James Pyle Wickersham.

Methods of instruction .. online

. (page 29 of 31)
Online LibraryJames Pyle WickershamMethods of instruction .. → online text (page 29 of 31)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

two or three lines, to forget to look at the head-
line; whereas, slips can be readily moved down
the copy as the pupil proceeds with his work. It
is an advantage many times, also, for the pupils to
rewrite their lessons. If a teacher has ample time,
writes a suitable hand, and has a prospect of remain-
ing a long time in one school, it may be well for
him to " set the copies" or write the models himself;
but as these contingencies seldom exist, it is better
for teachers generally to adopt some good system
of Penmanship and follow it. Under the most
favorable circumstances, pupils might take more
interest in copying a teacher's hand- writing than
in imitating models ; but pupils often loose so much
by being required to imitate the ungraceful char-
acters made by poor pensmen, and by being com-
pelled to change their hand-writing with every
change of teachers, that it is time this practice of
" setting copies" should be abandoned. A system
of Penmanship adopted and a set of models chosen,
the teacher must conform his instruction to it. This
is very essential to success. The first lessons for
children should consist of elements, letters, or words
written in a clear, neat, and plain hand. The
general length of the letters should be for first les-
sons about a quarter of an inch ; but after some
practice, pupils may be allowed to write both large
and small hand.

In forming his style, the pupil ought to have the
model constantly before him; but the manner of
making the letters must become so familiar that



he can preserve the same style m writing dictated
copies without a model. Teachers will do well to
require the pupil to observe in all his writing the
directions given in the writing-class. Without such
attention, pupils can never become habituated to
the use of a uniform and correct style of writing.

There is the same reason for classification in writ-
ing as in other studies ; and in conducting a recita-
tion, much loss of time is avoided by introducing
it, with such illustrations upon the blackboard as
the lesson may require, and, in the same manner,
during its continuance, exhibiting the errors made
by the pupils in their work. If the blackboards are
good, the pupils themselves may use them to great
advantage in learning to write. All the pupils in a
class should practice the same lessons at the same

I^othing need be said here concerning the kind of
desks or tables best adapted for the purposes of
writing, or of the manner of sitting and holding
the pen, or of moving the fingers or arm, as all this
is sufiiciently discussed in works on Penmanship.

It is very important that the errors pupils make
in their writing should be corrected. The best way
to do this, probably, is for the teacher to pass to
each pupil while engaged at his work, call his
attention to his errors, and make such suggestions
to him as seem necessary. The teacher may correct
general errors by showing in what they consist upon
the blackboard. Two or three critics may be ap-
pointed every day from among the members of the
class to examine the copies and report the errors, or
the copies^may be exchanged for this purpose.^


n. Drawing.

Drawing is the art of representing objects by
means of lines and shades. Like writing, Drawing
is partly a mental and partly a mechanical operation.
One who draws must first; conceive objects, and
afterwards represent them. Drawing, however,
aims to represent all objects, while writing is con-
fined to the representation of a particular class of
objects; and, in the case of Drawing, the objects
are mostly concrete, while in writing they are
always abstract.

As drawing is not generally taught in our Com-
mon Schools, some of the advantages of skill in
this branch of study may be pointed out.

Skill in Drawing aids very much in learning and
reciting other studies. Maps should be drawn in
Geography ; diagrams, in Mathematics ; and plants
and animals should be represented in the IN'atural
Sciences. Elementary Drawing-exercises form a
very good introduction to writing. Indeed, there is
scarcely any study in which skill in Drawing may
not be turned to good account. Skill in Drawing is
indispensable in some kinds of business. It is so to
the engineer, architect, and machinist. It is almost
equally so to the farmer, the miner, the teacher, and
the physician. There is no position or kind of
business in which an individual might not find an
opportunity to make an advantageous use of skill in
Drawing. To draw well one must observe closely,
and this gives valuable discipline to the senses and
the perceptive faculties. Drawing is the language
of the eye, and it often enables us to communicate
what could not well be stated in words. A person


desiring to have a new building erected or pleasure-
grounds laid out, can communicate to liis work-
men more knowledge in a few minutes by draw-
ing his plans, than he could by long hours of verbal
explanation. So a traveller in a strange country
can ofttimes convey more true knowledge by a
rough sketch of some remarkable object in nature
or art, than he could do by a labored description.
In its higher departments. Drawing is well calcu-
lated to awaken the mind to the perception of new
beauties, as it requires a careful study of nature;
and when it rises from the sphere of an imitative
art to that of a creative art, no other study can
furnish higher or better culture for the judgment,
the imagination, and the taste.

