Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 46.djvu/638

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bert Spencer remarks: "To tell a child this and to show it the other is not to teach it how to observe, but to make it a mere recipient of another's observations, a proceeding which weakens rather than strengthens its powers of self-instruction, which deprives it of the pleasures resulting from successful activity—which presents this all-attractive knowledge under the aspect of formal tuition. . . ." You must train the children under your care to help themselves in every possible way, and give up always feeding them with a spoon. Abolish learning lessons by rote as far as possible. Devote every moment you possibly can to practical work, and, having stated a problem, leave it to the children if possible to find a solution. Encourage inquisitiveness, but suggest methods by which they may answer their own questions by experiment or trial or by appeal to dictionaries or simple works of reference, part of the furniture of the schoolroom, and lead them to make use of the public library even; in after life you will not be at their elbows, but books will always be available, and if they once grow accustomed to treat these as friends to whom they can appeal for help, you will have done them infinite service and will undoubtedly infuse many with the desire to continue their studies after leaving school. Under our present system school books are cast aside with infinite relief at the earliest possible moment, and the desire for amusement alone remains. Teach history, geography, and much besides from the daily papers, and so prepare them to read the papers with intelligence and interest, and to prefer them to penny dreadfuls and the miserable, often indecent, illustrated rubbish with which we are nowadays so terribly afflicted. At the same time make it clear to them that the editorial "we" is but an "I," and that assertion does not constitute proof. If such be your teaching, and it have constant reference to things natural, you will also—as Herbert Spencer points out in a very remarkable passage—without fail be giving much religious culture, using the word in its highest acceptation, for, as he says, "it is the refusal to study the surrounding creation that is irreligious." As I have already said, one great—indeed the great—object of our teaching is the formation of character: and if you teach your pupils to be careful, exact, and observant, and they become trustworthy workers, you are giving much training of the highest excellence; and if they have enjoyed such training, what does it matter what facts they know when they leave school?

In the course that you are about to attend under Mr. Heller—the demonstrator upon whom has fallen the mantle previously worn by Mr. Gordon, and who is equally desirous of promoting and devising rational methods of teaching—you will in the first place devote your attention to exercises in measurement, includ-