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vigour which they have sacrificed to their zeal in doing that which, though most excellent in itself, they have been carrying to excess.
Again, the teachers demand and deserve a word of sympathy and support. They have come forward with the best intentions, with the most benevolent regard to their poorer or more ignorant neighbours. Their wish and desire is to be doing God service, and to be doing at the same time a most important service to man. On many of these very frequently the beautiful services of our church are in a great measure lost. Feelings of oppression and weariness—at times, 100, we are assured, even of disappointment and irritation-keep them from thoroughly entering into the spirit of the ordinances with which they are engaged. Might not a mollification of the system be useful to these also ?
Let us not be misunderstood. We have no wish to depreciate Sunday schools, but rather, as has been already said, to speak of them with respect and high commendation. How could we do otherwise ? We have no wish to deprive the little ones of any help, any encouragement which may assist them in running their Christian course. Nothing can be farther from our thoughts. Rather we desire that the help they do receive shall be such as, under God's blessing, may be profitable to them and really useful. Our object is to strengthen the hands and encourage the endeavours of some clergyman, who finds himself fettered by a practice of this kind, but who feels unable single-handed to modify and correct what he feels to be wrong. After what has been said it may possibly be expected that we should illustrate our meaning by laying down some scheme or plan of proceeding. If we do so, it must be understood that we do so with a full knowledge that the matter under inquiry is a delicate one, that what we say is with much hesitation, and that we have no desire to dictate in any way to the managers of Sunday schools. With this premised, we recommend that those children, who have the privilege of week-day schooling, should be called together for an hour, or at the most an hour and a half, on the morning of Sunday. During that time let them be occupied chiefly with repetition, or showing their acquaintance with what at their last assembling they were directed to prepare. Their scriptural readings will thus be most likely to be extended over the week, and help to sanctify each day of it. Let those who are near their homes be dismissed to accompany their parents or sisters or other friends to church. Detain only those who are far from home, or who have no one to accompany them. Thin as much as possible the corner or gallery where the children are congregated; and then perhaps one would be less likely to hear the application of a cane to the shoulders of an inattentive boy--the most undevotional of sounds. The teacher of a class may at the same time be just as careful to see that the dismissed scholars are in church. We are no advocates for irregularity; and each teacher in going out or coming in would readily discover his or her little party. If the school be open at all in the afternoon, let it be to those only who do not attend school during the week. The time would be well and profitably expended on them. And if an hour during an evening in the week could be set aside for them by their pastor, some hold might be kept upon a body of young people whom at all times it is most dif
ficult to serve those that are between fifteen and twenty-one-a body too often to a thinking man the great eyesores of the parish. If some such plan as we have ventured upon be followed, we hope it might have a beneficial effect upon the parents, especially upon the father. He is generally absent during the week and sees nothing of bis children. Is it wise or right to take child away for so large a portion of the time, during which the parent and child can have healthy intercourse together? Is it not likely also that if the child went to church from home, the parent might be more frequently seen going in the same direction? 'It is a beautiful sight to see father and child going up hand in hand to the house of their common God and Father. Would that it were less rare!
ON THE ADVANTAGES OF CATECHETICAL INSTRUC
TION, BOTH AS IT RESPECTS THE TEACHER AND HIS
PUPILS, OBJECTIONs have been raised against the use of the catechetical method, or rather against its abuses, for it is against these that such objections have been pointed, rather than against the method itself rightly understood. This method, we maintain, when skilfully employed, possesses peculiar advantages, both as it respects the leacher and his pupils.
1. It is useful to the teacher, inasmuch as by it he is enabled to call into exercise all the powers and faculties of his own mind, while imparting his information. Nay, he is not only enabled to exercise his own powers of mind, but is laid under the necessity of doing so, in order to judge of the correctness of the answers he receives, as well as to be prepared with subsequent appropriate questions ; thus, while he by this method teaches others, his own mental powers are exercised, and thereby strengthened and improved.
