Page images
PDF
EPUB

education, and, therefore, require attention, and not punishment, from the teacher ; and, if properly dealt with, their anxiety to learn will fully show that their sole object in attending school is to improve themselves. No teacher but one ignorant of the human character will attempt to exact obedience from adults by force. With the adult the teacher's command should assume the nature of a request, and made with calmness and gentleness, yet in a tone expressing a wish to be obeyed. Suaviter in modo, fortiter in re, should be the maxim of every teacher. This will not compromise or lessen his dignity, but, on the contrary, gain for him the affection of his pupils, and this once secured, obedience soon follows, and that respect is paid him which neither punishment nor threats could ever enforce. Every teacher should evince solicitude for the improvement of his pupils, but particularly for those whose education has been neglected in early youth. It is surpris. ing, and argues well for the character of the Irish, when we observe the gratitude and respect with which a pupil in after

life speaks of a teacher who has shown himself really interested in his education. We could here record, did time or space permit, numerous instances that have occurred indicating the gratitude of the Irish to their teachers, which, if equalled, have never been surpassed in any other country. We would have teachers to remember that pupils have their “ Public Opinions," and not only among themselves is this opinion maintained, but we regret that it too often happens that parents and guardians are intluenced by it, for we frequently see them remove the child from school because the teacher has incurred the displeasure of the latter. With adult pupils this “Public Opinion” is calculated to serve or injure the character of a school most considerably. The questions generally put by an adult about to attend an Evening School, to another who has already attended the same school, or who may know others that have, areIs it any good ? what sort of a man is the teacher ? Is he a good teacher ? &c. &c. Now

upon the answers given to these questions depends the attendance or non-attendance of the interrogating adult, or, in other words, on the Public Opinion held relative to the school by those adults, who either have attended themselves, or have heard the opinions of those who were pupils.

Every teacher who has had experience in adult education must be aware of what is here stated; and as the “ Public Opinions” of pupils effect the interest of the school, we would recommend not only teachers of Evening Schools, but teachers of all schools to enlist the “Public Opinions” of their pupils in their favor, for by doing so they are establishing their own popularity and attaining a character for themselves and their schools. - The best plan that can be adopted to effect this is to treat the pupils more as a parent would his children, than as such men generally treat those placed under them.

Having premised so far what we consider important qualifications for those allowed to exercise the duties of a teacher in an Evening School, we shall now proceed to mention the subjects which they should not only be thoroughly acquainted with, but possess a method of imparting to the adult that they may be rendered lucid and interesting. The subjects belonging to an elementary education are those required inost by pupils attending an Evening School, therefore to the teaching of these subjects should the teacher pay particular attention. If we can give the adult a sufficient knowledge of the elementary branches, that will place the power in his own hands should he feel inclined to prosecute the study of those of a more advanced nature, we do as much as can resonably be expected from us. Every adult should be taught Spelling, Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, the outlines of Grammar, and the Geography of his own country at least. This is a very simple but a very useful course, if effectually taught, the teacher has done his duty with justice to the pupil and credit to himself. There are other subjects to be mentioned hereafter, which if time and circumstances permitted, their introduction would add materially to the character of the school. But having stated what appear to us the essential subjects that should engage the attention of the teacher, we beg to offer a few suggestions on the methods of teaching them. Of course we do not here pretend to offer more than a suggestion, knowing the many admirable plans at present adopted by competent and experienced masters to whom the subject of teaching is more familiar: however, having seen the systems we are about to describe carried into practice effectually, and believing them superior to any others at present in use, we should consider it a neglect of duty on our part were we to omit mentioning them here.

In teaching Orthography, the method we propose to be adopted is, to have the adult to write on some subject, and the

and

more familiar the subject is to him the better; or to desire him write down some of the principal events he remembers to have taken place in the country within the last month, year, or any period of time the teacher may wish to mention. Now adults lake the greatest interest in such exercises, and do all in their power to vie with each other in expressing their ideas in the best manner they can. There is scarcely any lesson at which the spirit of emulation is carried to such a pitch, or which receives more of their attention.

Objections to this system may be urged on the grounds that it does not effect enough ; we admit this, but if it effects something it answers our purpose.

