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It is now generally acknowledged that penmanship, instead of being a branch which we may neglect with impunity, is of ever increasing importance, and the teacher who trains his pupils to become good penmen, commands a better salary and greater respect of parents and scholars, than he who neglects that branch. But as it is still much neglected, especially in common schools and primaries (and that is the root of the evil), our commercial colleges take it up and their flourishing condition shows the appreciation of the work done there which ought to have been done in the school-room. Many a boy and girl, after leaving school, are sent by thoughtful parents to the commercial college to learn to write. We have this from parents who sent their children there to exchange their cramped, irregular scribble for the bold, beautiful hand of a commercial penman-and we are glad to add: many teachers feel their deficiency in this branch, and go there to learn. Excellent copy-books make it possible for every teacher to improve himself and pupils, and beautiful charts are furnished to the primaries by those who well know where the work ought to begin. No longer our weary little ones sit for hours with their arms folded, doing nothing but contracting habits of idleness, conceiving an inveterate hatred of school, and planning mischief; they are furnished with slate and pencil, and before they have mastered the alphabet, they learn the mystic art of embodying sound in a visible form. How eagerly they study the copy, how neatly, often admirably, they transfer it to their slates, and how they vie with one another to write the "best copy!" Many a child of seven writes a better hand than some of our prominent men whose early instructors were ignorant of the art of writing, or who neglected to insist on their pupils acquiring it. We Leed not cite "H. G." as a sample of this class-the majority of men
who may be termed "pre-commercial collegists," write more or less clumsily or at least carelessly. Of course there are exceptions, but they are by no means very common.
If penmanship deserves and receives growing attention, we can see no reason why drawing should be so sadly neglected. We shall not adduce the chief arguments in favor of drawing, as that article on drawing, in your October number, has given some of the very best, and we could not do much more than repeat them. But we shall add a few words to some of the points mentioned. 1. "At what age should children begin to draw? They cannot commence too early." Yes, and here come the knotty points. Good teachers of penmanship and drawing do not often engage to teach in primaries and small country schools, where they receive small wages and often lack the necessary implements of mechanical instruction; they cannot teach those branches to slateless scholars, or where there are no cards, copies and black boards. Their talents and ambition generally seek and find a wider (not nobler) field of usefulness.
To supply one want, we now have those well-known charts that give the pupils of lazy or unskilled teachers a chance to learn the art of writing "without a master," and to conscientious and overworked teachers they furnish a means of discipline superior even to the Solomonic rod. By requiring the little, unemployed ones to copy them again and again, he keeps them busy in a useful and interesting manner, prevents the mischief which, according to the hymn, "the devil finds for idle hands to do," and by the way, makes good penmen of those very little ones that are considered by so many teachers as "just sent to bother them, for what can a child of four or five years of age do but worry the teacher and disturb the older pupils?" One thing they can't do—sit still and do nothing! But they can learn to think and talk correctly, to utter the sounds and names of letters and their simpler combinations, and above all, they can learn—and, oh, with what joy and eagerness!-to write and draw! Teachers, did you ever watch the eyes and hands of your pupils? If you did, you must have observed how well they understand the use of those wonderful mechanisms, how restlessly they employ them day after day, whether incited to do so or not, in good or evil. Now, a little child's eye and hand are the same as your own in their construction, but they lack the facility of manipulation which your's have acquired by long practice, and to acquire just that facility is the little child's proper aim and study. Its eyes are ever busy observing objects, their forms and properties. No sooner has it gained this knowledge than it endeavors to reproduce the visible form, and to fix an idea concerning the object, by writing. This strong desire to imitate and visibly express what we see and think, forms a part
of our nature, and can no more be suppressed than the instinct of animals can. It ought to be aided in its development, and so, instead of requiring those busy little hands to be folded, let them develop their innate skill and prepare themselves for the greater work of coming years.