"While it is agreed on all hands that children may
begin to learn to draw when quite young — before
they commence learning to write, teachers of Draw-
ing difi'er very much as to the best method of in-
structing them. But although almost every system
of Drawing differs in some of its details from all
other systems, all of them may be arranged into two
classes ; and there are, therefore, two methods of
teaching Drawing. The first commences with a
straight line, as the simplest element used in Draw-
ing, and may be called the Abstract Method; the
second commences with objects, or the pictures of
objects, and may be called the Concrete Method.

1. The Abstract Method. — All objects that
can be represented by drawing them are either
bounded by straight or curved lines. The simplest
of the two kinds of lines is the straight line ; and,


hence, many teachers of Drawing commence their
instruction with exercises on the straight line. Be-
fore the pupils commence their lessons, however, it
might be well for the teacher to draw the outlines of
several objects bounded by straight lines, upon the
blackboard, and have them notice the kind of lines
of which they are composed, and the manner in
which one line is added to another to build them up.
In short, pupils may be led to see by such an
analysis, the purpose for which they are required to
make lines, and why they should make them cor-
rectly. The best way of developing this method of
teaching Drawing is by presenting brief descriptions
of a series of exercises.

First Class of Exercises. — /Straight Lines. —
These lines maybe made of diiFerent lengths; they
may be made perpendicular, horizontal, or inclined
at diiFerent angles ; they may converge, diverge, or
run parallel; or they may be bisected, trisected, or
divided into any required number of parts.

Secoxd Class of Exercises. — Combinations of two
Straight Lines. — These combinations will be better
understood by examples than by descriptions :




Such examples as these may be duplicated as
follows :




Thihd Class of Exercises. — Comhinations of three
Straight Lines. — The following figures are examples
of this kind of combinations :


Fourth Class of Exercises. — Comhinations of
more than three Straight Lines. — Under this class
there may he included all triangles divided hy a
single straight line, squares, rectangles, rhomhs,
trapeziums, all kinds of polygons, and an immense
number of other figures that can be made to furnish
a great variety of lessons.

Fifth Class of Exercises. — The Imitation of real
Objects hounded hy Straight Lines. — This class of ex-
ercises is intended to give pupils practice in imita-
ting the pictures of real objects bounded by straight
lines. Among the thousands of objects suitable for
the purpose, the following may be named as ex-
amples : boxes, books, blocks, posts, milestones,
stools, tables, stars, crosses, doors, windows, houses,
castles, &c.

Sixth Class of Exercises. — The Invention of
Figures hounded hy Straight Lines. — Drawing is not
only an imitative but a creative art, and pupils
should have practice in inventing figures. The
teacher may first exhibit a few original designs upon
the blackboard. From this the pupils will under-
stand what is wanted; and if there is not soon an
interested class, and eventually some fine w^ork done
by it, it will be contrary to my experience. Such


problems may be assigned as follows : given three,
four, five, or any number of straight lines, to form
a design of them ; given a figure, a triangle, a square,
or a parallelogram, to combine with straight lines ;
given one figure to combine with another; as tri-
angle with triangle, triangle with square ; squares,
stars, hexagons, with one another.

Seventh Class of Exercises. — Curved Lines. —
A few simple curves may be presented as examples :

Eighth Class of Exercises. — Combinations of
Curved and Straight Lines. — Examples of such com-
binations may be found in sections of circles, sec-
tions of ellipses, cones, cylinders, many of the
letters of the Alphabet, and thousands of objects.

