Archibald Forbes.

The Christian library: a weekly republication of popular religious ..., Volume 6 online

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if their writings were not sufiiciently plain and per-

The efficiency of religious instruction deduced
from the Scriptures alone, is clearly proved from
the mode of tuition in infant schools. In theaa
schools, religion is taught by familiar descriptions
and details of scriptural foots— by illustrations,
taken from Scripture and the scenes of nature, or
the perfections of God— and by enforcing the moral
precepts of the Bible on the young, and showing
how thev ought to be exemplified in all their inter-
courses with each other. Now, I appeal to every
one who has witnessed the religious knowledge of
the children in these schools, and its influence upon
their conduct, if this mode of tuition is not infinite-
ly preferable, as to its practical effects, to the usual
method of instruction by catechisms^ or any other
formularv. Let us take a number of children at
random iVom any common school, who have learned
the " Shorter,** or any other catechism, fh>m begin-
ning to end, and compare their knowledge and
feelings in regard to religion with those of the chil-
dren or a well-conducted infant school, and the su-
periority of the infant school children will be strik-
ingly apparent, even although they are much
younger than the former.— Should parents, how-
ever wish to inculcate upon their children the jwcm-
UoT tenets of the sect to which they belong, they
have aa opportunity of doing so at hame^ or by means
of the pastors belonging to that denomination to
which they are attached ; bat, in public schools, to
attempt the inculcation of sectarian opinions, would
be equally injurious to the interests of religion and
th« eanat of univtrsal edncttioft. This waa a(«

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tempted bjr the Church of EnglaDd, in the enact-
ments contained in Brodgham's ** Edacation Bill,"
and the same principle led the dignitaries of that
eharch to oppose the Lancasterian system of edo-
eation, and to patronise that of Dr. Bell, in which
the peculiar tenets of the Episcopal church were to
be exclusively incalcated.

That Christians of different denominations may
cordially co-operate in the arran^ments of educa-
tion, appears th>m yarions existing facts. In the
Northern States of America, as already noticed,
education is far more general than in this eoantry.
and conducted on more rational and enlightened
plans ; and persons of all denominations in religion
Co-operate in its superintendence. In the 94th
"Annual Report of the Trustees of the Public
School Society of New Yorkj for 1829," it is stated,
amons: many other interesting fkcls. that "The
Board of Edacation consists (M members of ei^ht
or ten religious denominations, aU acting wUh entire
l«niitfny*'— that " they discharge the important dn-
ties of their trust, with a single eye to the public
fdod"— and that they received the sanction of "an
independent set of examiners, who have repeatedly
inspected the schools, and are acquainted with the
operations of the Board" — who express in their
Report " their full confidence that the literary, moral,
ana relifdous inntruction. calculated to fit the young
for the duties of life, and to prepare them for the
happiness of futurity, is properly attended to, and
the school monies strictly and most beneficially ap-
plied to their legitimate purp05cs." This board had
the superintendence of " 21 schools, with 21 princi-
pal and 34 assistant teachers, and 6007 children,"
the expense of which amounted to 62,000 dollars;
besides which there were above 450 private, chari-
ty, and other schools in the city of New York. —
We know, too, that the " British and Foreign School
Society" is conducted on similar principles — its Di-
rectors consisting of persons belonging to the esta-
blished church and tne various denominations of
dissenters; and the same is the ease with the insti-
tfltions for infant education which have been lately
established in many of our populous towns. The
hand-bill announcing the objects of the Model In-
fknt School, Glasgow, which was framed by the
Rev. Dr. Welsh, then of St. Dayid's chnrch, states,
as one of the objects of thi<t institution, that it is
*' for the reception of children from the age of two
to that of six years, with the view of imbuing their
minds with the Imowledge of religions truths " —
and that "the plan of communicating religious
truths is by the narratives, the precepts, and the
plainest announcements of Scripture." In short,
the liberal plan now suggested ha^ been adopted in
all its extent in the kingdom of Prussia, where a
national syMem of education has been established
in which all classes of religionists, whether Protes-
tants or Catholics, have an equal interest, and which,
fbr more than half a century, has been conducted
wtlh the greatest regularity and harmony. So that
there is no impossibility in persons belonging to
different religious persuasions co-operating in the
business of education, where there is a sincere de-
sire to promote the improvement of the young, and
the best interests of general society.

