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DISTRICT SCHOOL JOURNAL,
OF THE STATE OF NEW-YORK.
ALBANY, JULY, 1844.
ever, are not yet convinced that health is con. Albany, June 20, 1844. nected with abstinence ; and as I was many DEAR SIR-I have received yours of the 14th years an unbeliever, I dare not censure their in. inst., in which you state, that " a few teachers credulity in this county are in the practice of attending! I wish innocent amusements for the young balls. playing at cards and checkers and using could be multiplied, varied, and made so attracalcoholic drinks as a beverage :” that you have tive as wholly to exclude games of chance or 'invariably condemned such practices, and as a skill, because I think that such games frequently consequence are at issue with those teachers. / lead to gambling. Youth must and will have And you ask my opinion on this subject.
amusements and hours of relaxation ; and the If, instead of playing at cards and checkers," character of these amusements often leaves a du. you had said they were in the practice of gam. (rable impression. bling; and in lieu of using alcoholic drinks as ! The French peasantry frequently congregate, a beverage,” were in the practice of becoming and dance, and sing, and compliment each other, inebriated or disguised with liquor, I should and make themselves happy. The peasantry of have had no hesitation in advising you, that such some other nations meet to bait bulls, fight cocks individuals could not be regarded as possessing and dogs, run horses, drink gin and beer, indulge “a good moral character," and that it would be in gambling, drunkenness, wrestling, pugilism, your duty to admonish them, and if they did not &c. Who, in a foreign country and strange land, reform, to annul their licences. But, in the esti. would not much rather find himself in company mation of a great majority of the community, with a social Frenchman, than a surly English. dancing is not condemned ; and the playing of man or morose Spaniard? I wish there were cards or checkers merely for amusement, and twenty sports for the young as innocent, as so. without being connected with money or mingled cial, as healthful and exhilarating as dancing. with the black passion of avarice, is regarded It appears to me that when dancing is properly as harmless ; and if we attempt to enforce a conducted, (and any thing may be perverted and higher grade of morality than is entertained by abused,) it is not only harmless, but healthful, the community in which we live, that communi. social and beneficial. It has been practiced in ty will always be too strong for us. The moral all ages, among all nations, savage and civilized, standard can be elevated only by reasoning and and has been tolerated if not encouraged by the persuasion, and is never benefited by the man- / great majority of sects, denominations and creeds dates of law or the dogmas of authority
of Jews, Christians and Pagans, from the he. If the individuals to whom you allude are in ginning of the world to the present day. Sing. danger of contracting habits of dissipation, or if ing is equally universal. It is applied to devoyou apprehend that their example will do injury, tional as well as to secular exercises ; and if our I should conceive it to be your duty to call upon minds were disencumbered of all the preposses. them in a private and friendly manner, and in sions of youth, and the prejudices of education,
delicate and least offensive way. ex. it would perhaps be difficult for us to prove that *plain to them your apprehensions, point out the dancing might not with equal propriety be ap. dangers they incur, and appeal to their under. plied to both purposes. I am aware that my standings for the remedy. By treating each of opinion in respect to dancing, will not be deemed them as a brother and a friend, instead of in-orthodox by all. Should it not meet with your dulging in public rebuke, your chances of suco approbation you will please to reject it. cess will be a thousand fold multiplied.
Very respectfully, yours, &c. Having myself, when young, indulged in all the
S. YOUNG. practices which you have enumerated, I cannot
F. B. SPRAGUE, Esq. find it in my heart to issue an official reprimand against these teachers. I should be met by that MINISTERS OF THE GOSPEL. troublesome text "let him who is without sin" INDIVIDUALS licensed to preach according to &c. In my youth I attended balls and danced, the rules and discipline of the Methodist Church, which I confess I have never seen cause to re-are, during the continuance of such license, to gret. I indulged also in using alcohol as a bev. be regarded for all taxable purposes as Ministers erage, and escaped intemperance, whilst thou of the Gospel or Priests of the denomination to sands of others fell victims. I look back with which they belong. terror at my narrow escape ; and am also con. Such individuals are ineligible to any school scious that my health would now be better and district or other civil office, under the clause of my constitution more vigorous, had I totally ab- the Constitution prohibiting ministers of the gos. stained from my earliest years. Others, how. 'pel from holding such office.