I^iNTH Class of Exercises. — The Invention of
Figures bounded by Curved or Curved and Straight
Lines. — This class of exercises opens a wide field for
the display of ingenuity and taste.

After sufiS-cient practice has been allowed in the
preceding exercises, pupils may receive lessons in
Shading and Perspective, but such remarks as I
have to make concerning the methods of imparting
such lessons will be postponed until something has
been said of the second general method of teaching

2. The Concrete Method. — The concrete is the


most effective form in which, knowleds^e can be
communicated to children. We have found that
lessons on objects should precede all other kinds of
instruction ;- and it is very natural that children
should take most interest in drawing the objects
about w^hich they are otherwise learning something.
Any teacher can try the experiment for himself, and
he will find that while children will be delighted to
spend hours every day in trying to draw blocks,
posts, houses, cats, or cows, they will soon grow
tired of making lines, triangles, or circles. ]N"ature
thus indicates that the first lessons in Drawing
should be in a concrete form. What if it be said
that objects are not as simple as lines, or that it is
impossible for a child to draw them correctly, the
answer is ready, that in this way they learn every-
thing else. Children do not first learn the elements
but the wholes of things. Let them commence
learning to draw as they commence learning other
things, and it will be found that what is natural is
the most efiective. Children will even spend much
time in "playing Drawing," if provided with proper
materials. It is, doubtless, proper that pupils some-
what advanced should anal^^ze figures, and com-
mence with straight lines ; but I am here speaking
of instruction to beginners.

As with the Abstract method, the spirit of the
Concrete method can be best appreciated from a
series of exercises.

First Class of Exercises. — The Pictures of Ob-
jects. — It is more easy, and, I think, more interest-
ing, for children to draw the pictures of objects than


the objects themselves. The first lessons should
consist of the outlines of the simplest objects, such
as boxes, books, posts, gates, doors, houses, &c. ;
but, although more difficult, no harm can result
from suffering children to attempt to draw cats,
horses, fowls, dogs, human figures, &c.

Second Class of Exercises. — Drawing the Pictures
of Objects from Memory. — In the preceding class of
exercises, it is presumed that the pupils have books
or cards from which they copy the pictures. This
done, it will be found of great advantage to repro-
duce them from memory. Drawing pictures from
memory is more difficult than copying pictures;
but its disciplinary advantages are proportionably

Third Class of Exercises. — Drawing real Objects.
— Having copied the picture of an object, and re-
produced it from memory, the pupil is well prepared
to draw the object itself. For this purpose schools
should be furnished with sets of model-objects, cor-
responding to the pictures upon the*drawing-cards,
or in the drawing-books. In the absence of these,
however, the teacher need be at little loss to find
things suitable for lessons with the world full of
objects about him.

Fourth Class of Exercises. — Inventive drawing,
— To succeed in the higher departments of Inventive
Drawing, requires a highly cultured imagination,
and a correct taste; but even children may be
taught to draw objects and combinations of objects


that are not copies of anything they have ever seen,
and even to design the simplest kinds of monaments,
gates, pleasure-grounds, landscapes, houses, &c. In-
deed, this kind of work is done by children who
have been well taught, with intense interest; and
nothing can be better calculated to cultivate in-
genuity, or give opportunity of growth to the bud-
dino^ imao^ination.

These four classes of exercises indicate all that is
peculiar to this method. The method is particularly
adapted to childi-en, and aims only to communicate
a popular knowledge of the art of Drawing. Pupils
receiving instruction in Drawing up to the point
indicated in the preceding exercises, according to
this method, can enter upon the analysis of forms
and their composition, as contemplated in the Ab-
stract Method, with great profit. Thus here, as
everywhere else, principles will be found to under-
lie appearances. The Concrete Method merely con-
templates the imitation of appearances, while the
Abstract Method contemplates, in addition, the
study of principles. With pupils who are prepared
for it, the two methods may be combined.

The time is now come when something must be
said of Shading, Shadow, and Perspective.

