Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

them, by kindness and attention, to regard you as their friends, and to express their doubts and ignorance to you without hesitation, you send them away from you, and have the same ground to go over again. The mischiefs of such a course, to the children, to the teachers, and to the general character of the school, are innumerable. If our school has been attended with more than usual success, it is to be ascribed principally to this cause, that it has been carried on steadily, permanently, without rest or intermission. No child has been sent from the school with the impression that he is now good enough or wise enough, and may rest from his labors for three or four months. No teacher has been permitted to say, "This is a good opportunity to withdraw from the school; I have served my turn, let somebody else take it now." The children have not been suffered to think, that religion was a periodical thing, fit for bright suns and warm days, but not of sufficient importance to bring them out in the face of a northwest wind or a snow-storm. You inculcate upon them the duty of attending public worship;-how can you do this with any hope of success, when you let them know, that a little bad weather in winter keeps you at home from school? I am glad that I am able to enforce my opinion by experience. * * Our parish embraces a very scattered population, and many of the children live at a considerable distance from the school; yet, during the whole of last winter, the average number that attended, was one hundred and one; many days, when the weather was not stormy, one hundred and thirty-five.

A very inadequate opinion prevails, of the nature of the instruction to be given at Sunday schools. If it be only the asking a certain number of prescribed questions, and receiving a certain number of prescribed answers,—if it be only catechising,—you may spare yourself any further pains. You have only to turn over the whole school to the town crier, and let them be taught to recite by platoons. But if you desire to awaken their faculties, to watch the first glimmerings of piety, to feed the flame without extinguishing it, you must study the character and habits of the child; you must adapt your mind to his, and your language to his, and by a very constant course of cross-examination, be certain that you are rightly understood, and that you have made the impression you intended to make. And for all this, what are fifty-two days in a year! You will pardon me for expressing myself so strongly; but I feel that the very existence of your schools depends upon the correction of this error.

V. A report from the teachers every month is too often. They will have nothing to say; and having nothing to say, they will soon neglect it. Besides, this monthly report is to be followed by no consequences. In our school, the quarterly report is followed by an immediate distribution of rewards in conformity to it; and therefore becomes impor

tant.

VI. I think the minister should not attend the school. Religious instruction from him, or in his presence, is too much a thing of course. Besides, if your teachers are to talk with the children (and their instruction is worth noth

ing, if they do not), many of them will be embarrassed by the presence of their minister. They will be afraid to talk freely, lest he should hear them. Besides, there may be important occasions, when the clergyman may be called in with powerful effect, and his presence should not be made too common. I say nothing of the great labor which your plan would impose upon the minister on the Sabbath, when he can ill afford the time or strength.

VII. In addition to your meetings of the superintendents, you should have an occasional meeting of the teachers of the same school. We could not dispense with ours. Besides making them acquainted with each other, and increasing their zeal by social excitement, they can, at such meetings, better arrange their classes, make mutual exchanges, and find the proper situation for any child whose situation or character is unusual.

VIII. I am pleased with the subject and designs of your tracts; but for reasons already given, think they ought not to be published for any particular age or class.

IX. Your scheme for the instruction of the higher class, I would extend to every class. My plan would be, that the children should attend school, as long as their situation permitted, or until they grew up to be teachers themselves; and that the teachers, by attending without intermission— (none of your winter-holidays!),-should acquire a love for the employment, and grow up into judicious and well informed, if not learned theological instructers. The books, of whatever kind, that are used, should be regarded more as a text-book for the teacher, than as a manual for the scholar.

Children do not become pious, by getting lessons of piety. As the teachers can certainly learn as fast as the children, I can see no reason why they should not carry the same class onward to an indefinite progress. It should be impressed upon them, that it is a school for themselves, as well as for the children; that "he who watereth shall be watered himself."

One word more about the expense of our plan,-no unimportant object in a general system. The rewards we distribute do not average more than four or five dollars a quarter for one hundred and eighty-five children; and the whole expense of the school has been about forty dollars a year. This includes the purchase of testaments, hymnbooks, catechisms, and books of all kinds, as well as printing and stationary. If we were now to begin, we could reduce even this small expense by spending the money more judiciously.

I am satisfied you do not want an apology from me, for answering your letter so much at length, and so freely. I know it is your single object to do good; and it is mine to assist you in it, if possible. Let me know if you receive this safely, and how my objections strike you; for I wish to receive light as well as give it.

Affectionately yours.

AN ADDRESS

DELIVERED BEFORE THE TEACHERS OF THE SOUTH PARISH

SUNDAY SCHOOL; APRIL, 1823.

In compliance with your request, I appear before you, this evening, to recall your attention to the important duties, in which you are engaged. I come not to offer advice, or to prescribe a course for your direction; but as one of your own number, to collect the results of your past experience, and to bring together a few plain principles, upon which you have hitherto acted, and to which, much of your success may justly be ascribed. I come to impress my own mind, as well as yours, with a sense of the importance of our employment; and to kindle some new zeal, awaken some new energy, by bringing to view the mighty effects which may result from successful perseverance. We are fellow-laborers in the cause of human improvement; and whatever may be the result of our efforts, we are at least engaged in a cause of the highest dignity, and the deepest interest.

To understand clearly the nature of our duties, nothing more is necessary than to place distinctly before us the ob

« ZurückWeiter »