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ently of them? What should we think of the builder who would pull down the scaffolding which supports the platform on which he is working?
Again, some of our best friends have likened our schoolmasters to an order in the Church, and supported us as such. Shall we not alienate ourselves from such friends, as well as all sound thinking men, by allowing it to be supposed, that instead of a union we have formed a combination, probably against those who placed us in our present position? Let us, then, by example as well as precept, show that we acknowledge the Church as our head, and that we are what we profess ourselves to be, viz. Church Schoolmasters.— Yours, &c. J. HARE.
NOTES ON THE MINUTES OF THE COMMITTEE OF COUNCIL, 1854-1855.
(Continued from the October Number.)
5.-Fröebel's System of Infant-Gardens.
In the list of those who in recent times have contributed by their energies and selfdevotion to raise elementary education to its present high standard of excellence, few names deserve to be mentioned with more respect and honour than that of Frederick Fröebel, the originator of the German system of Infant-Gardens. Impressed with the idea that the early training of the mind should be based upon principles analogous to those which best develop bodily health and strength, he set himself to work out a system in which the natural requirements of childhood should alone furnish the groundwork for its operations. And in carrying out those ideas, which it had taken years of anxious thought to mature, he manifested a determination of purpose, and practised a course of self-denial, equal to which the history of education can furnish but few parallel instances. In the first place, he resigned a lucrative appointment at Berlin, and with very slender resources established his first infant-school in a cottage at Keilhau, in Thuringia. During the early stages of this arduous task he lived on potatoes, bread, and water; and, in order the more effectually to economise this humble fare, is said to have chalked out each day's allowance upon his rye-loaves.
The only allusion to Fröebel's system in the late Minutes occurs in Mr. Mitchell's report. That gentleman, in referring to infant-teaching, remarks, that the schools as at present conducted fail in accomplishing those objects which appear to be most obviously desirable. They make children mere machines. The free and spontaneous exercise of thought is checked and interrupted, or diverted into channels in which the natural instincts of childhood have no place or room for their action. It is quite sickening to hear infants under five years of age using scientific terms and phrases, of the meaning of which they have not the slightest conception, and which they have acquired just as a collection of words might be taught to a parrot; receiving lessons in geometry, conchology, and various other ologies, and being made to rhyme over definitions which the teacher himself has often little or no ability to explain.
"It was with undisguised delight," says Mr. Mitchell, "I hailed the commencement of what I hope may prove a new era for our infant life-the introduction to this country of a plan successful in Saxony, which owes its origin to Herr Fröebel, and was among the few novelties of the educational exhibition. Herr Hoffman brought with him his simple apparatus; and his own pleasing manner of displaying it ensured a success which its merits, great as they are, might not have been equal to secure. system, though intellectual, is truly infantile; it treats the child as a child; encourages him to think for himself; teaches him, by childish toys and methods, gradually to develop in action or hieroglyphic writing his own ideas, to tell his own story, and to listen to that of others; there is no use of hard names, no singing of perpendicular' or 'horizontal;' but whatever is said, and whatever is done, is totally and altogether such as belongs to a child. It is a stretch of no mean mind that can thus lower a man's thought and action to the comprehension of infancy, which seeks to create, as it were, an elevated child, not to transform the babe into a dwarfish, deformed, unnatural sort of youth, in which the artlessness of the one is lost, and the power of the other is not gained. The grand feature of the system is occupation' such as suits a child. He is taught little; he simply creates for himself forms and fancies. He has toys given him of the simplest sort-straight bits of stick, peas soaked in water. He is shown how to use them, and he becomes an architect and an inventor-churches, towers, houses, mechanical adaptations, swarm from his excited brain; again, with cubes of wood his ideas take a more solid form; he learns the size and weight of articles, he adapts them to their places, he fits them together with strips of coloured paper, be weaves webs of varied beauty, and of certain signifi cances of form, he pricks out patterns with a needle, he even cuts clay and models it, and tells some history of his life, as those old Egyptians, or the men that Layard has dug up-those infants of an infant world-might have done thousands of years ago,-stories which the elder parent loves to read; combined with this are songs and games, and downy beds of sweet repose when nature's soft nurse has called its senses home. The chief improvement is, that the child learns every thing itself, that there is no forcing of its mind, that when tired it leaves off its labour, and, having reposed, returns to it with vigour, or proceeds to something else. All that is required is tact and patience in the teacher, the art of knowing when to speak and when to be silent, a pleasing person, a pleasing voice, and a great love of children."