APPRAISAL AND APPORTIOXMENT OF A fourth tells us that it is a sort of sensibility DISTRICT PROPERTY.
so delicate that it can be effected by a past sensa. On the formation of a new district from one!
lion, (as a place once struck is susceptible to a or more existing districts, the library of the lat.
slighter blow afterwards, but we are not told ter is to be appraised and apportioned in the
how or by what the repeated blow is given.) same manner as other property of the district.
A fifth has called memory that faculty which
A has The avails, however, instead of being applied in
experiences anew what has been already per. reduction of any tax thereafter to be imposed for
ceived, with the consciousness that it has been building a school-house in the new district, are pre
previously perceived, (but this is a statement of to be applied by the trustees to the purchase of
facts and no explanation of them.) books for a district library.
A sixth describes memory to be a power of The unexpended and unappropriated public
blir the mind to revive or recall former impressions, money belonging to the districts from parts ofl.
A seventh insists that memory is not a faculty which such new district is formed, is to be equi.
itself, but an attribute of every other faculty, &c. tably apportioned by the Town Superintendent.
But although the descriptions of this mysteamong the several districts interested, in propor.
rious faculty have been so various, not so have tion to the number of children between the ages
been the systems of instruction based upon them, of five and sixteen in each.
for these have been very uniform, and, I fear, uniformly erroneous. All the theories of me
mory but the last I mentioned, agree that it is a A LECTURE
single power of the entire mind, and that it only Delivered at Rochester, before the Convention of requires an act of the will for the mind to per
form one act of memory as well as another. In County Superinlendents of Common Schools: 1 other words, the common notion seems to be that
every mental storehouse is fitted up for the same By William B. Fowle, of Boston, Mass.
1 kind of goods, and it is the duty of the teacher Pablished in accordance with a vote of the Convention.
to fill all alike; and this attenipt at filling is
often carried on until school days are over, when
| the mind, no longer controlled, for the first time GENTLEMEN-The subject on which I propose discovers its own fitness and capacity, and begins to offer a few plain remarks for your considera. to accumulate treasures entirely different from tion, is Memory-Memory, that wonderful fa. those which had been forced down, notwithculty of the mind which alone perpetuates the standing the disgust and nausea that always acproduct of all the others, which resuscitates thc companied the operation. past, and enables us to lay up for future use the We do not know what the mind is, and we knowledge we may acquire by study or experi. can hardly expect to understand all its faculties. ence.
But, as in the case of electricity and the subtler What, then, is Memory? The aged will per- fluids, if we cannot ascertain the nature of mehaps tell us that it is a gloomy treasure house of mory, we may ascertain some of its laws; and regrets; the young. that it has no existence ; by this nietholl we may approach nearer and the fortunate, that it is a paradise to which his nearer to that seat of the mind, which is surconstantly recedint footsteps would fain return, rounded with clouds almost as impenetrable as but from which he is constantly driven by the those tremendous shades which involve the eterflaming sword of his onward destiny,--while, to nal throne; and though mortals may not hope to the disappointed, meinory is a barren waste, be admitted to the secret place where light acwithout one verdant spot, a cheerless desert, tually dwelleth, we may, we must ascertain where the monujaents that rise over buried something more of its nature and of its laws, or hopes, never cease to cast their deep shadows the very light that is in us will continue to be upon the present scene. In this sense, memory darkness. is very much what our propensities and habits, I have said, that various as are the theories our virtues and vices, may make it; but the of memory, the use that is made of it in educa. memory with which teachers have to do is less tion is altogether too uniforin. So prevalent is poetical, a matter of fact afiair, and as such only the error on this subject, that when men speak would it become me to speak of it,
of memory, it rarely happens that any other ope. As all discipline of the mind depends upon a ration or the mind is meant than that which we proper education of this wonderful faculty, it is exercise in common with parrots, I mean the Teimportant surcly that we should cndeavor to as. colleclion of words. You who have been teach. certain what it is, and we naturally go to the crs know, ihat when parents brought their little metaphysicians and put the question to them ; untledged angels to you, and wished to make you but the definitions of these philosophers are as sensible of their prodigious talents, the burdes various as they are unsatisfactory. Whilst all of praise almost uniformly was that they could acknowledge that memory is a tacuity of the commit ever so many pages at a lesson. Commind, all have been puzzled to tell how it is cou. mill-yes, and commit suicide at the same time. nected with the mind, and how it operates. It is this notion, this mistaking of the mere
One maintains that it is only a continued but memory of words tor the whole of memory, that weakened perception, (that is, a feeling not re. I consider the unpardonable sin of teachers and peated, but forever felt.)
