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Our business is now to cherish the first inclination to reading and reflection ; gently to stimulate the languid curiosity ;-and this rather by partially gratifying than by fully satiating its desires ; seldom assigning anything as a task, but seizing every opportunity of associating intellectual employments with pleasure; and thus gradually leading the mind to seek its best enjoyments in the exercise of its own powers.
In some cases, books which have amusement only for their object may be usefully employed, until a fondness for reading for its own sake be established, when such as combine a portion of instruction with entertainment may be gradually substituted; until, at length, when a habit of confining the attention appears to be formed, we may employ such as are exclusively directed to utility.
The formation of such habits is frequently retarded and sometimes altogether prevented by a too scrupulous regard to the character of the books to be perused. A desire to mingle instruction with the earliest reading, and a fear of encouraging frivolous notions or a waste of time, by permitting the perusal of books of mere amusement, often lead parents and others to substitute works of a more solid but less attractive description, for those which the child's unformed taste had prompted him to select. Thus the charm is broken, reading is associated with the idea of study and application, and other plans of amusement at leisure hours are pursued, to the rejection of one which might have been gradually modified as the child's mind expanded ; while a habit calculated to have a most beneficial influence on his future career might have been permanently established.
It is the practice of applying to books for entertainment and associating with them the ideas of relaxation and enjoyment, which is, at this early period, the great desideratum. As the mind acquires strength it will instinctively seek for stronger food, and it is in watching this appetite and skilfully supplying its wants that much of the talent for teaching consists. So that they be perfectly innocent in their moral tendency, there seems to be no reasonable ground of objection to the tales and other works of imagination, which children appear almost universally to delight in. They will speedily reject them if too puerile ; and less disagreeable methods may be resorted to for strengthening the growing intellect than laying an embargo on Robinson Crusoe and his worthy compeers. If works of fiction were employed for the purpose of generating a love of reading, and their perusal gradually dis. continued after they had answered this salutary purpose, instead of being the bane of our youth, they might be numbered among the best friends of our childhood. The writer of the present article has not only acted upon this principle in the arrangement of what may be appropriately termed " a graduated school library,” the books being selected in accordance with the expanding faculties of the young; but has frequently recommended a similar course of treatment at home, where there appeared a positive aversion to study of any kind, and generally with success when it has been patiently and consistently pursued.
Having attempted in the preceding remarks to suggest some simple means of arousing the dormant and exciting the languid intellect in childhood, a few observations on minds of an opposite character—those which exhibit a premature development of the reasoning powers-may not be misplaced.
Much anxiety and distress of mind are frequently experienced by parents, from an impression that their offspring are either positively deficient in understanding, or inferior in intellectual vigour, to the general average of youth of their age. Happy would it be, in many instances, were the evil to terminate in the uneasiness endured by the parents themselves; but it has often led to the adoption of injudicious treatment, or a partial neglect of mental culture, in those who ought to be the objects of their most assiduous and hopeful care. In other cases an equally groundless exultation has been indulged, at what appeared to indicate precocity of intellect; and the delusion has led to very different though not less pernicious consequences. The former impression has too often repressed parental exertion, while the latter has led to an undue preference for one member of a family, to the comparative neglect of the rest; and that too, without conferring any benefit on the favoured party, but, on the contrary, with the baneful effect of making the individual conceited and unamiable; and frequently causing an indifference to the prosecution of those studies without which the most brilliant talents are worse than useless. The illustrious Bacon has not failed to notice and deprecate the consequences of these partial distinctions in families. « The difference in affection,” he remarks, "of parents towards their several children is many times unequal, and sometimes unworthy, especially in the mother, as Solomon saith, “A wise son rejoiceth the father, but an ungracious son shames the mother.' A man shall see, where there is a house full of children, one or two of the eldest respected, and the youngest made wantons : but in the midst some that are as it were forgotten, who many times nevertheless prove the best."
The hopes and fears are, in most of the dissimilar cases above adverted to, equally unreasonable. It is with the mind as with fruit prematurely forced, which seldom possesses the fine flavour of that which arrives at maturity in due season; while too tardy a development of the fruit or the intellect is unfavourable to its ripening at all. But between the two extremes of precocity and incapacity there are happily many gradations, which, by judicious treatment may be made available to the highest and best pursuits and purposes of life; nor is the remark of the ancient the less true for its antiquity, that “illud ingeniorum velut præcox genus non pervenit ad frugem. Placent hæc annis comparata, deinde stat profectus, admiratio decrescit.”
