Imagini ale paginilor
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

THIE GIFT OF TEACHING. slowness of the young learner, and to

frown upon it as dullness. Original and BY DENISON OLUSTED, L. L. D. inventive minds grow fastidious at reiter

ating what is old, and are apt to lose all TT HIS appeared to me that writers on interest in lessons which they have heard

mental philosophy have not duly re- a hundred times before. On the other cognized, as an original faculty of the hand, it is not very unusual to find men mind, the gift of teaching. All agree who were not distinguished, when at that there is such a thing as a genius for school or at college, for quickness or brilmusic, a genius for poetry, for mathemat- liancy of parts, excelling as teachers. It ies, for mechanics; but who has written has even been truly said of some, that of a genius for teaching? Yet I think it they could teach more than they knew.quite evident that there is a peculiar con. They had the quality of the grindstone, to stitution, mental and moral, which gives make others sharp, though unable to cut. to the individual a special aptitude for They know how to arouse the genius of teaching, as real and well marked as that the pupil

, if they have little of their own. which confers the genius for music, poetry, Having a true żeal for knowledge, they mathematics or mechanics.

have the art of inspiring with it the mind It is the object of the present article, of the ingenuous youth. Conscious of the first, to prove the reality of the gift of difficulties that 'met them on the rugteaching; to analyze it, or to determine ged path which they themselves have the elements of which it is composed; and climbed, they are patient with the young thirdly, to show how it may be cultivated aspirant, and feel no surprise or disgust and improved, or even acquired, where it at the slowness with which difficult truths is naturally wanting.

find their way into his mind. 1. REALITY OF THE Gift of TEACHING. But although it must be acknowledged -I think it plain to common observation that we find men of superior talents and that the power of acquiring knowledge is great learning who make very indifferent not always accompanied by an equal pow-teachers, and that we find men of far less er of imparting it." Men of very rapid per- brilliant natural talents who excel in the ceptions, who learn with extraordinary art of teaching, yet this merely indicates facility, are often unable to retrace the that there is something in the gift of steps by which they arrived at their con- teaching, sui generis-something distinct clusions; or if they can do it, in such a from the other human faculties-someway as to make their steps clear enough thing which may be wholly wanting to their own minds, they are frequently in the most eminent scholar, while it is too hurried or too concise for ordinary possessed, in a good degree, by a man far minds, and their explanations are obscure. less distinguished for splendor of talents. They are apt also to be impatient at the These, however, are extreme cases, and

[ocr errors]

are adduced only to show the independent on his own fame, or case, or pleasure, with nature of the faculty under consideration; little concern for the good of his pupils, and it is by no means to be inferred that grows fastidious by the constant recurtalents of the highest order are not requir-rence of the same duties, weary of their ed for eminent teachers, much less that monotony, impatient of dullness, and oftas a general fact, men of moderate intel-en hurries over the lesson that he may relects make the best teachers. We only turn to studies or pursuits more congenial say that the gift of teaching is so peculiar to his taste. This is apt to be the case a faculty, that a man of moderate intellect with men of genins, when they lack that with it may make a better teacher than benevolence which we regard as so essenone of the most brilliant genius with-tial an element of the gift of teaching out it.

