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ADDRESS BEFORE THE TEACHERS' ASSOCIATION IN CONNECTION WITH THE MCGILL NORMAL SCHOOL
BY MISS ROBINS, B.A., PRESIDENT.
In travelling from Edinburgh to Carlisle by lightning express, sixty miles an hour, the towns along the route flashing by with indescribable speed, all that I could do was to hold on to the seats with both hands. Have you not felt a similar sensation in your work, the pressure of each day's task being so great that all that was possible was to hold on, no time to examine whither you were going? You had just to trust to the system under which you were working to bring you safely through. Let us make our association meetings little stopping places along the teachers' roads, where we may review our position and form plans and examine ideals for the rest of the journey. To-night let us look for a while at the most important feature in the schoolroom. More worthy of regard than the chalk on the blackboard, or even the books and the teacher, is the child. Let us examine him from one point of view only-the side of character. Dr. Arnold said of mere cleverness, "It is more revolting to me than helpless imbecility seeming to be almost like the spirit of Mephistopheles." To increase mental strength and dwarf moral power is educational madness.
I saw children punished for faults that their ancestors ought to have been punished for and praised for qualities
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for which their ancestors should have received credit, the obstinate child suffering from the consequences of inherited obstinacy, the happy dispositioned child basking in the sunshine of inherited good humour, and I asked myself, "What is the right attitude of parents and teachers towards the failings of children?" Titcomb answers this question admirably in his letters to the Joneses when he asks Deacon Jones, Do you know what a child is? Did you ever think whence it came and whither it is going. Did it ever occur to you that any one of your children is a good deal more God's child than it is yours? Did you ever happen to think that it came from heaven and that it is more your brother than your child? Never, I venture to say. You never dream that your children are your younger brothers and sisters, intrusted to you by your common Father, for the purposes of protection and education; and you certainly never treat them as if they were. You have not a child in the world whose pardon you should not ask for the impudent and unbrotherly assumptions which you have prac tised upon him. Ah! if you could have looked upon your sons as your younger brothers and your daughters as your younger sisters, and have patiently borne with them and instructed them in the use of life and liberty, and built them up into a self-regulated manhood and womanhood, you would not now be alone and comfortless." Titcomb has here struck ths right key-note.
Rousseau, in his master-piece "Emile," by which, with three other works, he started a moral and civic revolution in two nations, expresses a similar thought in the noblest words of his great work. "O men, be humane; it is your foremost duty. Be humane to all classes and to all ages, to every thing not foreign to mankind. What wisdom is there for you outside of humanity? Love childhood; encourage its sports, its pleasures, its amiable instincts. Who of you has not sometimes looked back with regret on that age when a smile was ever on the lips, when the soul was ever at peace? Why would you take from those little innocents the enjoyment of a time so short which is slipping from them, and of a good so precious that they cannot abuse? Why should you fill with bitterness and sorrow those early years so rapidly passing, which will no more return to them than to you? Fathers, do you know the moment when death awaits your children? Do not pre