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JOHN M'CALLUM & CO..
How to Profit by a Model Lesson.*
College, Glasgow. TAE magnitude of the work now carried on by Sabbath schools compels us to summon to our aid, as teachers, all who can be induced to give their services, and we cannot confine our selection to those best qualified by natural disposition or by careful training for the noble work. Hence training classes are necessary, to enable us to make the most of the means available. No doubt earnestness and Christian grace go far to make up for any shortcomings, and without them success is impossible; but that is no reason why these shortcomings should not be removed. There are many persons, animated by the most genuine Christian feeling, and well instructed in Gospel truths, who yet feel painfully at a loss how to impart to others that knowledge which they prize so highly in their own experience. They ever feel keenly that their work might be better directed, their labours more efficient, if they knew better the art of instruction, and the simple expedients which render the maintenance of discipliné easy and natural.
In what way is knowledge to be arranged for communication? How is it to be illustrated so that true conceptions may be formed in the minds of the pupils ? How is it fixed in the memory? By what means is willing attention secured ? It would not be difficult to lay down rules for guidance in these particulars. Some are plainly stated and well illustrated in Stow's Training System, and in Professor Calderwood's excellent little manual, On Teaching: its Ends and Means. But it is one thing to know what to do, and quite another to be able to carry into execution the plans to be adopted. The former may be learned from books or otherwise, with a little observation and reflection; the latter is not thus to be acquired. It is an art, and, like all arts, however much some are naturally fitted for them, all improve and progress toward perfection by practice alone. It is recorded of a great philosopher, him
* Part of Address at Opening of Training Class for Teachers, Christian Institute, 2nd September, 1882.
self a master in the art of experimenting, that on one occasion he visited the laboratory of a friend who had just made a scientific discovery, which he was anxious to show to this prince of experimentalists. The apparatus was put in order, and the author of the discovery was about to set the model in action, when the philosopher stopped him by saying, “Please wait a moment; what am I to look for?” Experienced in the laboratory as this great man was, keen as were his eyes by nature, and expert as his senses had become by practice, he knew it was possible that his attention might be concentrated on some part of the action other than that to which his friend was anxious to direct it, and that thus, so far as he was concerned, the exhibition might prove a failure. A similar preparation is necessary in order to profit by a Model Lesson. For does it not often happen, that the very ease and success with which such a lesson is given by a skilled teacher, discourages rather than encourages the novice; the whole seems so perfect, so unapproachable, so natural in order, so charming in style, that imitation is vain? But if the novice will condescend to analyze the lesson, and to direct attention to its various parts, one by one, the qualities in each part will speedily be discerned which go to form so admirable a whole. It is, then, of the utmost importance to know what to observe when a lesson is being given, that practice may be corrected and methods improved. Observe, then,
1. Teacher's Manner. The model teacher is calm and collected. He knows very well that the youngest child can mark any sign of fear, or hesitation in manner, and that such weakness is fatal to his influence with a class. Self-possession and coolness enable the teacher to deal successfully with these disturbing incidents and perplexing situations, which so often "put out” the young teacher. This self-possession is not the bluster of a bold rude nature, but that calmness which comes of careful preparation, and of the knowledge that agitation in the teacher generates its like, or worse, in the class. It is, therefore, worth while to mark the general manner of the model teacher, and to note how he deals with difficult cases as they arise.
2. Tone of the Class.—The teacher is cool and prepared. The work of the class is suitably directed. There are no irregular intervals, during which the children are listless or unemployed; and hence there is little chance of their attention being diverted to other parts of the room, or of their finding other occupation than that afforded by the lesson. The pupils soon learn that the teacher has an ear for every sound, an eye for every movement, and a simple question ready to bring back to attention the first restless or listless child. The attention thus at first secured, concentration of mental effort follows; no part of the lesson is lost by any child-the interest increases-surrounding objects seem forgottenthe children hang on the looks, words, and actions of the teacher,-and the conditions of maximum success are realized.
3. Discipline.-To the young teacher the maintenance of discipline is a serious matter. Without good discipline the lesson is valueless to the pupil, and most harassing to the teacher; and so young teachers often exert themselves directly to secure it. There could be no greater error, for the anxiety and exertion attending the maintenance of discipline, by direct means, take up no inconsiderable part of that energy which should