Page images
PDF
EPUB

Not

Yet, in making the selection I would not, in the always children's

first place, fill the library with children's books, though books. of course there should be a good many of them. Children

often rebel, and with good cause, against books written purposely for them as a class. Such books are often too obviously written down to the level of a child's understanding. The childishness and simplicity which are affected by many persons who write children's books have a falsetto ring about them which an intelligent child soon detects. He is no more content to confine his reading to books written specially for him as a child than you or I would be to read such books as are considered specially appropriate to persons of our age and profession. We want, and a child wants, to read some books, not specially meant for us or the class to which we belong, but which are good and interesting in themselves, and were meant for the whole world.

Nor is it well to confine your selection to what are Nor "good technically called good books. I mean to books which books.

are consciously instructive and moral. You do not want to be always reading such books yourselves. You know, even those of you who are most earnest in efforts after self-improvement, that you do not regulate all your reading with the distinct intention of getting instruction and improving your mind. Assume this to be true of a child. Remember, if he is ever to love reading, he must have room left to him to exercise a little choice. Think how rich the world is, how much there is to be known about it, its structure, its products, its relation to other worlds, its people, the great things that have been done in it, the great speculations that have been indulged in it, the very varied forms in which happiness has been enjoyed in it. And do not forget that, beyond the region of mere information about these things, there is the whole domain

[blocks in formation]

of wonderland, of fancy, of romance, of poetry, of dreams
and fairy tales. Do not let us think scorn of that pleasant
land, or suppose that all the fruit in the garden of the
Lord grows on the tree of knowledge. Wonder, curiosity,
the sense
the infinite, the love of what

vast and remote, of the strange and the picturesque—all these things it is true are not knowledge in the school sense of the word. But they are capable in due time of being transformed into knowledge,-nay, into something better than knowledge-into wisdom and insight and power. So let us abstain from any attempt to direct a child's Large

tolerance general reading in accordance with our own special tastes. should be Let us remember that all children have not the same shewn for

different intellectual appetites, and that the world would be a very mental uninteresting world if they had. We need not be disap- appetites. pointed if even our favourite pupils shew reluctance to read the books which we specially recommend, and to admire what we admire. Of course, we have first to take care that all lessons are diligently finished, and that all due use is made of the library for legitimate school purposes. But when this is done, and you come to consider the kind of service which a library should render to a child in his hours of leisure, and for his own enjoyment, I think the true rule of action is first to make your library as full and varied as you can, then to exclude from it resolutely all books which you yourself are sorry you ever read, or would be ashamed to be seen reading-all books which for any reason you believe to be harmful; and when you have done this, Turn the scholar loose into the library and let him read what and how he likes. Have faith in the instincts of a child, and in the law of natural selection. Believe that for him, as for yourself, it is true, that any book which is really enjoyed, which enlarges the range of the thoughts, which fills the mind with sweet

fancies or glowing pictures, which makes the reader feel happier and richer, is worth reading, even though it serves no visible purpose as part of school education.

The uses to which School Museums may be put are manifold, but are not all obvious at first sight. It is manifest that if Botany is taught, a collection of the wild flowers of the district, properly pressed and classified, will be a useful resource. But even if this subject is not systematically taught, such a collection, with carefully prepared specimens of the leaf, the flower, the fruit, of the trees, ferns and grasses, and cereals of the district, when properly named, will have scarcely less interest and value. Specimens of the insects to be found in the district, of the stones and shells from the sea-shore, of the material employed in some local manufacture, and of its condition in its successive stages ; illustrations of the geological formation of the district; a clay or plaster model shewing the conformation of the neighbouring hills and valleys; drawings or specimens illustrating the antiquities and historical associations of near places, will all have their place in such a collection. When once a suitable receptacle has been provided for such things, and arrangements have been made, by the appointment of curators or otherwise, for keeping it in seemly condition, it is surprising to observe what pride the scholars often feel in it, how it serves to keep their eyes open to find new and suitable objects, and how glad they are to contribute to it. A museum of this kind cannot be purchased or set up all at once, it must grow, and be the product of willing workers and observers. Its purpose need not be wholly scientific or even instructive. It may with advantage be made the depository for any little work of invention or art which the scholars can themselves produce. One may contribute a drawing,

[blocks in formation]

another a piece of needlework unusually well finished, another an effort at design, a model of a neighbouring church or castle, or a set of illustrations of some form of manufacture in which his father is engaged. Every scholar may be encouraged to leave behind him before quitting school some little memorial of himself, his doings, or his special tastes. A mere general museum of odds and ends which anybody chooses to present to the school, and with which the scholars have no associations, is of little worth. However small your collection, it should be characteristic of the school and of its special studies, its history and its surroundings. And if it fulfils this condition, it will not only be found a useful adjunct to your scientific teaching, but also a means of encouraging the development of any special gift the scholars may possess, and of increasing their loyalty to the school. We shall, in connexion with each of the subjects of Costly

illustrainstruction hereafter discussed, refer to the particular form

tions not of apparatus or material aid which lends itself best to the always the furtherance of the teacher's objects. But one general observation may be made here. New and ingenious forms of mechanical aid for teaching are being devised every day, and publishers and instrument-makers are interested in multiplying them. It may occur to some of us that the material equipments of a good school are thus becoming more complex, and threatening to be very costly. It may partly console us to remember that the elaborate illustrations which cost most money are not necessarily the most effective. A good copy set by a writing-master is often more useful than an engraved copy. A rough black-board drawing of the particular river or county which you are describing impresses and interests scholars more than a painted map. A rude model in sand or clay, made up in sight of the scholars,

best.

will illustrate the set of a glacier or the formation of a lake better than any purchased model. To count the panes of glass in a window, or the pictures on the wall, is not less instructive, and much more interesting than to count the balls on an abacus or frame. In short, illustrations made pro hâc vice, and visibly contrived by the teacher's own ingenuity for the elucidation of the particular truth he wants to teach, are often found to serve their purpose much more effectually than the manufactured illustrations which you buy at shops.

It is, after all, but a few detached suggestions as to the material surroundings of a teacher, and as to school equipment generally, that we have thus been able to offer you. But the general impression which it has been sought to convey is that no amount of care and inventiveness and forethought which you are able to devote to these little things will be wasted, and that whatever tends to make the school-room brighter, healthier, comelier, more orderly, tends to economize time and temper, and to diminish the friction inseparable from a laborious school life. Above all, you cannot, by putting yourself into the hands of publishers, instrument-makers, or even of lecturers on teaching, escape from the responsibility of looking at each of these problems with fresh eyes; and of determining how far the helps and contrivances which other people have used are available for your own special aims and special needs, and in what way they may be best adapted to them.

« PreviousContinue »