Some time since I happened to be in the 2. ELEMENTS OF THE GIFT OF TEACHING. company of the son of one of the French - I place in the front rank of all the ele- experimental philosophers. I had read ments of this peculiar power, BESTVO- and admired the investigations of the faLENCE. It implies, indeed, a high appre- ther in some of the most hidden laws of ciation of the value of knowledge ; but science, and expressed my admiration of this alone is not enough. It implies also the patience especially, which their steady an carnest desire that the pupil may pos-prosecution for many years required. — sess so great a boon. Nor does it end\" Ah !" replied the son," he might seem here; it implies still more, a longing de- to you, in his own favorite studies, a very sire that the pupil may become a wise and patient man, but he seemed far otherwise good man. I would almost venture the to me, when a boy under his instruction. assertion, that a very selfish man never le undertook to teach me Algebra. I was a good teacher. Such men grow fas- told him I could see how more into more tidious under the constant reiteration of produces more, but how less into less prothe same lesson ; but benevolence never duces more was what I could not; it is not dependent for its interests Says he, pointing his finger at me, “You upon what it teaches only, but more upon one jackass!' and throwing down his book the luxury of doing good. The narrow in despair, never would hear me recite anand selfish mind is ever intent on the ad- other lesson, but abandoned me as an invantages it may gain; the noble and gen- corrigible dunce." erous soul, on the happiness it may im- An eminent lawyer of my acquaintance part. It has been my privilege to be in- remarkable for his quickness, took a school timately associated with several men of on leaving college, but soon left in a simthis high order of teachers-men who ilar paroxysm. He was hearing a boy rewould hear the same lessons, or teach the cite his lesson in grammar. The pupil same science, fisty successive years, with- was dull and the master grew every moout any apparent diminution of zeal or loss ment more and more impatient. They of interest. I have seen an eminent pro- went on a while, with a terrible amount fessor of chemistry delivering the fiftieth of chafing, when the master hurled the course of lectures, and repeating, for the book at the boy, exclaiming, "Eat it-eat fiftieth time, the same experiments, in il- it! It's the only way you will ever get it lustration of his subject, with apparently into you;" and here ended his career as as high a degree of personal enjoyinent as a schoolmaster. he felt when the subject and experiments THE REWARDS OF BENEVOLENCE.--It is were both invested with the charm of noy- a high kind of benevolence which risks elty. It was only necessary for him to the displeasure of the pupil, and perhaps see before him a new company eager for of the parent too, to do him good.

But knowledge, and his wonted zeal and de- doing good is a safe business; and the inlight all returned, as he opened to them structor of youth, though usually cut off his precious stores; and pupils who came from all hopes of wealth or fame, has no back to his lecture-room after an interval mean reward; for as benevolence lays the of twenty, thirty, or even fifty years, were foundation of the gift of teaching itself, so delighted to see him marching onward the fruit of benevolence supplies the apwith the same unfaltering step. propriate reward. It is the consciousness

But the selfish teacher, who is intent of having so many wise and good men ;

it is the heartfelt satisfaction of receiving, occasion for displeasure, as obedience is : wherever lic goes, the affectionate greet- matter of course. It is alınost a matter o ings of his former pupils. At the late course to disobey a governor who is no

໙ centennial celebration at Yale College, the feared. The best description in the worl three oldest officers, who had served out of a good governor is one which is ofte their half century, received the warm sal- quoted as a text of Scripture, though i utations of many hundreds of their pupils; is not exactly the language of Scriptureand when they looked over the long cata- that he is a terror to evil-doers, and the logue of the classes they had trained, they praise and encouragement of such as di found among them eight governors of well. Some teachers, as well as some states, eleren judges of the higher courts, parents, have a natural authority, which sixty senators and representatives in con- their pupils instinctively recognize and gress, seventeen presidents and sixty pro- obey. Their habit is that of mildnes: fessors of colleges, and nine hundred min- and kindness, but still every child know: isters of the gospel. To a benevolent that the lion is there, and may be aroused mind, what reward could seem more am- Others, both teachers and parents, are ple than the greetings of so many atiec- naturally destitute of authority, and the tionate pupils, and the consciousness of child soon discovers it, and hates to obey having been the instruments, under Prov- The tone and air of authority may be as idence, of giving to their country so many sumed, but the child knows it is a coun of her brightest ornaments? These, I terfcit, and not the genuine article. say, are the appropriate rewards of the There are two sorts of no-governmen teachers of youth, and they will look in people: first those who think

governmen vain for any adequate remuneration of consists in reproving and punishing their labors if they cannot find them in they may be a terror to evil-doers, bui the pleasures of benevolence. They have they are not the praise and encourage less chance for wealth than most men of ment of such as do well. I have said equal powers who engage in the walks of that they might be a terror to evil-doers : business, and less chance for fame than even that, however, is not always the case those who devote themselves to the dis- especially where they go no further thar covery of new truths Indeed, to be the fault-finding Children grow callous un discoverer of some new and apparentiy in- der such treatment, like the French regi significant species of plant or mineral, will cide, Ravillac, the murderer of Henry IV give the scholar a fairer chance to have When put to the torture, he at first his name permanently inscribed on the showed great signs of suffering, but after rolls of fame, than to hare trained a thou- a few blows he lost all feeling and laughed sand youths to virtue and knowledge.- at his tormentors. Secondly, another sor Teachers will ever belong to that smallest of no-government people are those who tribe of suppliants at the Temple of Fame, scarcely attempt any form of authority who cry

but let children have their own way.Great Idol of mankind! we neither claim

They are, perhaps, a praise and encour The praise of merit, nor aspire to fame.

agement to such as do well, but not a ter'Tis all we beg thee, to conceal from sight ror to evil-doers; and the child soon learns Those acts of goodness which themselves to disregard even their commendations. requite.

