« PreviousContinue »
NOTICES OF BOOKS.
Animal and Vegetable Substances. By T. E. Dexter. Groombridge and Sons. Mr. Dexter has rendered good survice to elementary education in compiling this very useful work. It is in the true sense a manual of “common things things which, more or less, fall in our way in daily life, and respecting the history and characteristics of which, on9 may continually hear persons reputed to be well-informed, making enquiries. It is not a book of lessons, but it is to our minds something better-a careful collection of facts sufficiently extensive for elementary purposes, and arranged with good method. It has, moreover, a further recommendation ; Mr, Dexter has prepared a Cabinet of Objects, su that the Cabinet and the Book may work together in securing efficient instruction. The Cabinet is already largely patronised by the British Government; the East India Company; and by many commerciai and elementary schools.
Minerals and Metals By J. E. Dexter. Groombridge and Sons. This is a companion volume to the one noticed above, and is characterized by the same excellencies.
Prayers for Young Persone. By Rev. B. Jenks. Routledge and Co. The prayers in this little book are for the mornings and evenings of one week, together with a few for occasional purposes. The introduction by the Bishop of Carlisle, and the concluding Hints and Helps for Prayer are very good.
STYLE AND LANGUAGE IN TEACHING. A complaint not unfrequently made against teachers is, that they lack variety and flexibility in their language. It is said that even when the subject of the instruction is understood, the phraseology in which it is conveyed is too often bookish and technical, and that in this way the teaching of elementary schools is not only less interesting, but far less effective than it should be. There is too much truth in these accusations. The most pains-taking and conscientious teachers of course get up the knowledge of their subjects from books; but they often aim only at conveying that knowledge in thě language of those books. The best lessons are marred by the too frequent use of technical terms. The master learns teaching as a profession, and therefore throws much of his instruction into a professional form. Hence there is a want of life, of rividness, of force, of adaptation to the real needs and comprehension of children, and therefore a want of interest and practical value in a large majority of school lessons,
It is not difficult to assign, at least in part, the causes for this state of things. One may be found in the character of the ordinary school-books; which are for the most part, as indeed they ought to be, filled with information put in a concise and condensed form. The language employed in them may possibly be the best language; but it is necessarily technical, often abstruse and unfamiliar. Such phraseology should undoubtedly be learnt by children, but they are too often confined to it. Teachers suppose that if the facts are learnt in book language their work is done, and nothing more is necessary; forgetting that the facts require io be set before a young mind in a great variety of forms, and that at is especially, necessary to translate the language of a school-book into that of ordinary lite, in order to make it interesting or even completely intelligible. Moreover, the desire for exactness and precision in statement, which is in itself a comniendable thing, often makes teachers afraid to deviate from the phrascohogy which is used in books, or which they themselves have been accustomed to
use when they studied the subject. The private reading, also, especially of the
The great cause, however, of the prevalence of this evil, is the tendency
selves and their own experience, we may remind them that one or iwo simple
Study the school-books thoroughly for yourselves. Make yourself completely
Never let the reading of the school be confined to books of information. Writers whose great aim is to give the largest number of facts in the smallest possible compass, frequently and almost necessarily write in a crabbed and repulsive style. Some portion of the reading lessons in every school ought to consist of passages, chosen for the beauty and purity of the language, rather than for ile subject itself. The learning of such passages, and the reproduction of them in an altered form, are exercices of quite as much importance as the acquisition of facts. Every effort should be made, even from the first, to familiarise children with the use of choice language. By occasionally causing passages from good authors to be learnt by heart; and by taking care that such passages furnish the basis of all grammatical exercists and logical analysis, something will be done in this direction.
Select a number of well told stories, striking dialogues, and attractive passages from good authors; and read them aloud to the upper classes occasionally. Perhaps once a week each class might be led to expect a treat of this kind, on condition that its ordinary work nad been well done. When the teacher is himself a fine reades, such an exercise will not only be very popular, but very efficacious in improving the taste and raising the tone of the school. But it is of course necessary that the teacher should be a good reader, and should be able to read with such fluency, intelligence, and accurate expression, that it shall be a pleasure to listen to him. The power to do this can only be acquired by much practice, and by a habit of entering thoroughly into the meaning of the words which are read. If a teacher will take pains to become a really effective and pleasing, as well as accurate reader, he may do very much to familiarise himself and his scholars with good models of expression, and therefore with improved habits of thought.
Never be satisfied with one way of presenting a lesson to a class, but endeavour to become master of a variety of methods. Cultivate the power of putting the same truth in many shapes, of looking at it from different points of view, and of varying your illustrations as much as possible. Notice the kind of explanation which, when you yourself are learning, seems best to lay hold of your attention; and then endeavour to imitate it. If you feel thai you lack the descriptive power which makes past and distant scenes seem as if they were real and present, do not be content urtil you have acquired the power, nor until yon can so tell a story, or describe a place you have seen, that children will listen not merely without weariness, but with positive pleasure.
Beware also of adhering too closely to a particular order in the development of your lessons. Many teachers, aiter hearing a good model lesson, think it necessary, especially in collective teaching, to fashion their own on ihe same type. Now methods are admirable servants, but they are bad masters; if a itacher knows how to select the best, and to adapt them to his own purposes, they are very valuable; but if he allows himself to be feitei ed by them, and to twist ell bis lessons into the same shape, they are positively mischievous. Almost every lesson requires a different mode of treatment; and a skilful teacher will endeavour to vary the arrangement of his matter, as well as the language in which it is expressed, in such a way as to give to each subject a freshness and new interest of its own. Our habit of “getting up” books, as students, and “going through” books, as teachers, will beguile us, unless we are very watchful, into formalism, and into a slavish adherence to a particular routine, and it is necessary therefore to watch ourselves in this respect.
