« PreviousContinue »
the nature and manner of these institutions. Or others who may have occasionally witnessed the good effects, or may have been made acquainted with the great utility of Sunday Schools. These have perhaps often wished that the like benefits were within the reach of their own families, or neighbourhood; but no opening prospect appears, the thing seems to be quite out of their reach. While the former, by means of your miscellany, are opening the fountains of wisdom to each other, and endeavouring to perfect every part of the noble system. You now kindly condescend to take the latter by the hand, and endeavour to encourage enterprize, by removing difficulties, smoothing the way, and opening prospects of success.
A pleasing astonishment usually strikes the mind of a person of this description when the minute particulars are laid open before him, and he is shewn every part of the system in its native simplicity. He is also agreeably surprised to find, that he himself is capable of sustaining an important part in such an institution. He now perceives that splendid abilities and a fine education are not absolutely necessary in order to usefulness and success in this labour of love. He perceives that patience, diligence, kindness, industry, and the fear of the Lord are some of the chief qualifications of a Sunday School teacher, and that whoever possesses these, may, by the will of God, render an essential service to the rising generation.
He now beholds it possible for the neglected children of his own neighbourhood to be favoured and assisted. Pleasing prospects now rise before him, and his mind is charmed into action. A spirit of enterprize soon pervades a part of the neighbourhood, and a few heartily engage in the work, looking for no thanks or recompence from man. Success begins to crown their united endeavours; the way opens before them, and they are not turned aside from the path of duty by the perverseness of those who oppose or who make no account of their labours. A zeal for the welfare of the rising generation brings their talents into action, and a humble dependance on him, who said "Suffer little children to come unto me," inspires them with confidence.
Meeting to make arrangements.
A meeting for mutual consultation takes place. The necessary regulations are made, and a superintendent is chosen to conduct the operations of the School, and to carry the regulations into effect. It is usual to select for a superintendent
a person who is a lover of children, and who is endowed with kindness, industry, and a capacity for management. He should have as great a zeal for the School as if his own well being depended upon its prosperity. If it must flourish, he will have to bestow upon it the most tender care, and to strengthen it with prayer, and water it with tears too.
At this meeting also, the teachers are arranged according to their abilities or according to their choice. Some choose to be employed in the arduous task of laying the foundation, of grounding the children in the first principles of learning. These are appointed to teach the alphabet and spelling book classes. Others are to be employed in raising the superstructure, and are appointed to teach the testament and bible classes. These are all disposed in order, and all other necessary arrangements
This meeting has generally a pleasing and powerful effect on the minds of all who are engaged in this labour of love. They begin to take a lively interest in the welfare of the children, whose benefit is intended. They look upon them as their own peculiar charge, and, in some respects, even as their own children. A strong feeling of parental love and affection flows in their hearts, and greatly assists them in surmounting every obstacle, and pressing through every difficulty to accomplish their benevolent purpose. Among the various obstacles these have to meet, the first arranging of a School generally appears to them to be one of the most difficult tasks, you will therefore excuse the liberty taken, of offering a few remarks (the fruits of experience) on the subject, and also on the first rise and first day of a Country Village Sunday School.' Arranging a School.
Proper means having been previously taken to inform the neighbourhood of the intended institution, the day arrives, and the scene is important and interesting. Parents and children are flocking from every quarter. The superintendent and teachers are attending to receive them. The seats are placed in order; the books are laid in readiness, and all things are prepared for the reception of the numerous family. The little crowds are introduced into the school-room, and a pleasing solemnity rests on the minds of all present.
At the stated time, the person appointed to make the
A general order is, to have two seats placed wide for each class, and one part of a class to sit facing the other part of the same class, and part of another class to sit back to back with these, &c. But this general order is sometimes varied by local circumstances or by choice.
arrangement proceeds to open the school with singing and prayer. He then (standing where the bible class is to be taught) gives a general order" All you boys, who read in the bible, be so kind as to come and sit down here, and you, the bible teachers, have the goodness to sit down with them.". This is immediately done, and the bible class is formed. He then removes to the place where the testament class is to be taught, and gives a similar order, and the testament class is immediately formed. He then takes his station, where the spelling book class is to be taught, and gives an order" All you boys, who read in the spelling book or easy book, be so kind as to come and take your seats here, and the spelling book teachers be so kind as to sit down with them." The order is instantly obeyed, and the spelling book class is formed. He then forms the alphabet class in the same manner. A similar method is taken with the girls, and the whole school is in order.
He then (standing by the books) calls up the bible teachers, and delivers the books-"Take these books, and put them all to their lessons; teach them in the best manner you are able; keep them as much engaged as you can, &c. He then calls up the testament teachers, and delivers their books; then the spelling book teachers, and then the alphabet teachers.
