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In these Sunday schools, teachers can be induced, (which, we believe, are wisely enjoined to observe brevity very rarely indeed is the case,) to rein their devotional exercises-not by cur to a work which, under such cirtheir immoderate length to produce cumstances, can be connected in his the offerings of harassed, impatient, mind with no other than the most unand wandering spirits, which never pleasing associations, bis former mode can be acceptable at the heavenly of learning, in place of being a facilishrine. A similar brevity is enjoined ty, will clearly be an obstacle to him. to the exhortations of the teachers. He will find it infinitely more difficult The chief, the main time, is occupied to attach a just meaning to words, in the examination of the pupils, and which have been long accustomed to in easy conversational instruction. pass through his mind without making
any impression, (or which, perhaps, But of all modes of instructing the have left an erroneous one,) than he young in religious knowledge, none is would have done if he were now to begin equal to catechising, as defined by Dr. the work for the first time. How ofJohnson—“To instruct by asking ten, in attempting to hammer into the questions, and correcting the answers. minds of such pupils the meaning of There are formularies and text-books, what they had long learned to repeat, however, which every church ought to have we wished that they had previpossess for the use of its young mem ously seen as little of the catechism, bers.
as some others beside them, who, with Of all the personal and odious ex- very inferior talents, were making far periences of one's youth, is there one more satisfactory progress. Such, we more odious in memory than the are persuaded, is likewise the experi“ saying our questions ?” Not one. ence of all who have ever had any Afraid that we should answer ill—and practice in teaching upon rational feeling that it was impossible that we principles. They will, we suspect, in could answer well—for children can- all such cases, be much disposed to not always deceive themselves into a concur with a famous musician menbelief that words are thoughts, even tioned by Quintilian, who always when the words come pat, and when charged a double fee for teaching his the unintelligible question is instantly art to those who had previously refollowed by the unintelligent reply- ceived instruction elsewhere." we abhorred the Catechism-first, in But how, it may be said, can a child almost utter gloom of its meaning- understand religion ? Ay-how, it afterwards in glimmerings—then in a may be said, can a man understand faint, broken, and uncertain light, religion ? A child may understand nor was that ever clear enough to the something of religion—and that somereason, or satisfactory enough to the thing may be much to it, heart, to be felt as instruction, even
“ God pitying its simplicity!" when such instruction was most earnestly desired,
There are more
senses than one
says Mr. Wood excellently well-in “ For piety is sweet to infant minds."
which we may be said to understand a How many must feel the force of the thing. We are said, for example, to following passage !
understand the narrative of any re“ To say nothing of the torture to markable phenomenon when we have which the poor wretch is, in such a received a just conception of the apcase, subjected, they are miserable pearances described, though neither judges of human nature who imagine ourselves nor the narrator can have that this early and unmeaning repeti- the slightest notion of the causes of tion of anything will afterwards afford these appearances. We may perfectthe pupilany facility in really learning it. ly understand a thing, in short, in so If in riper years a child so educated far as we can conceive it, while in
other respects, it is involved in ob The Daily EDINBURGH SESSIONAL scurity ; and this is a distinction School, of which all the rest of this which cannot be too much attended to volume gives an account, contains, on in the religious instruction of children, an average, 500 scholars—the largest and we might add, too, of those of number present on any one day being riper years, for all in this imperfect 601. They are all under the tuition of state are at best but grown children. one master, who conducts the school Yes indeed. In religion, more than on the monitorial system of mutual in anything else,
instruction. « Men are but children of a larger growth." Mr. Wood first explains the duties
“We ought ever to remember, that, of the Directors, of which we cannot in the department of religion, no less speak; then of the Masters, which, than of nature, there are secret of course, are not unobvious; and then things that belong unto the Lord our of the Monitors. God,' as well as things which are Lancaster originally confessed,revealed, that belong unto us and our although he denied it afterwards, and children forever.'"
was encouraged and backed in his deMr. Wood then explains the way nial by many who ought to have known in which the Sunday-school scholars better, and who did know better, but are taught the Catechism-than which who sacrificed the truth to party spirit nothing can be more judicious and in- and sectarian zeal,—that he had borstructive; and likewise wbat use is rowed, in a great measure, the Monimade of two little works, the Old and torial System from Dr. Bell. The New Testament Biography. These controversy that soon arose respect.. works resemble Catechisms in this re-, ing their respective claims to that spect, that they are drawn up in the part of the system, and their other form of questions; but they have no comparative merits, kindled a great answers annexed to them; and for zeal for the system, and National and these the pupils must have recourse to Lancasterian Schools rose side by the Holy Scriptures themselves. The side in many a town, village, and bambetter to exercise their own discern- let, where the education of the poor ment, they are referred merely to the had hitherto been unable to find an chapter, without any mention of the abode. Mr. Wood expounds, at great particular verse where the answer is length, the advantages of the Monitoto be found, nor are they expected or rial system-showing that, in those wished to give the answer in the ex- large establishments, where it becomes act words of Scripture, but in their necessary to put some hundreds of own language, except in the more re children under the superintendence of markable colloquial parts. This is one master, it is absolutely essential, illustrated by a few examples. The —that young monitors are more pliant greatest recommendation of compila- and flexible, and thus more easily tions of this kind is, that they lead the moulded by the master to his own young mind to take an interest in the views, so that he can at all times Holy Scriptures--and a little leading maintain nearly as perfect a system of will do that and not to resort to them unity, and as nice an accommodation merely as an act of duty, or a pre- of one class to another, as if he were scribed regimen.
