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with the regular classes, but need not prevent their following the regular succession of studies.
It is not intended that each term shall invariably have it's own studies, as in the high school or college; but only that there shall be a certain line of studies marked out, which each pupil is expected to enter upon, and pursue in their order, till they are completed, or till he leaves the school.
The settled selection of such a course of study would do much to introduce regularity elsewhere in the management of the school. It would tend to a fixed arrangement of school terms, consisting of regular winter and summer sessions, of stated length, and having established days of beginning. And the course of studies wisely selected, and established by the authority of the school board, would ultimately win the parents' concurrence, and be accepted by them as the due order of things.
But the final answer to the objections is found in the fact that in all the better schools of the class here considered, something like a regular course of study is often fallen into, though often without much wisdom in the selection and arrangement of the parts. Each pupil comes to know what studies he will be expected next to take up, and often no little zeal is manifested to get forward in the course.
Let this course be more carefully chosen, and established by due authority, and it meets the requirements of this argument.
AIMS OF A COURSE OF STUDIES.
What, then, is the true order and course of studies for our common primary schools ? Before attempting a full and categorical answer to this question, it is necessary to state dis. tinctly the chief aims of such a course; since these aims give the law of selection of the studies, and determine the order of arrangement. The purposes for which a child is to study, must evidently determine what he is to study, and in what order.
The main aims of the processes of education--not considering now the great uses of education in promoting the wellbeing of the human soul and of society-are briefly these three, viz:
1st. The acquisition of the knowledge and use of language.
2d. The exercise and nurture of the several faculties and powers, to give them health, strength and skill.
3d. The acquisition of such ideas and knowledges as shall enlighten the mind and afford it materials for thought.
To these three ends should all education, whether in the school, the household or the shop, be directed. Taken in their largest sense, they embrace all education,-moral, intellectual and physical,--and include all processes, whether of training or of teaching
I. The knowledge and use of oral language give the power of correct speech. The knowledge and use of written language give the arts of reading and written composition. I place this acquisition of language first in the order of educational aims, not meaning to imply that language, either oral or written, can be acquired in advance of ideas, but because language is a prerequisite to all clear or continuous thought, and is the necessary instrument of all advances in learning. It is certain that no sounds or written characters are words, till they become signs of ideas; and hence, no word can be learned as a word, in advance of the idea it represents. But it is equally certain that no idea is clearly grasped and retained in the mind, as an element of thought and knowledge, unless it is first defined and fixed in some fitting word or form of speech. The acquisition of language, therefore, which is thus coincident with the acqui. sition of ideas, must demand a prominent place in the earlier stages of instruction.
And evidently the natural order is the spoken word before the written Children should learn to talk before learning to read, and to talk the very words they are to read. This order may be, and often-far too often-is reversed, and pupils read from books, words which are never heard in their talk, and are nearly, if not wholly, meaningless to their minds. Nature's course seems to be-1st, the perception of a fact-an idea; 2d, to find the word expressing the idea; and 3d, to make or learn a character which shall stand for that word. It is the failure
to give the proper study of language its early and prominent place in school instruction, that renders such instruction so often difficult and fruitless. It is the use, rather than the grammar, of language to which reference is here made. Language must be learned and used for years, before the age is reached when its philosophy can be properly studied or comprehended.
II. The second of the grand objects of instruction—the exercise and nurture of the several faculties and powers—comprehends properly all training of the physical, moral and intellectual powers. All of these exist in the child, in an immature state, and require to be developed into full growth and mature strength by fitting nurture and exercise. In education such exercise is called training. It has an especial use in the acquisition of the common literary arts of reading, writing and ciphering. The training of the eye to the quick detection of words, and of the organs of speech to the ready pronunciation of those words, educates the reader; the training of the band to the rapid and easy production of written characters, is the education of the writer; and the training of the mind to the ready combination of numbers, makes the expert cipherer.
The ends of exercise are three-fold-health, strength and skill. The unused faculty or organ decays or shrivels. Use is needful to health,
In the bodily system, the organ that is most exercised, also draws to itself more nourishment, and increases in power. In the mental and moral natures a similar law prevails. Nature seems to reinforce the organ or faculty that is called in to vig. orous action, and to withdraw its forces from the unused or inactive part.
Skill is the facility which we acquire in any line of actions, by dint of many repetitions of such acts, or of very similar ones. It is therefore a direct result of training.
So far, then, as education seeks to develop childhood into manbood; so far as it wishes to strengthen any intellectual or other faculties, and so far as it proposes to give skill in any art or act, it must rely largely on the processes of training by exercise. Habit, whether moral or physical, is but the result of repeated acts; and habit is the mightiest power in life. The child of use and exercise, it is the very substance of character, and the maker of destiny. Education knows no more plastic power than this of exercise, and has no more practical question, than the selection of a systematic course of training.
III. The acquisition of ideas and knowledges, given as the third of the chief aims of instruction, embraces, on the one hand, the moral ideas and sentiments which enlighten the conscience and elevate the affections; and, on the other, those elementary notions of things which constitute the rudiments of knowledge, as also those scientific forms of truth, which are its ripest fruits. Knowledge is not only one of the ultimate aims of education, but is also its necessary instrument-its pabulum and path-the food that nourishes the mental growth, and the track along which the mind moves to the final truths. The mental faculties cannot be called into exercise without ideas to work on; and whatever, therefore, may be said of the utility of training exercises for the development of the mind, it must not be forgotten that this very training necessarily im. plies the possession of knowledge, as the field upon which the faculties exert themselves.
A considerable stock of simple ideas must be obtained before several of the faculties can be brought into operation, Thus a child must have observed several facts before the process of comparison can begin, and the classifying faculty can be exercised. The judgment requires for its work, a store of well understood and remembered attributive facts and qualities; and the reason scarcely begins its higher course of refleotion—its philosophical analysis, its profound and far reaching generalizations and deductions, until, after years of active observation and experiment, the mind is enriched with thousands of ripened judgments, and the memory is stored with multitudes of verified facts and truths.
Education does not propose the impossible result of
ing its pupils in knowledge; but it must necessarily furnish them its simple elements, and train them to the search for its higher forms. Even the simplest and most meager course of in. struction must attempt this.
It is obvious, then, that these three specified aims comprehend all the objects legitimately within the range of our school work, whether that work be to give the pupil some moderate degree of learning, to teach him the simple literary arts of reading, writing, &c., or to furnish him some special information and culture which may aid him in business or life. And all of the three will be necessarily called into use in the attainment of either of these objects, and in every period of instruction, however brief. To learn the terms in which knowledge is expressed; to acquire the knowledge itself; and to exercise the mind in the application and repetition of this knowledge; what proper school work is there that is not made up of these three ? And these comprehend all: there is no other,
Such, then, are the aims that must guide us in the selection and arrangement of a proper course of common school studies; and that course is best, which best meets these several aims. Keeping them in view, let us proceed to suggest
A COURSE OF STUDY.
This course should embrace, the following branches, viz:
1st. Language--comprehending talking, reading, orthography, composition and grammar.
2d. Thinking-or the exercise of the mental powers; beginning, in the case of younger pupils, with simple perception and observation, and proceeding to comparison, analysis, classification, recollection, reflection, judgment and reason; the exercises being directed both to the facts of nature and the study of
3d. Common Things-comprehending a knowledge of the forms, colors, properties, parts and uses of the familiar objects and scenes of nature and art, and of all those elementary and