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Letter addressed to Mr. Sunday-school Zeal
42 | Teacher's Address to a School
Memoir of a Sunday-scholar 241 Which is the best Method
257 | POETRY:
Hymn for an Infant or
LESSONS FOR THE MARY SCHOOL. A PRIVATE Teacher of young children, on looking over the manuscript lessons prepared for my day-school, expressed a wish to be put in possession of them. They may probably be acceptable to other Teachers also, especially to female day-school Teachers of our youthful poor. If so, I shall deem it a pleasure and a duty to assist them from time to time, through the medium of the “Teacher's Visitor,” with my humble labours.
It is to be observed, these lessons are intended merely as outlines, to be filled up by that which gives spirit and efficacy to the lesson--extempore teaching. A purely interrogatory lesson is a dull and tedious thing; so also is an elliptical one: but when ellipses are mixed with questions and illustrations, they help to fix the attention, and give life and spirit to the teaching. In conducting the lesson, the answers are required sometimes simultaneously, sometimes individually, but more frequently the former.
This brief explanation of the method of using these little lessons is given in order to meet the objections which might otherwise be urged against them, by those who disapprove of children's books being drawn up by way of question and answer. It is asserted, and we do not deny the truth of the assertion, that children are sometimes totally at a loss for an answer, when a question happens to be put in a form different from that to which they have been accustomed: but this is generally the case with those who have been used to repeat words, without attending to the sense; in which case the fault appears to rest not with the book, nor even with the child, but with the Teacher himself. In the hands of such a Teacher, no book could be successfully used.
The success of any particular plan of instruction must depend far more upon the Teacher's capability to instruct, and aptness to teach, than on the system itself. Hence, no system, however excellent, will work well in the hands of every Teacher. We need not fear a skilful instructor being a mechanical one, nor imagine he would ever use a questioning book otherwise than as a guide, which he leaves without scruple, and returns to when he has gained his point in his own way. And, be it remembered, that when the Teacher is, as is too often the case, an unskilful and inexperienced one, a directory is indispensable; for how could he conduct a lesson without it? Upon the whole, we doubt whether there be just grounds for the use of the strongly condemnatory terms which some persons apply to books of this kind altogether. Such persons seem to forget that we are not bound to confine ourselves to the questions in the book: on the contrary, they may be varied, enlarged upon, and increased with the greatest possible ease, at the option of the Teacher, and numberless plans resorted to, calculated to avoid the absurdity and utter uselessness of a mere repetition of words. The system of class-questioning, and extempore teaching, seems to be useful when used in conjunction with other systems. We frankly acknowledge we are far from advocating it to the extent practised by some Teachers, and are equally far from approving of the method of conductig the lesson, especially as regards the imparting of religious knowledge, which is sometimes adopted. We like a cheerful, interesting, familiar style of teaching; but we also like-and he is a happy Teacher who can accomplish the felicitous union a serious, an earnest, and an anxious one. times fear whether our children may not have been amused, rather than benefitted. We are not sure that one continuous, lively teaching, full of illustration, anecdote, and story-telling, is calculated to lead the young to sit down quietly, reverently, and prayerfully, to the study of the Scriptures, in the privacy of their own homes. We confess we have our misgivings on this point; and we believe we acted wisely, the other day, when suddenly arresting ourselves in our remarks, we said, “Children,
we are explaining these things to you too much in our own way: we will open the Holy Bible, and you shall hear them explained in God's way—in the very words of the blessed Volume itself.” “Many souls, now beyond the reach of temptation and trial,” says a divine of our Church, “have been led to God by the instrumentality of the written Word alone, unaided by human comments, or human teaching: and however man, in the pride of his vaunted wisdom, or rather of his matchless ignorance, may pronounce the revealed Word of God too deep for the unlearned, and too obscure for the young, and too complicated for the simple, on that great and coming day, when all hearts shall be laid open, and all histories told, God will prove before assembled worlds, that, infinite in wisdom, he well knew, without the aid of man, how to speak to the heart and to the soul of the poorest, weakest, most degraded of the sons of fallen Adam.”
We desire, however, to guard against being misunderstood, as if we were utterly opposed to the method adverted to. On the contrary, we know too well its value not to avail ourselves of its aid, when used under certain restrictions. Pleased and interested, we never fail to be, while seated alone-for we do not like the present fashion of display, either for our pupils or ourselves—before a group of lively children-their countenances glowing with animation and delight-we adopt this attractive method of imparting instruction. None can enjoy such a season more than we do; and none can be greater advocates than ourselves, for oral teaching. We do, nevertheless, decidedly object to it as the basis of our system of educating If we regard education to be not so much the imparting of a certain amount of knowledge, as the formation of such habits as shall enable the individual, during the whole of his after-life, to acquire it for himself—if our pupils are to gain habits of industry, perseverance, humility, and patience—then must we object to the unrestricted use of a system which conveys information without study, almost without effort on the part of the pupil. It is certain that learning-real learning, we meanmis labour, and not play; and we confess we like to see the young frequently learning—that is, labouring for themselves—and we think, moreover, the sooner they know how much depends upon this, as regards both mental improvement and the formation of character, the better. The instructor may explain, direct, and teach, but the pupil himself must learn; and that is the skilful instructor who can so guide the youthful intellect as to enable it to learn by its own exertions. In our girls' day-schools, for the lower orders, it is difficult to remedy this defect of the child's not being sufficiently trained to the habit of private and individual application; although we believe something might be done by well-qualified Teachers, desirous of consulting the benefit of the child, rather than the display of the class.
“Consider the wondrous works of God.”-JOB xxxvii. 14.
THE SUN AND THE EARTH.
Children, I am going, to-day, to teach you a little about the sun and the earth. To know even a little of the wonderful works of God is very delightful ; and, what is better still, this kind of knowledge is very profitable. Why? Can
you tell me why this kind of knowledge is good for us?
Yes; I heard a right answer. A girl in Class R. said, “ It makes us remember God.” And so it does ; she was quite right. This kind of knowledge, if we use it aright, helps us to think more and more of the power, wisdom, and goodness of Him who made all things. You know that our Lord Jesus, though he was once seen as a man here on our earth, was God as well as man. Jesus Christ is himself that great God who created all things, as we read in the first chapter of St. John, third
verse, All things were made by him ; and without him was not any thing made that was made.”
Do you remember any other text which tells us that all things were created by the Lord Jesus Christ? him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth.” (Col. i. 16.) I think you will all be able to answer the first question which I have written down