But should it be found impossible to induce the
dominant sect in any country to co-operate with dis-
senters in the arrangements of education, perhaps
the fbllowing might be the most eligiUe plan of
procedure :— Let the government allot a smn ade-
quate to the erection and endowment of all the
schools requisite for an enlightened and efficient
S3rstem of education — ^let this sum he divided be-
tween churchmen and dissenters, in a fair propor-
tion, according to their respective nnmbers— tod
kl tlkt spplicatiott of thit ram, tnd the detail* fe>

specting the patronage of the sehoc^, the qnalifics*
tions of teacncrs, and the mode of instmctioD. be
left to the respective parties, to be arranged as their
judpaent and circnmstances may direct— specify
ing, however, some of the grand and leading prin-
ciples on which the schools must be established.—*
A plan of this kind would, indeed, still preserve the
invidious distinction between cbtirchmen and dia-
senters) bnt it would be infinitely preferable to be*
stowing the whole patronage and superintendence
of education on any one sectary or class of men
whatever.-— Should government refuse to grant any
pecuniary assistance to such an object, diseenteri
and all others have it in their power, by cominf
forward, in one grand combination, with vtftenteqr
contributions, to accomplish this noele desicn, inde-
pendently of aid from any power nnder heaven ;
provided th^ are wilUng to make some of those
small sacrifices formeriy suggested. (See page
128.) And if they mil n&t stand forward as bold
champions, with tWrpurses in their hands, ready
to be delivered up fbr the support of this good cense,
they will declare themselves to be unwonhy of the
name of Christians, or of f^tefi ef their species, and
will deservedly be deprived of all the advantages,
in time and eternity, which might result from the
accomplishment of this object, to themselves and to
their ofl^ring, both in the present and in ftitnrs


MAXTMs, on mtar panfciPLBi m EDecAnoir.

I. Tvn idea skoM go before the word v^dd expre ss ^
t^— or, in other worlds, A clear a/ud distinct concept
Hon of an object skonld be impressed upon the mivuL
before the name or terms which express it be eommittei
to memory.

This may be considered as the first and funda-
mental principle of intellectual instruction: and, if
admitted, the following rule should be strictly ad-
hered to in the bmtiness of education i^-Let no paS"
sages of any book be committed to memont before tkt
leading ideas they contain be clearly understood. If
this principle were universally introduced into edu-
cation, it would overtnm almost every system of
instruction which has hitherto prevailed both in
secular and religious tuition. An opposite princi-

Ele has almost uniformly been acted upon ; and
ence, catechisms, psalms, hjrmns grammar rul^
chapters of the Biole, and speeches in the Ro-
man senate, have been prescribed as memorial
taskSf before any of the ideas contained in them
could be appreciated. We may ask, in the name
of all that IS wise and rational, of wnat use is it to
stock and overburden the memories of children with
a medley of words to which no correct ideas are
attached 1 Although a child could commit twenty
catechisms to memory, or could even repeat the
whole of the Old and New Testaments what pur-
pose would it serve, if he did not enter into the spi-
rit and meaning of the truths therein recorded 1
I have conversed with an individual who conld re-
peat the whole Bible from beginning to end, and
yet was entirely i^rnorant of the meaning of almost
every proposition it contained, and its most inter-
esting truths appeared to have made no impression
npon his heart. As in the original formation of
language, the objects of nature mxssitjlrst have been
observed and known before words or signs were
fixed upon to distinguish them ; so^ in comn^uni-
cating the elements of thought, the objects of thought
must flfst be recognised and dewribed before the
terms and epithets wtteh express their natures and

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qualities be committed to memory. iDstead of ob-
trodiog a medley of words before they are uader-
stood, upon the memories of the yoang, they shoald
be made to feel a desire for terms to express their
ideas ; aoo, in this case, the ideas and the words
which express them will afterwards be inseparably

XL In the process of instmction, Nothing (if pos-
sible) should be assigned to the vou/ng merely as tasks.

