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“DON'T SPELL IT, BUT WRITE IT.” THERE is far more sense than most persons would at first suppose, in the remark of an Irish servant to her young mistress, whom she had employed to write a letter to her aunt Judy in Ireland. Matters went on very well in the preparation of the letter, until the superscription was to be put on it, when some doubts arose in the mind of the amanuensis as to the spelling of the name of the town to which it was to be sent. “Don't spell it at all, but write it, just,” exclaimed Bridget.
It would be well if teachers would more frequently say to their pupils, “ Don't spell it, but write it.” As spelling is usually taught in schools where the oral method alone is practiced, "learning to spell" is vastly different from learning to write the words; hence it occurs that a pupil may be able to spell orally nine-tenths of the words that are pronounced to him from the ordinary lessons, yet when called upon to write those words in sentences, he will mis-spell one-half of them. If you are a teacher, and have doubts on this subject, try the experiment with your own pupils, and you may soon satisfy yourself that spelling by sound does not make good practical spellers.
We learn to spell that we may write words correctly, not to utter the letters and syllables orally; and to do this we need to train the eye more than the ear. How, then, should spellirg be taught? In various ways; but chiefly by writing, as that is the manner in which spelling is used in the business of life; and thus may the eye be trained to guide the hand in the formation of words.
SOMETIMES we are asked (and the inquiry is an interesting one) at what age children may be taught grammar. All such inquiries depend upon two other questions. First-What particular faculties of the mind does the subject appeal to? Secondly-At what age of the child do those faculties begin to develope themselves. The faculty of observation is the earliest in the order of development, and such subjects of instruction as excite and direct the power of observation, should be the first to which the attention of children should be introduced. On this account, object lessons on natural history may be given to infants even before the power of reading is attained. On this account also geography should be taught before arithmetic and grammar. To limit our observations to grammar
it should be borne in mind that it has not to do with the perceptive or observing powers so much as with the faculties of abstraction, classification and induction. It is important, therefore, to ascertain at what periods of child-life these faculties are beginning to be developed. Of course it is possible to override the question of mental science altogether, and to make lessons of grammar-what they too often are-lessons of mere memory, the understanding being left uncultivated and unfruitful. And, again, although grammar, for the right comprehension of its principles, requires the exercise of faculties higher in the order of development than perception, and so should be taught later than geography or natural history; yet there are portions of it that do not require these faculties, or at least may be simplified by a skillful use of the power of observation, and so be brought down to the level of younger children: To make our meaning clear, we may give very young children a clear notion of a noun by bidding them look about them for objects which they can see around them; and, as a reverse, a clear notion of an adjective may be mastered by pointing out the properties of that object. For example, the teacher takes a flower, which the child has named as an object he can see. The word flower is a noun. It is white, beautiful, fair, or whatever other properties the class may observe; for the co-operation of the whole class should be expected, and their attention by this means secured. White, beautiful, fair, are adjectives.
There are other particulars which the teacher should observe if he would make the subject of grammar intelligible to young children:
1. He should employ oral teaching before employing text-books. By this means he can not only dispose of difficnlties which are foreseen, by simple and familiar illustrations, but also deal with others as they arise, and which books can not anticipate.
2. He should keep back every rule until its necessity has first been felt.
3. He should allow no rule to be committed to memory until it has first passed through the understanding.
4. He should use familiar metaphors where there is a difficulty in comprehending the definition of the harder parts of speech. Conjunctions may be called hooks : prepositions are pointers or finger posts.
5. Rules and definitions should be first given which are general; the rules without the exceptions, and the definitions without the inflexions. The great, broad roads of the district are to be traversed, and the by-paths left at present for after and closer investigation. The larger and more prominent features of the edifice are to be made familiar to the mind rather than each individual stone of which the edifice is composed.
Questions to which the above remarks supply material for answers : What particular faculties of the could does the subject of grammar appeal to? Upon what previous question depends the question as to the order in which school subjects should be taken? By what method may grammar be brought down to the level of younger children? Give examples of their method. What advantage does oral teaching possess over teaching by books ? Enumerate some general rule which should be observed in early lessons on grammar.—Papers for the School master.
REMEDIES FOR IRREGULARITY OF ATTENDANCE AT
BY A. H. FITOH.
The Evils of irregnlar attendance at school are sufficiently manifest ; the REMEDIES are not so evident. We will present what we regard as some of these remedies.
It is a fact that four.fifths of all the “tardy” and “absent” marks, in most of our schools, are confined to one-fourth of the scholars; and thus we prove the habit is of the few, and not of the many, and that, on that account, the reformatory means employed can not be the same as if all were alike in the matter.
The first remedy I would propose is, that the teacher should so instruct, that no object touched upon should be left until it is a perfect whole in the pupil's mind, so that he may go on and give the subject, define it, give examples, etc.; then divide and subdivide it, giving definitions and exam. ples as he proceeds, till all the minutiæ of it are fully brought out-and this entirely without the aid of books or questions, and in his own language rather than that of the text. But this can not be done with irregular scholars, for they will lose a link in the argument which time and care can alone supply.