2. The teacher's language, by the employment of this method, becomes more perspicuous, and more copious.
When the teacher addresses his pupils uninterruptedly—that is, when they merely listen-he employs such words and expressions as are most familiar to himself in connexion with his subject, and such as his memory most readily furnishes him with. Whenever he has occasion to speak of the same subjects he employs the same language, and that, as it were, mechanically. Nor does he vary his language, or exchange one set of expressions for others, except he should, by some circumstance, be led to reconsider his subject, and fresh terms, in connexion with it, should impress themselves more deeply on his memory than those he had been in the habit of previously employing. The teacher, in the case we are supposing, does not feel himself under the necessity of casting about in his mind for different words, or a variety of expressions to convey a single idea or circumstance to his pupils. It, therefore, depends entirely upon himself, whether or not, and to what extent, he may familiarize himself with language. The probability is, that he will not make any effort at all of the kind, especially should he imagine, as he is very liable to do, that his language is already unobjectionable, sufficiently correct, and sufficiently intelligible. Here, it is obvious, the teacher has no proof, and therefore cannot be certain, whether his pupils do or do not understand his language.
The case, however, is quite different when he employs the catechetical method. It cannot remain unknown to him, when he catechizes his pupils, whether they have rightly understood what they have read or heard. And when he does discover that they have not rightly apprehended the subject, and that the fault lies in the language employed, he is then driven to reflect how he can best bring the matter home to their understandings. This he, of course, can only effect by clothing the subject in language which to the pupils is more simple and more intelligible. He sees himself under the necessity of substituting at one time, it may be, a simple every-day word or a combination of such words for some technical term, some word that is strange, or of rare occurrence; at another time he finds it necessary to change or remodel the sentence entirely, breaking it up, perhaps, into several shorter and more simple ones. An exercise of this kind, it is clear, cannot fail to improve the teacher's knowledge of language and his power of expressing himself. There is, perhaps, no branch of instruc: tion taught in our elementary schools in which this simplification of language is more frequently or more imperatively called for than in religious instruction. By the employment of the catechetical method and the constant effort to express himself in language level to the capacity of his pupils, the teacher will become acquainted with a large stock of homely (call it, if you will low), yet expressive language, which is current among the humbler classes of society, but is excluded from what are called the educated circles, and forms no part of our ordinary book language. It may be made a question how far it is desirable that the pupils should ultimately retain the use of such language, but there can be no question that it is highly important that the teacher should be familiar with it, as such knowledge may be rendered, by him, a valuable auxiliary in the intellectual development of his pupils.
3. The teacher who will faithfully practise the catechetical method, will find that his own religious and other knowledge will thereby gradually become more thorough and more extensive than it may
hitherto have been. He will thus experience the truth of the adage, docendo discimus, by teaching we learn. The answers which he receives from his pupils, by suggesting other questions, will also, sometimes, especially at the outset of his career as a catechist, discover to him obscurity, indefinitiveness, and short-comings in his own knowledge. Much of this obscurity, and of these inaccuracies in the teacher's knowledge will receive illustration and be corrected by the catechetical exercise itself. Should this not be the case, he will, at least, be made aware of his ignorance, and will feel himself under the necessity of removing it by farther research and reading. What is thus acquired to supply a felt want is not likely to be soon forgotten. The teacher, who by such means acquires an adequate, well-digested, and, as one may say, practical knowledge of the subjects which he teaches, together with a readiness of bringing it out, and turn
ing it to account, will possess some of the leading qualifications necessary to constitute an efficient teacher. He will then be in a condition, when he receives incorrect answers to his questions, not merely to tell his pupils that they are wrong, but to point out to them, and lead themselves to see, wherein the fault lies, whether in matter of fact or expression. From thus exposing what is wrong, what is right and correct will often appear, by contrast, in a stronger light, and take a firmer hold on the minds of the children. The superiority of this rational method of teaching (if we may be allowed to call it by this name) over that which is purely dogmatical, is too well known, to those who have experience in the matter, for us to do anything more here than hint at it.
