Archibald Forbes.

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

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of them answerable for the conduct of nis class.—
These little mssters frequently conduct themselves
with great shrewdness and ability, and sometimes
with a dmee of importance andjpomposity which
it is found necessary to check. The chilaren are
taught singing, by the master sinfring & psalm or
hymn several times in their heannff, till tbey ac-
quire a certain idea of the tune ; alter which they
are i^equired to join with the teacher, ind, in a short
time, the greater part are enabled to join in the mu-
sic with considerable correctness ; and nothing can
be more interesting and exhilarating to a pious and
benevolent mind^ than to listen to a hundred young
voices thus joinmg^in unison, in a hymn of praise
to their Creator. They are taught to repeat hjrmns
generally in the foUowing manner. One of the mo-
nitors is placed in the rostrum, with a book in his
hand ; he then reads one line, and pauses till all the
children in unison have repeated it; he then reads
or repeats another, and so on in succession till the
hymn is finished. The same method is adopted in
teaching them spelling, catechisms, moral maxims
and precepts, and whatever else is to be committed
to memory. It ^ould, however, be attended to,
that every thing they commit to memory from cate-
chisms, hvmns, or other books, should be previously
explained; so that in every case, if possible, they
may acquire the idms contained in the passages they
are to repeat, befon they charge their memories
with the vocables by which they are expressed.

The alphabet it taught by means of twenty-six
cards, corresponding to the number of letters, on
each of whicn is engraved a letter, alon^ with some
object of nature or art, whose name begins with that
letter. Thus, on the card of the letter A is engrav-
ed an apple. This card is held up to the children,
who name the letter and the Object depicted be^de
it. A variety of questions is then put respecting the
imture, fbrm, and properties of the apple, and or the
root, trunk, branches, leaves, Ac of the tree on
which it grows ; by which the attention of the child*
ren is kept alive, certain portions of useful know-
ledge communicated, and the idea of the letter more
deeply impressed upon their minds. On the card <!((
letter C, a cow, a camel, or a cat, is depicted ; which
is exhibited in the same manner, and various queS'
tions pm respecting the figare, parts, habits, and
uses of either of these animals : and so on through
the other letters of the alphabet. This exhibition is
varied as much as poniole, and practised only two
or three times in a week, that the children may not
be wearied by its too frequent repetition Another
plan is sometimes adopted— an alphabet, printed in
large letters, both Roman and Italic, is pasted on a
board, and placed against the wall ; the whole claM
then stands around it, and the master or mistress
points to the letters, desiring the children in a body
to pronounce the letter to which he points. In spell-
ing, each child is supplied with a card and tin, on
which certain short words are printed. A monitor
lei^ the rest in the ftAlowlng manner : " O-h-a-i-r^
the other chDdrein immediately follow : and when
they have spelled one word, he repeats another, till
he has gone throu{rii all the words on the card.—
For the purpose of teachjng the older children to
write the alpliabet, they are supplied with slates, oA
which the whole alphabet is engraved— eome i^
capital letters, and others in text ; the children then
pm the pencU into the engraving, and work it round
into the shape of the letter, which they can scarcely
avoid doing, as the pencil will keep in the engraved
part. In this way msf gradually learn both to form
the liters eoneoly, tod to read written character^



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MORAL IMPROVEMENT OF MANKIND.



The properties of numbers, and the fundamental
rules ot Arithmetic, are taught b^ various modes ;
particularly by an instrument which has been term-
ed the Arithmeticon^ or Transposition-frame. The
following is a figure and description of the use of
this instrument, taken from Mr. wilderspin:— " The
frame is sixteen inches snuare, and made of wood ;
twelve wires pass through it at equal distances; on
which wires, seventy-eight moveable balte are to be
placed, beginning with one on the first, two on the
second, three on the third, &c. up to twelve." By
this instrument may be taught " the first principles
of grammar, arithmetic, and geometry. It is used
as follows :~Move one of the nails to a part of the



