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Final Disposal of the Famous Dighton Rock, 264 School Gymnastics, 353.... Work,
The Power of One Good Boy,
265 "And in Prison."... Wire Across a Continent, 368
Procrastinations.... Be Truthful to Children, 272 Never Despair of an Uoruly Boy,
Dainty and Discontented,
The Study of English Classics,
298 Annual Report of Commiss'r of Pub. Schools, 51
308 Female Education, 190....I was Once Young, 191
Physical Education, 216....Our Schools, 217 The Sense of Taste, 156.... The Sense of Sight
Meeting of American Institute of Instruction, 310 Camels in California,
The R. J. Schoolmaster.
H. R. PIERCE and N. W. DEMUNN, Editors for the Month.
Compositions in School.
children, sometimes do the most injudicious
thing they can, by writing their compositions Why is the writing of compositions such a
for them. But most mothers have duties at bugbear in our schools, and why do so few attain home more urgent than helping to write comto excellence in this department of study? These positions, and the great majority of children are questions which have often suggested them
must get aid somewhere else. Help must selves to us, and lead us to inquire if there are
come from some source ; they can do nothing not means of improvement in this direction?
alone, and what is the consequence. They If there is no way in which this branch of stu
turn to books and copy, verbatim et literatim : dy can be divested of its terrors, and rendered
they commit to memory and write from recollecattractive to pupils ?
tion; they do anything, in short, to avoid the We believe there is ; that, if rightly conducted, penalty, which, all the time, has hung like the the practice of writing compositions would be sword of Damocles above their heads. The apat once the most entertaining and instructive pointed day comes round, and what is the exerexercise of the school-room. It does not, and cise in composition? A class is summoned and it never has, received the attention it deserves called to produce and read the required article. in the education of the young. Instead of its Nearly all of them have something that they being made a prominent study and daily exer- call a composition, and there is a degree of satcise, it is almost always made subservient to isfaction evident that a disagreeable duty has everything else, receiving only a small fragment been performed, a tedious task accomplished ; of time once in two or three weeks, and the but it is also evident from their sour looks and smallest possible amount of the teacher's atten- ungracious ways that they have no interest in tion even then.
it all, that they hate the whole affair, and would Pupils go through the lower schools or classes have nothing to do with it if they could help it. without receiving any preparation for this part The compositions are collected and handed to of their work which awaits them beyond ; and the teacher for correction, who, in nine cases upon entering a higher class they are met with a out of ten, considers it the most disagreeable command to have a composition ready by a giv. part of school drudgery, and hurriedly passes en day, with a penalty of checks, demerits, or them over, stopping only to dash some of the what not, in case of failure.
misspelled words, set up some of the missing How cloudy and uninviting their way becomes capitals, sprinkle in a few punctuation marks, at once! The dark shadow of a composition and hand them back to the pupils. falls over before them ; attends them like a Now, where is the benefit of all this? We gloomy spectre, dispelling all the sunshine of fail to see it, and do not hesitate to say we don't the day and disturbing all the dreams of the believe there is any. How few of those whom night. Many mothers can testify to the truth we send out as graduates after years of instrucof this if any doubt it. Too often they have tion in our schools are capable of writing even the teacher's work to do, and in pity for their la tolerable letter! and how rarely do we meet
with original thought and appropriate language between words and thought, how one is used as among the young. In fact, a pupil who can the representative of the other. write an intelligent article, who can express A skillful teacher may do this, and thus imhimself correctly and with any degree of taste, part, all unconsciously to the pupils, the essenis considered a kind of genius, and the fact that tial rudiments of grammar and English compoall might do it, if rightly trained, entirely es- sition, even in our primary and intermediate capes observation.
schools, with half the trouble that attends the Children take their first lessons in composi- commencement of these studies in a higher tion in the nursery.
Parents cannot be too school. More than half our grammar could be guarded in their use of language in the family taught in familiar conversation with the little circle. Household words are the words our children, and they could become good grammachildren carry with them through life. It is rians before they know there is a grammar in not enough that we, as parents, avoid the coarse
the world. and vulgar. We should aim to reach the re
The ways in which this can be accomplished fined and beautiful, and thus the influence of are as many and as different as the schools to even our most familiar words will be to elevate be taught, and teachers who instruct. and ennoble.
