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My friend had a piano forte, the strings of which, by long disuse or by gross misuse, had become terribly jangled and out of tune. There was not a note in the scale, with which they were not at open variance. The coffee mill itself yielded quite as much music and more fragrance; and so, naturally enough, the coffee mill had su perseded the piano forte in the affections of the family, while the latter lapsed into mere silent and unheeded stupor. But the professor called one day; with the eye of true genius he recognized the capabilities of the long neglected instrument. He bent kindly over it; he laid a gentle but resolute hand upon its tangled nerves; he patted and petted its wayward keys; he listened with a hopeful, encouraging smile to all its harsh discordant utterances; and so with patience and with skill, he wrestled with the obstinate thing for a season. And when I called again, I found indeed the same rosewood and the same material there; but when he struck upon the keys, lo! grand airs from Mozart, and divine symphonies from Beethoven wandered over its inspired strings.
Let us have regard to these untutored intelligences about us.— No matter how stupid their intellects may seem. Perhaps they cannot recognize a letter of the alphabet; no matter how dull their moral perceptions may appear. Perhaps they cannot even discriminate between a felo-de-se and a seedy fellow; yet I say, have regard to them all; consider what they may become, if skillfully attuned.
I am told that very ingenious men have formed instruments out of mere insensible metal, by the aid of which a ship may be guided. over a trackless sea, from port to port, thousands of miles asunder. I have great respect for all such genius.
But I bow with profoundest reverence before the School Master. He is the grand Artist. I have seen him pick up a little stolid existence, bearing no more resemblance to a man than an oyster does to an ox; to whose unreasoning nature, no single question of whence he came, or what he signified, or whither he tended-even whispered itself. I have seen the School Master feel carefully -about among the springs of such a being, until at length he would lay his vivifying touch upon the very germ of his soul. Under that touch I have seen the little creature grow and expand; emotion succeeding to sensation, and idea succeeding to emotion, until
his whole being was as full of divine questioning, as the spider is of its web.
With such questionings, I have seen him, spider-like, weave his track to and from the pillars of life, until great thoughts have flowered into lofty purposes-swaying backward and forward then as the locomotive prepares for its flight. I have seen this ripened intellect dash over the track of history to the foundations of time— and thence spring forward on wings half of prophecy and half of calculation, blazing away onward for a hundred years into the untrod future. Such transformations are the work of the School Master. I leave you to pursue that work.
Essentials for a Good Teacher.
A GOOD CHARACTER.-We claim in the first place that no person is fit to teach school, who does not possess a good moral character. One may possess all other qualifications in an eminent degree, but without morality has no right to meddle with the immortal part of our youth. In the eyes of the civil law the teacher stands "in loco parentis;" in the eyes of the divine law, the responsibility is still greater, for the teacher has the welfare of many to answer for; the parent, but few; besides, we know not why, the child has greater reverence for the teacher, looks up to him as a paragon of perfection, trusts to his judgment more implicitly in matters relating to his education, hence his influence is second if not equal to the parent's. How important then that every teacher should abstain from the use of tobacco in every form, all intoxicating drinks, and profane and obscene language, and should be an attendant at the House of God for the example's sake, if for no holier motive.
THOROUGHNESS.-A teacher should be thorough in everything, especially should he be a thorough scholar.
If a teacher has been a loose and irregular student himself, has gone through his school or college course at a break-neck speed, he is very apt to allow his pupils to pursue the same course, to gorge themselves with mental food, without regard to digestion; even if the teacher try to correct in his pupils that which was a defect in his own education, he will succeed with great difficulty, for scholars
-will assimilate to their teacher on the principle that "like begets. like." It should ever be our motto as scholars, as teachers, as men"not how much, but how well."
POWER TO PLEASE.-No teacher can be truly successful without having the power to please his pupils. He must lay aside all moroseness of temper, all anger, and enter heartily into their interests heighten their joys and alleviate their sorrows. A noisy, scolding teacher will have a noisy ill-tempered school, the scholars will have no sympathy for a teacher who fails to sympathize with them. Unless the teacher has the power to please his pupils, he will hardly create a thirst for knowledge which is "the one thing needful;" even if he succeed in getting a certain amount of labor from his pupils, they perform it as a laborer who is hired with wages, or as a slave, who performs his task because he dares not do otherwise; they should be made to feel that they are not sowing that another may reap the profits, but that they are working for themselves, that the harvest is all theirs, and, oh! how rich the harvest. It is a prevailing error among young children that the lessons imposed upon them are a burden, and they perform them as such, mechanically. This error the teacher should strive to dispel. He should be the sun to brighten all under his influence, to dispel the mists of error, and ignorance, not a hovering cloud threatening them with
the rod and lash.
