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in attempting to perform impossibilities, are wasting their energies, and, at the same time, the funds of the State.
Teachers of this class generally remain but a short time in the aistrict, and are often popular because they are not independent enough to be otherwise. They pander to the pride and ignorance of parents; flatter their pupils by advancing them to studies for which they have no qualification, until, over-burdened with ill-arranged classes, recitations become a farce and the whole school a miserable failure. Who can do justice to his pupils with forty recitations ? forty recitations in three bundred and twenty minutes, an average of eight minutes each, not more tban half enough for the first reader, not quarter enough for the bigher classes in mathematics and grammar. I am not an advocate of the log school house of a quarter of a century ago, with their mud cbimneys, dirt floors and puncheon benches, though I did obtain some of the rudiments of education in one of those thorough ventilated institutions; nor am I in favor of adopting reading, spelling, writing and cyphering as the curri. culum of ungraded schools.
There is reason in all things. Three recitations daily may not be sufficient; yet that number increased by ten or twelve is surely beyond measure. Would anyone be surprised to learn that it is not an uncommon occurrence for pupils to attempt to recite from ten to fifteen lessons daily? It is a fact, wonder as much as we may.
Do not make a mistake and call this a system of stuffing, for it is not. It is rather a kind of grab game, in which there seems to be an oppor. tunity to gather up a good deal; but the sequel proves that the quantity secured is small and of an uncertain and inferior quality. Many teachers going into new schools, not only have to build, but they are compelled to pull down.
Think of a series of readers consisting of a primer, first, second, tbird, fourth, fiftb, sixth, and two intermediate-nine in all; then of an individual stupid enough to attempt to form a class in each, and you will have a monument of stupendous folly, exciting both wonder and disgust.
What is the result of this attempt to teach elocution in so many classes ?
Just wbat a reasonable person might expect: miserable, hesitating, stammering readers. In our ungraded schools you will not find one pupil in 'five who reads smoothly and intelligibly. They should be taught to do this in the primers ; else a string of words, conveying no idea, would be almost as profitabie as varied sentences. If the Legislature should enact that McGuffey's First, Second and Third Readers, and no otbers, be used in our ungraded schools, good elocutionists would be as common as to-day they are rare.
These are sufficient, if rightly taught, to fulfil in this department all tbat should be demanded of an ungraded school. But not in reading only does this evil prevail.
In mathematics, also, the efficiency of the pupil is sacrificed to the number of classes.
Even geometry and book-keeping are dragged in to monopolize precious time, which ought to be devoted to the ordinary and more essential branches of education. It frequently happens that two or three ambitious youths present themselves at the opening of school and attempt to study these higher branches, and the teacher, unwilling to be suspected of ignorance upon these subjects, will often attempt to teach them, when perhaps he is conscious that he has neither the time nor the ability, and in consequence of such attempt otber studies are slighted, and no advantage is derived from these, on account of the imperfect inanner in which they are taught. If young men want to study book-keeping let them go to the Commercial College, where it is taught in a manner that is productive of tangible benefit to the learner. If they would fathom the mysteries of the bigher mathematics, let them attend the State University, where they will find teachers with both the time and the ability to instruct. Visiting a school about a year ago, I found a class of two pupils reciting a lesson in common fractions from Eaton's Higher Arithmetic. The style of the recitation would have done discredit to a class going through fractions for the first time. These pupils bad completed Eaton's Common School, yet they were shamefully ignorant of principles lying at the very foundation of mathematical science. The recitation occupied fifteen minutes, not more than half enough time for such a class; and I will venture to assert, that. when those pupils finished Eaton's Higher, they were not equal in mathematical knowledge to some of the pupils in mental arithmetic in some of your thorougbly graded schools. The truth is, Eaton's Higher has no business in our ungraded schools. Like book-keeping, geometry and philosophy, it should not be taught there; not because teachers bave not the ability to teach these branches-this is not the ground of objection, but for the simple and potent reason, they have not the time. It is the teacher's duty to take care of the ninety-and-nine, and not, go rambling off after the one-bundredth. There are men who, for a salary of seventy-five dollars per month, will labor before and after school bours, at noon and recess, to gratify the ambition of two or three pupils. This is wrong, for two reasons: First, it is written, “The laborer is worthy of bis hire,” and in such a case the bire is not sufficient compensation for the labor, and the individual who would do such extra work, for such small pay, in one of the established guilds; would be banished from the fraternity. It is wrong, in the second place, because whoever performs his duty in the school room, needs. the recreation of noon and recess, that be may not be drained of mental vitality, and thereby lack energy and enthusiasm at the close of the day, when these qualities are most demanded to guard against the dragging of recitations
When a teacher bas exercised his utmost care and judgment in the arrangement of his classes, both as to number and scholarsbip, he has. the right to say, this is my programme and it shall not be changed If the authorities interfere, and be fails to convince them that he is right, and they persist, he has no honorable alternative; he must resign.