Every thing prescribed for the exercise of the fa-
cilities, shoald be represented both as a du^ and as
ti pleasure: and if tne yoang understand the naiore
and objects of their scholastic exercises, and the
manner in which they shoald be prosecated, they
will find a pleasare m endeavoring to surmoani
every apparent difficalty. I once knew a gentle-
man, the Rector of a grammar school, who, on his
admission to his oAce, boasted that he woald con-
duct his school withoat inflicting any corporeal po-
nish meat— instead of which, he prescribed from
twenty to sixty or eighty lines of Virgil or Horace,
as memorial tasks— dJid^ when not accurately repeat-
ed, increased their number. Bat this practice had
no other tendency than to excite revengeful feelings,
and to produce aisgost at the process of learning.

in. jSvery thing thai is cheerful and exhilaraHng
to the young should be associated with the busineu of

Hence, school-rooms shoald be spacious, light, and
airy— comfortably heated during winter, and erect-
ed in delightflil and commanding situations. The
school-books should be neatly printed, and enlivened
with pictures and engravings colored from nature-
amusing and instructive experiments should fre-
quently be exhibited — and the papils shoald be oc-
casionally gratified with excursions into interesting
parts of the country, to view the beauties of nature
and enjoy the bounties of Providence ; so that all
their scholastic exercises may be connected with
delightftd associations.

I V. In the practice of teaching, the prind]^ of
BmuUUion should be discarded,

Bv a principle of emulation I mean, the exciting
of the voung to exertion from the hope of reward
when they excel their companions in intellectual ex-
cellence, or from the fear of punishment or degra-
dation when thev fall beneath them in industry and
acquirements. Many teachers have asserted that
thev could not conduct education with anv elTect
without the aid of this principle. But, whatever
cfiect it may have in an intellectual point of view, it
almost uniformly produces an injurious eiTect on the
moral temperament of the young, on their com-
panions whom they excel, and on tneir parents and
guardians, who are led to rorm false estimates of their
progress and acquirements by the prizes they receive
anothe places they occupy in rheir respective classes.
One grand end of instruction, which has been too
much overlooked, is to cultiTate and regulate the
moral powers— to produce love, affection, concord,
humility, self-denial, and other Christian graces.—
But the principle of emulation has a tendency to
produce jealousy, envy, ambition* hatred, and other
malignant passions, and to exhioit intellectual ac-
quisitions as of far greater importance than moral
excellence. Besides, it is only a very few in every
class that can be stimulated to exertion by this prin-
ciple, and these few are generally of such a tempera-
ment as to reauire their ambitious dispositions to be
restrained rather than excited. In the " American
Annals of Education,** for January. 1833. there is
an exceilent paper on this subjea by Miss C. E.
Beecher, of Newport, Rhode Island, a lady well
known as an efficient teacher. AOer enumertting
the evils which tmiformly flow from the principle of
emulation, she states the following moti?ef , as those
which the has fofiad "^noc Qidj ^fm^Wfimh W9n

efficient, in reference to all the obiects to be gained
in education :" — '* 1. Personai tnjif«r7u;€— endeavor-
ing to gain the esteem, the affection, and the confi-
dence of the pupils," &c. In this connection she
justlv remarks, " that commendaHonfor improvement
needs to be practised much more frequently than re-
proof for deficiency. S. By habitual appeals to the
Bible as the rule of rectitude, and to umscience as
the judge. 3. By cultivating a love of knowledge
for Its own sake, that is, for the pleasure it imparts;
and also for the sake of the increased good it will
enable us to do for our fellow-beings. 4. By efforts
to form a correct public sentiment in school, so that
it shall be unpopular to do wrong. 5. By appeals
to parental influence, and that of other fViends. This
is accomplished by transmitting frequent accounts
both of deficienev and improvement to the friends of
the pupils. 6. By cultivating in the pupils a sense
of oblij^tion to God, of his constant inspection, and
of his interest in all their concerns." These princi-
ples, (which are more particularly explained and
amplified in the paper referred to,) she adds, " I
have chiefly depended upon during the last three or
four years of my experience as a teacher. Every
year has added to my conviction of their efficacy,
and every year has increased my satisfa^ttion that
the principle of emulation has been banished with
no conseouent evil, and much increase of good."