frame distinct from the rest : the children will then
repeat, ' There it ij>, there it is.' Apply your finger
to ibe ball, and set it running round : the children
will immediately change from saying, ' There it is,'
to * There it goes, there it goes.' When they have
repeated ' There it goes,' long enough to impress it
on their memory, stop the ball : the children will
probably say, * Now it stops, now it stops.' When
that is the case, move another ball to it, and then
explain to the children the difference between singu-
lar and plural, desiring them to call out, ' There they
are, there they are ;' and when they have done that
as long as may be proper, set both Mills moving, and
it is likely they will call out, * There the^ go, there
thev go,' &c. Ac. By the natoral position of the
balls they may be taught to begin at the first. The
master, raising it at the top of the frame, says,
' What am I doing V Children answer. * Raising
the ball up with your hand.' Q. ' Which hand Y
A. * Left hand.' Then the master lets the ball drop,
laying, ' One, one.' Raise the two balls, and pro-
pose Questions of a similar tendency : then let them
fall ; the children will say, ' Twice one:' raise three,
and let them fall as beu>re ; the children will t«y,
' Three time^ one.' Proceed to tkise the balls on
each remaining wire, so that they ma^ say, as the
balls are let fall. Four times one, five times one, six
times one, seven times one, eight times one, nine
times one, ten times one, eleven times one, twelve
times one. We now proceed as follows : 1 and 3
are 3, and 3 are 6, and 4 -are 10, and 5 are 16, and
6 are 31, and 7 are 38, and 8 are 36, and 9 are 45,
and 10 are 56, and 11 are 66, and 13 are 78. Sub-
tradum is taught by this instrument thus i— Take
1 from 1, nothing remains, moving the first bail,
at the same time, to the other end of the £rame.r-
Then remove one from the second wire, and say,
'Take 1 fVom 3;' the children will instantly perceive
that only one remains : then 1 (Vom 3, and 3 remain ;
1 from 4, 3 remain ; 1 from 6, 4 remain, Ac. A^iUi-
plicaHim is taught a3 follows:— The teacher moves



the first ball, and immediately after the two balls on
the second wire placing them underneath the first,
saying, at the 8ame time, ' Twice one are two,' which
the children will readily perceive. Next, remove
the two balls on the second wire for a multiplier,
and then remove two balls on the third wire, placing
them exactly under the first two, which form a
square, and ihen say, ' Twice two are four,' which
every child will discern for himself, as he plainly
perceives there are no more« We then move three
on the third wire, and place three from the fourth
wire underneath them, saying, 'Twice three are
six.' Remove four on the fourth wire, and four on
the fiAh ; place them as before, and say, ' Twice
four are eight :' " and so on, through all the wires
and balls.

The first principles of arithmetic are also tanghL
by means or small cubes. The children are formed
into a square, in the centre of which is placed a ta-
ble, on which the cubes are placed— one, two, three,
or four at a time. The master puts down three, for
example, and inquires of the children how many
there are : when they naturally call out, "Three.^
He puts down two more, and inquires as before,
"How many are three and two!" they answer,
" Five:" and thus goes on till he has put down to
the number of fifty or sixty. la a similar manner
Subtraction is illustrated, l^ placing, for example,
9 cubes on the table, and saying, "Take 5 ftom 9,
how many will remain!'* and, removing 6 cubes, it
will be seen that 4 remain, &c. The mnltiplictiioa
table, the pence tables, the tables of money, time,
weights, and measures, are taught by a monitor re-
peating certain portions of them at a time, and be-
ing immediately followed hy all the children in uni-
son. Thus, when the monitor announces, "7 times
8 are 56." or " Forty pence are thrc< and fourpcace,"
the children in a body repeat the same ; and in a
short time the whole of these tables are impressed
upon their memories.

The leading facts of Sacred History are commn-
nicated by means of a series of historical picturei^
and b^ a variety of minute descriptions and interro-

S tones. The more interesting &cts of Natural
istory are exhibited by a nuoober of large cards,
on which are pasted engraved representations ot
quadrupeds, birds, fishes, insects, trees, flowers, and
similar objects; in the explanation of which sn op-
portunity IS taken of detailing their forms, qualiriei
and users, and any anecdotes that may occur respect-
ing them. Knowledge is also communicated in re-
lation to many common and useful subjects, hj pre-
senting before them real ob^cU^ such as sold, »lver,
copper, brass, tinfoil ; a piece of fiiax, Uiread, raw
silk, twisted silk, cotton, linen, gauze, nankin, ging-
ham, silk velvet. Ac, describing the difierent pro-
cesses connectea with their manufacture, and teach-
ing the children how to recognise and distinguish
such substances. But, as I have no intention of en-
tering into the minute details connected with.in^t
schools, I refer those who wii^ a more particular
account of these institutions, to Mr. Wilderspin^
excellent treatise on " Infant Education," and Mr.
Stow's " Moral Training,"* and shall conclude ibis
article by a few general remarks on the advantaga
which would result from the universal establtfb-
ment of such seminaries.