A LOVE FOR ORDER.-This is also an essential, and if a teacher possesses it not, he should strive for it earnestly. An example in Arithmetic cannot be solved, unless each figure receive its appropriate place; a watch cannot be made, unless every wheel, spring and screw be properly arranged. No merchant can do business without a systematic arrangement of his goods and his books; no farmer scceeds unless he does each thing at its proper time; no lady can be a good housewife, unless she has dishes, broom, dirt, everything in its proper place. "Order is heaven's first law." He is not a good teacher, who does not stamp upon his every action the word-order. He should be neat and orderly in his attire; he should conduct each recitation at its proper time, take each subject in order from the text-book, "do but one thing at a time," and that well. I have known teachers who would permit one scholar to speak" to another, a boy to" go out," attend to a class in reading,
assist a scholar with an example, and have a class performing ex- all at once. Of course such teachers know better and should be made to do better.
amples at the "board"
PROMPTNESS is an important essential, and it is something the scholar always expects from the teacher. I recollect having been tardy once; when I came into the school-room, every eye was turned to me and their looks plainly said, "I should think you would be ashamed," and their voices said, "you cannot blame us now for being tardy." Look to our great men, our rich men and our successful men, and you will find that the leading trait in their character is promptness. The prompt teacher is very apt to have a prompt school.
TACT, OR THE KNACK OF TEACHING.-People say "such a person has the knack of teaching; or "such an one has no tact." We think this essential is simply a love for the profession in connection with the other essentials we have named. We know no reason why it is not the same with this profession as with others. A man cannot become a good farmer unless he loves the occupation, the same is true of a machinist, a carpenter, a blacksmith, a merchant; successful preachers and lawyers are those who love their work. He who has a love for teaching will become a good teacher and cannot but acquire the knack, if he attends to his business, and studies his profession. The teacher who has a good moral character, is a thorough scholar, has the power to please children, possesses a love for order, is prompt and has a love for his profession, can hardly fail to succeed.
BANISH all books at recitation except in reading. Ask two ques tions out of the book for every one in it. Be sure that every scholar can repeat and answer every question asked before dismissed from the class. Call on scholars promiscuously. Let them question the teacher, and each other. Keep every eye fixed and every mind active. Do not usually sit before a class. The class must see the teacher enthusiastic. Be quick-be precise-be in earnest.
How to Teach the Alphabet.
The difficulty experienced by many preceptors in teaching the alphabet induces me to say a few words concerning it. I have come to the conclusion, that before a person is fitted to impart primary instruction he must be full of experience in teaching, and must possess tact and judgment rarely found. Consequently, we commit an error of the most grievous kind when we use primary classes as schools of discipline and preparation, in which young teachers are to gain the training which fits them for positions of (as is supposed) more responsibility.
To teach the alphabet is a difficult task, generally because the teacher is unfitted for the work. An officer in our army, while at New Orleans, undertook to teach a freedman to read. In the orthodox manner, he took up the primer, and, pointing out the third letter, said, "That is 'C;' then pointing out the first letter, he said, "That is A.'" Whenever the pupil was asked the name of either letter, he invariably answered "C," and, when rebuked, promptly replied:
"It's no use, massa; 'C.' 'll always come fust."
Failing in this, and thinking he had begun at the middle, the instructor pointed out two capital "A's" of different sizes, and stated that they were alike. Being called away for a short time, he was astonished, upon his return, at finding the pupil busily engaged in comparing the letters by means of a stick.
"Some mistake here, massa; they ain't the same-one's bigger than t'other."
The would-be teacher gave up his charge in disgust, and ever since has busily denounced the freedmen as incapable of mental improvement, forgetting, meanwhile, that the fault was his, not his pupil's.
As the inclination of the child is against study, the elementary points must be presented as curiosities, not as subjects requiring labor. If this method be adopted, the teaching of the alphabet becomes simple. How easily children pick up the letters, their names and sounds, from a tin plate! An acquaintance of mine, an old teacher, not long ago illustrated this principle by relating his own experience:
"While I was teaching over in New Jersey, I found that one of