i bookmakers at the present day. I hope my reAnother says it is only what remains aster a marks will not be considered as those of one who, scosation, (like the vibration of a string that is having laid aside the harness, has no better use never to be struck again.)
for his leisure than to make observations upon A third declares it to be a sensation or an idea those whoin he has left in the traces, but rather renewed, (but he could not tell us what renews as the remarks of one who, for twenty years at it.)
least, bas practised what he now preaches, and
who has reason to believe that thousands of his guages, and all the branches usually tormented late fellow-laborers would be glad to adopt the in our higher schools ; but I have said enough to system he recommends, if those who superintend illustrate my remark that common school educatheir schools would second their endeavors, and tion is generally conducted as if there were no mesupply the means of communicating ideas in. mory but that of words, and as if this were all stead of words.
that is essential to the proper development of Let us consider for a moment the position I ideas, and the full exercise of every intellectual have assumed, that the memory of words is gene. faculty. rally considered the whole of memory. What Leaving the school for a moment, let us look is the first employment of the mind in the nurse. abroad into the world, and see how facts corrobory? Learning to say things by heart, that is to rate this opinion. If you select half a dozen say them heartlessly. When I was at a Jame's persons of good intelligence, it is probable that school, I learned the Assembly's Catechism, the ihe memory of each will be different from the compend of it that was then printed in the N. E. I others. You will, perhaps, hear the first deplorPrimer, so thoroughly that I could repeat it back. ing his wretched memory, which cannot recol. wards as well as forwards, and understood it lect his children's names, and in the next breath one way just as well as the other. When the he will hum n tune that he heard but once half dame had visitors, I was oficn brought forward a century before. Another says he cannot reto perform this feat, crab-fashion, to the great member the name of a person, but if he has amazement of the visitors, the glorification of seen a man once, he never forgets him, and yet the venerable dame, and to my own great edifiche complains of a treacherous memory! A third cation in Christian knowledge and humility! had no memory at school, and could never learn God forgive her, if she erred in teaching me the his lessons; but he can never forget the brutality first step in that narrow way, whose gate she' of the master who regularly flogged him for not opened with love if not with judgment!
doing what he would gladly have done if he Then the child reads books without having could. Uc “never can forget,'' and yet he has them explained, and generally without any exa- no memory. A fourth, perhaps, has travelled mination by the teacher, for who, until perhaps much, and enn describe most particularly every very lately, ever heard of examining a child in route or every object he has seen, butas he somehis reading lesson, except perhaps to correct the times forgets an appointment or a message, he pronunciation of a word, or to settle the power laments that he has no menory. A fifth can of a dash or comma, although the reading lesson never quote a line of poetry, and concludes she may be the best medium for conveying useful has no memory, although the chronicles of scanknowledge to the mind, the best opportunity for dal are engraved on her inemory of adamant, teaching the definition of words, the precious oc- and she is not unlike one of our western mounds: casion for inculcating a healthful taste for sub. the rapacious receptacle of worthy characters stantial food!
that have been slain, and from which the curious Then, at an early age, English Grammarmust marat any time extract the sad memorials of be studied, committed, I mean, for the words are human trailty. A sixth, in fine, who cannot reby no means synonymous. The words of some coliect the text at church, or a single sentiment manual must be said or sung for a given number of the discourse, will tell you how long her of years, until the child arrives at that ne plus poorer neighbor has worn the samne bonnet, and altra of philology, "a substantive or noun is how every person in church was dressed ; or, the name of any thing that exists or of which perhaps she recollects every christening for more we have any notion, as man, virtue, London :" than half a century, to the great annoyance of and then, if the child is at a loss to know exactly juvenile advanced-spinsters, and young old-bachwhat sort of notion" man, rirtue, London" is, he elors. will not fail to learn what it is to be, to do and If this be a true picture of life, it follows that to suffer."
