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ENGLISH SPELLING EXERCISES.
An ell is one yard and a quarter long.
This list, of course, is not intended for the children, but for the teacher; whose business it is to elicit from the children, by questions, such words of the series, as they can think of; and having ascertained what meaning the children connect with each word, to teach them the mode of writing it. Thus, suppose the children were in succession to name, and, by sentences of their own, to explain the following words; ale, air, ape, ate, eight, ache, egg; the teacher might write them on the lesson-board in this manner:
he might write them, at first, promiscuously, and ask the children, in each word, by what signs the sound E is represented, and what signs are expressive of the consonant after it.
The same exercises should from time to time be reversed, by taking some consonant, and asking for a list of the different words formed by putting a vowel before it. Taking, for instance, the consonant R, the following series would present itself: ARE, OR, OAR, ORE, AIR, ERE, AYR, HEIR, EYRE, EAR, ERR, IRE, OUR, HOUR, &c. &c.
It is not necessary to go into farther details, as the above is sufficient to show in what manner the relation between sound and written character is to be illustrated. For these exercises our manual will provide the teacher with tables, comprehending all the monosyllables of the English language; and, in a second part, a regular survey of the leading terminations of dissyllabic, trisyllabic, and other polysyllabic
METHOD OF TEACHING WRITING.
words, as well as of the significant syllables used in the formation of derivatives and compounds.
As an appendix to this manual of spelling, a reading-book might be composed, containing at first short sentences, and afterwards larger pieces, in which, after some time, part of the letters, and at last whole syllables and words, should be omitted, so as to exercise the child's ingenuity in supplying them. A reading-book of this description would contribute very much to render the tedious operation of learning to read, both more rapid, and more interesting; but to make it successful, the reading pieces should not be selected at random, but with great care, and the omissions likewise should be introduced upon a systematic plan, corresponding in its progress with the arrangement of the exercises in the manual of spelling
We shall close this chapter by a few remarks on the mode of teaching writing. Pestalozzi, in the abstract before us, distinguishes two stages :
6. The first when the child is to learn the formation and combination of letters with the pencil merely; and the second when he is to practise his hand in the
“In the first course of writing the letters are to be laid before the child according to the precise measure of their proportions; and I have got a set of copies engraved, which, following the successive steps of my method, will almost of itself form a sufficient guide for the child in the practice of writing. It has the following advantages :
“ 1. The child is kept a sufficient time to the drawing of the elementary or fundamental lines of which the different letters are composed.
“ 2. These elementary lines are put together according to a gradual progress, in which the most difficult letters are placed at the end, and their formation is moreover facilitated by the previous practice of less difficult combinations, to which even the most complicated characters contain only slight additions.
“ 3. The exercise of combining different letters with each other is introduced from the very moment when the child is able to draw one correctly, and is calculated upon the progress in the formation of single letters, so as never to include any but those which have become individually easy and familiar.
“ 4. The book admits of being cut up in single lines, so that the child may place the copy immediately over the line in which he intends writing.
of the pen.
METHOD OF TEACHING WRITING.
“ In this manner the child learns to write with ease and perfection in the first course, and all that remains to be done in the second, is to teach him the use of the pen. This is to be done by the same gradual progress which was followed on the slate; the letters are to be drawn with the pen on the same enlarged scale which was adopted for the first attempt with the pencil, and to be diminished, gradually, to the usual size."
We do not think this mode of proceeding exactly the most desirable. The process of copying will, under all circumstances, and notwithstanding the most ingenious contrivances, always remain tedious. We have found it far preferable to give the child, in the first instance, a short word written on his slate in large printed characters, for instance
FAT, and after this to place in a line underneath the leading points of the different letters, one by one, thus:
leaving the child to fill up the intervening lines. This exercise, carried through a few of the earlier spelling series, in which each additional word contains only one new letter, soon familiarizes the child with the forms of the different letters, so that after some time he may be left to put the dots for himself: and lastly, to form the characters without dots. After this introduction to the art of writing, which we have also found the most efficient mode of teaching reading, we have never experienced the least difficulty in superadding the use of the written character, or inducing a familiar acquaintance with the small printed type. We need only add, that the above exercise in the formation of letters, is not the only one in which the child should, at this period of instruction, be called
to draw lines between given dots, to measure and
compare their distances, proportions, relative positions, &c., and we agree in this respect fully with our author in contending that “ the art of writing, to be taught consistently with nature, ought to be treated
METHOD OF TEACHING WRITING.