We have spoken of the charts that are used in primaries, etc., where they often take the teacher's place in teaching the children not only to write, but to write well. Why not introduce charts on which the forms of familiar objects are given, which the pupils who are not old enough to be trusted with the usual drawing cards, may copy, thus laying a foundation for future instruction? Or is drawing less a means of discipline than writing? We think not. But if anybody should be ininclined to think that the small cards commonly used would do very well for the primary also, let him observe the following:
1. The use of cards frequently causes the scholar to assume a bad position at his desk, especially if the latter is narrow and the school is crowded.
2. Nearly every pupil wiil draw a different card, thus excluding criticism and comparison, and making the work of inspection by the teacher difficult. In writing, our best teachers require the whole class to write the same copy, in order to allow comparison, criticism, and illustrations on the black board. Every remark by the teacher benefits the whole class and saves time by avoiding tenfold repetitions at different times. Such class instruction secures a thorough drill in every particular possible, aud makes the pupils careful and critical. The same law governs drawing, especially with beginners, and a series of well-executed drawing charts would make this class-drill easy and profitable, and would stand a much longer use than the loose drawing cards, thus saving money -which is an item with so many of those on whom our schools depend for improvements. One set would serve for several generations-and on that account the designs ought to be selected by our most experienced teachers, drawn by our best artists, and printed on the very best style on good paper. No matter how simple those designs, they must be perfect and truthful representations of real objects, so as to impress a correct picture on the mental vision and memory of the child, and so lead him to gain knowledge as he learns to draw.
We would go a little beyond the points, angles and lines recommended by Mr. Barnard (see page 380 Wis. JOURN. ED.,) and teach even the primary a greater number of forms. If of 50 pupils, 45 do not learn to draw in an artistic manner, is instruction to be considered vain if five pupils profit by it and develop the germ of a future Dore, West or Powers? Would it be wise to oblige future artists to dwell on lines and angles for a couple of years, because the rest are less tal
ented? The line of beauty is a curve, and our little art-students find it in the simplest outline of flower, fruit, leaf and bird. Again, lines and angles receive their true interest when they are used in constructing a house, gate or implement. Whoever doubts what we say, may try the experiment of teaching drawing to little children, as we have done for nearly ten years, and he will be willing to admit that nothing produces a greater love of nature than a close acquaintance with her forms, and the ability to reproduce them, and that little children are her enthusiastic disciples.
2. There is a remark on the page cited above, which expresses our exact opinion: "To the instructor it (drawing) gives the power of illustration, which is often the only available means of transmitting his ideas."
No doubt of that, but even in minor cases, it is the best definition a teacher can give, if he wishes it to be remembered. Once the word "fulcrum" occurred in a spelling lesson learned by young children, who, to make matters more difficult, were of foreign parentage and very circumscribed in their acquaintance with the English language and the world in general. To give a definition would have been simply useless unless given in German, so we stepped to the blackboard and drew a lever, fu'crum and weight. A gleam of intelligence lit up a few faces; but seeing others as blank as ever, we added the figure of a boy in the act of raising the weight. Now every face showed an entire comprehension of the matter; not only did those unpromising pupils explain the picture and show a tolerably good knowledge of the mechanical laws involved, but they also applied the proper names to the lever and weight. We now told them which part was called the fulcrum, and then dismissed the class. After recess we found a copy of our drawing on the blackboard on nearly every slate, and we confess that we were highly pleased.
While we admit that children can learn to write and draw even though the teacher is a tyro in both arts, we maintain that the instructor who draws and writes well himself, may become as great a public benefactor as he who teaches the sciences. Besides, it is quite a different thing whether he is necessarily confined to the use of his charts in teaching those branches, or whether he can draw an object correctly and under the observant eyes of his pupils, who of course learn more from seeing one drawing made than by making two themselves.
Here we would also say that drawing is one of the very best allies of Natural History, and we think Mr. Beecher will agree with us when we say that girls (and boys too) who can draw bugs, spiders and snakes, will not only cease to fear (and torment) them, but seek to gain information regarding them. To them, a bird is not merely a bird, but a spar