Too early a display of talent is often followed by an intellectual torpor ; over-excitement is succeeded by a mental paralysis, which gives abilities of a less ostentatious character time to overtake those who had previously led the way in the march of mind; and it will be found in most instances equally true and consolatory, that the acquisi. tions made at a later period are, though less showy, more solid and durable.
It is certainly very pleasing to parental fondness to witness the early exhibition of superior abilities in those who are dearest to them. These will naturally excite the parent's warmest wishes and most sanguine aspirations ; but when it is remembered that, in almost every case, this premature advancement is made at the expense of health and longevity, and not unfrequently of intellectual expansion and vigour, at period, it may tend to reconcile us to the absence of such evidences, and even cause us to rejoice if our gratification be deferred. The history of mankind is replete with instances, not only of precocious talent erroneously directed, and often perniciously exercised, but of superior endowments dwarfed or blighted by too eager endeavours to promote their growth; and we may affirm, in the words of Cowper, that “the aching hearts of ten thousand parents, mourning under the bitterest of all disappointments, attest the truth of the allegation."
MORAL TRAINING-SEPARATION OF THE SEXES.
** For the following valuable remarks upon one of the most interesting subjects connected with National Education, we are indebted to that indefatigable philanthropist, Mr. David Stow, of Glasgow. They were sent to us by that gentleman in type, in what printers call “slips ; but whether they have already appeared in any of the Author's published works, we have not just now the opportunity of examining : whether or not, we are glad to give them a place in our pages.-ED.
Before noticing some points in the intellectual department, there is still one part of moral training which is too important to be overlooked, viz., the separation of the sexes in school education.
We are all aware of the softening and humanising effect which female society has upon the male creation. It influences the fire-side, the social circle, and the public meeting. It restrains rudeness and impropriety of every kind; and while the men are thus improved, the females are not less benefited in their intellectual and moral character. Deprive man of female society, and he would soon approach to, if not actually sink into, barbarism, and exclude females from the society of the other sex--the history of nunneries will unfold the consequences.
What is morally and intellectually true with regard to grown persons is equally so in respect of the young; and if men and women ought to act properly towards each other when they meet, and meet they must, then children cannot be too early trained to practise this virtue.
Every one is satisfied that boys are improved by the presence of girls—a wholesome restraint is obviously experienced. It is not so apparent, however, that girls are improved by the presence of boys. We believe it is perfectly mutual, although not so obvious. The girls are also under a restraint, less visible, it is true, because they are less boisterous, but equally valuable in elevating and strengthening the real character, by preventing the exercise of tittle-tattle, evil-speaking, &c., &c., and substituting things ennobling, which females are perfectly capable of attaining. Let each approach the other nearly half-way, and then each in manner and real character will be certainly and equally improved.
The consideration of the separation of the sexes in education is exceedingly important; for if it forms a part of moral training, no parent who calmly considers the good of his children can treat the subject with indifference or neglect. It is a subject that cannot be too often repeated, and therefore we would again ask and answer, as on a recent occasion, the question
Ought boys and girls to be educated separately, or together? The youth of both sexes of our Scottish peasantry have been educated together, and as a whole the Scots are the most moral people on the face of the globe. Education in England is given separately, and we have never heard from practical men that any benefit has arisen from this arrangement. Some influential individuals there mourn over the popular prejudice on this point. In Dublin a larger number of girls turn out badly, who have been educated alone till they aitain the age of maturity, than of those who have been otherwise brought upthe separation of the sexes has been found to be positively injurious. In France the separation of the sexes in youth is productive of tearful evils. It is stated on the best authority, that of those girls educated in the schools in convents apart from boys, the large majority go wrong within a month of their being let louse on society, and meeting the other sex. They cannot, it is said, resist the slightest compliment or fattery from the other sex. The separation is intended to keep them strictly moral, but this unnatural seclusion actually generates the very principles desired to be avoided.
We inay repeat that it is impossible to raise girls intellectually as high without boys as with them, and it is impossible to raise boys morally as high without the presence of girls. The girls morally elevate the boys, and the boys intellectually elevate the girls. But more than this, girls themselves are morally elevated by the presence of boys, and boys are intellectually elevated by the presence of girls. Girls brought up with boys are more positively moral, and boys brought up in school with girls are more positively intellectual, by the softening influence of the female character. The impetuosity and pertness of a boys' school are by no means favourable even to intellectual improvement, and the excessive smoothness of female school discipline does not strengthen or fortify the girl for her entrance into real life, wlien she must meet the buffets and rudeness of the other sex. Neither sex has participated in the improvement intended by Providence, by boys and girls being born and brought up in the same family. Family training is said to be the best standard for school training; and if the schoolmaster for a portion of each day is to take the place of the parent, the separation of the sexes in elementary schools must be a deviation from this lofty standard.