But few will be driven to this necessity. The teacher, with truth and justice on his side, will seldom fail to convince reasonable men that he is. right. If time be given, results will prove it.
There is one more subject of especial importance, to which I invite attention.
It is often said, and truthfully too, that the pupils of our public schools are unable to apply the knowledge which they acquire, in the transactions of every day life. Practical men visiting schools ask simple questions, and are surprised to receive either no answer at all or an answer tbat is not correct.
Teachers may remedy this evil by drilling less upon theory and more upon practice. Special rules, as much as possible, should be merged into the universal rule of common sense.
Pupils should not only repeat, but they should also think and act..
As soon as the child can reason, all instruction should be given with reference to its ultimate use.. How often has the pride of a father been bumbled when he has discovered that his son, whom he bad supposed complete master of a science, is shamefully ignorant when required to apply the principles of that science to a particular art. .
The pupil will understand the use of grammar by being required to speak correctly. Practical and simple questions will teach him that matbematics is the science of wealtb.
Every study taught in school or college should, as far as possible, be utilized, and wbat has no use should be thrown aside as wortbless.
I knew a teacher whose grand theme was physiology; it was the hobby on which he loved to ride. He would desecrate the funeral pile of bird or beast to obtain relics with wbicb to illustrate his favorite subject. His pockets were always full of bones. He was so lean and lank, he seemed a living skeleton, and when he walked, he stooped forward as thougb by his posture he would teach a constant lesson of humility. He would talk physiology day after day, and right before his eyės were pupils wbo, on account of his failure 10 make the subject practical, were stoopshouldered and narrow-chested, and he did not even suggest a remedy. He would stand near the stove in his unventilated school room and discourse upon the component parts of air and water, while at every inspi. ration those under his care inbaled an atmosphere impregnated with poison.
Such failures to comprehend the true objects of education are pernicious. They are more than a waste of time and money, for they are, beside tbis, an injury to the pupil.
We boast of our free schools, which open their doors alike to the rich and the poor, and in many respects they merit encomium, but indiscriminate praise would be a doubtful compliment.
Let us, as instructors, remove the impediments which lie in our way. Let us demand by our words and examples that teaching be more thorough and efficient, and more practical in its results.
WITH A VIEW OF ARRIVING AT A BETTER METHOD OF STUDYING THE
By Dr. J. C. SCHELLHOUS.
Ladies and Gentlemen-Fellow Teachers : In the exposition of the methods of teaching English grammar now in vogue, and indicating one more in harmony with the principles of our language, 1 bave undertaken a task, difficult indeed, but not hopeless. There is a growing demand among the teachers of this State, for a more rational and efficient method of teaching that part of our language technically termed grammar. Because the teachers demand it, it will come, for they are the true pioneers of education. I regret, however, that no teacher more competent than myself, has taken this up. In the considerations I shall present, I ask your indulgence and attention.