The teaching of Fröebel commences with the earliest age at which the infant manifests the power of receiving impressions from external objects. Certain apparatus, or
rather toys, are used; the expense of which is extremely moderate. The first used is a box containing six coloured balls, called the "first gift." With these balls the child is trained to exercise his limbs and use his senses He stretches out his hand to catch
them, or presses his fingers to retain them. They excite his curiosity; he learns to distinguish their form, colour, and substance; and his eyes are fully employed in watching their movements. By attaching a string to the ball, numerous exercises may be performed, all tending to call into play some faculty of the child. Specimens of these exercises are given in a work lately published, entitled A Practical Guide to the English Kinder Garten (children's garden); and a school conducted on Fröebel's system may be seen in operation. on any Tuesday morning, from eleven to one, at 32 Tavistock Place. This first English Infant-Garden was founded by the authors of the Practical Guide, M. and Madame Ronge, to whom we venture to refer those who are sufficiently interested in the subject to undertake a visit to their establishment on the day above mentioned.
From the coloured balls we proceed to the "second gift," which is a small box containing a ball, a stick, a string, a cube, and a cylinder; the two latter perforated so as to allow the stick and string to be fixed into them. With these a variety of motions can be produced, which, however, it would be difficult to describe verbally. Here, again, the Practical Guide will assist the teacher; numerous pictorial illustrations being given in it of the manner in which the "second gift" may be used.
The "third gift" is a set of eight equal cubes, made to fit into a box. These eight cubes may, of course, be placed so as to form one single cube eight times as large as any one of them.
"The child is first taught to invert the box, after drawing out a small part of the lid; secondly, to draw out the lid entirely and lift up the box: he then finds the cube complete, and is allowed to pursue the dictates of his mind; he may divide it into two, four, or eight equal parts, place them upon each other, lay them side by side, count them, or arrange them in a thousand different ways, to suit his inclination. After a time he will examine them more carefully; he will see that each has the same form, number of faces, edges, corners, as the whole; he will learn to distinguish their number, size, form, position, order, and arrangement; he will learn the true meaning of up, down, here, there, this, that, these, those, above, below, under, over, upon, underneath, within, without, large, small, &c."*
In the "fourth gift," one large cube is divided into eight equal parts by being cut in one direction, so that the parts are parallelopipeds instead of cubes. This gift, though apparently similar to the previous one, will be found on closer observation to afford the child a greater variety of combinations than the cubes. It is remarked by Madame Ronge, that "the parts in this gift contain a greater amount of surface than the cubes, and are capable of enclosing a still greater amount of space, a far greater variety of objects may be represented-objects more lofty and spacious. An endless variety of crosses, monuments, tablets, columns, and towers may be made; illustrations of which are given in the plates. With these erections many important historical events may be associated, which a well-trained teacher will ever have at command."
The "fifth and sixth gifts" are extensions of the third and fourth. In the third the cube is made up of eight smaller ones, while in the fifth it is composed of twenty-seven small cubes, three of which are further divided into halves, and three into quarters. Its peculiarity consists in the increased number of parts, by which more extended operations can be carried on; and the introduction of triangular forms, by which a greater variety of buildings, articles of furniture, &c. can be constructed, and more advanced exercises in number and form given. The "sixth gift" stands in the same relation to the "fourth" as the "fifth" does to the "third," and by its aid all the exercises given under the "fourth" may be carried out to a far greater extent.