every person has a memory for something, and Geography, of course, cannot long stay un that something is usually what occupies the committed. A book is placed in the child's strongest faculty of the mind, and, of course, hands, containing on an average, about 350 pa. I affords the greatest pleasure. A musician will ges. The committing of this to memory is gene. be more likely to remember tunes than sermons, rally the work of years, and by the time the task a mechanic will remember the form and operais done the world has so changed, that more than tion of machines, better than any written dehalf the book contains is incorrect, and the only scription of them. The painter will recollect the consolation the poor victim has is the considera- color of a dress, and the dress-maker the fashion tion that, if what has been learned is not true, it or cut of it. An angry person will remember an will do no harm, for it has been forgotten as fast affront, and a benevolent person will never foras it was learned.
get a kindness. Shall a man who remembers Next, the child must study history-study his words most easily, say to any of these, you have tory! That is, he must commit page after page no memory? or shall he take airs because he can to memory, or only such paragraphs as have been remember words, when they are so stupid that adjudged a sufficient answer to a stereotyped ques- they can remember only things ? tion. The meaning of the language is not eli. One thing is certain, the memory of words is aited by any impertinent inquiries, the Geogra- no criterion of intellectual power.Some of the phy of the country at different epochs is not al- greatest talkers have been the shallowest logi. lowed to interrupt the thread of the narrative, cians, and some of the greatest linguists have and the practical and moral conclusions are left, been the greatest simpletons. In fact, the meas the grammarians say, understood.
mory of one class of facts is no pledge for the I could add to this summary, astronomy, bota. memory of any other, and few persons have ny, the varions branches of natural history and ever been distinguished in every department of natural pbilosopby, the modern and ancient lan. I memory. But we are told that this committing to memory strengthens the mind and leads to a gard. Now, I conceive the greatest, the highest habit of application. So it does. It does effort of teaching to consist in so clothing useful strengthen this particular faculty, it does lead to subjects with interest, that those who may not a habit of application, but only to words, con love them are still induced to attend to them. sidered as words, and not as embodying ideas. This exercises the weaker faculties, and in. Let me not be misunderstood. I am not con. creases their ability. As the hand or foot ac. tending that a great verbal memory, and great quires strength and skill by judicious exercise, general scholarship, great practical knowledge, so does every faculty of the inind ; and as the . are incompatible, but only that one branch of muscles lose their power and skill by inaction, memory, like the high priest's rod, has swal. so does every organ of the brain. If a child is lowed up other branches as large as itself, and malicious and quarrelsome, vindictive and pasis likely to die of repletion.
sionate, you have only to give him cause and op. Remarkable verbal memories are almost the portunity for the display of his malevolence, to only ones that have been recorded, and yet every increase its power. But place this child where one can recollect remarkable memories of other his passions will not be excited, treat him with faculties. I spent much time with Zerah Col. unvaried kindness, cultivate his reason and his burn before he went to Europe. He was then moral sentiments, encourage him to acts of be. about five years old, and could neither read nor nevolence, and set him an example, and in time write. His manners were so rude that he knew his lower propensities will become less active not the use of a knife and fork, and when placed and less powerful, if not entirely subdued. I do at table he stabbed a large sausage, and holding not pretend that all evil dispositions can be made it impaled on his fork, he placed both elbows on good ones, nor that all memories can be made the table, and nibbled alternately at the ends equal, for I know that there are original and until the sausage disappeared. And yet this un. irreconcilable differences ; but I also know that tutored child performed calculations which in the worst disposition and the weakest memory volved so many figures, that I could not have may be greatly improved. repeated them from memory after a week's ap. After the view which I have taken of memoplication, but he made the calculation, and gave ry, it may reasonably be expected that I should the answer in a few seconds. When he was ex. endeavor to show how education should be conhibited in London, he was allowed to overwork ducted if the view be correct, and it be impor. this faculty, and it was destroyed, as the verbal tant to improve the whole mind, and not a twen. memory usually is, by the excessive exercise tieth part of it. May I be excused, then, if in of it.