Lastly, do not limit your own reading to school-books, or 10 books specially intended for teachers. Much of the poverty of expression complained of among teachers is attributable to the fact, that' their reading is not sufficiently wide and general. Every teacher, over and above the books needed in his proii ssion, of course reads come books for his own enjoyment and mental improvement.
These should always be the best of their kind. In history, for example, com. pendiums will not serve the purpose. The great historians should be read. The most accessible books, perhaps, in natural philosophy and history, are mere summaries of the works of great philosophers or naturalists; but a teacher should not be content with these, he should go to the great authors themselves. So, if his inquiries lead him to the study of mental or moral philosophy, or to poetry, he should beware of all compilations, extracts and magazine articles, and should read the works of the poet or philosopher for himself. Always, when studying any subject, study the works of the ablest men who have written on it. Never be content to know what has been written about English literature. Read for yourself the best works of those men who have made English literature famous, and who have secured a permanènt place in its annals. Do not com• plain that such books are not expressly written for your profession; the best books that are written are not expressly written for any profession. Nor is it wise to wait until some one selects and adapts from the works of a great poet or historian, so much as will suit your special needs. Obtain such works for your. self, and adapt them to your own needs. Make the style of such books an object of special study, and occasionally write brief themes on the same subjects, and compare your own style with your model. In this way you will acquire a wide range of new thoughts, and a dexterity and facility in the use of language, such as can never be obtained by merely reading school books and periodicals, and modern popular works on science and history. And do not suspect that in the study of Milton, Pope or Addison, or Bacon or Locke, or Grote or Mill, or Wordsworth or Southey, nothing will occur which will help you in your daily work. Every such author will help to make you think more clearly and see more deeply, will give you a command more copious illustra. tion, will add to the general culture and refinement of your mind, and therefore will certainly make you a beter teacher._" The Educational Record.”
FIRST YEAR. -MIDSUMMER, 1858.
We have received the answers, worked by a student, to an examination paper, which we present to our readers, with our crititisms.
SECTION I. 1. Distinguish between the sharp and flat mute consonants.
5. Correct any mis-spelling in the following words :—“agreable, benefiting, untill, seperable, bisextile, fulfill.” If in any case, there is a rule violated, etate is.
Section II, 1. What other languages have contributed to the formation of the English? Give specimens.
2. When did Spenser, Milton, Chaucer, and Wordsworth live? Name a principal work of each. 3. Sbow how participles help to form distinct variations of time in the verb.
SECTION III. 1. " The holy fathers, morks, and friars, had in their confessions, and especially in their extreme and deadly sickness, convinced the laity how dan. gerous a practice it was, for one Christian man to hold another in bondage ; 80 that temporal men, by little and little, by reason of that terror in their consciences, were glad to manumit their villeins. But the said holy fathers, with all the abbots and priors, did not in like sort by theirs; for they also had a scruple in conscience to imp sverish and despoil the church so much as to manu. mit such as were bond to their churches, or to the manors which the church had gotten ; and so kept the villeins still.”
Parse the words in italics, and derive the following-fathers, monks, friars, another, manumit, scruple, laity, clergy. What is the adjective form of last two, and what the difference between the two old words villein and knave ?
SECTION IV. Paraphrase the pass ige in Section III.
SECTION V. 1. In what order would you explain the parts of speech? Should Grammar or Geography be first taught ? State your reason.
2. Explain how you would teach Grammar to a young class.
3. Give instances of the nominative absolute, a noun in apposition, a nomi. native of address, and of a su'stantive clause. If the above passage contains examples, select them from it.
SECTION 1.-Question 2. 1. “Agreable,"— The rule violated in this word is that, that if a vowel shoull be pronounced long, the length is indicated generally by doubling the vowel, And the "e" in agree is long. Therefore in the spelling of it the vowel should be doubled. 2. “ Benefiting.”
.”—The rule violated in this word is that, that when a vowel wants to to be shortened, one method of doing it is by doubling the following consonant: and in the above word the “i” in fit is short "i,” which is shown in the word by following it with two “t's.”
3. “Untill." - Whenever fill, till, or similar words are combined with other words, the latter of the “ l's" is always dropped.
4. “Fulfill.”—This word is one of the best illustrations of this. The words full, and fill, end in two “l's”; when they are combined, however, a "]” is dropped from each, and the word becomes fulfil.
5. " Seperable” should be spelled separable, as the word from which it is formed by the change of termination is spelt separate.
6. “Bisextile” should be spelled bisectile, for the word from which it is derived by adding the prefix "bi” (turo), and the affix “ile” is seco, not sexo (to cut).
SECTION II.- Question 1. The English language is formed of several languages. The original language on which the whole superstructure is raised is the Anglo Saxon, although it was not the language of the natives of Britain. The language spoken by the Britons resembled that spoken by the Irish and Welsh. When the Anglo Suxon, invaders founded the kingdom of Kent, they introduced their language into Kent. Hordes of their fellows came over from that part of Germany between the Eyder and Ems, and introduced their languages into Sussex, Wessex, Essex East Anglia, Deira, Bernicia, and Mercia; and although their languages were not exactly alike, they were only dialects of the same for cach of the three tribes that came over, namely, Saxons, Angles, and Jutes. The remains of their language now exists in English. Most of our monosyllabic words, and simple ones, are of Anglo Saxon origin, as dig, ditch, &c.; also many names of villages, as Derby, Durham, York, Northampton, Avon, &c. Also their language is tound in some of our present forms of declining, -thus, children, and oxen, are remains of the Anglo Saxon method of forming the plural. Again, in “did,' we have