For small children, we greatly prefer general But not to parents, to teachers we are writ- exercises. We like to see a whole school arousing, and next to the nursery comes the primary ed and interested at once. Now let the teacher school. What! have compositions in a primary select any familiar object, like the horse, call school? Yes, in a primary school, and at the upon the children to tell anything they may hands of a good teacher this may be made to know of the horse, mention any of its attributes combine a greater variety than all the routine of or qualities, (don't use the words attributes which hundreds of little ones now weary every and qualities to them) tell any of its uses, let day.
any one of them relate any anecdote they may School exercises require variety. This is have heard about the horse, ask them questions, particularly essential in schools for little child- tell them what you know about the horse, and ren. There is not enough that is familiar and don't forget that you are talking to children home-like in our primary schools. With all and that simple things are interesting to child. the improvement that has been made, they are
Be careful that they know the meaning of still too much like prisons, for the active little every word used in speaking to them, for it is bodies and still more active minds that crowd one of the rarest accomplishments in the world them every day. A parent, and a teacher of to be able to talk well to children. Encourage one of our high schools, told us, but the other the children to talk themselves, call upon them day, that he should think it a calamity to be separately to remember and put all they have obliged to send his little girl to one of our pri- heard together and tell you. mary schools; that in ten rrinutes of time with Besides conveying more general information her every day, he could teach her more than in this way than in any other, teachers would she would learn by sitting all day in the close, be surprised to see the improvement that even crowded, ill-ventilated school-rooms six hours the youngest pupils would make in expressing a day, and five days a week.
themselves. They would acquire a habit of Now it is not necessary that a composition connected thought, the want of which is so apshall be written with pen and ink. Even before parent in the young, and which is itself the children have learned their letters they are capa- foundation stone of a good education. They ble of making compositions; they do make them would also acquire a surprising command of every day, and astonish us often by their choice language; would learn in a practical manner of words and happy applications. The beauti- the meaning of words and their correct uses. ful sayings of little children would, if collected, Now are not these the essential requisites of form a volume as interesting as it would be a good composition, and why may they not be novel.
obtained to a very great degree in our lower The mind of a little child is ever active. Lit- schools. Exercises of this kind, we think, tle children are always thinking, and they might be most happily blended with the daily exshould be encouraged to think and to give ex-ercises of the primary and intermediate schools, pression to their thoughts. Show them, as one and in this way the pupils would become in of the first things to be learned, the relation some measure, at least, prepared for the work of
writing compositions as they advance. It would be corrected verbally. Time enough should be not be the repulsive study it now is, and com- given to the exercise to explain every correction, positions would no longer be the meaningless however trifling. things that now answer to the name.
Our language suffers a shocking abuse by the Written compositions belong exclusively to general carelessness in regard to what are called the higher schools, and should form one of their trifling things. Fatal mistakes, irreparable most prominent studies. But to aceomplish losses are sustained every day which car be this, teachers must overcome their repugnance traced directly to incorrect spelling and punctuand manifest an increased intưrest in their part ation. Teachers cannot give too much attenof the work. It is impossible to interest pupils tion to these subjects. Either of them suggest through indifferent, listless teachers, and it is thoughts for an entire article, and must not be impossible also for a teacher to impart any kind enlarged upon here; they should all be includof instruction successfully, who has no relished in the study of penmanship as connected for it.
with compositions. One of the tirst elements of a written compo- But there is one subject which is nearly lost sition is penn anship. It is expected that pupils sight of, and which seems to us to be of the have learned to write before written composi- utmost consequence in our schools, and that is, tions are required of them. Now what is the Expression, or choice of words. A great defifact in regard to penmanship in our schools : ciency in the use of words would be supplied A gentleman occupying a high position in our by the introduction of the proposed exercises city, and who could speak from extensive obser- into our lower schools; by proper attention to va:ion, remarked in our hearing that “among all the answers of pupils in recitation, which should the male teachers of his acquaintance he did not never be, as they too often are, in the words of know one who could be called a good penman.” the book. But good expression can be acquirIf this be the fact, is it any wonder that we ed more easiiy and more effectually by writing find so many poor writers among the pupils. compositions than in any other way.
Good “ Excuse haste,” is no apology for poor pen- thoughts and well chosen words should be manship, and should always be interpreted, made the highest element in every composition ; "Don't mind the carelessness." There is no rea- should be held up to the pupils as the object to son why every person having the natural use of be attained. the hand and arm may not write a plain, legible I. J. Allen, superintendent of schools in Cinhand. A short time since we received through cinnati, says, in his recent report : the post-office a neat, well-written note, which
“ As the golden ore may be pure, but it is the closed in this way: “ I have written this with stamp aud dye of the mint that give it comelimy toes, having been born without arms.” About
ness and currency, so, too, the thought may be the same time we heard of a fact a little in con- lofty, the sentiment just, the doctrine true, but trast. An influential lawyer of New York it is the attractive forms of expression, as emwrote an important business letter to a profes- bodying beauty and power, that commend them sional brother in Philadelphia. The time con
to the acceptance of other minds and enable sumed in deciphering his hieroglyphics nearly them to carry conviction there. It should not lost him the case, and the infallible skill of a be overlooked, in schemes of education, that · Philadelphia lawyer” proved of no avail in
language, even more than the mere intellectual copying the signature and address. It was fin
processes of reasoning, distinguishes man from ally cut out and pasted upon the outside of an the brute, and establishes him in the high preenvelope, which reached its destination after rogative of his humanity, i. e., his likeness unto making the tour of nearly the whole country. Deity. To cultivate this humanizing gift, the
Children learn to write by imitation, and if gift by which the race is united, and the last the deficiency lies with us as teachers, let us see man is to be linked in a reccgnized relation to to it that improvement is made. “Let those the first, to train it so that in its use truth shall teach others who themselves excel.”