Mr. Morgan, in his late ^ Address to the Pro-
prietors of the University of London," expresses
sentiments in accordance with the above. Speaking
on the sabject of prizes, he says, " A pri2e is the
least effectual mode of accomplishing the desired
object : it is founded on injustice, inasmuch as it
heaps honors and emoluments on those to whom na-
ture has already been most bountiful, and whoee en-
joyments are multiplied and increasing in a greater
ratio than others by the more easy acquisition of
knowledge." '* Praise, and invidious comparisons,
are only other forms of the same principle, alike
fruitful in envy, pride, scorn, and bitter nejglect. In
the curiosity of children, there is a sufficient and a
natural stimulant of the appetite for knowledoe, and
we live in a world abounding in the means of useftil
and pleasurable gratifications. AH that is required
of preceptors is to aid the development of the facul-
ties with affection and judgment." A eeriifieate of
diligence and good conduct seems to be all that is
necessary to distinguish from the vicious, the idle,
and slothful, those who have employed oieir time
and talents in a proper manner.

y. Corporeal punishments should be seldom or never
inJUetedr-^iukdj when they are determined upon as
the last resort, they should be infiicted with calmness

There is someOiing revolting and degrading in
corporeal punishments, and the necessity of resort-
ing to them generally indicates, that there had been
a Want of proper training in the earlier stages of lifc.
It is vain To imagine, that children can be whipped
either into learning or religion ; and, if an enlight-
ened and judicious mode of tnition were tmiversaUy
adopted, there would seldom be any necessity f6r
resorting to such a stimulus. But in the modes of
teaching which have most generallv prevailed, aoiw
poreal pimfshments are almost inaispensable. In
the German " Pedagogic Biagazine,'^ for I83S, we
are told that " there died lately in Swakia. a schooU
master, who. for 91 years, had superintended an in<
stitulioq with old-fiwhioned seventy. Promanave-
rage inferred f orded observations one of

the ushers calca at. in the coarse of bis exer-

tions, he had % 1,900 ranings, 134,000 flog-

gings, 909,000 c 136.000 tips with the ruler,

10,900 boxes on , and 89L700 tasks to get by

heart It was ( alcolated, that he had made

TOOhqytttand , 600 knetl on ft ihaip edge

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of wood, SOOO wear the fool's cap, and 1*706 hold the
rod;**— amouDting in all to 1,4^1,208 punishmeDts,
which, allowing five days for every week, would
average above a hundred punishments every day. —
There is something extremely revolting in the idea
of such a series of punishments being connected with
learning ; and we may justly infer, that, however
much classical learning may have been advanced,
very little useful knowledge or moral principle was
communicated in that seminarjr. For, a system of
moral and intellectual instruction, calculated to al-
lure the minds of the young, is altogether incompa-
tible wiih such Gothic rudeness ana severity.*

y I. Children should not be long confined in school
— and never, longer than they are actively employed
in U. — A school ought never to serve the purpose
of a prison. If the junior clashes are incapable of
preparing their lessons by themwlvjes, they should
either be provided with some amusing toys or pic-
ture books, or be turned out to romp about in the
open air, or under a covered shed in rainy weather,
and called in when their lessons are to be explained.

VII. Young peopU should altooys be treated as
fati4mal crcaiureSf and their opinions occasionally
soliciUd as to certain points ana scholastic arrange-
ments. The reasoTis of the treatment they receive,
and of the exercises prescribed, in so far as they are
able to appreciate them, should occasionally be stat-
ed, and explained and illustrated.

VIII. Reproofs should always be tendered wttA the
utmost taknness and mildness.-^When they are utter-
ed in passion, and with looks of fury, they seldom
produce any good effect, and not uo frequently excite
a spirit of revenge against the reprover.

IX. One great object of education should be to fix
the attention on the subjects we wish to explain and
elucidate.— Oxk the proper exercise of the faculty of
attention depends almost all our improvement in
knowledge and virtue. Even the senses are im-
proved by the exercise of this faculty. Hence the
peculiar delicacy of touch observable in the blind,
and the quick-sightedness of the deaf; hence the
distinct perception of distant objects acquired by
sailorM, and of delicate and minute objects bv watch-
makers and jewellers, — in all which cases the atten-
tion has been specially directed to particular objects.
It was by fixing his attention on the subject, or
^ continually thinking about it," that Newton, as be
oimadf declared, discovered the laws of the planeta-
ry motions, and was enabled to unfold the true sya-
tem of the world. Hence the propriety of present-
ing sensible objects to the view of children — of ex-
hibiting before them interesting experiments, and of
having their books adorned with livelv and accu-
rate engravings. Hence, too, the propriety of teach-
ing them to notice every object within the reach of
their vision, and to mark eveiy minute change that
takes place in the form, color^ and situation, of the
objects around them, and to cive an account of what
they mav have seen or beard in any of their excur-
sions ; all which circamstances have a tendency to
induce a habit of attention, without which there
can be no solid improvement in any department of