One use of the cubes ought to be specially alluded to, viz. their employment in teaching the elements of Arithmetic.† Illustrations are given in the Practical Guide to the English Kinder Garten, including exercises in the Simple Rules, Fractions, Proportion, Square Root, &c. The practical utility of these exercises with the cubes, in conveying to children correct notions of the first principles of number, cannot be too highly appreciated.
The succeeding "gifts," which, however, are not numerically described like those which have been already mentioned, consist of bundles of small sticks, soaked peas, flat sticks for plaiting; paper for folding, cutting, and plaiting; and slates, engraved in the form of a net of equal squares, for drawing. With the sticks, which represent ready-made straight lines, the child is encouraged to produce forms with which he is acquainted, such as crosses, stars, patterns for gardens, seats, gables of houses, and at length whole elevations of houses, churches, &c.; and when he has acquired dexterity in laying the sticks in different directions, for the purpose of representing these varied objects, the soft peas are
* Madame Ronge's Practical Guide.
Ryffel's Calculating Cubes, sold at the N.S. Depository, and elsewhere, may be used for the same purpose and in a similar manner.
given to him, that be may be able to unite the sticks more permanently together. The sticks might be joined together by clay; but the softened pea is undoubtedly a cleaner and neater material.
Time and space forbid any thing more than a mere allusion to the musical gymnastic exercises, the imitations of natural and artificial movements, and other amusements, which form an important part of the Kinder Garten time-table. The brief outline which has been given can convey but a very imperfect idea of the methods which are employed by Fröebel and his followers for combining amusement with instruction. It is inserted in the Monthly Paper for the purpose of calling attention to a system which contains much that is useful and rational; and if it should induce any of the readers of these pages to seek further information, either by calling upon M. and Madame Ronge during the hours their institution is open to visitors, or by consulting their book, the main object of the writer will have been attained.
VISITORS' ESTIMATE OF SCHOOL-WORK.
W. F. R.
SIR, It is worthy of remark, that in the case of visitors of schools, it often happens that disappointment arises from a cause wholly resting within themselves, and which often operates greatly to the prejudice both of the school and master; indeed, it must affect the most vital interests of a teacher, inasmuch as it lies at the very base of reflections necessary to form a true estimate of his character and performance.
It is this: that the expectations of a visitor are often more in keeping with such as are excited by a visit to some celebrated arena of performances, where the gratification arising from an exhibition of skill is the sum total of the object sought, than, as they ought to be, such as first attempts alone should call forth. In an elementary school perfect performances should excite surprise rather than merely come up to expectation. With some the school is expected to present a "ludus in perfectione" rather than a drill-ground of rawest recruits, formed of materials requiring long and tedious training to give them any capacity at all.
The natural tendency of the mind to expect the accomplishment of the thing aimed at, and the delight experienced from success, never fail to elicit a feeling of disappointment in the lack of it; and a due reflection on the cause is often thereby prevented. First efforts are viewed with the eye expectant of perfected skill, and the book of memory is filled with the records of disappointment only; which cannot but operate to the disparagement of the master's or teacher's position and right standing in the judgment which ought to be formed of him.
A correct opinion of the merits of a teacher and his pupils generally can neither hastily nor easily be formed, nor can a visitor obtain any thing like a true conception of the worth of each effort witnessed only by a rightly-prepared mind and an understanding specially informed. For, as amongst the great, and throughout history we see it, the preceptor truly shines out only in the future life of his pupil; so in schools of every grade, ultimate results alone can truly illustrate the character of a teacher.
Progress, and not an amount of skill previously fixed upon and mentally expected, is the proper feature to be recognised and appreciated in a school. And this can only be known by continuous watching. To honour merit and efficiency is both right and desirable, because the possession of them presupposes the exercise of industry and attention; and by doing so a powerful stimulus is given to their development in others. But talent and efficiency can never of themselves be a true criterion to judge the merits of a school-boy, or the skill of the master ;-I mean such as, in all schools, are more or less numerous, and appear like stars of a brighter lustre scattered among the rest. Such children seldom owe their proficiency to the merits of the school or the skill of the master; the brightness is natural, and would have shown itself under any circumstances. And, indeed, as the idea of superiority is so easily transferred from one object to another, especially where the connection appears to be so natural, it is of the utmost importance in forming an opinion to become acquainted with the realities of such cases, without which a separation cannot be made between what is and what is not due to the merit of the school; and to do this, perhaps the only satisfactory and true mode is to continuously attend to both the general and particular progress.