himself every moment personally ocFinally-though of these two chap- cupied in each, and ostensibly conters we have necessarily given but a
ducted the education of every indivimost imperfect analysis, the instruction dual scholar from its commencement at these Parochial Sunday Schools is to its close,—that the monitors are in purely and exclusively religious. And general more active and alert than seeing that reading, spelling, and writ- ushers, make better fags, and take a ing, are taught the scholars elsewhere, pleasure and a pride in performing duthis certainly is right.
ties which the others are too apt to 9 ATHENEUM, VOL. 2, 3d series.
regard as an excessive bore and de- superior in the class. This mode of ingradation,—that they can more easily forming is never practised in the Sessympathize with the difficulties of sional School except by a novice, and, their pupils, while they, on the other from the reception which it encounhand, with a greater prospect of suc- ters, not merely from the master, but cess, strive to emulate their young from his fellow scholars, who never teacher,—that in many schools, though fail to send their officious companion not extensive, children of very diffe- to Coventry for a season, is in no rent ages, and of very different grades great danger of being repeated. But in attainment, and engaged in very dif- the assistant, who, in giving informaferent branches of education, are neces- tion, does no more than his duty, sesarily confided to the superintendence cures the approbation alike of his of one master, assisted perhaps by a teacher and his fellows. It is, acsingle usher, in which cases it is evi- cordingly, no unusual thing to see a dent, that the larger proportion of those boy playing at the door of the school assembled in the school, must always with the individual who, the very mobe comparatively idle; whereas, there ment before, had, in discharge of duty, is no remedy for this more simple, more been the occasion of his censure or cheap, or more efficacious, than that of punishment." enabling the pupils to teach others, in What ought to be the size of a class ? place of remaining thus idle during the Thirty, at least, quoth Bell—Nine, at necessary intervals between the mas- most, quoth Lancaster. Mr. Wood ter's personal examinations. These, sides with the Doctor, and so do we. and other benefits of the monitorial Half a dozen is a contemptible class, system, are pointed out very distinctly, except when there are no more than but perhaps rather prolisly, by Mr. half a dozen boys fit to be put into the Wood; while he concludes by observ same class. Mr. Wood shuddersing, that the field which appears the as well he may-at the tremendous most unpromising for the use of moni- noise that would envelope a great tors, is, fortunately, the very one in number of such small classes, espewhich their employment is least neces cially if all these, according to the sary-namely, such classes as compose Lancastrian fashion, were reading at the two great Grammar Schools of this the same time. Besides, (an objeccity, where the children committed to tion more vital,) how could you get a one master are all in the same stage sufficient supply of fit monitors to conof their education. The monitorial duct the system ? On the excellence system, however, has been partially of the monitors almost all depends ; adopted, with advantage, in both these but triple or quadruple their number, adınirable establishments. What fol- and all power of selection would be lows, is good.
taken from the master, and many of Every monitor in the Sessional the monitors would be pretty fellows School is provided with an ASSISTANT, indeed. Of the classification of the whose duty it is to preserve order and pupils, the principle is excellent. attention in the class, while he him “ In determining the class to which self is occupied in teaching. The ad- any individual pupil should either be vantage of such an officer must be originally posted or subsequently resufficiently obvious. In some schools, moved, the natural criterion obviously excellent in every other respect, a is neither his age, nor the length of practice prevails, which, in our opin- time he has been under tuition, but ion, cannot be too much condemned, of his actual proficiency. When a child, encouraging the children to become accordingly, is introduced into the general informers against each other, Sessional School, trial is first made of and giving them an interest in doing his qualifications, in order to deterso, by putting the informer in the delin- mine in which class he should be quent's place, if the latter be previously placed. This is sometimes no easy
matter to decide, and we doubt not foundation of any branch of education, the decision bas, in the very threshold, who, when it bas once been laid, are given umbrage to many a parent. no less alert than any of their compan• My laddie,' we are not unfrequently ions in rearing the superstructure, told, was in the boonmost class at his Such children require to be kept a last school; he had lang been oot o' much longer time in the elements than the Bible and was in the · Beauties ;' those of more quick apprehension. he can say a' the questions ; and he Now it must be evident, that were was through a' the book in the coont- both constantly retained in the same ing.' Notwithstanding this profes- class, either the latter must injurioussion, the alleged proficient is some- ly be kept back on account of the times found quite incapable of reading foriner; or else the former must be our most simple and introductory book, dragged forward blindfold, and totally of understanding a single syllable of ignorant of all that is going on, through his catechism, or of performing the the rest of the course." most elementary operation of arithme The object of the explanatory metic. He is accordingly of course thod of instruction, which has been placed in the class where he is most pursued so successfully in the Sessionlikely to receive improvement, without Al School, is threefold—first, to regard to his former high pretensions. render more easy and pleasing the acBut his continuance in this class de- quisition of the mechanical art of pends entirely upon his subsequent reading ; secondly, to turn to advanprogress. If it be found, that he so