They set little value upon what is so easi O let us still the secret joy partake, ly acquired. They learn to regard such To follow Virtue ev'n for Virtue's sake.

praises rather as indicative of fear on the AUTHORITY. — Next to benevolence I part of the parent or teacher, lest they would name, in the second place, as an should become troublesome, than as the element of the gift of teaching, authority. expression of pleasure for their good be

“Let no man despise thy youth," was havior. They feel it to be a mode of flat St. Paul's injunction to Timothy; and tering them into their duty-a mode al nothing is ever learned where the instruc- ways indicative of a very feeble authority tor is despised. All good government is A certain deacon, who was greatly in re founded on fear, but perfect love casteth pute for his piety and virtues, chanced to out fear. A parent or teacher, whose dis- belong to the no-government tribe, as hi pleasure is feared, has usually but little two sons, John and Thomas, too plainly

indicated. A brother in the church call- en time, in Yale College, the dignity of ed to talk with him. He told him that the officers was measured off by the yard, his two sons were like Hophni and Phin- and its precise relative amount, for the reeas, and that if they were not better gov- spective grades, was laid down in the erned, the same judgments would fall up- printed laws. One was, that no freshman on his house as upon the house of Eli. - should wear his hat within ten rods of the The deacon freely acknowledged his de- president, cight rods of a professor, and ficiencies—he knew he had no govern- six rods of a tutor. In the schools, also, ment, but promised hereafter to restrain a very stiff and formal kind of dignity was his wayward boys. As soon as his faith- supported by the master and mistress, not ful brother was gone, he called in his sons easily described, but constituting a disand addressed them thus: “ Boys, there's tinct species called ' pedagogical dignity.' got to be government in this house; you At length the discovery has been made, must behave yourselves, or you will have both in the colleges and the schools, that to take a flogging." They laughed at the true dignity is but another name for proidea, upon which the old gentleman hit priety of this kind of dignity General Tom a blow that upset him. At that, Washington set a noble example to our inJohn began to grow saucy, and he knock- fant nation. But even the manners of ed him over. They soon recovered their Washington were somewhat too formal fo feet, and looking wild at this sudden out- the instructor of children and youth, albreak of parental authority, says Tom, though no model could be finer to regulate " What in the world has got into father?" the intercourse of gentlemen in society. How long family government, established | The only formality suited to the interon such a basis, lasted, may be easily im- course of instructor and pupil is that agined.

which is becoming to the relation of older I have been much pleased with a say- friends and younger friends-kindness ing of Dr. Scott, the commentator, who, and delicacy on the one side, aud confiwhen asked how he governed his children dence and affection on the other ; nothing so as to secure from them, as they grew distant or repulsive on the part of the up, so great an amount of reverence and teacher, and nothing like impertinent falove combined, replied, that he “never miliarity on the part of the scholar. corrected them for being children, but for DELICACY.—I have mentioned delicacy being naughty children.”. All judicious in the treatment of pupils as a necessary parents and teachers will thus observe a element of a teacher's authority. This marked distinction between what is merely quality might be supposed less necessary childish and what is wicked. The one toward chi'dren than toward pupils of a should be treated with great kindness and later age; but I am of opinion that in no forbearance, the other with suitable sever- particular do both parents and teachers ity. It may indeed be supposed that a inore frequently err than in the want of man may have good powers for imparting true politeness in the treatment of chilknowledge, and thus seem to have the gist dren. We are apt to forget that the feelof teaching, without the authority here ings of a child are naturally tender and assigned as one of its essential elements; susceptible of acute suffering under the but the success of the teacher will depend sense of wrong or injustice, but that when not merely upon what he communicates, subjected to such treatment they become but also upon the personal respect felt for soon hardened and insensible, and lose him; and this can not be great except that moral delicacy which it is of the utwhere he is a man of native authority and most importance to maintain and cultivate. dignity. The dignity, however, which " Don't you steal, John,” said an anxious constitutes a part of a teacher's authority, but injudicious mother, as her boy was inand thus becomes an element of the gift specting some articles brought to the of teaching, must be native and wholly un- house for sale. "I guess you tell a wrong affected, not an assumed distance or form- story,” said another fond parent, solicitality. And in this respect I can not but ous that her boy should tell the exact think that the present generation are wis- truth. Under such a course of treatment er than their fathers were, both in the one became a thief and the other a liar.colleges and the common schools. In old- The forms of politeness in our intercourse