If scholars love study at all, they will be induced to be regular; but if not- -this brings me to my second remedy, viz.: Do not allow a scholar habitually irregular to remain in a class where he always stands at the foot; put him in a lower class, no matter how low, until his lesson is so easy that he can keep up with his class if he is sometimes absent. You thus rid yourself of the disadvantages to the school. But if the scholar is still idle, and prefers remaining in a lower class, force him to study with diligence in some other way than by taking him into a class where he can not do as well as the others, for it is vastly easier to compel one scholar to study than to bear the loss of time he will cause to a whole class if allowed to be with them.
Again: A scholar who is very often absent should be sent away from the school to some one where he will be obliged to be regular, for his presence is only an injury where he is, and of no benefit to himself.
The old regulation, requiring a note from some responsible person excusing each tardiness and absence, is a good one, and the better as it weighs down upon them. The remark, “Father can't stop to write me an excuse every time I'm tardy," shows, not the necessity of the absence, nor the need of setting aside the regulation, but that it is in some measure doing its appropriate work. This course also controls all those who stay away of their owu accord without consent of their parents, and insures, in their case at least, a co-operation between teacher and parent, which is every way desirable. A carefully-kept register of absence and tardiness is a great corrective of the abuse, especially if a system of merits and demerits is made to depend in part on this record, and be open to the public.
Again: The school committee might make laws which would materially change the face of affairs, since it is easier to enforce the law supported by a higher power than one of the teacher's own making, for he is expected to use discretionary power and soften the penalty of his own enactments, while he has none in case of an enactment by a higher power.
The following plan is very effective: Let the scholars present in the morning take the back seats, leaving those in front for tardy ones. It has been tried in some of our Eastern schools, and with marked success. The result in one school, of about 140 scholars, was to reduce the cases of absence and tardiness from 40 per cent. to 12 or 15 per cent. This certainly shows some value.
Again: An amusing story told at the opening of school, which need not occupy five minutes, is an incentive to the tardy ones to try to come in a little sooner-especially if the door is closed at nine o'clock and not opened until after the exercise is over.
Again: Scholars should not be allowed to be upon the school premises long bef-re the hour for commencing school, for if so, we find two results, viz.: 1. The scholars, being uncertain at wbat hour they must start in order to reach the school-room at nine o'clock, get into the habit of being too early or too late every day. 2. Because, when a company of scholars come together to play, those who are easily led astray have great temptations, and for a longer time, placed before them, to induce them to play truant, or do some other wrong thing, than if each took his seat as soon as he arrived at the school-room.
A plan has been tried of subjecting parents to a fine for permitting their children to remain away from school; but this wants the sanction of law at present.
The great number of scholars who are almost wholly absent from our schools calls loudly for some legislative action on the subject; and it is to be hoped that the example of Rhode Island in this matter will be followed by the other States. Commissioners (or officers of some name) were appointed, whose daty it was to collect absentees and send them to their proper schools; and more was saved in one year, and in one city, by this arrangement than twice the salaries of the officers, if we take Massachusetts statistics, as they are given in the Report of the State Reform School, as the basis of the calculation.
But whatever methods we may adopt, we must, as teachers, become in some way acquainted with the parents of our pupils, and then, remembering that on the State and the teacher will rest the heaviest part of the burden, strive by every means in our power to interest them in the school and its welfare; so that when they have made the laws, the effect of those laws shall be seen, not only in the work-shop and the counting-room, the court-room and the prison, but also in the household, the street, and the school.room.
VALUE OF A GOOD SCHOOL-HOUSE.—No. 4. VICE exists every where, but it loves most to visit and dwell with the ignorant. It can not bear the light shed from the Church and SchoolHouse. Nothing begets vice in the young more than truancy. I hazard nothing in saying that our jails and our prisons are tenanted by those who have to a greater or less extent played truant. What is better calculated to lead to truancy than an old, rickety school-house, with its broken doors, its unglazed windows, its smoky ceiling, its dirty floors, its whittled desks, and its loathsome atinosphere. On the other hand, what will serve to counteract such a disposition better than a neat schoolroom, well ventilated, with a pleasant and wellshaded play-ground? Such a house would lure to its walls those who otherwise would be forming habits of indolence, deception, and crime.
There is an immense moral power in the School-House alone. Superstition and bigotry show it. Error dreads its light. Vice receeds from it. Delusion finds her surest victims out of its reach. A good School-House serves as a beacon light, guiding to port the well-laden merchant ship, but warraning away the privateer. Much more might be said on this point, but it would be but repeating what has been included in other divisions of the subject. Its political and social values were predicated upon its healthful moral influence to a great extent.
The good School-House has a value pecuniary, political, social and moral. Its value is, however, much enhanced, or very materially diminished, by the nature of its furnishings. This may serve as a subject hereafter. PLATTEVILLE, Jan., 1858.