On the other hand, from a paucity of these and a plenitude of the opposite characters, which will happen at times in all schools, the merits of both the teacher and the taught are liable to be much underrated, if due precaution is not taken to investigate only the true feature; for when these geniuses, or ornaments, are wanting, the attraction fails, and it requires the exercise of a sterner virtue to enable the examiner to do justice to the subject. Yet in this the true value lies. The school and the teacher are not intended to create, or to pander to wits and genuises, but to aid the rising mass in its
endeavours to unravel the mysteries of common things,-to nurture, stimulate, guide, and direct the general mind in its arduous task to ascend to the plateau of this common world. So far from imperfection awakening disappointment, it ought never to be forgotten that the school is a congregated mass of imperfections, and that its very essence and existence depend upon this fact. To search for and point them out, to suggest the means of their removal, is a lovely task, and highly becomes the kind-hearted visitor; but no disappointment, no fretfulness, should mar the pleasant work.
The circumstances in which schools are placed, the requirements of the ever-varying localities, render it impossible to make any one a just standard by which to judge the rest; and thus it becomes necessary to employ time and patience in acquiring on the spot a competent knowledge of what is aimed at, the means employed, their suitability, &c., before a just picture can be drawn, or a true estimate formed, of individual or aggregate performances. "Honour to whom honour is due."-Yours, &c. OBSERVATOR.
NOTES OF A LESSON ON DEW.
I. Formation.-Select a suitable day, and direct the attention of the children to the dim appearance of the school-windows, and draw from them the reason. The air filled with vapour; the quantity in proportion to its temperature; when it comes in contact with a cooler substance it deposits a part of this moisture, thus the glass, being cooler than the air of the room, condenses the vapour that comes in contact with it. Illustration: a glass filled with cold water, or a bottle of wine brought from a cellar into a hot room, are soon covered with moisture.
During the day plants, the earth, and other objects absorb heat from the sun; when he sets they radiate, or give off a portion of it, and so cool down; the air in contact is cooled, becomes less solvent, and deposits some of its moisture in the form of dew. Dew does not descend as rain (as was formerly thought), for it is found on the under and side surfaces of plants and objects which nothing rising or falling could touch; forms into globules of extreme beauty-" dew-drops" clear and sparkling, emblems of beauty and purity. "Resting in luminous beads upon the down of leaves, pendent from the finest blades or threaded upon the floating lines of gossamer, its orient pearl varies in size from the diameter of a small pea to the most minute atom that can be imagined to exist." When frozen, dew is changed into hoar-frost-the ice of dew:
"When fields with glist'ning dew-drops bright
II. Deposition.-The deposition of dew is very irregular. Affected by (1) the state of the weather, (2) the nature of the object exposed, and (3) the locality.
(1.) Cloudless nights after hot days most favourable to the deposition; the heat radiated ascends at once into the higher regions, and the surface of the earth is rapidly cooled. What follows? Little or none on cloudy nights; the radiated heat is reflected back to the earth by clouds. Effect: surface not sufficiently cooled. Illustration: gardeners protect tender plants and trees by means of awnings, which act in the same manner as the clouds, and return the heat. Winds are generally unfavourable; in Egypt a north wind (from the Mediterranean) brings much; from the south very little: why? What wind in England favourable to its formation? why the west? Most copiously deposited in Great Britain during spring and autumn. Annual deposition in England equals five inches.