1. The establishment of infant schools in evciy
region of the globe would increase, to an indefinite
degree, the mass of useful information among man-
kind. Three or four years of the most important



* " Moral Training, Infant and Juvenile, tis ap-
plicable to the condition of the Population of lane
Towns. By David Stow, a Director of the Modal
Schools, Glasgow. Second EditioD, enlarged."—
With plates.



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MORAL IMPROVEMENT OF MANKIND.



99



period of human life have hitherto been safiei^d to
pass away without any material intellectual im-
provement The young, indeed, during this period,
aoinired various fragments of useful Imowledge, in
spite of our remissness and inattention ; for the prin-
ciple of curiosity was always alive, and could never
be altogether suppressed, wnerever objects apoeared
by which it mighi be roused and gratified. But we
never thought of directing their senses and mental
powers, regularly and systematicidly, to the forms,
qualities, u:^ and characteristic features, of sur-
rounding objects, as if smch thin^ had been beyond
the range of their comprehension ; while, at the
same time, we tortured their memoiies with the re-
tention of soimds and sentences with which they felt
disgujted, and which ihey could not understand.
But the experiment of infant schools has shown,
(and if we had not acted like fools in the business
of education, it might long ago have been demon-
strated,) that children from the age (tf three to six
years are capable of acquiring far more of what may
properly be denominated knowUdfi^ than what had
been aoauired by our usual insipid modes' of instruc-
tion at the age of twelve or fourteen. And, what is
worthy of particular attention, this knowled^ has
been acquired, not only without "stripes and impri-
sonment," but with the highest degree of satistac-
tion and enjoyment on the part of the young. If the
world, therefore, is ever to be thoroughly enlight-
ened, in every thing which relates to the present
happiness ana the eternal interests of mankind, and
if the knowledge of Jehovah is " to cover the earth
as the waters cover the seas," the foundation must
be laid in the universal establishment of infant
schools, on the most judicious and expansive plans,
in ever^ nation under heaven.

2. It is not only the amount of knowledge actual-
ly acquired, durmg the period alluded to, but the in-
U U edy a l habits formed during its acquisition, which
render such instructions of immense importance.—
For want of these habits being formed in early life,
the great bulk of mankind may be said to have
" eyes, but see not — ears, but hear not," and conse-
quently " do not understand ;" they know neither the
proper use of their sensitive organs, nor are quali-
fied to deduce proper conclusions from the objects to
which they are occasionally directed ; but pass
through Hie without any raUimdl application or the
senses and faculties with which they are furnished.
Is there one out often that has ascertained, from his
own observations, that the starry heavens perform
ao apparent revolution round the earth every twen-
ty-four hours, around, a certain fixed point called
the polel Is there one out of twenty tnat can tell
at what seasons of the year the new moon will ap-
pear at a high elevation above the horizon, and
when the full moon will appear high or lowT And
yet these facts may be ascertained, without the least
difficulty, by a simple apfilication of the on^s of
vision to the respective objects, combined with a de-
sire to know the results;— in tbe first case, the ob-
ject may be determined in the course of a single
day, and in the latter case, within the course of a
year; and yet it is a fact, that sixty or seventy years
nave passed away, in the case of thousands ana mil-
lions of those who are denominated rational beings^
without their knowing either the one or the other.
The same position might be illustrated in thou-
sands of similar instances, where the grossest igno-
rance prevails in relation to multitudes of objects,
which might have been prevented by a rational use
of the sensitive organs with which the Creator has
endowed us. Now, in infant schools, children are
trained to a proper application of their sensitive
powers— presented witn suitable objects on which
they may be exercised, and taught to deduce from
them nsefhl truths, with their practical applications.