We are aware that we do not add to their stock of words, but if we are not doing that we are teaching them how to spell those words with the meaning of which they are already acquainted, and how to arrange them in proper order. The teacher may, at the same time, introduce words better adapted to express the same ideas where he sees it necessary. By this systein it is clear that the pupil is being taught easy lessons on composition or indeed we night term it, natural composition, for we suppose him ignorant of the rules and principles of grammar. It does not occur to us that there is any other disadvantage attending the system stated here, but that to which we have just referred, and to remedy this the master has only to teach Orthography by Dictation. “It is simply tbis," writes Dr. Sullivan ; "the teacher reads a sentence from a book or dictates one composed by himself, to the pupils, who either write it down verbatim, or merely spell the words as they occur as if they were writing them down." By these means the pupils may write down words whose meaning they do not understand, and perhaps words they never heard before ; it remains then for the teacher to explain to them the meaning of such words and correct any mistakes that he may find in the Orthography. We hope that our suggestions in teaching this subject may meet the approbation of and be adopted by those teachers who are, sending from their schools day after day to fill respectable situations in society, pupils sadly deficient in this most essential branch of education. It is to be regretted that even in what are termed respectable academies the old system of making a pupil get by heart a column of words and repeat them Parrotlike to the master, is still continued, a practice that should be discountenanced by every intellectual teacher.

We are happy to state that in the National Schools of Ireland, this ridiculous and stupid system is not permitted, but by means of that valuable little work, The Spelling Book Superseded, by Dr. Sullivan, a system of Orthography is taught that bids fair to render the pupils of these Schools superior to most others in this most useful branch of learning

We strongly recommend this book to the parents and guardians interested in the education of children, and we certainly feel no hesitation in asserting, that the system for teaching Orthography laid down by the author is one that every teacher should adopt.

Teaching reading to the adult pupil is a tedious and difficult task, perhaps there is no instance where the teacher's patience is so strongly tested, and he must be a teacher and not a mere scholar who will accomplish it. The plan we should suggest to be adopted in teaching this branch is, to make the pupil put together every little group of words that makes sense, and when he has spelled them some few times over, to ask him when he has gone through a sentence in this way, what he understands from it. This is an arduous and monotonous task no doubt, and one that can only be effected little by little, and by proceeding steadily and slowly along. To an intellectual teacher, various plans will suggest themselves, we will therefore leave him to adopt any one that he thinks best calculated to suit the faculty of the pupil, submitting our own merely for his consideration. Adults having but little time to devote to literary acquirements, it should be the business of every master to teach them what is really practi. cal and of the most service to them in their various stations of life. Now when teaching them to write, after teaching them to form the letters of the alphabet, we would suggest that they should be then taught to write their names. This will be doing more for them than could be accomplised by many lectures from the writing-master. When able to write small-hand in a legible style they should be taught to draw out an account in a proper and business-like manner. This is sure to receive their greatest attention, for they have already learned its utility, and felt the great disadvantage of not being able “to make out a bill,” as they say themselves. We now suppose the adult competent to write from dictation, in which he should he exercised at least twice a-week. On the remaining evenings we would strongly recomend letter writing ; it will be found to atford an instructive and most useful exercise. By adopting this plan the master will give the adult practical and really useful knowledge, which should be the object of every teacher anxious to raise the character of the operative poor. In Arithmetic let the pupil be first taught those rules that are indispensable to his business in life, and let him be taught them well. Let him be given none but practical questions of which others of a similar nature are likely to occur in the business of every day life, and not such as he may never again hear repeated except by the teacher himself. Notation and Numeration should be well understood by the pupils before other rules are introduced, or his knowledge of Arithmetic must necessarily be defective, and the farther he advances in this science the more unwilling will he be to return to these rules, for he looks upon learning them then as commencing the elementary branches again. In many schools we find these rules sadly neglected.

English Grammar is a subject in which we cannot expect an adult to make great progress, as he considers other matters of more importance to him. His opinion on this point is indeed very correct, and we would therefore recommend teachers of Evening Schools not to devote too much time to this branch if they find their pupils deficient in others more essential. However, we hold that every pupil who can read tolerably well should be acquainted with the parts of speech, and know how to connect subjects—Verb and Object, and Preposition and Object together, in order to understand properly what he reads.

Geography affords, and particularly that of their own country, a most interesting lesson to adults. We know of no plan so effective as that of teaching by means of outline or sketch-maps. The natural features of a country are so engrafted on the mind by these maps that they are never forgotten, and the pupil is ever afterwards familiar with the position of every principal town, mountain, river, and lake, of the land that gave him birth. In Prussia, and many other States on the Continent, every pupil is obliged to know the Geography of his own country, and indeed were that plan adopted in these kingdoms we should not have so many pupils unable to tell the source of the Shannon, though at the same time conversant with all the particulars of the Ganges.

« PreviousContinue »