We are slow to conform to advancing ideas. Things that are familiar to us, seldom excite either curiosity or investigation. The accumulation of scientific knowledge, and its demands in the practical duties of life, leave but little time or room for considerations of a speculative character. The acquisition of knowledge in any considerable amount, or to any great degree of precision, is toilsome, costly and unpalatable to the mass of mankind; so that to dispense, with it makes a clear gain, provided the want is fraught with no serious results. This remark applies with peculiar force to the study of English grammar as at present taught in our public schools. Allow me to present the following inquiry, with a view of arriving at a better method of studying the English language.
The main object confessedly aimed at in the study of English grammar, is to enable one to speak and write the English language with propriety. This consists chiefly in an observance of the changes that occur in the use of words in construction and modification, and the relation of modifiers to their elements, as established by the consept of the best writers and speakers.
The English language is peculiar in its structure, in this respect differing from other written languages, of which the Latin may be considered as the type. The construction of the Latin, and those languages derived from it, is based upon grammatical inflections, established and governed by fixed rules; on the contrary, the English language is arbitrary, and its forms are determined by custom and general consent. The idea of ascribing accidents to English words is borrowed from the metbod of treating declinable words in the Latin.
We bave no declinable words in our language, in the sense of Latin declinable words.
The modifications of English words are few, simple and arbitrary in their character, while those of the Latin are extremely numerous and complicated. For example, the Latin verb has scribo, I write; scrib-is, you write; scrib-unt, they did write; scrib-um, I may write; scriberent, they might writo; and so on, through one hundred and forty-six different inflections, while only three possible endings can be given to the regular Englisb verbs!
English nouns undergo no modifications, except to express number and to denote fitness or possession. In the Latin, there are five declensions, the plural of nouns in each (except tbe fiftb) is determined by a different termination.
English nouns undergo no modifications to denote gender, neither are any words in construction modified by the consideration of the sex of the object named, except the third person singular of personal pronouns. In English, the idea of gender follows the order of nature and indicates the sex of the object named, while in Latin, gender is an accident of the noun itself, and is determined by the rules of grammatical inflections. Thus we say that mensa, a table, is feminine, being found in the first declension and ending in a, according to a rule of Latin grammar. In Latin, the consideration of gender is indispensable, and many rules are given to determine it, the principal of wbicb are here stated. Nouns in the first declension, ending in as or es, are masculine; those ending in a or e are feminine. Nouns ending in er, ir, ur, us and os, in the second declension, are masculine; those ending in um or on are peuter. Nouns in the third declension, ending in n, o, er, or, es iucreasing, and os, are masculine; those ending in as, es not increasing, is, ys and ans, and s after a consonant, and x, are for the most part feminine; those ending in a, e, i, cand t, are always neuter; those in l, ar, ur and us are almost always neuter. In the fourth declension, those ending in us are masculine, those in u are neuter. All nouns in the fifth declension are feminine, except dies, a day. Some nouns are masculine in the singular and neuter in the plural, some are feminine in the singular and neuter in the plural, others neuter in the singular and masculine in the plural, and some are neuter in the singular and feminine in the plural.
I have taken pains to give these general rules for determining the gender of Latin nouns, to show in wbat a different sense the idea of gender is employed in the Latin, from that of gender in the English language. Latin nouns, on account of their gender, affect other words in construction: thus turba, a crowd, being feminine, must have adjectives and pronouns to agree with it in the feminine.
Case, in Latin, means ending; in English there is no modification, consequently no case, according to the idea of Latin nouns. The idea of case in our language is identical with the use or office of words in construction, and may be disposed of in the analysis of syntax. Of the five declensions and twelve cases in each, the corresponding word in English translation requires no modification except to express the plural.
We are told that nonns have four modifications to express persons, numbers, genders and cases. Let us see. Modification, in its etymological sense, means change. “I, Paul, have written this.” Paul in the first person. “Paul, bave you written this ?” Paul in the second person.