In other methods of teaching, the teacher can more easily prepare himself than when he employs the catechetical method. To the teacher, however, who would give a good catechetical lesson, a careful previous preparation of his subject is, as a general rule, indispensably necessary. He must possess a firm grasp and complete mastery of his subject, in order that he may not be disconcerted or thrown off his guard by the wrong, and especially by the half-right answers which he receives, and so be driven from the object of the lesson ; and also that he may not, by impatience, fretfulness, or harshness, discourage the feeble efforts of his less forward or less talented pupils. All this demands-what the teacher should sedulously aim at acquiring--great presence of mind, quickness of thought, a readiness in detecting mistakes, and in discriminating between what the children know and what they do not know, or know only obscurely. These qualifications will give the teacher a facility in linking the information which he communicates to his pupils with what they already possess, and in shaping his representations and illustrations in conformity with their previously acquired ideas. Here the teacher finds ample scope for the exercise of all his tact and talents ; but it is a highly profitable exercise--so much so, that it is perhaps not too much to say, that the best catechist is the best teacher.
4. The value of the instruction depends, in a great measure, upon its being thoroughly acquired and rightly understood by the pupils. It is a matter of great importance therefore that the teacher should ascertain that they do thus fully understand and master the subjects which he brings before them. There is no better way by which this can be accomplished, than by requiring the pupils to tell, in answer to the teacher's questions, what they have learned. To be convinced of the value and necessity of this questioning at each step of the instruction, let any one address children upon any subject for five or ten minutes in ordinary language, and then ask them to tell him what he has been talking about. Those who have never tried this will be surprised at the result. It will be found that the children, for the most part, are totally unable to state the substance of what has been told them. Question them more minutely, and it will be found that to some things told them they have attached no meaning at all, or a wrong one; that they have failed to understand the words employed; that they have not detected the connexion and the dependence of the sentences, and thus have lost the train of thought; and that the whole has left on their minds only an indistinct and confused impression. Had the cate
chetical method been employed, this could hardly have been the case. The answer to each question would have shown the teacher, as he proceeded, whether the children rightly understood his language and the subjects of which he was speaking. By this method he would have been able to remove difficulties; and, at each step, to clear up obscurities, whether in sense or in language. In short, as there is no method which affords the teacher greater facilities for making himself intelligible to his pupils, so there is none by which he can better satisfy himself whether they correctly and thoroughly understand his instruction.
5. There is but one other advantage we shall here mention, which belongs to the catechetical method, as it respects the teacher ; but it is a highly important one. It affords the teacher an opportunity of becoming iotimately acquainted with the intellectual talents, the calibre of mind, and peculiarity of disposition, which characterize the children individually. 'Without a considerable practical knowledge of this kind no teacher can do justice to the intellectual training and education of his pupils. A knowledge of his pupils individually, and of the characteristics by which they are distinguished, must therefore always be a matter of important study to the teacher. Here his attention will be di. rected partly to their dispositions and habits, and partly also to their outward circumstances; and the almost infinitely varied differences which he will thus discover, will abundantly repay his patient and careful investigation. In one he will probably find a memory which takes the lead; and, as it were, throws into the shade all the other powers of the mind. Such a one must first have collected everything in his store-house, before he can elaborate it. Another pursues quite an opposite course. His judgment approves, and it is only what is thus approved that he treasures up. His magazine, if one may so speak, is poorer, but his store has been selected after his own fashion, There is no lumber nor confusion. All are his own, carefully-selected and laboriously-acquired possessions. There sits a boy to whom almost everything comes through the imagination. He evinces little or no reason, but he carefully marks such narratives as come under his notice, and makes his own whatever of them pleases him. Again, this pupil advances slowly and laboriously, but he rarely goes backwards. He may be absent from school for a considerable time, and yet have forgotten little or nothing. That one advances by rapid strides; but a few days' absence will put him four weeks backwards. Yonder mechanical genius seems to effect little or nothing in the school; yet he will, probably, grow up a useful man, and, as an artisan, be much more so than his neighbour, who, though he is of much quicker parts, will probably make an inferior workman, because he does not possess sufficient patience and steadiness for labours of a mechanical kind.
The dispositions and habits too in all these children, will be found to be not less various than their intellectual endowments. This boy is almost always the first in the school, and for this he deserves praise, yet it may
be feared whether he will grow up a good man. It is pride that impels him. He does not love to learn; he loves to excel. That softlooking reserved little girl answers but little, but she feels acutely. Observe her during the religious instruction. The little she does say comes from the heart. This boy, on the other hand, during religious