be clothed with power and sentiment arrayed in The use of capitals, correct punctuation, and beauty, is then, certainly, no mean function in we may add spelling, can be acquired only by the office of education. For, it is to instruct writing; and these can never be taught effectu- in the art of expressing thought, that never ally by simply making corrections with a pencil. dies, with that fitness of speech that becomes Compositions, especially of beginners, should thereby itself immortal : it is to place within
the mind's grasp an attainment commended by
“The King's English." the Holy Record in its own most beautiful illustration, when declaring that “ words fitly MR. GEORGE FRANCIS TRAIN, of Boston, in spoken are like apples of gold in pictures of sil- an eloquent speech, recently delivered at a dinver."
ner party in London, remarked that, “ as a na
tion," the English language was more accurateA Domestic Sceno.
ly and purely spoken in the United States than
in Great Britain. The remarks created loud BY MRS, HEMANS.
laughter, whereupon the speaker exclaimed : 'T was early day- and sunlight streamed “I will prove it. Order your dinner in every Soft through a quiet rooin
village from Maine to California, and they will That, hushed, but not forsaken, seemed understand you for 16,000 miles ! but go 500 Still, but with nought of gloom;
miles, from Aberdeen to Dover, and you can For there, secure in happy age,
lose yourself in a Babel of tongues. Remember, Whose hope is from above,
gentlemen, the Americans don't speak Gaelic, or A father communed with the page
Manx, or Celtic, or Welsh [laughter) — and, I Of Heaven's recorded love.
assure you, upon my honor, Yorkshire and LanPure fell the beam, and meekly bright, cashire are not taught in our common schools On his gray, holy hair,
[laughter;] and I am informed, on good authoriAnd touched the book with tenderest light,
ty, that there are no professors of Irish or Scotch As if its shrine was there !
in our Academies (applause.] Lindley Murray, But Oh, that patriarch's aspect shone
Lord Lyndhurst and Noah Webster were all With something lovelier farA radiance all the Spirit's own,
Americans ! Our written language will always Caught not from sun nor star.
be English - our spoken language is American.
“ The time has arrived to state that Sam Slick Some word of life e'en then had met
is not an American institution! - that AmeriHis calm benignant eye;
can securities are safer and pay better than Some ancient promise breathing yet
those of any other nation [0!) — that the alof immortality;
mighty dollar is not so much respected in the Some heart's deep language, with the glow
social world by the Americans as the almighty Of quenchless faith survives; For every feature said, “I know
shilling by the English - (0! and laughter) That my Redeemer lives."
that Americans never fillibuster, while England
never did anything else [hear, hear, and applause) And silent stood his children by,
- that our people, as a people, are more temperHushing their very breath,
ate, more moral, better educated, and better dressBefore the solemn sanctity
ed than their iliustrious predecessors (hear, and Of thoughts o'ersweeping death ; Silent: yet, did not each young breast
roars of laughter) — and that the tooth-brush With love and reverence melt?
story - like Arrowsmith's railways and revolOh, blest be those fair girls, and blest
vers in Georgia — has turned out to be a hoax That home where God is felt.
[laughter and applause.] England views man
kind from a first-class carriage – hence, when It is easier to gain credit for goodness by a glist- a few thousand West-enders go to the sea-side, ening eye, while listening to some story of self- they say everybody is out of town! What egosacrifice, than by usefulness. It is easier to get tism ! All the misconception has arisen by credit for spirituality by thrilling at some impas. comparing the English dress-circle with the Amersioned speech from the platform or sermon from
ican pit or Oxford and Cambridge against all the pulpit, than by living a life of justice, mercy
America! Compare dress-circle with dress-cirand truth.
cle, gallery with gallery, pit with pit, and then There are 4,000,000 students and 150,000 teach- America will receive justice in Europe. (Apers in the public schools of the United States.
plause.] * England has always been lookThere is one student for every five persons. In ing out of the cabin at America in the forecasGreat Britain there is one student to every eight tle – England has been the pulpit, America the persons. In France, one to every ten.
audience – England the schoolmaster, AmeriNOBLE spirits rejoice in the consciousness of a cans the scholars. That day has passed away. motive— base ones delight only in a pretext. A published idea is an expired patent."