(2.) Some substances part with their heat less rapidly than others—as water, rocks, stones, and metals,- these therefore receive little; grass, low plants, silk, &c., cool quickly, and so receive much more. Hence gravel-walks, stones, buildings, and water, receive little while the surrounding vegetation is covered. Experiments: (a) Take equal quantities of wool of a given weight, place them respectively on gravel, grass, and glass; weigh in the morning; the increase will show the amount of moisture deposited on each. (b) Place thermometers upon a garden-walk and upon grass-turf: that upon the latter will be found some sixteen degrees lower than the former.
(3.) Dew most plentiful in Western Asia and other countries where the rains are periodical. To them a substitute for rain; of great importance in nourishing vegetation and protecting it from the excessive heat; e.g. very copious in Palestine: "Our tents were as wet with dew as if it had rained all night."
III. Uses.-In France it is employed to split blocks of stone into horizontal layers for mill-stones. Wooden wedges introduced; these absorb the dew, expand, and split the stones. Of great utility in affording nourishment to plants and vegetables, which without it would suffer from the drought and heat.
Notice also the beauty of early morning, when
Serene, in all her dewy beauty bright;
Of grass, the myriad dew-drops twinkle round."*
IV. Scriptural and Liturgical References.-Frequent allusions to it, on account of its importance, in Holy Scripture:
(a) Moses, in blessing Joseph's inheritance, numbers it with "the precious things of heaven." (Deut. xxxiii. 13.)
(b) The Psalmist compares brotherly love to "the dew of Hermon." (Ps. cxxxiii.) (c) David mentions its absence as a curse. (2 Sam. i. 21.) (d) In the Collect for Clergy and People it typifies grace: blessing."
"The dew of heaven is like Thy grace,
But where it lights, the favoured place
SUBSTITUTE FOR BLACK-BOARD.
"The dew of Thy
W. J. L.
SIR,-Will you please to state in your next Monthly Paper, for the information of those who may feel disposed to try the experiment, that a surface may be obtained free from gloss, and answering every purpose of a black-board, by pasting upon the walls of the school-room smooth brown, or cartridge paper, and giving it about four coatings of common ink. It is cheap, and more durable than may be anticipated; I have had it in use in my own school for more than twelve months, and have thoroughly tested its usefulness.
Should any portion become worn, it is easily renewed by damping that particular sheet, and pasting up a new one.-I am, &c.
RICHARD R. SCHARTAN, Master of the Lovejoy School.
SIR,-I feel confident that all teachers in workhouse schools will agree with your correspondent "Veritas" as regards the desirability of applicants for appointments in those establishments knowing "precisely" the nature of the duties which will devolve upon them in the event of their election.
But I have found it difficult, during some years connection with workhouse schools, to obtain an accurate knowledge of the amount and kind of labour imposed upon the schoolmaster without gaining by experience.
"Veritas" appears to think, that were the causes of annoyances to which he alludes removed, the situation of master in a workhouse school would be a "pleasing and attractive one;" but I cannot help thinking that there are reasons, quite independent of those noticed by your correspondent, which will prevent the office becoming popular amongst trained teachers.
The continuous responsibility pertaining to the position of workhouse teacher is sufficient to deter many from offering their services. It is not to be supposed that they are numerous who will sacrifice friendship and liberty to become a prisoner in a workhouse. Before workhouse schools become pleasing and attractive to teachers, they must offer more privileges and less arduous duties.—I am, &c.
THE RELATIVE VALUE OF STUDIES IN SCHOOLS.
It is wise at times to take a retrospective view of our work. Unless we do so, we are apt, like men in a fog, to wander on in dim uncertainty, and to miss our footing. This image is not at all inapplicable to educational matters at the present day.
During the last few years, education has made rapid strides; scheme after scheme has been proposed, and found ardent supporters. At first, education, viewed in the aggregate, was looked on as a panacea for moral evil; but a few years passed, and the result was considered incommensurate with the time, labour, and expense bestowed upon it. There was great danger of a reaction, and that the number of non-educationists would receive considerable accessions to their body. The chance of this was, however,