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THE PHILOSOPHY AND METHOD OF TEACHING
PURSUED AT THE WESTFIELD STATE NORMAL SCHOOL.
BY J. W. DICKINSON, A. M., PRINCIPAL.
1. THE PHILOSOPHY OF TEACHING. If the mind is led to act in accordance with the laws of its nature, it will acquire the inclination and the ability to obey these laws. That state of the mind in which it has the inclination and the ability to obey the laws of its nature, is called Education; and the mind possessing this state, is said to be educated.
This definition of Education makes it a state of the mind and not a process. There is but one process by which the mind can be changed from one state to another, and that process is found in the mind's own activity
By mental activity, knowledge is acquired, and the knowledge in turn excites activity, but it is activity only that produces a change in the powers that act.
As knowledge is both the product and the occasion of mental activity, knowledge seems to combine with mental activity in producing the state called Education.
That which produces a thing is the cause of that thing; then the cause of education is knowledge and mental activity. The cause of education is also called Instruction.
The term Instruction is sometimes used to signify knowledge, and sometimes to signify the process by which the teacher leads his pupils to acquire knowledge.
The word Instruction means to build within, and may well be limited in its application to mental activity and knowledge, which we have shown build up to perfection the mind itself.
It is the duty of the teacher to present in a right manner to the mind, objects and subjects which he desires to be the occasion of mental activity and knowledge.
The process of presenting occasions is Teaching.
The relations that Education, Instruction, and Teaching, hold to one another, are these: Instruction is the cause of Education, and Teaching is the occasion of Instruction.
Teaching must have for its object one of two ends, Knowledge or Education.
Knowledge as an end is valueless; then, the end towards which all intelligent teaching directs its attention, is Education.
If Education is the end the teacher should lead his pupil to attain, and if mental activity is the primary cause of Education, the teacher must provide right occasions for a complete and perfect mental activity. The ability to do this implies a knowledge of the ways in which the mind acts.
The modes, or ways of mental action, are three; thinking, feeling and choosing
The mind thinking is called the Intellect: the mind feeling is called the Sensibilities; the mind choosing is called the Will.
The activity of the sensibilities is the result of thinking; the activity of the will is the result of feeling,--therefore, the teacher turns his attention primarily to the activity of the Intellect.
Every Intellectual act is an act of comparison.
The Intellect compares for perceptions, for general notions, for judge ments, and for reasoning.
The teacher must present to the minds of the pupils, as occasions for these different acts of comparison, subjects and objects, named in proper order, for a course of study.
The course of study is divided into two courses : the one being an Elementary, the other a Scientific course.
In the Elementary course, the mind is excited to activity in acquiring a knowledge of facts.
This knowledge of facts is to be used as the occasion of Scientific knowledge.
A complete and perfect course of study, will name objects and subjects sufficient in number, and of the right kind, to guide the teacher in presenting occasions to the minds of his pupils, for making all kinds of comparisons; for comparing all kinds of objects; for comparing all kinds of relations, and for making the comparisons in the order, and in the manner required by the mind, as its powers are developed.
These are the principles which constitute the philosophy of teaching.
2. MODE OF TEACHING. There are two ways of teaching. One way consists in presenting objects and subjects first as wholes, for general knowledge, then the parts and their relations for particular knowledge. The other way consists in first presenting parts of things, and the relations of the parts, for particular knowledge, then the whole made up of these parts and of their relations, for general knowledge.
These two ways of teaching are called Modes, or Methods. The first method is called the Analytic, the second the Synthetic method.
A synthetic method of study is impossible; as a method of teaching it is faulty for two reasons :
1st. The application of the method requires the teacher to present as occasions for mental activity and knowledge, parts of wholes, not as parts, but as independent individual things, that are not seen to hold any relation to the wholes of which they are parts, until the relation has been established by the teacher.
2d. The method requires the teacher to do the work that belongs to the student.
The application of the Analytic method requires the teacher to assign lessons for study, by the use of topics made out according to the following rules :
1st. The objects and subjects to be presented for study, should be of such a kind as are adapted to call into exercise the powers of the mind in accordance with the time and order of the development of these powers.
2d. The first topics assigned should be those that lead the pupil to study for Elementary knowledge.
3d. The first topic in any study should require the pupil to search for a general knowledge of the object or subject of study.
4th. The minor topics should present the parts of objects in a natural order, and of subjects in a logical order, and require the pupil to study for particular knowledge.
5th. The topics should lead the pupil to exhaust the subject.
Language is not to be considered the primary source of knowledge, but the mind is to be made conscious of having the ideas and thoughts to be expressed by the language used, before the language is employed.
