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foto to profit hu a $fobel Wntum?
By David Boss, M.A., B.Sc, Principal, Established Church Training
The 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 discipline 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 forgotten— the 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 be devoted to teaching; and the feeling of restraint becomes prominent and disagreeable in the class. As has been well said, "Teaching does not exist for the sake of discipline, but discipline for the sake of teaching. Like the instrumental accompaniment to a song, it attends upon the teaching, supporting it throughout. . . . Government with the least possible manifestation of care and effort is that which is most easily established," (Oalderwood, p. 25.) Watch, then, the model teacher, and observe that he maintains discipline not by direct, but by indirect means; by removing or obviating the causes of disturbance, by concentrating the attention of the class on the lesson, so that no one has time to think of causing annoyance, nor any free energies for executing such a project. These indirect methods escape the notice of the young teacher; and. hence we often hear the complaint, "I could have got on very well if the class had kept quiet." But the fault is in the teacher, and not in the class. Experience alone will assure success. The cause of the evil being known, and the remedy pointed out, the application will be somewhat less difficult.
4. Language.—Observe also how well the language used is adapted to secure the attention, and to excite the interest of a class. The model teacher has studied child nature; he dreams not of talking to a child as to an adult. He begins the lesson by going down to the child's level, and thus succeeds in being intelligible. But children wish to be men and women, to know what men and women know, to do what men and women do. Of this fact advantage is taken. However low he descends to begin, as the lesson proceeds the teacher raises the children towards his own position, widens their views, renders their conceptions more exact, their expressions more precise, and their knowledge more available for the solution of new problems. And all this is attained by regarding the child as an active co-operating agent, whose powers need direction only, and not as a mere passive recipient of knowledge imparted by the teacher, and as a being whose only duty it is to remember, and to repeat when asked, that which he has been told. Observe how a practised teacher questions a class. Mark how little he Tells; how much he Draws from the pupils. If a wrong answer is given, he does not damp the ardour of the little ones by rejecting it, but accepting it at the time, a few dexterous questions compel the child to see that such an answer leads to absurdities. The pupil _ makes another jand another effort, shewing various phases of error, all which he must avoid, until at last he is driven to the truth. Knowledge thus acquired is firmly fixed in the mind; or if ever forgotten, the process by which it was obtained is available, and its use by practice is speedy and sure.
5. Matter.—Observe, too, how the matter of the lesson is adapted to the stage of mental development at which the class has arrived. The subjects which interest a boy of six differ from those which interest one of ten; or if they are the same, each views them in a very different way. Due allowance is made for this fact, and the skilful teacher takes care that his treatment of a subject is not so simple as to need little or no effort on the part of the pupil, nor so difficult as to fatigue his mental powers, and cause him to sink into hopeless silence. Observe how carefully each question is regulated by the preceding answer; how warily the teacher feels his way as far as his pupil can then safely follow; how, when the least sign of fatigue is observed by him, he stops, puts a few revising questions, consolidates the knowledge imparted, and gives the pupil courage to advance, or if necessary, leads him to a new and more interesting portion of the subject.
6. Arrangement.—Not only is the matter chosen suitable for the stage of advancement of the pupils, but the manner in which it is divided by the practised teacher has also been carefully considered with reference to the special class. The teacher has a definite plan according to which he proceeds, but he has no right to make his plan obtrusive any more than his discipline. He does not perplex his pupils with the divisions and sub-divisions of the matter; but these follow of themselves, and come clearly out as the questioning proceeds. All long digressions are avoided; and if erroneous answering sometimes causes a delay, care is taken to proceed, as soon as possible, on the former path.
7. Verbal Illustrations.—Where the subject of the lesson is difficult, or beyond the experience of the pupils, the teacher of the Model Class selects a parallel case with which the child is well acquainted, and on which he is questioned, to bring to his recollection certain points of resemblance. The teacher then, with the active co-operation of the pupil, draws an analogy between the cases, so that the new becomes at least partially known through the medium of the old and familiar. Now, facility in verbal illustration requires considerable collateral information, and no little experience in tracing out resemblances. But in the hands of a good teacher it is a most potent instrument of instruction. The discovery of analogies where least suspected is an unfailing source of delight to children, whose imaginations, when thus excited, often seek to carry the analogy into the minutest details, and find resemblances purely fanciful. This tendency is checked by drawing attention to those points in which the cases are not analogous, thus detecting difference amid likeness, and bringing out contrast as well as resemblance. In Stow's Training System will be found good examples of his method of picturing out in words, applied by him with so much success both in the use of analogy and in direct description.
8. Class Results.—In the Model Class questioning is used as a means of drawing out the knowledge of the pupils, and of inciting them to use this knowledge in the discovery of more. But ever and again a pause is made, and the results attained revised, and conveniently formulated for further immediate use, or for better retention in the memory. At the close of the lesson questions are put to test the class. Any points that had caused special difficulty are dwelt upon and made familiar, and any errors discovered are carefully corrected. The lesson has not been successful if the pupil is left in doubt, and wants confidence in his application of the knowledge imparted. He must feel that he has been making an effort, that he has profitted by that effort, and that he is mentally superior to his former self.
9. Conclusion.—It(is not expected, it would not be wise to expect, that the young teacher should direct his attention at first to all the points noted above as worthy of observation in a Model Lesson. His experience will enable him to say wherein he feels the greatest difficulty. Let him