Page images
PDF
EPUB

SMITH'S NEW GRAMMAR.

ENGLISH GRAMMAR

ON THE

PRODUCTIVE SYSTEM:

METHOD OF INSTRUCTION RECENTLY ADOPTED

IN

GERMANY AND SWITZERLAND.

Designed for Schools and Academies.

BY ROSWELL C. SMITH, AUTHOR OF “PRACTICAL AND MENTAL ARITHMETIC," "INTELLECTUAL

AND FRACTICAL GRAMMAR," AND "INTRODUCTORY ARITHMETIC.”

STEREOTYPE EDIT1ƏN,

HARTFORD:

PUBLISHED BY JOHN PAINE.

1841.

[merged small][ocr errors]

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1832, by

PERKINS & Marvin, In the Clerk s Office of the District Court of Massachusetts.

The following work was composed, as is indicated by the title, on what is styled in Germany and Switzerland the “ Productive System of Instruction.” It is in these countries that the subject of Education has been deemed a matter of paramount importance. The art of teaching, particularly, has there been most ably and minutely investigated. To give a brief account of the different systems which have prevailed there, may not be irrelevant on the present occasion, as they assist in forming an opinion of the comparative merits of the “ Productive System,” on which this work is principally based.

" In reference to intellectual education, tlie persons who wero in strumental in producing the reformation in schools, in the last century in these countries, may be divided into four classes--the Humanists Philanthropists, Pestalozzian and the Productive Schools.

At the restoration of learning, in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the classics were brought out from the libraries of the cloisters in which they had been buried. As they presented the only examples of exalted sentiments and elevated style which the secular literature of the age afforded, they were regarded as the only means of acquiring enlarged views and a liberal education; the study of them received the proud tic of Humanity; and the zealous and meritorious men who employed this means for the revival of learning, were subsequently termed Humanists.

". The 'rigid Humanists maintained that the Greek and Latin authors are the only source of sound learning, whether in philosophy or rhetoric, in poetry or history, in niedicine or law, and even in the elements of religion; all has come to us from Greece and Rome.' "The learning of the Greek and Latin languages is the only foundation of a thorough education;' the knowledge of the grammar ought to precede all other knowledge ; "and philologists are the only thoroughly learned men.'

The Humanists maintained the entire sway of the learned world until about the middle of the last century, when the school of the Philanthropists arose. Disgusted with the extravagant manner in which the ancient languages were extolled, they were led to examine into the foundations of their pretensions. While they yielded the palm to the ancients in all that relates to matters of taste and beauty they maintained that this superiority arose from the fact, that the ancients derived their views directly from the inspection of nature and the observation of man, instead of occupying themselves, as we do, with the mere pictures of them drawn by others;—they pointed to the obvious truth, that the world is older and vastly more experienced than it was two thousand years ago ; that in regard to all that relates to human knowledge, the present generation are really the ancients. They helieved that much time was lost by the indiscriminate and exclusive use of the classics as the foundation of education, which ought to be spent in acquisition of practical knowledge ; and that by this tedious and laborious task, without any perc ptible advantage to the pupil, they were often disgusted with every species of intellectual effort. They also pointed out tho moral corruption

which arisos from many of the examples and sentiments of the ancients, and especially disapproved that discipline of compulsion and violence, by which children have been forced to this ungrateful employment. They urged the importance of leading by the attraction of knowledge itself, rather than by force. They paid much attention to the developement of the bodily constitution and powers, aud professed to aim at formir.g men, and not inere scholars.

“ But, with thu ordinary weakness of human nature, in avoiding one extreme, they ran into the opposite. They forgot the valuable influence of these studies, properly regulatea, upon the faculties and habits of the mind.

