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come inconveniently numerous. Let us admit that education excites a desire in men to better their condition in society; does it not, at the same time, assure them that this object can only be obtained by pursuing unremittingly the honourable path of industry? A laudable ambition thus directed instead of being inimical, would be highly favourable and beneficial to the community at large. When honest emulation is excited in the breasts of the poor of both sexes, it will not suffer them to be lazy and meanly dependent. When they have learnt to consider as indispensable, not only decent apparel and a comfortable home for themselves and families, but some degree of education likewise, the beer-shops will be deserted, and pauperism will sink from its present monstrous bulk into comparative insignificance; vice will be greatly diminished, improvi. dent marriages will decrease, a stronger and better race of children will be produced, and domestic misery among the poorer classes become proportionably rare. per system of development, as servants, it will tend to make them sober, honest, industrious, thinking beings, and more grateful for every kindnesss hewn, every privilege allowed them. It will teach them to be obedient and respectful; it will make them at once more willing and able to discharge their various duties as members of society; it will render them more peaceable and social as immortal and responsi. ble beings; it will teach them the importance of a virtuous and religious conduct, not only as necessary to their welfare here, but to their eternal felicity hereafter.
We will proceed now to consider the necessity of commencing the education of the poor in the period of infancy. I need resort to no other argument for the establishment of this necessity, than the melancholy fact, that the means of education already adopted are insufficient for effectuating the object desired. In proof of this insufficiency, we appeal to the present state of the poor classes; to the prevalence of ignorance and vice and juvenile delinquency
There cannot be a inore fatal error than to suppose a child is ever too young lo lcarn; its will must and ought to be trained soon after its birth, if your end be to lay the foundation for hcart-instruction. The Scriptures have called our attention to this matter for ages past. So. lomon, the wisest man, tells us that if we train up a child in the way he should go that he will not depart from it; and it would be well for every parent, and every teacher, and every person who has the care of children, lo put this question to their own consciences, Have they trained up their children, both in example and precept, in the way they should go ? Conscience alone must decide the point. Jesus himself no. ticed little children, and was displcased with the disciples who rebuked the people that brought them; he told them al that time, as he tells us now, that the infant state is the only receptive slale, the only state of humility, and the bes stale to receive good impressions; and he also tells the adult portion of the community that they themselves must become as little children before they can enjoy the glories, bcati. tudes, and delights of his kingdom.
If we look into the systems of education, we shall sind in schools, froin the highest to the lowest, that both hcart and moral education have been entirely neglected; the hcad has been operated upon, the memory has been fully em. ployed, but the hcart has been untouched and disregarded Lelus nol wonder, then, that education, such as it is, has not produced the results expected by its friends; we must have education of a different kind, and use disserent incaris, and sludy inore intensely the nature of the young mind, and operate upon it more rationally, more agrccably to the laws of nature, and more in agrccment with a sound phi. losophy, and the designs of the Creator; before the ex. pected results will appcar. We have been ornamenting the outside of the building, and neglecting the foundation ; we have been giving children sentiments and opinions all cut and dried ready for use, but have forgotten to hegin at
the beginning. The beneficial tendency of national schools and of parish schools, both in Scotland and in this country, and also of Sunday schools, few, who know anything of the workings of them, will be disposed to doubt or deny; they have contributed greatly to ameliorate the evils resulting from early wrong impressions and bad examples. These latter, however, are degenerating, especially in the manufacturing districts; the number of children collected together are much too large; the teachers, in too many instances, but too ill-informed themselves; and thus, in consequence of the children not having been previously prepared for them in the infant schools, the most serious evils have arisen, which can only be known to those persons who make a habit of inspecting and examining the subject. It is, therefore, unfortunate that their aid comes too late to be invariably efficient; the examples and the impressions made in the first six or seven years of life, are of more importance than has hitherto been conceived, and when children are taken into the schools above alluded to, it is frequently the case, that the heart has been so firmly taken hold of by evil, the affections so misdirected, and the will so perverted, that the endeavours of friends and teachers to counteract those evils are altogether in vain; nor is it fair to expect that the evil influences of six days can be wholly counteracted by a few hours' instruction on the seventh. The young mind must be in a high state in. deed, if this were the case. The work of education, then, it is evident, should be commenced at an earlier period; we must commence our exertion with the first dawning of reason in the mind and affections in the infant heart. It should always be inculcated in the minds of children, that the grace of God can only flow into the minds of those who are willing to co-operate with Him and help themselves. The man in the fable was ordered to put his shoulder to the wheel and use his own exertions, in order to obtain the requisite assistance.
The most casual observer must have noticed in children of the tenderest years, continual displays of every feeling that can actuate the maturity of manhood; they have their likings and dislikings, their prepossessions, and, very soon, their prejudices. We scc them envious of the possession of a toy they have not; jealous of the little playmate who receives more attention than themselves; ambitious of distinctions, and proud of displaying their infantine fineries, even in all these things as men are; and can we wonder at it, when they scc so much of it? It would be wonderful if it were otherwise, since experience proves that a child is very much the creature of imitation. In infancy, then, the work of moral education should commence, for expe rience teaches us, that it is not a logical perception of its evil nature that will conquer a failing which has grown with our growth, and strengthened with our strength. Few, we fcar, but may sind, in their own character, a proof of the fact, that if once an evil principle has been snsered to take possession even of the heart of an infant, it is very difficult to dispossess it by the moral axiom of the head If we would prevent the dominion of evil, we must pre-occupy the heart with goodness, or at any rate we must check the appearances of evil; nip them in the bod, rool them out, ere they have attained that gigantic form, which they afterwards arrive at in ihe congenial atinosphere of the world, and through the insluence of the evil principle by which they are surrounded, fostered, and encouraged. One grand advantage offered in the infantine period, for the purposes of moral development, is the absence of that art which enables them, in maturer life, to throw a cloak over their vices, and conccal the motives of their action. In my whole experience with more than twenty-five thousand infants, of different counties and nations, I have never yet found a hypocrite among infants under six ycars of age, that I could not trace had been inade so, either by example or improper treatment. Let
NECESSITY OF INFANT EDUCATION EXPLAINED.
this fact go forth to the world; I leave theologians and philosophers to quarrel over the matter as they please; I state it as a fact, the result of long experience, and find the infant mind as capable of receiving good seed, as it is of receiving bad; and happy will it be for the present generation of infants, if those who have the charge of them understand more of their nature and state of receptivity ; then they will co-operate with their divine Creator, instead of thwarting, as they have hitherto done, his wise and be. neficent intentions. In this respect, then, infants certainly merit the appellation which the poet Goldsmith has bestowed on them of
“ Honest little men and women." Let us, then, exert ourselves, whilst the nature of the disease is discoverable, and whilst the cure may be effected. If the moral disease be not checked at its commencement in infancy, we can have no reliance on our curative endeavours when it has approximated to its crisis in the mature wickedness of after years. Another reason of the insufficiency of the present means of education adopted for the improvement of the children of the poor, may be found in the defects of the system applied to that purpose ; it is one which seeks to approach the heart, either not at all, or by the medium of the head; it is calculated to make them theoretically good, instead of being practically so. They are taught enough of good rules, but no endeavours, or, at least, no rightly directed endeavours, are made for the excitement and development of those feelings which can alone make good rules serviceable. The education of the heart, the guidance of the infant's will, the direction and cultivation of its affections, through the period of the infant state, was, and is, the primary object of the infant system, and which has been, under the blessing of God, badly as it has been understood, and still more partially and erroneously applied, the means of saving many a child from being burnt or scalded to death, or from some other