doing this I speak in the first person, for it is in Some have contended that memory is a facul. this person that I have taught for twenty years, ty of the intellect only, and they have denied and ought I not to add, that when I describe it to the propensities, and of course to the irra. what may be done, I only describe what has actional creation. But who does not know that tually been done. the lower animals often have remarkable memo. , As it is certain, then, that the intellect of a ries? Horses, dogs and some other animals child under five or six years of age is irnmature, travel without guide-boards. Some animals I should pay less attention to that than to the speak, but this is only as many children recite senses, on whose power and correct perceptions lessons, by the memory of words without ideas. so much of the future intellectual progress de. I knew an aged crow who had been taught to pends. Most children are very observant of the say, when any curious person stopped to look at ten thousand objects of nature and art that sur. him, “What do you want, boy?" but he said round them, but they are generally left " to find this to old as well as young: to girls as well as out by their learning," that is, to find out without boys. We have even an authentic record of the instruction, the qualities and peculiarities of loss of this verbal memory by a bird. It is re- what they see. The senses are allowed to take lated of a parrot, who had become celebrated care of themselves, as if they could not go for his loquacity, that he was once accompany wrong, could not acquire bad habits, and must ing his master, Prince Maurice, in a vessel of come out right at last. It would lead me too far war, when they were attacked by the enemy. if I should follow out this idea, but I have alluDuring a tremendous engagement, the poor bird ded to it that your own minds may do so. This shrunk away and hid himself, almost frightened early cultivation of the senses is a delightful to death. After the battle, he was found, and exercise to children; and clothing, as it does, all drawn out of his hiding place, but he never the objects around them with interest, instead spoke a word afterwards, and his only answer of promoting sensuality, the surest basis is laid to the various questions put to him was, boong! for intellectual and moral progress. Conversa
How common is it to hear a teacher complain tion, then, with children, about common things, that his pupil will not attend, has not the faculty their form, size, color, number, order, feel, of attention. But children are never destitute smell, taste, sound, &c., next after the fear of of attention. The reason they do not attend to God, is the true beginning of wisdom. the lesson in hand is, that they are attending to I should allow the little ones as much liberty something else. Attention, like memory, is an as is consistent with tolerable order. I should attribute of every faculty, and it is only where give them little or nothing to commit to memory, there is no desire that there is no attention. A and make their exercises light, and vary them stupid boy may forget his lesson, but he will not often. I should not be distressed if they did not forget his dinner, and the same operation that know their letters in six months or six years, for puts one man into an extacy, puts his neighbor they can be taught ten thousand things more im. to sleep. Children, at school, usually prefer portant; kindness, obedience, reverence, truth one study to another; what they like they at. and justice will do them far more good than the tend to, and what they do not like, and this is alphabet. If I see any evil propensity display. what they have little capacity for, they disre. ling itself, if I cannot demonstrate the impropri
ety of it, I shall not punish until I have exhaust. letters and syllables without. I dare say all this ed every means of preventing its indulgence. is true. If there is more pleasure in reading Prevention is the great principle ; for to my mind words than in learning elements, I would teach nothing is more unwise and unjust than the laws the elements first on the same ground that the which regulate even the best Christian commu. cunning nurse gives the physic first, and then the nities. We allow the young to run unmolested pleasant drink that is to remove the disagreeable until they break the law, and then we punish taste from the mouth. I think, however, that them. If a boy discovers ever so vicious a pro.this objection to the old plan relies for its force pensity, and we are sure that crime must be the entirely upon the defective manner in which the consequence, we cannot touch him until it is too alphabet has usually been taught. If it be im. late, we cannot restrain him, it is against the portant to connect ideas with letters, I would enlaw to save him.