tage the particular instructions confar outstrips all his companions as to tained in every individual passage stand continually at the top, without which is read ; and, above all, thirdly, much exertion on his own part, it is to give the pupil, by means of a mihigh time that he should be promoted nute analysis of each passage, a geto a superior one, where he may find neral command of his own language. his level, and have all his energies Of the first of these objects we at called forth into exertion. If, on the present say nothing-except that, at other hand, it turn out that he is con- the Sessional School, the pupils enstantly at the bottom of his class, in a gaged in the commonly distressful task hopeless state of inability to compete of learning the mere letters and words, with his present class -fellows, it may wear the happy faces of children enprove, and in the Sessional School has gaged at their sports. very frequently, in such a case, proved As to the second-Along with faciof infinite advantage to reinove him to lity in the art of reading, much infora lower class, where he may be better mation is communicated to them able to maintain bis ground. We have which is well adapted to their present sometimes found children in the lat- age, and may be of use to them for ter situation, who, chagrined at not the rest of their lives. In most being able to keep up with the class schools, how many fine passages are in which they happened to be, of read in the most pompous manner, themselves requested to be put into a without leaving a single sentiment in lower. And not unfrequently those, the mind of the performer! Here who had been so put back, have been Mr. Wood tells an amusing and illusahle ere long to overtake their former trative anecdote of a gentleman of his comrades, and to enjoy with them the acquaintance, who had been accusbenefit of a more equal competition ; tomed to repeat—without the slightest whereas had they been doomed all attention to the sense-Gray's Elegy along to retain their original situation, -yes, that eternal Elegy—not uncomthey would undoubtedly have lost all monly known at school by the name heart, and, as scholars, have been ru- of “ The Curfew Tolls." What eiined for life. There are some chil- ther curfew or tolls meant, he, acdren extremely slow in laying the cording to custom, knew nothing.
He always thought, however, of There is no feeling of irksome drudgetoll-bars, and wondered what sort of ry—and the acquisition being founded tolls were curfew-tolls, but durst not, on principle, is permanent. It canof course, put any idle question on not be lost. Nor manifestly is it nesuch a subject, to the master. The cessary that every word should be original impression, as might be ex- gone over in this way, any more than pected, remained ; and to the present that every word should be syntactihour, continues to haunt him when- cally parsed; for a single sentence well ever this poem comes to mind. done may prove of the greatest service
With regard to the third object, to the scholar in all his future studies. Mr. Wood explains himself thus : But it may be said—it has been
“ Thus, for example, if in any les- said—why, this may be all very well son the scholar read of one having with regard to a foreign language, but
done an unprecedented act,' it might it is quite superfluous with relation to be quite sufficient for understanding a vernacular tongue. That is a very the meaning of that single passage, to great mistake. tell him that no other person had « The humbler classes of society, ever done the like;' but this would in every sermon which they hear,-in by no means fully accomplish the ob- every book which they read, however ject we have in view. The child simple, and written peculiarly for their would thus receive no clear notion of own use,-nay, in the Bible itself, the word unprecedented, and would meet with a multitude of words and therefore, in all probability, on the expressions, even of frequent occurvery next occasion of its recurrence, rence, which, from want of such a or of the recurrence of other words key, not only lose great part of their from the same root, be as much at a force, but are utterly unintelligible, loss as before. But direct his atten- and are often grossly misunderstood. lion to the three-fold composition of We would, ourselves, bave been in a this word, the un, the pre, and the great measure ignorant of the full excede. Ask him the meaning of the tent of the disadvantage under which syllable un in composition, and tell such persons labor in this respect, but him to point out to you (or, if neces- for the representations of the lads in sary, point out to him) any other our evening school, many of whom words in which it has this signification were possessed of no ordinary abilities, of not, (such as uncommon, uncivil,) and bad received all the education and, if there be leisure, any other formerly bestowed on persons in that syllables which have in composition a rank of life. We were much struck, similar effect, such as in, with all its too, with a conversation which we modifications of ig, il, im, ir, also dis, had on this subject, on occasion of and non, with examples. Next in a recent visit to a seminary in Newvestigate the meaning of the syllable haven, under the excellent tuition of pre in composition, and illustrate it a young man who had received his with examples, (such as previous, education in the Sessional School. premature). Then examine in like We there met with a fisherman, the manner the meaning of the syllable parent of one of the pupils, well known cede, and having shown that in con- in the village as one of the most reposition it generally signifies to go, spectable, intelligent, and well educatdemand the signification of its various ed of his class. He evidently took compounds, precede, proceed, succeed, a deep interest in our proceedings, accede, recede, exceed, intercede." and, while we were in the act of ex
Thus the pupil not only knows the amining the children on the meaning word in question, but he has a key to of what they had read, he at length a vast variety of other words in the broke out in nearly the following manJanguage; in getting which key, be is ner : Eh, sir, you'll not know how all the while animated and amused. littlc of this I understand, and how