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Collective answers deceptive.


a better answer from another scholar, goes back, and asks the first to amend his answer : or else he sees that the full investigation of the difficulty thus revealed, would carry him too far from the main purpose of the lesson and spoil its unity. In this case, he reserves the point, so to speak, says it wants further examination, and promises either at the end of the lesson, or very soon in a new one, to go into the matter and clear the difficulty away. Never treat an honest dilemma or confusion as a fault, but always as something, which you would like to solve, and in the solving of which you mean to ask for the pupil's co-operation.

There are those who in questioning, especially when Collective the class is large, are content to receive replies from answering

deceptive. such scholars, as by holding up their hands or otherwise, volunteer to answer. This is of course easy, but it is very unsatisfactory. Every scholar should know that he is liable to receive a question, and that the more careless and indifferent he seems, the more liable he will be to be challenged. Fasten your eye on the worst scholar in your class and be sure to carry him with you; and measure your progress by what you can do with him. The eagerness of a teacher who is so impatient of delay that he welcomes any answer he can get, and pushes on at once is somewhat ensnaring to him. We must avoid mistaking the readiness of a few clever children, who are prominent in answering, for the intellectual movement of the whole class. If you find yourself in the least danger of thus mistaking a part for the whole, put your questions to the scholars in turns now and then. It may perhaps help to remove an illusion. Or notice the scholars who fail oftenest, and bring them into the desk nearest you, and take care that they have twice as many questions as any one else.

Mutual The art of putting a good question is itself a mental questioning.

exercise of some value, and implies some knowledge of the subject in hand. You are conscious of this when you yourselves interrogate your class. Bear this in mind, therefore, in its application to the scholars. Let them occasionally change their attitude of mind from that of receivers and respondents, to that of enquirers. Remember Bacon's aphorism, Prudens quaestio, dimidium scientiae. You are half-way to the knowledge of a thing, when you can put a sensible question upon it. So I have sometimes heard a teacher towards the end of a lesson appeal to his pupils, and say to them one by one, “Put a question to the class on what we have learned!" To do this, a boy must turn the subject round in his mind a little and look at it in a new light. The knowledge that he is likely to be challenged to do it will make him listen to the lesson more carefully, and prepare himself with suitable questions; and whether he knows the answer or not, there is a clear gain in such an effort. The best teachers always encourage their scholars to ask questions. The old discipline in the Mediæval Universities of posers and disputations, in which one student proposed a thesis or a question, and another had to answer it, was not a bad instrument for sharpening the wits. In a modified way, it may be well to keep this in view, and to set scholars

occasionally to question one another. The inqui- Mr Bain has said, “Much of the curiosity of sitive

children is a spurious article. Frequently it is a mere spirit.

display of egotism, the delight in giving trouble, in being pandered to and served. Questions are put, not from the desire of rational information, but for the love of excitement.” And later on, he says that “The so-called curiosity of children is chiefly valuable as

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have thus, on very high authority a reproof for childish Luisitiveness, and an apology for ignorant nurses, and

fainéants and unsympathetic teachers in the use of : familiar formula, “Don't be tiresome and don't ask estions." One might have hoped that this was one of the des of treating children which was becoming obsoe, and that the teachers of the future would at least try regard the curious and inquiring spirit among children, one of the most hopeful of signs; one of the principal ings to be encouraged in early training; one of their rest allies in the later development of thought. “For uriosity,” Archbishop Whateley says, “is the parent of tention, and a teacher has no more right to expect iccess in teaching those who have no curiosity to learn an a husbandman has who sows a field without ploughg it.” I doubt whether any one of us can establish for mself a satisfactory code of rules, or a workable theory

discipline, until he shall at least have made up his ind on the point thus raised. Is the childish curiosity thing to be repressed as an impertinence and a nuisance, to be encouraged and welcomed as the teacher's best xiliary? Is the habit of putting questions on what a ild does not understand-of saying when a hard word curs—“If you please will you explain that to me, I int to know”—a good habit or a bad one ? For 17 part, although I am quite aware that as a matter

discipline, mere impudence, and forwardness — the tting of questions for the sake of giving trouble to chers ought to be sternly discountenanced when ly occur; it seems to me nevertheless true that for ery time in which they occur, there are ten times in ich the question of a child evinces real mental activity i a desire to know.

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It seems right to revert for a moment to the printed questions, such as are often found appended to schoolbooks; and to the use of Catechisms. The answers when learned by heart are open to the objections I have already urged: (1) That the language in which they are expressed has seldom or never any special value of its own to justify its being committed to memory at all; and (2) That even when learned by heart and remembered the sentences are generally incomplete; for since part of the sentence lies in the question which is not learned by heart; the other part or the answer is a mere fragment, and is of little or no use; and (3) They assume that every question admits of but one form of answer; which is scarcely true of one question in a hundred. But the worst effect of the use of printed catechisms is that produced upon the teacher. So far from encouraging or helping him in the practice of questioning, the use of the book has precisely the opposite effect. I wish to speak with all respect of catéchisms, some of which such as the Church Catechism and the Shorter Catechism of the General Assembly are connected with the history of religion in this country, in a way which entitles them, at least so far as their substance is concerned, to veneration. Moreover fir parents and for clergymen, and others who are not teachers by profession it may often be useful to see what is the sort of knowledge which should be imparted to children, and in what order the parts of it should be arranged. But nobody who has the most elementary knowledge of the teacher's art would ever degrade hin nself by using a catechism, and causing the answers to be learned by heart. I remember with what pious cal re I was taught the Church Catechism in childhood, ar d how many hundred times I have recited that formular v. Books of question and answer.


I remember too that there was one question “What did
your godfathers and godmothers then for you?” in which
I always thought that then was a verb. But I never
asked. It seemed, though a strange expression, to fit
in well with the generally quaint and antiquated cha-
racter of the rest. And to the best of my recollection,
this question was never once turned round, and trans-
lated into a form in which it was more intelligible to
me. Even the worst of my teachers would, if the re-
sponsibility of framing the question had been left to
him, have been compelled to ask such a question as I
could understand. But the fact that the authorized
question was printed in a book released him from this
responsibility. He regarded the Church's words when
learned by heart as a sort of charm, possessing a
value quite independent of any meaning they might
actually convey; and the result was that though the
lesson was called a catechism, there was no true cate-
chizing, and that instead of an exercise which should
appeal to the intelligence and the conscience, there was
a barren ceremony, which made no impression on either.
And what is true of religion is true of all other subjects.
I never once found in examining a school, that a sub-
ject—were it astronomy, history, geography or heathen
mythology, which had been taught by means of a cate-
chism had been properly understood by the learners.

A similar objection though in a less degree attaches Books in to books on science or history in which an attempt is the convermade to gild the pill by casting the treatise into a con- form. versational form. In such books a good boy and girl, are often made to evince a shrewdness and a thirst for knowledge which to say the least are remarkable, to play into the teacher's hands, to ask precisely the questions he wishes to answer, and to start only those


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