By this plain, simple, and easy method, a School, containing upwards of one hundred children, will assume the appearance of an old established School in about half an hour, and it has been generally observed, that very few of the children take wrong classes. I scarce ever knew the removals on this account to amount to one child in twenty.
The person appointed to arrange the School studies to give
the directions to the children in the most kind and condescending manner. This insures a more prompt and ready obedience, and causes the whole to fall into order with more ease and pleasantness.
Every part of the School thus easily, and at once dropping into order, gives a fine impulse to the whole, and this is generally one of the happiest hours of the Sunday School life. The children are charmed with their new employment. The finer feelings of parental affection flow in the hearts of the teachers,† and fill their minds with a pleasing satisfaction. The beauties of a Sunday School appear in their native lustre, difficulties seem to vanish, and all harmonize together.
The names of the children are next to be taken. This is to
+ This is spoken of gratuitous teachers only,
be done without interrupting the labours of the teachers, and requires two persons. One asks the children their names, and the other writes them down. The spelling book classes must be divided by the teachers into higher and lower, and any other necessary regulation made before the class papers are filled up. Remarks on teaching.
On the first day, the teachers should adopt that mode of teaching which is the most easy and familiar to themselves. Improvements, if necessary, will follow, and other modes of teaching may afterwards be introduced, either through necessity or choice. But an attempt of this kind, at first, would probably puzzle the minds, and hinder the energies of the teachers. And it is not the method, in particular, but persevering industry only which will be crowned with success. A good general rule probably is-To keep the children, much engaged as possible to hear short lessons-and as many as time and circumstances will permit.,
The attention of the children, on the first day is so strongly fixed, that the teaching is both easy and pleasant. The children are delighted with their varied employments. The teachers are pleased with the efforts of the children, and all appears so smooth, so flowery, and so engaging, that the time slides away unperceived; and while contemplating the pleasing prospects of the School, they are gently surprized by a summons from the superintendent to suspend their labours, and to the children to deliver the books to the teachers. The swiftness with which this is done, together with the neatness and order in which the books are laid, has a useful effect on the young minds. It teaches to redeem the time, and greatly assists in promoting habits of order, regularity, and obedience. The singing and prayer impart life and vigour, and gently im press the mind with pious thoughts.
Opening in the Afternoon, and general Observations.
At the stated time in the afternoon (all being ready at their posts) the superintendent, or another person, at his request, opens the school with singing and prayer; the children are immediately studying their lessons, and the superintendent calls over their names. It is pleasing to the children to find themselves thus individually attended to, yet mixed with a fear, lest they should be noted for late, or blanked for absent. This too has a tendency to bring the mind to a recollection of him who said, "The hairs of your head are all numbered.”
Indeed every part of a Village Sunday School possesses a
kind of dignity, and is finely calculated for forming orderly habits, and imparting useful instruction. The swiftness with which they pass from active employment to singing and prayer, shews that active industry, and communion with the Lord, harmonize together. The opening and closing with singing and prayer, teaches, in all things, to begin and end with the Lord. By the example of the superintendent, the children learn wisdom, prudence and management. His active mind seems to pervade the whole, and he pays attention to small things as well as great. He inspects all the classes, and takes care of the books, and of the attendance of both children and teachers. He also takes care that the School is opened and closed at the stated times, and that every thing, as far as possible, is done in its proper time and order. His active zeal and persevering industry impart order and energy to the whole. The great order in which the books are continually kept has a surprizing effect on the young minds. They observe it to be a fixed rule, that no book is, at any time, to be laid down in a promiscuous manner, but in neatness and order. Here the Village Sunday School shews a dignity in small things. This is a continual silent lecture. It gives the children clear ideas. of neatness and propriety, and inspires with a love of order, which may have a useful influence upon their whole lives. The punctuality and diligence of the teachers, their zeal for the welfare of the children, and their hearty co-operation with each other, and with the superintendent, to give energy and effect to the School, form a harmonious unity of action which shines as the light of the morning. When the fruits of their united labours begin to appear, and peace, industry and order take place, the teachers are greatly encouraged in the work; and this, together with the strong growing affection, enables them to bear little perversenesses when they arise.
Trials of this kind do not at first appear. All is activity and diligence. People coming in have seemed to be struck with surprize, probably upon viewing such an unexpected change. Inattention appears to be fled away; the children seem alive to every duty, and the whole moves in harmony, order, and dignity. Such a scene does the first day of a Country Village Sunday School present! They attempt to depart, but seem to be held in secret chains; they can scarcely leave a place of interest, and such pleasing prospect. They turn again. They look and contemplate, until (the final summons being given) the books are delivered to the teachers, and by them to the superintendent; and all are at liberty to wait upon the Lord in singing and prayer. The fatherly admonitions of the super