Page images

ously the pupil must have been trained to a somewhat close observation, and the memory must have been stored with a considerable number of facts, before the pupil can be called upon to begin this second task. But this stage once reached, he will be required, in addition to his observation of each object presented as a lesson, to institute a comparison more or less minute with other objects previously studied, and to assign it a place in some of the grand divisions, as animal, vegetable or mineral ; or in some of the sub-orders, classes or genera of things, as a quadruped, biped or reptile ; vertebrate, insect or mollusk ; liquid or gas ; a tree, shrub or herb; a weed or useful plant ; a natural or artificial product. First, only simple resemblances will be noticed ; finally, classified.

1 3d Grade. Lessons embracing facts of reflection. These les. sons speedily follow the former classes. The little mind stored with numerous facts, and having begun to compare and classify the objects and properties which it has observed, will soon come to notice the relations and uses of the parts, the reasons of resemblances or differences ; in short, will begin to perceive through reflection, facts and truths not apparent to the mere sense ; such facts, for example, as the use of the bair to adora and cover the head ; the uses of finger nails, horses' hoofs, &c. ; the reasons why the eyes are placed as they are, why the thumb is placed opposite the fingers, why the front teeth are sharp and the back ones blunt, why wagon wheels are made round, why bound with iron ; the uses of windows, of doors, of roots of a tree, of the pulp of fruit, &c., &c. These lessons be ginning in the simplest and plainest facts of this class, will gradually go forward, as the pupils gain power and acuteness of thought, to the most hidden and rarely known or considered. Scarcely any exercise can be devised so well adapted as this to cultivate activity and power of thought, and to make keen and intelligent observers of nature. When the simple lessons of this grade are adapted to the pupils of the Primary Schools, the more advanced and difficult lessons will tax the minds of Grammar School or even High School pupils.


[ocr errors]

4th Grade. This final grade of object lessons embraces the study of the scientific aspects and relations of facts, and of the natural laws underlying and explaining them. It is indeed such a study of natural phenomena as the man of science prosecutes, and such as every well educated graduate of our pub. lic schools ought to be trained to. To this grade of object lessons belong, in truth, the experiments in Natural Philosophy and Chemistry ; and every experienced teacher knows how much of reality and vividness such experiments lend to the study of text books.

Books, indeed, are the great repositories of learning and must furnish us the largest part of our scientific information ; but

l nature is ever around us, presenting continually new phenomena, and demanding always fresh study. In nature must we seek illustrations or verifications of the theories of the books, and in her domain must we work out the problems of our destinies. However learned in books, we must still be students of nature, and there should be therefore no stage in our school life when the pupil should not continue, in object lessons, the direct study of the actual facts of nature.

A few illustrations will make the scope of these several grades more apparent. It often happens that the same object may be used in all the successive grades. Take, for example, a pocket knife.

As a first grade lesson, the pupils will observe the color, form, surface, size, weight, parts, materials and some of the common uses of the knife. All these, it will be noticed, are facts easily learned by the senses alone.

As a second grade lesson, the pupils will in addition to the facts learned in the first grade lesson, compare the knife with any other knives which they may have seen, noticing the simi. larities and differences, and classifying knives, first, perhaps, by their parts, size, color or materials, as single bladed, or double bladed, pearl handled or horn handled, black or white handled, &c. Afterward they will classify them more properly

by their uses, as pocket knives, pen knives, table knives, butcher knives, &c.

As a third grade lesson, the class will, after learning all the facts of the preceding lesson, proceed to notice those which only appear on reflection, such as the relations and uses of the parts, the uses of the rivets, the spring, the handle, the several blades, why the blades are made to shut into the handle, and all similar facts which the pupils may be advanced enough to discover, which can only be reached by a process of reflection or reasoning

As a fourth grade lesson, the knife may be studied as a mechanical power, the laws of its construction and use noticed, the principles of art involved in its manufacture observed, and its relations to commerce, history, civilization, &c., sought out

Take as a second example, an apple.