as subordinate to that of drawing, and to all its preparatory acquirements, especially the art of measuring.
“Writing is no more, nay even less, than drawing, to be taught without a previous proficiency in the measuring of lines; for, in the first instance, writing itself is a sort of linear drawing, and that of stated forms, from which no arbitrary or fanciful deviation is permitted; and, secondly, the practice of writing, when acquired previously to, and independently of, drawing, spoils the hand and mars its freedom, by confining it to a few peculiar forms on a contracted scale, instead of cultivating in it a general ability for all forms. Another reason, why drawing ought to be taught before writing, is, that by the previous acquirement of drawing the formation of the letters is greatly facilitated, and all that time is saved which children generally spend in correcting bad habits, contracted by a long practice of bad writing, and substituting a good hand for the misshaped and incorrect characters to which they have been for years accustomed. But of all the arguments that may be urged on this subject, the most important is, that the child should learn to do every thing in perfection from its beginning, which he will not be able to do in writing unless this acquirement be built upon an elementary course of drawing. We cannot expect, indeed, that the child should evince energy and perseverance in attaining that perfection, which he ought to learn, at an early period, to consider as the standard of all that he does, unless we exercise his powers upon tasks, the correct and perfect accomplishment of which is possible, according to the measure of his capacity.
“ Writing as well as drawing ought to be practised at first on the slate; for the child learns to handle the pencil neatly and correctly at a much earlier period than the pen. The use of the slate has, moreover, this advantage, that whatever may
be wrong, can easily be effaced and corrected, whereas on the paper, where this is impossible, one ill-shaped letter generally leads to another. Hence it is that in looking over the pages of a copybook we find so frequently lines, in which a regular progression of bad writing can be traced from the beginning to the end.
“ Another and a very essential advantage seems to me to be this: that on the slate the child effaces even that which is well done at the end of the lesson. The importance of this point will be felt when we consider the great value of modesty, and the immense injury which the child suffers, in a moral point of view, from being led or permitted to make the work of his hands an object of vain display."
Method of Teaching the Mother-tongue-Pestalozzian Grammar.
It will be recollected, from what was stated in the twentysecond chapter, that Pestalozzi took rather a comprehensive view of the subject which is now coming under consideration. But although in his general outline of education he included in it almost the whole range of knowledge, his practical illustrations do not embrace much more than that part of it, which would, by the common consent of all, be classed under the head “ language.” They are appropriately introduced by a few remarks on the original purpose of language, and the object to be attained by it in education, which deserve to be transcribed, if it were for no other purpose than to urge the importance of a branch of instruction which has been too much neglected.
“ The gift of speech was imparted to man by the Creator, as the means of elevating himself above the blindness of his sensual nature, and for successive generations it has been subservient to the development of his nobler powers and faculties. The teacher is to use language in the same manner for the education of his pupil, as Providence has used, and is still using it for the education of the human race. Through language the child is to be raised above the mere perception of the senses, above the mere animal impulse of appetite, and led to the consciousness of an immortal soul within himself. The general experience that the results of man's moral and intellectual life are so utterly inadequate to the native energy and the comprehensive variety of his mental constitution, is to be accounted for only by the circumstance, that, when left to himself, that is to say to the freedom of his own blindness, man pursues the course of his own education in a circuitous road, on which his observation cannot but be partial, and his progress slow. It is only from time to time, that, in looking behind him, he can perceive, too late for himself, the direct road which he has missed. But whilst nature has left man to this