of the injurious effects of which, in preventing both mental and moral improvement, we are so deeply convinced, that we hardly know how to repress our indignation while speaking on the subject.
“ It often happens that reading is made too mechanical. If the words are properly pronounced, and attention is paid to the stops, and the parts of the sentence are put together with tolerable propricty, the teacher rests satisfied, though the understanding of the scholar has been little employed. This is very generally the course with village-school masters”—(teachers of schools)--" and many parents of education too nearly approach it. Even the mere reading, were this alone the object, as it often is in a school, can never be good when the mind does not thoroughly enter into the sense; but that parents whose views extend much farther, should ever acquiesce in their children's pronouncing sentences somewhat like parrots, and missing a large portion, at least, of the information and improvement which it was the intention of the author to convey, is really surprising. When this kind of reading is permitted, I believe it is owing, in a good measure, to their not being aware, how imperfectly their little scholars understand what is so plain to themselves. The evil in question is of far greater importance than may at first appear. The child is led into a habit of reading without thinking, and of resting contented with a very confused notion of what is read. Scarcely any thing can be a greater obstacle to the acquisition of sound and useful knowledge, and of vigorous habits of investigation. If these are not acquired, the mind will generally become a prey to frivolity and intellectual idleness; and it is well, if it do not also resign itself to low pursuits and sensual indulgence.”pp. 97, 98.
To prevent this mechanical mode of reading, the author suggests, with great propriety, that the utmost care should be
taken, as soon as a child begins to read, to make him understand what he reads, and to give an account of it afterwards. To this we would also add, that the child should be furnished with a facility of understanding what he'reads, in the adaptation to his capacity of the first books that are put into his hands. There is an incredible number of spelling books (not less than one or two hundred different kinds) in use in this country, each designed by its author as a primary book for children; and yet there is not one among them all that is well adapted to the purpose. What can be more absurd than to put, not only long columns, but many successive pages of disconnected, and often uncommon and difficult words, into the hands of a little child as a means of teaching it to read intelligently; and who can wonder, if, after the weeks and months of drilling and drudgery that the little sufferer passes through, in these elementary exercises, it should turn out that he can now read, or, rather, repeat words with as little understanding as his teacher. It is here, in our judgment, that the foundation of a mechanical kind of reading is laid, and, consequently, here, that the correction should be first applied. Let the child begin the use of a book with reading-lessons, adapted to his infantile capacity—with lessons of short simple sentences, consisting of easy words, and conveying ideas of things with which he is familiar, and if the teacher know how to read himself, he will find no great difficulty in teaching his pupil to read with understanding also.
A spelling book may have its place in a course of education; but its place is certainly not the first in order. All the spelling with which a child should be occupied until he begins to read, is the spelling of the words that compose his readinglessons.
The author further goes on, in this chapter, to show that school-lessons ought to be made to promote moral qualities-such as obedience, regularity, attention, patience, and' alacrity; and speaks at some length of their qualities, as the happy fruits of a proper mode of education.
The sixth chapter is occupied with the subject of rewards and punishments in the education and discipline of children; and the seventh treats of example, emulation, effect of personal character of parents, &c. These subjects are ably discussed, and claim the careful attention of both parents and teachers. We fear, from what we have seen in families and schools of an angry and peevish administration of discipline,
that there is too much need of the lesson furnished in the following interesting passage:
“I cannot,” says the author, “omit to mention an incident, which (thanks to God !) made a very salutary impression on me many years ago. On entering the school-room of a Moravian family, I saw, amidst some appropriate inscriptions on the wall, intended as mementos to the children, the following one put by the teacher for her own use: never correct in anger.' Much might be expected in a young family where the governess was so conscious of the importance of strict watchfulness over herself, as to record, in the face of her scholars, her own condemnation, if she should ever suffer herself to be led to exercise her autho. rity in one of its most delicate and important functions, when disqualified by a want of temper from exercising it properly. Such self-attention could not be confined to a single point, but, having entered the system, would pervade its different parts. My expectations were not disappointed. A more estimable teacher; and better taught, better principled, more affectionate, more orderly, and more happy scholars I think I never saw. The excel. lent instructress would find, in her own improvement, and in the gratification she could not fail to derive from the state of her scholars, and from their respect and love, a tenfold recompense for all her resolute self-scrutiny and self-denial. Let us follow her steps, and we may all humbly hope for a like reward."-pp. 139, 140.