Pupils will readily appreciate the effect of Shad-
ing if the teacher first draw the outline of a simple
object, and then shade it. They may then engage
in imitating the Shading of pictures, and, finally,
practice the Shading of real objects. Much may be
done in this way, according to the Concrete Method,


to improve the pupil's taste and increase his skill,
before he could learn the l-aws of Optics upon which
the distribution of light depends. When the time
comes for learning these laws, they must be learned
and applied after the spirit of the Abstract Method,
by commencing with the simplest and proceeding
to the more difficult.

What has been said of Shading applies equally
well to Shadow.

Distant objects do not appear to the eye under
the same angle as near ones, and as Drawing must
be true to nature, objects should be represented as
they appear. Hence the necessity of Perspective
in Drawing. Some idea of the nature of Perspec-
tive can.be imparted to learners by calling their
attention to the appearance of a long street, bridge,
or hall, trees planted on each side of an avenue, or a
railroad track. Illustrations of Perspective Drawing
should be given by the teacher upon the blackboard.
The pupils must be required to imitate a progressive
series of models. It is all important to train the
eye to judge accurately of Perspective, as it is im-
possible to take time to apply particularly all the
laws of Perspective in drawing an object. Euskin
and other celebrated artists confirm this view.
When the pupil is prepared for it, however, he
should be made acquainted with these laws, and
learn to demonstrate their truth.

It is only necessary to say further in regard to
methods of teaching Drawing that, as in writing,
they must have reference to the training of the
muscles employed as well as to the conception of
form. As in writing, too, the pupils should be


taught in classes ; the blackboard should be in
constant use both by the teacher and pupils ; good
models should be at hand for imitation; conve-
nient tables and seats, and suitable apparatus, should
be provided ; and great care should be taken in the
correction of errors.

m. Vocal Music.

Vocal Music, when rightly considered, is linguistic
in its nature, and closely related to Reading. The
principal points of resemblance between them are
that the words used in Yocal Music, as in Reading,
are required to be correctly pronounced, and pro-
perly appreciated both in respect to thought and
feeling; that while Speech is more the language
of the intellect, and Song exclusively the language
of the feelings, both are used for the purposes of
communication by all races and conditions of men.
The affinity of Speech and Song is so close, that
they are sometimes combined in a kind of compo-
sition called Recitative. The most marked differ-
ences between Reading and Singing are that hi
Reading the common sounds of the voice are used,
while in Singing these sounds are modified and
receive the name of tones ; that '^ no idea, thought,
term, proposition, or meaning, is directly conveyed
in Song;" and that Speech has no fixed clef for
comparing one note with another, and can, therefore,
neither give pleasure by presenting a melodious
succession of notes, nor by observing their harmo-
nious relationships.

The Study of Yocal Music is too much neglected,
and it will not therefore be amiss to state some of


the advantages which may be expected to result
from its more general introduction into our schools.

Music gives pleasant employment during leisure
hours. There are times of leisure in every family
— evenings, Saturday afternoons, . Sabbaths, and
these seasons can be made to yield more true eujoy-
ment if enlivened with or improved by appropriate
Music. He who is fond of Music need never suffer
from ennui, for he has a constant source of the
purest pleasure within himself Besides, tempta-
tions come to the young, especially to young men,
during hours in which they are not employed. It
is then that the dull family fireside is deserted for
the enjoyments of the tavern, the theatre, the club-
room, or the street-corner, vice presents her allure-
ments, the unsuspecting are enticed into her toils,
and thousands fall. Home should be made more
attractive, and nothing is better calculated to give
it charms than Music.

Music increases social pleasures. It has just been
Baid that Music adds attraction to the circle of the
family ; it is now asserted that this is true with
respect to larger circles of friends wherever they
may meet. Rude choruses are heard in the rough
cabins of wild savages, and grand concerts make
echo the walls of great halls in civilized cities.
Peasants sing in their cottages on festive occasions,
and Music graces the banquets of kings in their
palaces. The social party is comparatively dull
unless enlivened by the influences of song. *' The
most joyous of joys is Music." '

Music cheers men on in the performance of duty.
The mother soothes her sick child with Music; with



Music the laborer lightens his toil ; with Music our
thoughts are turned heavenward in the house of
God, and to the sounds of Music patriot soldiers
march to battle. True, Music lends its attractions to
the theatre ; Music is employed to charm the ear,
while the soul is led captive by the allurements of
wine, cards, or other forms of wickedness ; but this
is a monstrous perversion of one of the most beauti-
ful and excellent gifts of God.

