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such questions have two sides should not John be hcard ? The justness of this is unanimously allowed, and John, for the first time, lets out the fact, that Peter kicked over his octagon. An instantaneous re action takes place in his fa vour, and Peter, when asked if he kicked over John's octagon, unwillingly admits the fact, but pleads that he only gave it one kick, to which he receives the reply, that he only got one knock on the nose. The verdict is now against Peter; but, as it is the general opinion that he has already been punished, the children of the jury themselves propose that the parties shall kiss each other, and return to the play-ground with their arms round cach other's neck. Many such instances occur, and it is the soul of the system, that none of them are passed over without investigation and adjustment. The too common nursery practice is, to presume saults on both sides in all differences, knock the hcads of the parties together, and there end. But we hold that, in the majority of cases, gross injustice is done by this method to one party, and, moreover, the impression remains with the children themselves, that although there may be moral distinctions, nobody cares for them.
In the play-ground, spontaneous kindness is encouraged, and the children shewn how it can casily be manifested: if a child falls, another will run to help it up, and comfort it; the boys, are accustomed to treat the girls gently and courteously, and all are habituated to acts of kindness, preference of others, respectfulness, and politeness; so that not in name or shew, but in reality, the little community, of which many of the individuals slecp at night in homes made comfortless with selfishness, coarseness, and often with vice, spend the day in a moral atmosphere, which even more elevated stations of society do not yet brcathe, and which will invigorate the moral constitution, insinuate its influence into their yet unpurified abodes, and transmit a degree of moral health to the next generations, which there exists not yet ihe means of extinguishing.
VARIOUS DEVICES FOR CONVEYING INSTRUCTION. 33
In legislating for the faculties of observation, we have adopted various devices of an interesting and amusing nature ; particularly pictures, illustrative of various facts in Scripture, and for teaching them the elements of natural his tory. A frame and balls, for imparting the first rudiments of arithmetic; a gonograph, for exhibiting to them the various geometrical figures; and likewise brass letters, for mak. ing them acquainted with the alphabetical characters; and brass figures for furthering the plan of teaching arithmetic. Singing, as being at once amusing and natural, and likely to fix their attention, is much used, not only as a medium for offering praises to God in simple strains of devotion, but also for the repeating of lessons on various subjects; and it is impressively delightful to listen to the correct, though artless, style, in which the infant vocalists sing the different tunes that are taught. It will be evident, that that great charm to children, variety, by such means is easily attainable. Their attention never flags, because it is not permitted to dwell for too long a period on one object of instruction.
Before quitting the subject of mental development, I would observe that it is our wish and endeavour to cultivate the higher intellectual faculties primarily; to call forth into activity the understanding, and to exercise the judgment, rather than to burden the memory. We wish to make them think, to reflect, and decide themselves on things. Reflection is to the mind, what digestion is to the body: it matters not how much food we take, if the digestive organs are impaired or inactive ; neither is it of any use if we acquire a vast mass of knowledge or of information, if we never reflect upon it. It is reflection which converts the crude mass into the nutritious principle of wisdom. For the purpose of encouraging reflection, the judicious teacher enters into conversations with the children, which are likely to induce reflection,—to set them thinking, and the effectiveness of the method can only be rightly known when we have a thorough model school that the public may visit and
34 PICTURE OF A CHILD ON ENTERING THE INFANT SCHOOL.
examine those who have been the objects, for any time, of such a system of cultivation; they will be found to possess a power of cogitation too frequently wanting in those who have acquired much verbal knowledge.
I have only further to remark, in regard to the system, that whilst moral and mental cultivation are thus attended to, bodily hcalth and suitable exercises are no less assiduously studied. In.order, however, to exercise the moral faculties essectually, human beings must be assembled; for the moral faculties of benevolence and conscientiousness have reference to our fellow.creatures. It is in community too that the selfish feelings must be restrained, and the social brought into active exertion. This is done by encouraging actions under their impulse. When a child comes to an infant school, he most likely brings with him his full share of that engrossing selfishness which characterizes childhood, and which, in the lower ranks, has never been attempted to be counteracted or regulated; he will gratify every impulse of the moment, however it may incommode or annoy his neighbours, and, if thwarted, or even opposed, he will manifest his temper in acts of wilfulness and violence, and, to the amount of his little power, will revenge himself. He will, of course, seize by violence, if he is a bold child, and appropriate the toys and catables of his companions, or, if he is timid but cunning, he will steal and secrete them. In the play-ground, it may suit his destructive humour to throw down his play-fellows, or their little buildings; a box-wood edging, which keeps the rest of the children off the flower-border, is no barrier to him, and he hastens to make his foot-marks on the dressed mould. The flowers are irresistible, and, if permitted, he revels among them and plucks to destroy them; while the cherries and currants on the walls are rifled and devoured. Now, this is the character which would have remained with the individual from yởuth to manhood, its external manifestations might be restrained by
he laws of the land, or by a prudential regard to character, but the whole inward man will be selfish and antisocial, without the consciousness of any thing like moral or religious sentiment, either to regulate the feelings or guide the actions. The little barbarian is well watched by the teacher, and, by management, is made to reap some degree of suffering directly from each of his acts of selfishness, in. justice, fraud, violence, or cruelty. He feels himself, for one thing, the object of the general disapprobation of his play-fellows, a predicament which will sorely afflict even an infant, in whom the faculty of the love of approbation is often more active than in after life. This feeling alone, in the majority of cases, will bring him into harness, and qualify him for further application of the moral system. The process is shorter the younger the child is at his introduction. A child who has passed four years, or reached five, is not so easily led right by the already tamed subjects, and requires a little of the strong hand proportioned to his own manifestation of violence and obstinacy.
To every Infant School-house, then, there must be, as a necessary appendage, a play-ground attached, in which, as before observed, at stated periods they are allowed to amuse themselves, but always under the inspection and influence of the teacher. Swings and various other methods are provided for their amusement, and they present an appearance of happiness which is no less gratifying than surprising. There cannot be in the world a scene more delightful to the reflective observer than a well-regulated infant-school; as a philosopher, he may there contemplate the capabilities of the infant mind under a proper system of development; as a philanthropist, he may there mark the pleasing ascendency of kind and noble feelings, over those of malignancy and selfishness in the infant heart; and above all, as a Christian, he will there find reason to rejoice in the efficacy of a plan rightly understood, properly applied, and judici. ciously managed, calculated to make them wise unto salva
tion, to preserve them from the evil and templations of this life, and prepare them for an eternal inheritance of glory and happiness hereafter. Surely these are ends worthy of attainment, worthy of the attention of our legislators, and also of our time, our talents, and our money. That the subject is gaining the attention of the public mind is evident, for in a recent popular publication, edited in Edinburgh, after reviewing the Infant System, they thus conclude: “We have now completed our analysis of this beautiful system, and we have found every part of it to stand the severest test of science; we have not detected a defect, not a single aberation from nature; but, on the contrary, we find Mr. Wilderspin, with a precision which he alone has attained, and which, considering his opportunities, looks like a special gist of God to an individual for a great end, calling into exercise, and thereby giving delight to, we may say, the whole of the faculties, moral and intellectual, of the human mind; and thereby dispensing to the young a sum of substantial happiness which it forms the main object of our own labours to demonstrate may be enjoyed, on the same terms, by all ages and conditions of human beings, to the incalculable improvement of the lot of humanity."