But where shall we look for a school, or a family, answering the above description, in the government of which, instead of a proper regard to the above maxim, there is so much appearance of angry passion, so many scolding words, sour looks, and hasty blows, as to leave the impression on the minds of the children that no regard is had to their comfort or welfare!
In the eighth and ninth chapters, the following subjects are considered,
viz. The attention that should be paid to children when not engaged in their lessons—their amusements—their behaviour to each other-quarrels among them-a domineer. ing or a teasing spirit-selfishness and jealousy—conduct of the two sexes to each other-domestic effects in well and ill educated families contrasted—acquaintance with children of bad habits-and familiarity with servants-hardihood-moderate habits-artificial hardships-moderation favourable to elevation of character-the use of rules-preparation for prayer-self-examination-prayer-how long boys should be kept under domestic education-preparation for schools, &c.
vol. IV. No. I.-M
In addition to the foregoing, the volume before us contains an appendix of several valuable papers, from the Christian Observer for the years 1813 and 1817, on topics more briefly handled in the body of the work.
From this outline it will be apparent, that our author, at least in the range of his subjects, is eminently practical; and though some of these points have become so hackneyed, that to say any thing additional may seem like saying too much, and though on others we could have wished that the writer had given greater compass to his remarks; yet we apprehend no jeopardy of reputation in proffering the opinion, that whoever reads the book will find it throughout instructive and profitable.
In order to give those who may favour this article with a perusal, a still more intimate acquaintance with the character of the work under review; and, if possible, to induce such as are under the fearful responsibility of training up children for the Lord, to read it themselves, we will briefly notice some of what appear to us its prominent excellencies.
1. It is, in general, strictly evangelical. The religious sentiments which it inculcates, are those which all practical and experimental Christians believe and love. We say, in general; but this qualification is liable to a more extensive import than we design. The exceptions are few, and perhaps most of them rather apparent than real. The author is an Episcopalian—(though he ranks in the evangelical party) and may be supposed to entertain, and ought to be allowed to express, some views peculiar to the communion with which he is connected. He is not, however, guilty of the inconsistency of lavishing high encomiums on religion, and then, by his subsequent showing, working the conviction on our minds that he knew nothing about it.
2. One of the chief recommendations of this little volume is the spirit which it breathes and is adapted to diffuse. If "the wisdom that is from above is first
peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of many and good fruits”
-if “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance," then, however harsh and censorious, however fiery and fierce the zeal that characterizes many in the age in which we live, the temper and spirit of the work before us is peculiarly Christian, and cannot fail to command itself to those whose hearts are often fanned into holy fervour by the sweet influences of heaven.
The following brief extract, descriptive of domestic peace and harmony, will illustrate this particular, and at the same time show what every social scene would be, if thoroughly pervaded by the influence of that kind of religion which it is the object of this author to recommend.
“And can we pass on to other topics without reflecting for a few moments on the delightful spectacle of a young family living together in harmony that is seldom interrupted by contentions, overbearing conduct, rivalries, jealousies, or suspicions: a family in which contentment, love, generosity, mutual forbearance, and a spirit of mutual accommodation, founded on Christian princi. ples, are the prominent dispositions, and in which the performance of daily duties, and the promotion and participation of the general happiness, appear to be the leading occupation? Struck with the beauty of such a scene, one who was familiar with fami. Jy discord exclaimed, Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! In such a family, adver. sity will seldom inflict a deep or lasting wound. Many sweet drops will find their way into the bitter cup; and in no long time tears will be succeeded by smiles, and a recollection of the trial may be attended, perhaps, with not more pain than pleasure.”p. 162, 163.
3. It insists, with much force and frequency, on an early attention to the formation of character, and the cultivation of piety, in our offspring. It would have this work begun, as soon as the materials for such a formation—as soon as the elements of character-begin to appear. It would have us take the child to train for the Lord while it is yet on the mother's lap, before any adverse influence has been exerted to strengthen its inborn aversion to that which is good-it would have us become workers together with God in his ordination of praise out of the mouth of babes and sucklings. To this point, we fully agree with the author, in attaching great importance. Perhaps it is to a late beginning, rather than to any other one cause, that the frequent failure of success in the religious training of children, is attributable. The current of depraved passions and affections has become so strong, before it is attempted to be controlled, that every effort then proves unavailing
4. The reading of this treatise has revived and strength