• Corporeal punishments have generally a hard-
ening enect on the minds both of young and old. —
A blacksmith brought up his son^to whom he was
very severe, to his own trade. The urchin was.
nevertheless, an audacious dog. One day the olci
Tulcan was attempting to harden a cold chisel which
he had made of foreign steel, hut could not succeed.
" Horsewhip it, father," exclaimed the youth, " if
ftof will not iUf4«i» it, nothing wiU."*



On these institutions I intended to offer a few par-
ticular remarks, and to suggest some arrangements
by which thev might be rendered more extensively
usellil than thev have hitherto been, both in amoral
and intellectual point of view, but as this volume
has already swelled to a considerable size I shall
confine myself to a very few general observations.

It is now more than twenty years since I had an
opportunity of suggesting the establishment of such
institutions, under the designation of " Ldteraryand
Philosophical Societies, adapted to the middling and
lower ranks of the community.^' The details in re-
lation to this subject, consisting of a series of five
successive papers^ were published in the London
" Monthly jifagaztne*\foT the year 1814— more than
eight years before any mechanics' institutions were
organized in this country.* Although these papeis
have seldom been referred to, in the history of me-
chanics' institutions, yet the author is aware that
they were the means of suegesting, to certain indi-
viduals, the idea of establishing such societies ; and,
not above a year or two afler their publication, a
society was organized in the vicinity of London, on
the plan and principles suggested in these papers,
of which the author was elected an honorarv mem-
ber. Instead of inserting, in this place, the sub-
stance of these papers, as was originallv intended,
I shall merely give a short sketch of their contents.

In the first communication, aAer a few introduc-
tory observations in reference to existing associa-
tions, and other particulars connected with the dis-
semination of knowledge, the following, among
many other advantages, were pointed out as likely
to flow from the extensive establishment of such in-
stitutions: — 1. They would serve to unite and con-
centrate the scattered rays of genius, which might
otherwise be dissipated, and enable them to act with
combined vi^or and energy in the discovery and
the nroparation of useful knowledge. 2. They
would tend to promote the rapid advancement of
general science ; for if the labors of those societies
which already exist have produced a powerful ef-
fect on the progress of science, much more misht be
expected were their number increased to ei(?hty or
a hundred fold. 3. They would have a tendency
to produce ^aii extensive diffusion of rational infor-
mation among the general mass of society, particu-
larly among those in the inferior walks of life, by
which the narrow conceptions, superstitious notion^
and vain fears, which so generaJly prevafl, might
be gradually removed, and a variety of useful hints
and rational views suggested, which would tend to
elevate and ennoble the mind, and promote domes-
tic convenience and comfort. 4. They would in-
duce a taste for intellectual pleasures and rational
enjoyment, in which ^ose hours generally spent in
listlessness, fooli<(h amusements, and the pursoit« of
dissipation, might be profitably employed, and, con-
sequently, the sum of general happiness augmented.
5. If properly conducted, they could not fail of pro-
ducing a beni^ influence on the state of morals and
of general society. As vice is the natural offspring
of ignorance, so true virtue can only flow from ele-
vated and enlightened principles; and,. where sodi

♦See "Montbljr Magazine," vol. xxxvii. ibr
April and July, 1814, pp. 210. 507, and yol. xxxviu,
for August and September. Idl4, pp. 93, 121, and for
January, 1815, p. 503. These communications oc-
cupy more than 93 closely printed columns, and
contain several minute details In relation to what
should be the leading objects of such institutiona: and
the mitms by irllfih they might bt ^blisbed.

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Online LibraryArchibald ForbesThe Christian library: a weekly republication of popular religious ..., Volume 6 → online text (page 106 of 121)