« AnteriorContinuar »
THE MOTHERS' MANUAL.
The first section contains a simple nomenclature of the different parts of the human body, gradually descending from the larger ones to the most minute.
The second section has for its object to draw the child's attention to the relative position which the different parts of the body have to each other.
The third section exhibits them in their connexion with each other, showing how several minor parts together form one whole, which, however, is itself again only a part of the body itself.
In the fourth section the child is led to inquire, in what number each part occurs, and to distinguish those which occur only once, from those which occur twice, three times, &c.
The sixth section considers the different parts with reference to their properties, those, at least, which are most easily discerned.
The seventh section enumerates the different uses to which each part may be, and the circumstances under which it is so, applied.
The eighth section was to have contained some information on the care and attention which every part of the body, according to its nature, requires.
The ninth section was to have directed the mind to the purpose for which the different parts of the body were endowed with the several properties enumerated in the sixth exercise.
In the tenth section, lastly, it was intended that the child should recapitulate the knowledge acquired in the preceding exercises, on each separate part of the body, with a view to give a complete and precise description of it.
However great may have been the imperfections of the first attempt made by Pestalozzi to fill up the details of the above outline: and however liberally the public may, from other quarters, and in other points of view, be supplied with guides and hints for the nursery; we know not that the cause of education could be more effectually assisted, than by
THE MOTHERS' MANUAL.
the publication of a manual, which would have Pestalozzi's original plan for its main foundation.
And may we not hope that the time is approaching when many mothers would receive such a work as a most valuable gift. It is now pretty generally admitted, that the earliest impressions are of great consequence, and it will hardly be asserted, that the usual trifling gossip of nurseries is in any way calculated to develop and strengthen the growing energies of the babe. The very reverse, distortion and weakness, is the natural effect of the treatment which children commonly experience at that stage of life; and whilst it would be wrong to restrain the mother or nurse by pedantic rules, and to make her "speak like a book;" yet on the other hand, it is not to be endured, that her conversations with the child should be carried on at random, without any forethought, concerning the effect to be produced, and the means of producing it. A manual for mothers and nurses ought, therefore, to contain far less of system, than books designed for the more advanced stages of instruction.
Regular lessons, on the human body, its outwardly visible parts, the numbers, size, appearance, structure, and other qualities of those parts, their position and relation to each other, and the uses to which they are adapted, should form the framework of the whole. The names for all this must, of course, be imparted to the child, in the first instance as a matter of fact; the tangible objects themselves forming the key to this nursery-vocabulary; and even afterwards, when the child has learned to gather language from the intercourse with others, the mother and nurse will still have to fill up occasional deficiencies. But, making due allowance for this, the tendency of the lessons, in that manual, should essentially be, to lead the child to discoveries by a variety of questions. These lessons then, should be interspersed with hints for mothers or nurses, on the best means of enlarging the child's sphere of thought, by leading him from himself, as the centre of his observations, to the persons and objects which surround him. Here it is, that instruction must entirely be left
to what might be termed the casualty of the moment; that is to say, it must be modelled, in every instance, according to the circumstances of the case; but these accidental teachings being merely so many excursions from a regular and straight road, to which the child is always brought back, and in which he gradually advances, exploring at the same time all the contiguous territories, that which is apparently casual, becomes, in reality, subservient to a stated and fixed plan. If executed in this manner, the manual for mothers and nurses would, so far from fettering them, on the contrary serve to enliven their own minds, and, at the same time, to render them thoughtful observers both of the child, and of the impressions made upon him. A childlike participation in the growth of the infant mind, would take the place of that deplorable disposition, so common among mothers and nurses, to make the tender and unconscious little being the object of childish, nay often apish amusement.
A few infantine, not puerile tales, within the sphere of the lessons contained in, or derived from, the manual, with good pictures to correspond, would form a valuable appendage. The text of the tales would of course be for the mother or nurse, and not for the child; the latter would have to do with the picture, and the explanation might be partly suggested by the mother, and partly elicited from the child himself. Some of the tales might be in the poetic form; or a few verses might be appended to some of them; but they ought to be in perfectly good taste, not a silly aggregate of rhymes, as most of those things are. They might be sung or repeated together by mother and child; not, however, without a previous inspection and explanation of the picture, in the manner before described, of which the verses ought to be no more than a paraphrase in a more attractive form. Among the thousands of children's books, some will here be tempted to ask, is there not one that answers this description? This question may fitly be answered by another: If one, exactly fitted to the above outline, were to make its appearance, how many parents would be able to discern it from the
rest, and how many would have good sense enough to use it aright? There is, however, no danger of their being put very soon to the test; for it is infinitely easier to write an elaborate treatise on the philosophy of the human mind, or on the fundamental points of the orthodox faith, than to make a good child's book.
Method of Teaching Spelling and Writing.
No branch of instruction, perhaps, of all that formed part of his experiments, has derived more benefit from the helpless condition in which Pestalozzi found himself at Stantz, than that which has become proverbial for its baneful effect upon the tempers of “our little dears." Pestalozzi had no alphabets, no primers; he was reduced to his lungs as the only apparatus for the instruction in spelling; and thus he was, by necessity, driven to what, if the nature of the subject be considered, seems so obviously the right course, that it is difficult to conceive how it could ever enter men's minds to make that, which is essentially a matter of the ear, almost exclusively a business of the eye. As it would be preposterous to suppose that the language of our species began with written characters, to which afterwards certain sounds were attached, so is it equally preposterous to make the child's instruction in the composition of the sounds of language consequent upon the knowledge and combination of the characters of the alphabet. Of this Pestalozzi was perfectly aware, and accordingly the beginning of his “instruction in the sounds of speech” dates from the very cradle.
“ It is not to be left to chance, at what time, and to what extent, the child shall become acquainted with each sound. An early and complete knowledge of them all is of great importance.
“This knowledge he should have, before he is able to pronounce them; and, in like manner, he should be able to pronounce them, generally, with ease, before he be introduced to the knowledge of written or printed characters, and taught to read.