These intellectual habits being formed in early life,
will naturally be brought into more vigorous ana
extensive exercise as they advance in years, and lay
the foundation of all the treasures of knowledge
they may accumulate, both in the present life and
throughout the ages of eternity. Such habiu: being
formed and continually exercised, a relish for know-
ledge, and activUv of mind, are produced, which
will facilitate all their subsequent acquisitions, and
render them interesting and delight ml; so that, in
whatever stations in society they may afterwards
be placed, they will be distinguished as men of wis-
dom and mtelligence— ^^vui^ii their svbsequeiU edu-
catum be conducted on the same rational principles.

3. What is of still greater importance — in these
schools the foundations are laid of moral and reli-
gious habits. It has been the practice hitherto, in
infant schools— a practice which I trust will never
be abolished-^that the children have tbeir minds
impressed with the idea of an Omnipresent Being,
who continually supports them, and to whom they
are amenable for all their actions— that their exer-
cises are uniformly commenced with prayer, and
with a h3rmn of praise to the Creator and Redeemer
of men— that the leading facts of Revelation are de-
tailed in the most simple and interestiu^ manner,
and its moral precepts enforced in all their associa-
tions with eacn other— that the principles of fraud,
dishonesty, deceit, hatred and malignity, wherever
they appear, are strictly checked and counteracted,
ana the practice of love, kindness, honesty, justice
and trutn, enforced and exemplified. Now, such
truths inculcated, and such practices enforced and
exemplified, for several years, when the mind is sus-
ceptible of tf very impression, and of being moulded
into any habit must be of immense importance in a
moral point or view— and if such seminaries were
universally established, conducted on liberal and ju-
dicious plans, and succeeded by seminaries of a
higher order, conducted on similar moral princi-
ples — society would soon assume a new moral as-
pect, wickedness and debauchery would be banished
from our streets, thefls and robberies would gra-
dually be diminished, brawling^, contentions and ex-
ecrations would cease, and harmony and good-will
be Introduced into the scheme:^ and associations of
mankind.

It is an injunction inculcated by the highest au-
thority, " Train up a child in the way he should go,
and when he is old he ^otU not depart from U'^ The
last part of this sentence contains a most important
truth, stated without the least exception or modifi-
cation. The inierpreiaiion generally given of it by
divines is, " He will not ordinarily depart fVom it."
But what warrant have we ihusto'limit and modify
the dictates of inspiration 1 Let the declaration ht
viewed as a imiversal and eternal truth, and the
problem to be solved will be, " Has ever a child hi-
therto, in all points of view, intellectually and mo-
rally, been trained up in the way he should goT* If
so, we ought to believe that the declaration in this
passage was fully realized in such a case. Much
nas been said respecting the children of pious pa-
rents turning aside from the paths of rectitude in
their riper years. But the fact to be determined is.
Have such parents trained up their children in a
rational, judiciotis, and benevolent manner t I have
seen persons piously dispased, and even ministers
of the gospel, train up tneir children as foolishly
and injudiciously as tnose who made no profession
of relinon, and even with less wisdom and discre-
tion. I^ot that they intended to train their ofi^ring
in any bad principles and practices, but that they
were either ignorant of the true mode of training
chDdren, or had imbibed fklse maxims, or indulged
a foolish foddness, or had neglected to bring their
children under a judicious control, or had humored



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their whims aod pampered their appetites, or were
placed in certain clrcamstances, and in the midst of
diflknlties over which they had little control. Even
in attem]>tin^ to teach tl^eir children the principles
of Christianity^ their plans have been calcalated nu
ther to excite disgust at religion, than to allure their
hearts to the practice of its heavenly precepts. What
else coald be expected, when children, oa the Sab-
bath, were confined to a comer, conning memorial
iaskSf committing to memory catechisms, psalms,
and chapters from their tattered New Testaments,
of which they understood not a sin^^le sentence— ana
at the same time deprived of theii' usual sensitive
enjoyments, and, doubtless, exclaiming in their
hearts, '*0 what a weariness is it; when will the
Sabl^ih be over!''— just as if religion consisted in
the acquisition of technical terms, sounds and sen-
tences, and metaphysical dogmas. Is this the way
to induce the young to love Gk>d, "to call his Sab-
baths a delight, and the holy of the Lord, honorable 1"
or is it to be wondered at, that those wno have been
brought op in this way have sometiiaes struck off at
a tangent from the restraints of reli|[ion to the ways
of sin and folly 1 If the whole train of education
through which such children passed, from the flrs(
year of their existence to the period when they turn-
ed aside from the paths of righteousness, were laid
open to our view, we should, doubtless^ oe enabled
to account for all such moral aberratipns, and to
trace the intimate connection between pause and
effect.