[ocr errors]

with children and youth, may be different well instructed in mental philosophy, we from those appropriate to older people, might oftener sce its happy effect in dibut the spirit should be the same. If we recting by proper incentives the impulses would have them grow up with a delicate of young children. In fact, we somesense of propriety, we must always set times see something akin to mental phithem the example. Their defenseless con- losophy in the skillful management of the dition affords no apology for trifling with lower animals, as in the keepers of wild their native sensibilities.

beasts, or even of cattle or horses. А A Jest APPRECIATioN or CHARACTEN.-- gentleman had a valuable family horse, A third element of the gist of teaching, kind and gentle at all times, except at the which I place next to benevolence and au- beating of the drum, when he became thority, is a just appreciation of the char- quite unmanageable. To break him of acter of the pupil, in respect to natural this trick, he employed an accomplished capacity and disposition. Children are horseman, duly equipped with whip and exceedingly unlike, both in mental and spurs to mount him, while another hand moral constitution, and no small part of was employed to beat the drum. The the success of the parent or teacher will horse became furious, and worse and depend upon a clear perception of what is worse at every trial, until the owner gave peculiar in the character of each child, and him up in despair and sold him for half on adapting to each corresponding courses price. The purchaser was a better phiof treaiment. Is the boy slow of apprehen- losopher. lle procured a drum, turned it sion? This does not necessarily imply a on end, and covered it with oats.

He pind of inferior order. It may at length, then led the horse gently toward it. The by proper culture, make the man of sound animal snuffed, jumped and whirled about, judgment; but such a mind requires de but he had evidently smelled the oats, and liberate and patient training, and slow and this was all the owner designed for the perhaps repeated explanation. Is he first day, and he was taken back to the quick and rapid in his perceptions? - stable. Next morning he was led again Then mere hints may serve him better toward the drum. He approached a litthan labored and prolix explanations. Is tle nearer, so as to get a clear sight of the he original and inventive? Then special oats, and nibbled a little of them, but still care must be taken to prevent his running trembled with fear, though less frantic from one thing to another, and completing than before. That was enough for the nothing. Many a fine mind has been ru- second trial. To cut the story short the ined where such a tendency has been suf- horse in a few days learned to eat his fafered to run wild for want of a due re- vorite meal from the drum. In fact, the straint and proper direction. So in regard drum itself became a favorite with him, to the moral tendencies; the sullen re- and whenever he heard it he would run quire kindness and encouragement; the toward it. passionate, that soft answer which turn- The skillful gardener has a cure for aleth away wrath; the impetuous, whole- most every sickly or barren plant. He so ne restraint; the modest and bashful, gives it a more perfect tillage; he supplies gentle urging.

its appropriate aliment to the roots; he It is no small part of the philosophy of waters its drooping leaves, or if too luxuteaching to determine the peculiar motives riant to bear perfect fruit, he prunes off by which the pupil is governed, and may the redundant shoots that are absorbing be controlled, as by so many leading its vital energies, and lo! you see the pinstrings. “0, I am so tired I can't walk, ing flower expand its richest blossoms, said a little boy who trotted along by the and the barren vine loaded with the fairside of his parents. “Poor fellow !" said est clusters. his father, "get on to pa's horse and ride, At a meeting of the American Lyceum holding out his cane, which the boy in- in the city of New York. many years ago, stantly mounted and galloped off with the the question was asked, whether, in the greatest alacrity. This dexterous supply- opinion of that meeting, children of the ing of new motives indicatel, on the part same family were naturally more or less of the father, no small attainments in the alike by nature, than they appear to be in philosophy of education. Were mothers after life, when they become men and wo


« ÎnapoiContinuă »