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DURSLEY SUNDAY SCHOOL UNION.
HOW sweet the hour and soft the scene,
Escaped from scenes of earthly care,
We seek, by grace divinely taught,
The chains of error to unbind,
From Nature's rude unsightly heath,
Fain would we thus in Union move,
THE premises used for this purpose, should be as near as possible to the residence of the children whose benefit is intended; and should be light, airy, and spacious. The crowding a considerable number of children into a small compass, which is often done on the principle of economy, tends to defeat the design of the institution, by impeding the progress of the scholars, and is also injurious to their health. A number of small rooms will in general be found more convenient than one or two large ones: but if a large room in which all the scholars may be assembled at the opening and conclusion of School, can be had in addition, it will be very desirable; or, if a situation can be found, where two or more rooms can at pleasure be thrown into one by the opening of folding doors, or the removal of a slight partition, much time will be saved, and the confusion sometimes occasioned by the children retiring to their respective rooms after the opening of the School, and assembling again at the conclusion, may be avoided. It is almost needless to say, that the sexes should, if possible, be kept quite distinct, and that (especially in a large School) each class should be provided with a separate room, as the improvement of the children greatly depends upon order and silence being preserved.*
A School-house has been erected on the above plan, on Friar's Mount, adjoining to Church-Street, Bethnal-Green. This building, which is capable of accommodating 1000 children, is 66 feet long by 37 wide, and consists of a ground VOL. II,
Hours of Attendance.
The time to be occupied in the School must be regulated by the periods fixed for attendance on public worship -Where the number of children is so large, that they cannot be conveniently accommodated in the place of worship, the whole of the forenoon may be devoted to the purposes of tuition and religious instruction in the School-room; or a certain number of classes taken every Sunday morning in rotation. It appears desirable that each child should attend public worship at least once every Lord's Day. The managers, however, must act in this respect as circumstances may dictate.-Where there is no public service in the afternoon, the whole of that time may be employed in the work of tuition, An hour and a half, or two hours before worship in the morning, may be spent in the same way. In the evening, the children may be taken to the public lecture, if any; or it may be found the most profitable to devote the whole of that time to religious instruction; such as examining the children on the subjects which have been discussed in public; hearing them repeat their hymns, catechisms, &c. and giving them a word of exhortation. This exercise should not exceed two hours, lest, the children being wearied with long confinement, religious duties should be made a burden, which would defeat the design of the institution. It need hardly be added, that on every occasion the School should be opened and concluded with prayer,
Business of the Schools.
It is advisable that there should be an established order of proceeding in the employments of the day, that the children may not be at a loss how to proceed, in case the teacher should
time be unavoidably detained after the usual hour of beginning School. It is to be hoped, however, that he will not permit any thing which may not strictly be considered as unavoidable to prevent his being in time, as punctuality is of the greatest importance not only to the discipline of the School and progress of the scholars, but to the habits, in other respects, of the children, and consequently to a great extent, of their parents.
and upper story; the former of which is divided into seven, and the latter into eight distinct rooms, which are capable of increase by subdividing. The rooms, though divided by a passage which runs from end to end, are thrown open by means of sliding partitions, consisting of three parts, divided horizontally; the lower part (about three feet high) is fixed to the floor, the middle (of the same dimensions) slides down as a shutter till it reaches the ground, at the same time acting by means of pullies upon the upper part which it raises to an horizontal position against the ceiling.
The order of teaching in the Testament and Bible classes in some Schools where the whole number cannot be taken together to public worship, is as follows:
Supposing the School to begin at nine o'clock in the morning; spelling till ten-reading till a quarter past eleven-(the 6th class in the Old Testament)-learning catechisms, hymns, &c. till the conclusion.
In the afternoon, reading-(the 6th class in the New Testament-repeating catechisms, &c. learnt in the morning.
In some Schools a course of reading lessons is regularly appointed to each class for the Quarter.
To obviate every objection which might otherwise be made to Sunday Schools, as incompatible with the duties of the Lord's Day, the exercises of the Scholars on that day should be restricted to reading and spelling, and to learning and repeating catechisms, hymns, portions of Scripture, &c.-Instruction in writing and arithmetic appears also to be desirable; but this being more of a secular concern, should be given on some week day evenings, by teachers appointed for the purpose. In hearing children read or repeat what they have learned, much care should be taken to make them acquainted with the meaning; that they may understand the sense as well as retain the sound of what they read or repeat. Spelling and reading are important, as they are the first steps to knowledge; but words are valuable only as they are connected with ideas; it should therefore be the aim of the teacher to impress upon the minds of the children, the sentiments contained in their lessons. To this end, the catechisms which first engage their attention, should be of the initiatory kind; and after a child has been once through the catechism, it may be proper to require him, on a repetition of it, to give the answer to each question in his own words; which may be done by varying the question. This has been found by experience a very profitable method of instruction, as it exercises the judgment as well as the memory, and tends more deeply to impress the mind with the importance of the subject. Children taught on this plan, have obtained more religious knowledge in half a year, than is usually acquired in the space of three or four years.
The lessons, particularly in the Bible and Testament, should be of moderate length, so that the children may be able to retain the ideas: the teacher questioning them upon the contents of the chapter or other lesson, as soon as they have read it, will be found highly useful. The children might also be exercised in spelling words selected from the lessons they have read.
When the School closes, let the girls be dismissed first, that they may go home quietly and without interruption: then, after a short interval, let the boys be dismissed, each class separately, beginning with the lowest, that good order and decorum inay be preserved, and noise and tumult prevented.
Rewards and Punishments.
Corporal punishment is so unsuited to the Lord's day, and to the institution itself, that it should be avoided as much as possible. Chastisement in a place of worship, and during the service, is absolutely intolerable, and ought never to be suffered. Moderate confinement and fear of shame are preferable modes of punishment; but the, with-holding of those rewards which are generally given to the deserving, will be found the best way of punishing the idle and refractory. At the same time it should be observed, that rewards, though they form a part of the system of many schools, are not indispensably requisite: on the contrary, in many of the larger schools they are not given. If, however, it be thought advisable on the opening of a new School, to make use of such a stimulus, it should be done sparingly and cautiously, that the loss may not be severely felt, should it afterwards be thought prudent to withhold them.
Perhaps the best criterion for the distribution of rewards, is the early and regular attendance of the scholars; taking into the account their general conduct and behaviour. This in some schools is done quarterly from an examination of the roll-books; the secretary making out a list of those scholars whose attendance has been agreeable to the rule, and the rewards being distributed publicly, when the scholars are assembled together. The rewards given are generally small religious tracts. Where there are inferior rewards for a second rate of attendance, in a School, in which the classes are accustomed to be assembled together at the opening and concluding of School, the inferior rewards are given in the several rooms, and the others publickly; by which means a greater distinction is made than could be by the difference of intrinsic value in the rewards themselves.
Another plan adopted in some Schools, is the distribution of tickets to the children, as tokens of approbation for their early and regular attendance, improvement in learning, or general good behaviour. A certain number of these tickets (generally twelve) entitles the bearer to one penny, or a tract of that value; but if the child wishes to save them till they are sufficient to procure some larger publications, he is allowed to exchange them for another ticket of superior nominal value, which an