T have thrown out these remarks for the purpose
of showing, that if public and domestic education
be conducted with judgment and piety, if children
be trained in infant Mbools and other seminaries in
useful knowledge, and to the habits of piety and mo-
ral order,— we have the surest grounds for conclud-
ing, that, when arrived at mature age, they will be-
come intelligent and useful membera both of Chris-
tian t^nd of civil society, and that our arrangements
and labors in these respects " shall not be in vain in
the Lord." The dictates of Inspiration on this point
are in perfect unison with the laws of the morail
world, and are corroborated by universal experi-
ence. Almost every person fe^ls that early impres-
sions are the most vivid and the most lasting ; and
it is a fact, that, according to the bent which the ha-
bits, dispositions, and conduct of the young receive,
during the first ten or twelve years of their exist-
ence, such will it generally remain, with a few
slight modifications, during the future period^ of
their lives. Hence the difficulties — in many cases
iiisurmountable— which must be encountered, in or-
der to counteract the habits and vicious popensities
acquired during this early period ; ana hence the
comparative ease with which children may be train-
ed to intelligence and moral habits, when they are
eommitted, at a very early age, to tne care oi a ju-
dicious and intelligent teacher of an infant school.*

* As an illustration of the moral and intellectual
cfiects of infant teachingj[ subjoin the following ex-
amples, taken from Mr. Wilderspin's " Infant Edu-
cation^" as what occurred in the course of his own
experience :—

1. THe WkisUi. " Many of the children were lA
the habit of bringing marbles, tops, \$rhistles, and
other toys, to the school, which often caused much
dhtturlMtnce : I found it necessary to forbid the child-
ren from bringing any thing of the kind. ASier giv-
ing notice two or three tinaes in the school, I told
them, that if any of them brought such, things, they
would be taken from them. In conseouence, several
thinp fell into my hands, which I aid not alwa3rs
think of returning: and among other tilings, a wh istle
from a liule bpy. Tbe child asked me for it as he was
going home, but baying several visiters at the time,



4. In£uit schools are calculated t9f^Mn(ff(Atfiiia«4f
of ckUd/ren from tkepemicitms inJI/uenu ofigwno.i^
and immoriU parents, and to prevtnt most of tkose
ermes which v^jwr^ the peace and prosmerUy of soci-
ety. The in^morfj principles and vicious habits in
which multitudes of children are trained under the
domestic roof, not only lay the foundation of their
own unhappiness and ruin, but are productive of
many pests and nuisances to general society. In cities
and tx^lous towns, this fiict is too frequently rea-
lized. Many children are trained up, even by their
parents, to habits of pilfering^ which they sometimes

I put the child off telline him not to pla^e me, and
he went home. I had forgotten the circumstance
altogether, but it appears the child did not : for some
time after, while I was lecturing the children upon
the Uecessity of telling truth, and on the wickedness
of stealing, the little fellow approached me, and
said, ' Please f sir, you stole niy lohisUe.* ' Stole yoor
whistle,* said I, * did I not give it you again V 'No,
teacher ; I asked you for it, and you would not nve
it to me.* I slooa self-convictea, being accused la
the middle of my lecture, before all the children,
and really at a loss to know what excuse to make,
for I had mislaid the whistle, and could not retarn
it to the child. I immediately gaVe the child a half-
penny, and said all I could to persuade the children
that It was not my intention to keep it. This trifiing
mistake of tpine did more harm tnan I was able to
repair for some time ; for if we wish to teach child-
ren to be honest, we should never take any thing
from them without returning it again." Thts story
shows how necessary it is to tes^ by example as
well as precept— and that children have a clear per-
ception of any discrepancy that may take place in
this respect.

3. Tie boy and (he song. ** One day while I was
walking in the play-ground, I saw at one end of it
about twenty children, apparently arguing a subject,
pro and con. Prom the attitude of several or the
orators, I judged it was about something which ap-
peared to them of considerable importance. I wished
to know the subject of debate, but was satisfied that
if I approached the children it might put an end to



Online LibraryArchibald ForbesThe Christian library: a weekly republication of popular religious ..., Volume 6 → online text (page 79 of 121)