First grade lesson. The color, shape, size, surface, weight, density, odor, taste, parts and uses of the apple may furnish several lessons addressed solely to the senses, and therefore suitable for the youngest class of pupils.

Second grade. The comparison of the apple with other fruits and other apples to learn its class and to note more distinctly its distinguishing properties.

Third grade. The pupil may next advance to the study of the uses of the skin as a covering, of the pulp as food, and as nourishment for the seed, of the seed vessels, the seed, &c.

Fourth grade. The apple as a vegetable, it's laws of growth, its natural history, its chemical and other properties, its commercial products and values, and such facts concerning its propagation, cultivation and improvement as the pupils can learn.

As a third example, take some animate object, as a cat.
First grade. The class will notice, in as many lessons as are

. needful, the color of the fur, the eyes, &c., the form and size of the body and its parts, the head, the ears, eyes, feet, tail, &o., the motion, as walking, running, leaping, wagging the tail, the stealthy creeping, &c.; the voice, as mewing, purring, squealing,

&c.; the acts, as catching mice and birds, lapping milk, playing and sleeping. All these are simple facts of sense.

Second grade. Resemblance of the cat to other cats, to the dog, to the other quadrupeds and to animals in general. By this comparison, the pupils will come in time to notice and know, for themselves, the natural order and classes of animal life, and will be interested and intelligent observers of nature.

Third grade. The various adaptations of the cat to its mode of life, its soft feet to move silently, its ready claws, its eyes fitted to see in the dark, its whiskers, its lithe and active body and its sharp teeth. To these may be added whatever other facts the pupil may be able to discover and understand.

Fourth grade. The cat will be studied in this grade in the light of natural history, as a vertebrate, of the class of mam. mals, order carnaria, family carnivora, genus cat; its habits and disposition as a domestic animal, its history, &c.

The foregoing examples will not only afford illustrations of the several grades of lessons, but will also serve to indicate to inexperienced teachers some of the more prominent facts to be observed in the different classes of objects. The chief uses of these distinctions of grade are to enable the teacher to adapt the lessons more closely to the capacities of the pupils. Care must be taken not to lead any pupil into the consideration of any class of facts for which he is not prepared by age or previous attainments.

It will be observed that the lessons of the fourth grade belong properly to the high school. They would furnish a fit counter. . poise to the exclusive study of books common in our high schools, and would more certainly and successfully introduce the pupils to the scientific study of nature and facts, and thus link the learning of their school days to the practicat experi. ences of all after life.

It is not designed that object lessons shall displace entirely the study of books, as bas been before remarked. They will rather help to a more successful use of books, teaching oral lan

guage while the books teach written, and bringing the light of natural facts to verify and illustrate the scientific statement.


To read—to read easily, understandingly, eloquently;—to recognize, at a glance, the ideas and thoughts which are symbolized on the printed page, and to translate these voiceless signs into audible and impressive speech-such is at once the most difficult and most useful achievment of the school room How to teach this great art of reading to little children—this is the problem proposed to us. To solve this problem we must kuow its conditions. Let us consider them.

I. We have two English languages, diverse in form, coincident'in meaning. Both alike artificial contrivances to express thoughts, they differ not only in their forms, but even in the very materials of which they are composed, and in the senses to which they are addressed The one is the language of sounds addressed to the ear ; the other is the language of symbols, and can be perceived only by the eye. The former is spoken language; the latter is writte or printed language. Reading is the translation of written language into spoken.

The child learns spoken language when it learns to talk, Learning to read is simply learning the language of symbols, or printed words. But this learning is two-fold; it is to learn these printed words as signs of ideas, and to learn them as signs of corresponding spoken words or sounds; so that when the forms are seen, they shall suggest to the mind both the ideas which they represent, and the sounds which they also represente

This, which is the first notion of reading, is simple enough. It is to make the printed words familiar to the eye as the spoken words are to the ear; and then further to associate the one with the o her—the visible with the vocal—80 intimately that the one shall always instantly recall the other.

II. But there is another statement to be considered. Not only does the entire printed word represent the entire vocal word, but each particular part or letter in the former stands generally

« PreviousContinue »