Much may be said on this highly important subject. We would solicit those benevolent ladies who sigh for the establishment of girls' schools, to the exclusion of the other sex, to examine carefully and prayerfully whether the exercise of such tender benevolent feelings may not actually prove injurious to society as a whole. It is very pretty, and truly' sentimental, to witness the uniform dress and still demeanour of a female school ; but we tremble at the results. Most certainly moral training wants one of its most important ingredients, when the sexes are not trained together, to act properly towards each other.
The English are beginning to feel the evils of separation in school, and the opposite course in many cases is beginning to be pursued, and but from popular prejudice would ere long be universal. In Scotland, unfortunately, the practice of separation and defective moral training is beginning to be introduced among all classes of the community.
A number of schools established of late years in the towns of Scotland, even where the system pursued has been modern, have been, we are sorry to say, for boys alone, or for girls alone—the projectors acting as if they trembled at a shadow or a phantom of their own imagination. Man, whether male or female, is no doubt a sinful creature ; and sin and folly are to be avoided and checked on their first development.
Under twelve or thirteen years of age, nearly all lessons may be given to boys and girls in the same class with mutual advantage. Beyond that age, the branches useful to each in the sphere in which Providence intends they should be placed, although in some points the same, yet they naturally and gradualiy diverge. Absolute separation, however, we conceive to be positively injurious.
In the Normal Seminary of Glasgow, the most beneficial effects have resulted from the more natural course. Boys and girls, from the age of two or three years, to fourteen or fifteen, have been trained in the same class-rooms, galleries, and play-grounds, without impropriety; and they are never separated except at needle-work. Nay, during the last fifteen years, between seven and eight hundred students, chiefly between the ages of eighteen and thirty, bave been trained in that institution, three-fourths generally being males, and one-fourth females—and for two-thirds of the day they have been together, in the same model schools, class-room, and play-grounds, and not one case of impropriety has occurred. It may be imagined that such a course might lead to imprudent marriages, but, so far from this being the case, only one marriage has taken place between two of the students—a very prudent one—and the parties had been acquainted previous to entering the Seminary. During the day, all, both old and young, are under the superintendence of the masters of each department. After school hours, the children are at home with their parents, and the students from the country are lodged in respectable private families in the immediate vicinity of the institution—thus copying, as closely as possible, the most natural and improving of modes of education. School, under the master during the day, and at home under the parents in the erening. Even where the conduci of the parents is not altogether exemplary, we prefer this mode to any other--the moral training of the school proving a powerful, if not a complete antidote ; and the moral conduct of the children is often found to have a reflex influence on their parents, promoting cleauliness and subriety, and even piety, at home.
The Editor's Portfolio.
NONE BUT CHRISTIANS CAN GIVE A CHRISTIAN EDUCATION. If it be generally true, that more has been learned from example than from precept, it is especially true with regard to children, who possess an extraordinary acuteness in detecting the inconsistencies of a teacher; and when they perceive that he disbelieves his own profession, falsifies his own assertions, departs from his own rules, respect for his teaching is utterly at an end; there may be a verbal acquirement of knowledge--an outward obedience--a cold constraint-but there will be no living impression-no drawing of the soul to God-no formation of Christian prin. ciple and Christian character. As in human so in spiritual learning, the teacher will seldom communicate that which he does not himself possess.-Rev. J. Slade. Sermon at the Opening of the Chester Training College.
THE REAL POINT AT ISSUE. Some persons have objected, that the children of the poor are over-educated; it may be so; but we need not stay to discuss this point; education they will have at this day; our purpose is to place it on a right footing—to furnish an antidote to the pride and perversion and idolatry of human learning--and store the youthful mind with the treasures of life and immortality.--Rev. J. Slade, Ibid.
BISHOP JEBB ON MORAL TRAINING.
Upon the important subject of National Education, Mr. Davison and Bishop Jebb held sentiments nearly identical. On one occasion when Mr. Davison started and led the conversation, he threw out strong doubts and objections to the prevailing rage for diffusing knowledge among the lower classes : knowledge, per se, he conceived quite as likely to produce bad as good consequences; he thought the power of reading to be about as operative morally as the power of hearing; for the term education, he would substitute training, i. e. early discipline of the temper and passions, for which he thought the plough a better instrument than the National school. His discipline he would connect with the arts of industry, not with ideal knowledge. The readers who may wish to compare these sentiments with those in Bishop Jebb’s Discourse on