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not behaved well, the superintendent pronounces, as follows; "A. B. 26 tickets, is entitled to a reward for punctual attendance; but has forfeited that reward, by misbehaviour at meeting, disobedience, profaneness," &c. as the case may be. We have never shrunk from these censures; but the efficacy of the system is established by the striking fact that, during the last year, only three such censures have been necessary among one hundred and eighty-five children. One was given for playing at meeting, one for idleness and insubordination at school, and one for repeated carelessness in losing books.
These little rewards are made up into small bundles for each class, and directed to the several teachers; and after the reading of the list, as above mentioned, the superintendents deliver them to the several teachers, and the teachers distribute them among the children. It is a day of great excitement to them all. After the delivery of these rewards, Mr. P makes an affectionate and familiar address to the children, in which he dwells upon such particulars as his previous attendance at the teachers' meeting has made him acquainted with. After praying with them, he dismisses them with his good wishes and blessing. This is the only occasion on which his attendance at the school is required.
At the expiration of the year, the superintendents make a full report of the general state and condition of the school (without mentioning names) to the society which supports the school; and on the next Sunday, this report is read to the congregation, after sermon, with such remarks in addi
tion as Mr. P thinks most expedient. This contributes to keep up a sense of the importance of the school, both in the teachers and in the parents of the children, as well as in the children themselves.
With regard to our mode of instruction, the grand principle is, that religious instruction, to be effectual, must be adapted to the actual state of the child's mind; it must, therefore, necessarily, be by familiar conversation. The getting of lessons is of very little consequence, except as it affords an opportunity for asking and answering familiar questions. The course of instruction, therefore, and the books used, are very different in different classes, and are constantly varying in the same class. This whole business is left to the teachers, who best know the wants and capacities of those under their care, with this only restriction, that no new book shall be introduced without the knowledge and approbation of the superintendents.
As the general rule, however, for new scholars and new classes (till circumstances require a change) we recommend the following course; 1. Short prayers to be committed to memory. 2. Watts's short Catechism and the Commandments. 3. Watts's Historical Catechism. 4. Cummings's "Questions." 5. Lessons from Scripture at the discretion of the teacher. We discourage lessons memoriter, except among the smaller classes. These are allowed to commit to memory "Hymns for Infant Minds" and select hymns from Belknap.
The class which I have at present, I took somewhat more than a year ago. It consists of boys from eleven to
thirteen years old, and is one of the oldest and most advanced in school. They had learned about half of Cummings's "Questions," when they passed under my care. I carried them through that book twice; then through Porteus's "Evidences"; then Paley's "Natural Theology"; and they are now beginning Watts's "Improvement of the Mind." They have, at the same time, passed through "The Acts" in course, in the following manner: I gave every Sunday a lesson of about twenty verses; from these they were required to frame as many questions as they could imagine, and bring them to me, in writing, on the next Sunday. We then compared their several questions together, and talked about them, and answered them. This has brought into use all the knowledge I possess, and required a great deal more. One of my boys brought to me one hundred and fifty questions, and another ninety-six from the first chapter of "The Acts." Read it, and you may judge of their industry, as well as their ingenuity. I am now, at their repeated request, to begin an examination of the doctrines of christianity. I have not yet settled my plan; but I foresee it will cause me some labor. Porteus's "Evidences" I found was
not an interesting book to them. It became necessary to prepare a sort of commentary of historical facts, to fix their attention upon it, and on the whole it did not succeed well. But Paley's "Theology" was a delightful book; it arrested and fixed their attention beyond hope.
You will perceive from this account, that almost every thing depends upon the teachers; and I take pleasure in telling you, that from our experience the teachers can be
depended upon, for almost every thing. Some of those connected with our school have the children at their houses to explain and illustrate more at large than they can do at school. And the children are not only willing to attend at such times, but are pleased with it. Instruction has been made interesting, and they are willing to go out of the way to get it. We have at present, among our teachers, three who have received the greater part of their religious instruction at the school; and they conduct themselves admirably well in their new capacity. They were first employed as assistant teachers, and then a small class was committed to them severally. We hold out a similar promotion to the expectation of the older children; and occasionally try them with the younger classes, and with a very good effect. After this history of our experience, you will be prepared to hear my objections to your plan.
I. The children should not be collected by the clergymen; they will not have half the success of laymen. It is their profession to talk of the importance of religious instruction, and in their visits to irreligious families, such conversation passes as words of course. But send a lawyer or a merchant, and the very novelty of the thing excites attention. Besides, the influence of the minister should be reserved for greater occasions.
II. A division of classes, according to age, is impossible. We have sometimes put together children of five years and of eleven years; and that because they required precisely the same kind and degree of instruction. An intelligent child of a religious family will know as much of religious
truth and will be capable of understanding religious truths, at six years old, as the unsettled children about the streets know or can understand at thirteen years. I had a boy at school two years ago and a very smart boy too-who, at ten years old, was with difficulty made to comprehend what was meant by God. You might as well arrange them according to the color of their hair, as according to [their ages.
III. Ten children are too many for a class. We tried it, and found it would not do. Six is the highest number advisable, and a smaller number if you could get teachers. In a class of six, for an hour, you have but ten minutes each; and how small a time that is, to overcome a child's diffidence, and to get him sufficiently engaged in his lessons to ask questions freely.
IV. Your schools will be good for nothing, if you discontinue them at the end of eight months, or at any time. this point, I speak earnestly and decisively. You will lose more in the habits of your children, in the four months your school is discontinued, than you will gain in the succeeding eight. There is no one thing I would press upon you so strongly. If your schools are discontinued in the winter, I should regard that one circumstance as decisive of their fate. Your object is to form religious habits; and just as your children have become accustomed to the restraints of the school; just as you have taught them to begin to think and feel for themselves; just as you have become, in some measure, acquainted with their characters, and know how to talk to them; just as you have persuaded