Music purifies the taste. The taste is purified by
contact with what is beautiful. It cannot be doubted
that there is beauty in Music, and hence if the
young be made to appreciate it, the rougher parts
of their nature would be refined, their wilder pas-
sions would be calmed, and their tastes would revolt
at what is low and degrading, and long for a uni-
versal harmony that would embrace both the world
of matter and the world of spirit.

Music promotes good morals. It does this by
furnishing employment for leisure hours, by in-
creasing the pleasures of social life, by cheering
men on in the performance of duty, and by purify-
ing the taste. In addition to all this, the natural
tendency of Music is to enrich and ennoble the whole
emotional life. From a love of the beautiful, it is
not difiicult to attain to a love of the true and the
good. There is something very much like Music
in loving our neighbors as ourselves. The " Uni-
versal Harmony" of Pythagoras w^as more than the
dream of an enthusiast ; it was the vision of a phi-
losopher. This position is taken in full view of the
fact that vulgar and profane thoughts are sometimes
expressed in song, and that vice often makes use of


Music to gild her deformities. But sucti perversions
are not the misfortune of Music alone. The other
Fine Arts, speech, the sacred rites of religion itself,
have been forced into the service of sin.

Music induces a spirit of devotion. The Bible
contains ample evidence that blessed spirits and
angels chant their choruses around the throne of
God ; St. Paul commands the Colossians to teach
and admonish one another in psalms, and hymns,
and spiritual songs ; and during the whole past
history of the Church, since the children of Israel
sang unto the Lord on the banks of the Red Sea,
until the present. Music has been employed for the
highest and holiest purposes.

All these uses are general; Music is specially
valuable in school, both in relieving the tedium of
study and in promoting good order. Its influence
upon a school, when well directed, is valuable phy-
sically, ^sthetically, socially, morally, and reli-

Poetry is the beautiful as expressed in rhythmical
words. Music is the beautiful as expressed in
measured tones. Such words uttered in such tones
constitute Yocal Music, or Song.

Apart from the Pronunciation of words and the
appreciation of the thought and feeling of discourse,
both alread}^ treated of, methods of teaching Yocal
Music as designed to be discussed here, embrace :
first, the Training of the Vocal Organs ; second, the
Culture of the Musical Taste ; and, third, Musical

1. The Training of the Vocal Organs. — Music


like Reading is a vocal art, and the voice has the
same general capabilities in both. Music as a vocal
art concerns the Quality, Compass, Movement, and
Quantity of the voice. By the Qualities of the
voice are meant its tones ; but since tones form the
bases of Musical composition, their utterance bears
the same relation to Vocal Music that the Pronun-
ciation of words does to Reading. Hence the Qua-
lity of the voice comes first in order, and vocal
training with respect to music may be considered
under the following heads :

1st. The qualities of the voice, or Tones.

2d. The height or lowness of tones, or Melody.

3d. The length or shortness of tones, or Rhythm.

4th. The loudness or softness of tones, or Dynamics.

Harmony, including both the perception of simul-
taneous, concordant tones, and a knowledge of the
laws which govern them, is purely a product of the
intellect, and not of the voice.

Having very little practical knowledge of Vocal
Music, it is right to say that what follows is mainly
the result of theory, and of observations upon the
teaching of others.

Elementary Music books are very full of well-
arranged exercises intended to be used in training
the voice to sing, and it is not deemed necessary to
attempt to give here detailed descriptions of them.
My end will be gained if I succeed in announcing
some general principles that will be of advantage
in guiding the teacher in the use of such books.


1. Teachers of Vocal Music should he careful to secure
those Qualities of Voice which enable the Pupil to utter

Online LibraryJames Pyle WickershamMethods of instruction .. → online text (page 29 of 31)