gage to connect more with any letter than with If the little child shows an uncommon apt. any word. It would be difficult to illustrate this ness for one thing more than another, I never position better than by reading a short extract allow the predominant faculty to be overworked, from a work called “ The Youth of Shakspeare," but I turn my chief attention to the weaker la: which, in the quaint style of that day, 'runneih culties that need encouragement. What is gene. of this wise. rally called genius and talent is only the pre. “Mother,” said young Shakspeare, “I pray dominance of one faculty over the rest. This you tell me something of the fairies of whom must be carefully educated, but the others must nurse Cicely discourseth to me so olt. How may be well attended to also, or we shall see another little children be possessed of such goodness as example.of genius without a well balanced may make them be well regarded of these same mind, wonderful talent without common sense, fairies. mother ?” “They must be sure to learn genius that can create other worlds at pleasure, their letters betimes," replied she, “ that they without being able to get a decent living in this may be able to know the proper knowledge writ The merry little being learns to talk, to sing, to in books, which, if they know not when they think-little thoughts, of course—to draw horses grow up, neither dairy nor any other shall eswith their knees the wrong way perhaps ; to teem them to be of any goodness whatsoever." count, anything but her money ; to play, dance "I warrant you I will learn my letters as speedily and be happy, and make others so.
as I can," replied the boy, eagerly. "Nay, I But it will not be long before the child will beseech you, mother, teach them to me now, for desire to read, and, perhaps, of late no question I am exceeding desirous of being thought of has exercised the minds of teachers so much as some goodness. But what good are these same how the first lessons in reading shall be given. letters of, mother," inquired he, as he took his With the old plan of teaching the names of the horn book from the shelf. "This much,” reletters first, and then their various powers, you plied Dame Shakspeare; " by knowing of them are acquainted ; the new method, which has thoroughly, one by one, you shall soon come te found friends in the highest rank of teachers, be able to put them together for the forming of proposes the teaching of the whole words first, words, and when you are sufficiently apt at that without regard to the elements of which the you shall thereby come to be learned enough to words are composed. Of course the learning of read all such words as are in any sentence, which one word is no help to the pronunciation of a you shall find to be only made up of such ; and new word ; at least I have never seen words when the reading of such sentences shall be fa. placed in any book on this pian, so that the first miliar to you, doubt not your ability to master words learned are a key or help to those which whatsoever proper book falleth into your hand, follow. The child not knowing the sound of the for all books are composed only of letters, as Í consonants, vowels or syllables of which the word shall teach thee straightway." The lesson had is composed, fixes his eye upen some part of the' not proceeded far, when the draper's wife came word, rarely upon the whole of it, and is in great in. “And what hast got here, prithee, that thou danger of miscalling every other word that has art so earnest about?” asked Mrs. Dowlass. the same appearance. The great advantage of " A horn-book, as I live! And dost really know this method, we are told, is the greater case with thy letters at so early an age ?” “Nay. I doubt which a child learns to read, the greater pleasure I can tell you them all,” replied Master William, he takes in reading, and the greater profit of ingenuously, “but methinks I know a good learning words that have meaning, rather than many of them." Then pointing at the several letters that have none.
characters, as he named them, he continued : I do not deny that a child may learn to read a "First, here is A, that ever standeth astraddle. few words in this way sooner than he will if he Next him is B, who is all head and body and no waits to become acquainted with the letters, but legs. Then cometh C, who bulgeth out behind I have always found that pupils who are allowed like a very hunchback. After him cometh D, to skip the elements of any art or science, and who doeth the clean contrary, for his bigness is revel in its pleasant things are never willing af. 'all before. Next”-here he hesitated for some terwards to go back to those elements, which, few seconds, the others present regarding him though omitted at first, must be learned some with exceeding attentiveness and pleasuretime or other. Now, as no one pretends that “next, here is—alack, dear mother, do tell me the names of the letters and their powers, that fellow's name again, will you, an' it will go need never be learned, but, on the contrary, as hard with him if he escape me.” they all recommend this at a later stage of the Think you that a child taught the alphabet in business, the question seems to be whether in this or any similar way, would ever be tired of the end there is not a loss of time and an in his lesson? But the chief objection I have to crease of labor.
the new plan, is its being a mere exercise of the But we are told the new plan is more pleasant verbal memory, worse than learning the words of to the child, he prefers words with meaning, to a Dictionary, for, in the latter case, there is an