“ Notwithstanding their error, the Philanthropists unquestionably exerted much influence on the improvement of education. Tho extravagant views of the Jiumanists were considerably modified; and although many still retain the exclusive maxims of their predecessors, many admii; as stated in the German "Conversations Lexicon,' that 'ail should be embraced in education which can pronuote the formation of the man, cind prepare him for the eternal destiny of his spirit.' The Philanthropists also prepared the way for their successors of the School of Pestalozzi. This remarkable man adopted many of the opinions of his predecessors of the Philanthropic school, especially those which related to the developement of the bodily powers, and the methods of discipline, and religious instruction. He perceived, however, that, in assuming practicai utility as the exclusive test of the value of particular objects of instruction, they had too much neglected the developement of the mind itself. In seeking to avoid this error, however, he did not entirely escape the other extremne. He assumed, as a fundamental principle, that a certain developement of mind was necessary for every rank and every occupation. The means of this developement he supposed himself to have found, so far as the intellectual faculties were concerned, in the elements of form and number, which are combined in the science of Mathematics, in Lungunge, and in Natural History. The Mathematics appear to have assumed a preponderance in practice, which was unfavorable to the regular and harmonious cultivation of other powers. The senses and the bodily powers he endeavored to de velope, in accordance with the views of the Philanthropic school, by the careful examination of the various objects of nature and art, which surround the pupil, by means of music, and by gymnastic exercises, alternaied or combined with labor. Pestalozzi linnself was remarkably the creature of powerful impulses, which were usually of the most mild and benevolent kind, and preserved a child-like character in this respect, even to old age. It was probably this temperament which led him to estimate at a low rate the importance of positive religious truth in the education of children, and to maintain that the mere habit of faith and love, if cultivated towards earthly parents and benefactors, would of course be transferred to our heavenly Father, whenever his character shculd be exhibited to the mind of the child. The fundamental error of this view was established by the unhappy experience of his own institution; and his own example afforded the inost striking evidence that the noblest impulses, not directed by established principles, may lead to imprudence and ruin, and thus defeat their own ends.* This principle, combined

* As an exampie of this, it may be mentioned that, on one of those occasions (frequently occurr ng) on which he was reduced to extremity for want of the means of sup plying his large family, he borrowed $400 from a friend for this purpose. In going home, he met a peasant wringing his hands in despair for the loss of his cow.

PesLalozzi put the entire bag of money into his hands, a: d ran off to escape nis thanks.

with the want of tact in reference to the affairs of common life, materially impaired his powers of usefulness as a practical instructor of youth. The rapid progress of his ideas rarely allowed him to execute his own plans; and, according to his own system, too much time was employed in the profound developement of principles to admit of much attention to their practical application. But, as one of his admirers observed, he seemed destined to educate ideas and not children. He combated, with unshrinking boldness, and untiring perseverance, through a long life, both by his example and by his numerous publications, the prejudices and abuses of the age, in reference to education. He attacked, with great vigor and no small degree of success, that favorite maxim of bigotry and tyranny, that obedience and devotion are the legitimate offspring of ignorance. He denounced that degrading system which considers it enough to enable man to procure a subsistence for himself and his offspringand in this manner to inerely place him on a level with the beast of the forest; and which deems every thing lost whose value cannot be estimated in money. He urged upon the consciences of parents and of rulers, with an energy approaching that of the ancient prophets, the solemn duties which Divine Providence had imposed upon them, in committing to their charge the present and future destinies of their fellow beings. In this way he produced an impulse, which pervaded the continent of Europe, and which, by means of his popu. lar and theoretical works, reached the cottages of the poor and palaces of the great. His institution at Yverdun was crowded with men of every nation, not merely those who were led by the same benevolence which inspired hiin, but by the agents of kings, and noblemen, and public institutions, who came to make themselves acquainted with his principles, in order to become fellow-laborers in his plans of benevolence.

“ It is to these companions of his labors, most of whom resided in Germany or Switzerland, that we owe the formation of another school, which has been stýled the Productire School, and which now predominates in Germany and Switzerland. It might, perhaps with equal propriety, be termed the Eclectic School ; for it aims at embodying all the valuable principles of previous systems, without adhering slavishly to the dictates of any naster, or the views of any party: It rejects alike the idolatrous homage to the classics, which was paid by the Humanists—the unreasonable prejudices of the Philanthropists against classical and merely literary pursuits--and the undue predilection for the merè expansion of inind, to the neglect of positive knowledge and practical application, which characterized too many of the Pestalozzian school.

" The leading principle of this system, is that which its name indicates--that the child should be regarded not as a mere recipient of the ideas of others, but as an agent capable of collecting, and originating, and producing most of the ideas which are necessary for its education, when presented with the objects or the facts from which they may bo derived. While, on the one hand, they are careful not to reduce the pupil to a mere machine, to be moved by the will of his instructer in an assigned direction, or a mass of passive matter, to be formed by him according to his own favorite model, they are equally careful to avoid the extreme, into which some of the preceding school have fallen, of leaving him to wander indefinitely in a wrong direction in search of truth, in order to secure to hin the merit of discovery. They consider a course of education as divided into two parts--the period of developement and the period of

« PreviousContinue »