This is done by actually bringing into the presence of the mind the object of study.
It is the duty of the teacher to excite the minds of his pupils to such mental activity as will lead to the state called Education, by bringing into their presence, in a right manner, the thing to be studied, and by guiding them to a knowledge of the facts and truths he would have them know.
All lessons are to be taught orally by the teacher, in such a manner that he will do nothing except furnish an occasion for knowledge.
The pupil should acquire the knowledge by his own mental activity.
The lesson thus taught will furnish for the pupil topics properly arranged for study, and a knowledge of the topics sufficient to enable him to continue to study them intelligently and profitably.
Text-books may be put into the hands of the pupils to be used as ref. erence books. As text-books are sometimes used, they take away the possibility of independent mental activity on the part of both teacher and pupil.
The pupil having prepared his lesson, is to recite before the class upon the topic or topics, assigned at the time by the teacher.
He is to develop, without questions by the teacher, the topics assigned him, illustrating carefully the ideas and thoughts he expresses in words, before the expressions are made, observing to follow the same Analytic method in recitation that was observed by the teacher in assigning the topics, and by himself in studying them.
Both the teacher and the class are to observe carefully the pupil reciting, with reference to his knowledge, and his mode of teaching or reciting.
After the pupil has completed his recitation, the teacher and pupils may make criticisms, for the purpose of correcting mistakes, and for calling attention to new truth.
The pupil should be permitted, and even required, to use his actise powers in obtaining knowledge, as well as his passive powers in receiv
The teacher should be constantly aware of the nature of his work, and of the end to be secured, and of the relation the means he employs holds to that end.
Successful teaching implies the existence of a course of study that is adapted to the wants of the mind as its powers are developed. It requires the employment of the right method in applying this course, and the presence of a teacher who understands the philosophy of his work.
The teacher must be supplied with all external means necessary for his teaching, and with the cordial sympathy of all in authority over him, and then he can so apply his philosophical method as to obtain a better and higher result than the schools have yet known.
STATE NORMAL SCHOOL,
AT BRIDGEWATER, MASS.
The Normal School at BRIDGEWATER went into operation on the 9th of September, 1840, with 28 pupils. Up to August, 1846, pupils were received for two terms, which were not necessarily successive. Since that time they have been required to remain three successive terms of fourteen weeks each. In 1855, the period of attendance at all the State Normal Schools was fixed at one year and a half. This school receives both male and female pupils.
The following communication from Prof. Marshall Conant, the present Principal, sets forth the existing regulations respecting the admission of pupils, course of study, and other particulars.
Males must be at least seventeen years of age, and females at least sixteen.
from some responsible person; and must pass a satisfactory examination in the common branches, viz., - Reading, Spelling, Defining, Arithmetic, Writing, Grammar and Geography.
There is also required of the candidate a pledge to remain in the institution three consecutive terms, and faithfully to observe all its rules and regulations. If, however, the candidate is found to be qualified to enter advanced classes, his connection with the institution may be for a less time ; but not less than one year.
The school year is divided into two terms : one beginning on the third Wednesday of March, and continuing 19 weeks; the other on the third Wednesday of September, and continuing 21 weeks. Annual session of the school, 40 weeks.
Pupils are received at the commencement of each term.
All candidates for admission are required to present themselves at the school room at 9 o'clock, A. M., of the first day of the term ; for only in very special cases is any one entitled to an examination for admission after that day.
Tuition is gratuitous to those who design to become Teachers in the Public Schools of the State. To those from other States, who do not become Teachers in this, a fee of $10 per term is charged for tuition; and the same also to those who enter the insti. tution for the purpose of qualifying themselves to teach in Private Schools. A like amount for tuition is expected to be paid by those who fail to fulfill an expressed design to teach in the Public Schools of the State.
The State appropriates $1000 a year for each of the Normal Schools, to aid those of its own students who find it difficult to meet the expense of attending one of those institutions without assistance. This aid is not granted during the first thirteen weeks of the course. Afterward, applicants for aid may expect to receive it as follows: those who reside not over twenty miles from the school, 50 cts. per week; those residing between 20 and 30 miles, $1; and those over 30 miles, $1,50 per week. Is, how. ever, the number of applicants in any term should be greater than to allow of these rates of distribution from the regular appropriation for the term, that amount will be distributed in the proportion of these rates.
Board is usually $2,50 per week; exclusive of fuel and lights. And $1,50 is required of every student, at the middle of each term, to meet incidental expenses.
It is also expected that ezery student will furnish himself with a copy of Lippincott's Gazetteer, and with one or two other smaller works; the whole expense of which may amount to $7,00. All other text-books are furnished to the students free of charge