Billeder på siden

Arnauld. Nicole.

mother-tongue. The young people are to question and answer each other about the substance of what they have read, about the more remarkable thoughts in their author or the more beautiful expressions. Each day two of the boys are to narrate a story which they themselves have selected from a classical author.*

§ 36. With the notable exception of Pascal, Arnauld was the most distinguished writer among the Gentlemen or Port-Royal. A writer less devoted to controversy than Arnauld, less attached to the thought of Saint-Cyran and of Descartes, but of wider popularity, was Nicole, who had Made. de Sévigné for an admirer, and Locke for one of his translators.

Nicole has given us a valuable contribution to pedagogy in his essay on the right bringing-up of a prince. (Vues générales pour bien élever un prince.) In this essay he shows us with what thought and care he had applied himself to the art of instruction, and he gives us hints that all teachers may profit by. Take the following :—

§ 37. "Properly speaking it is not the masters, it is no instruction from without, that makes things understood; at the best the masters do nothing but expose the things to the interior light of the mind, by which alone they can be understood. It follows that where this light is wanting instruction is as useless as trying to shew pictures in the dark. The very greatest minds are nothing but lights in confinement, and they have always sombre and shady spots ; but in children the mind is nearly full of shade and emits

Although so much time is given to study of words, practice in the use of words is almost entirely neglected, and the English schoolboy remains inarticulate.

Light from within. Teach by the Senses.

but little rays of light. So everything depends on making the most of these rays, on increasing them and exposing to them what one wishes to have understood. For this reason it is hard to give general rules for instructing anyone, because the instruction must be adapted to the mixture of light and darkness, which differs widely in different minds, especially with children. We must look where the day is breaking and bring to it what we wish them to understand; and to do this we must try a variety of ways for getting at their minds and must persevere with such as we find have

most success.

"But generally speaking we may say that, as in children the light depends greatly on their senses, we should as far as possible attach to the senses the instruction we give them, and make it enter not only by the ear but also by the sight, as there is no sense which makes so lively an impression on the mind and forms such sharp and clear ideas."

This is excellent. There is a wise proverb that warns us that "however soon we get up in the morning the sunrise comes never the earlier." A vast amount of instruction is thrown away because the instructors will not wait for the day-break.

§ 38. For the moral training of the young there is one qualification in the teacher which is absolutely indispensable -goodness. Similarly for the intellectual training, there is an indispensable qualification-intelligence. This is the qualification required by the system of Port-Royal, but not required in working the ordinary machinery of the schoolroom either in those days or in ours. When Nicole has described how instruction should be given so as to train the judgment and cultivate the taste, he continues:

"As this kind of instruction comes without observation,

Best teaching escapes common tests.

so is the profit derived from it likely to escape observation also; that is, it will not announce itself by anything on the surface and palpable to the common man. And on this account persons of small intelligence are mistaken about it and think that a boy thus instructed is no better than another, because he cannot make a better translation from Latin into French, or beat him in saying his Virgil. Thus judging of the instruction by these trifles only, they often make less account of a really able teacher than of one of little science and of a mind without light." (Nicole in Cadet, p. 204; Carré, p. 187.)

In these days of marks and percentages we seem agreed that it must be all right if the children can stand the tests of the examiner or the inspector. Something may no doubt be got at by these tests; but we cannot hope for any genuine care for education while everything is estimated "par des signes grossiers et extérieurs."

§ 39. Whatever was required to adapt the thought of PortRoyal to the needs of classical schools, especially the schools of the University of Paris was supplied by Rollin (16611741) whose Traité des Études or "Way of teaching and studying Literature," united the lessons of Port-Royal with much material drawn from his own experience and from his acquaintance with the writings of other authors, especially Quintilian and Seneca. Having been twice Rector of the University (in 1694 and 1695) Rollin had managed to bring into the schools much that was due to Port-Royal; and in his Traité he has the tact to give the improved methods as the ordinary practice of his colleagues.

§ 40. Much that Rollin has said applies only to classical or at most to literary instruction; but some of his advice will be good for all teachers as long as the human mind

Studying impossible without a will.

needs instruction. I have met with nothing that seems to me to go more truly to the very foundation of the art of teaching than the following:

"We should never lose sight of this grand principle that STUDY DEPENDS ON THE WILL, and the will does not endure constraint: 'Studium discendi voluntate quæ cogi non potest constat.' (Quint. j, 1, cap. 3.)* We can, to be sure, put constraint on the body and make a pupil, however unwilling, stick to his desk, can double his toil by punishment, compel

* Rollin somewhat extends Quintilian's statement: "The desire of learning rests in the will which you cannot force." About attempts to coerce the will in the absence of interest, I may quote a passage from a lecture of mine at Birmingham in 1884, when I did not know that I had behind me such high authorities as Quintilian and Rollin : “I should divide the powers of the mind that may be cultivated in the school-room into two classes: in the first I should put all the higher powers-grasp of meaning, perception of analogy, observation, reflection, imagination, intellectual memory; in the other class is one power only, and that is a kind of memory that depends on the association of sounds. How is it then that in most school-rooms far more time is spent in cultivating this last and least-valuable power than all the rest put together? The explanation is easy. All the higher powers can be exercised only when the pupils are interested, or, as Mr. Thring puts it, 'care for what they are about.' The memory that depends on associating sounds is independent of interest and can be secured by simple repetition. Now it is very hard to awaken interest, and still harder to maintain it. That magician's wand, the cane, with which the schoolmasters of olden time worked such wonders, is powerless here or powerful only in the negative direction; and so is every form of punishment. You may tell a boy-'If you can't say your lesson you shall stay in and write it out half-a-dozen times!' and the threat may have effect; but no 'instans tyrannus' from Orbilius downwards has ever thought of saying, 'If you don't take an interest in your work, I'll keep you in till you do!' So teachers very naturally prefer the kind of teaching in which they can make sure of success.

[ocr errors]

Against making beginnings bitter.

him to finish a task imposed upon him, and with this object we can deprive him of play and recreation. But is this work of the galley-slave studying? And what remains to the pupil from this kind of study but a hatred of books, of learning, and of masters, often till the end of his days? It is then the will that we must draw on our side, and this we must do by gentleness, by friendliness, by persuasion, and above all by the allurement of pleasure." (Traité, 8th Bk. Du Gouvernement des Classes, 1 Partie, Art. x.)


§ 41. The passage I have quoted is from the Article "( on giving a taste for study (rendre l'étude aimable);" and if some masters do not agree that this is one of the most important points concerning education," they will not deny that "it is at the same time one of the most difficult." As Rollin truly says, "among a very great number of masters who in other respects are highly meritorious there will be found very few who manage to get their pupils to like their work."

§ 42. One of the great causes of the disinclination for school work is to be found according to Rollin and Quintilian, in the repulsive form in which children first become acquainted with the elements of learning. "In this matter success depends very much on first impressions; and the main effort of the masters who teach the first rudiments should be so to do this, that the child who cannot as yet love study should at least not get an aversion for it from that time forward, for fear lest the bitter taste once acquired should still be in his mouth when he grows older."* (Begin. of Art. x, as above.)

* Here as usual Rollin uses Quintilian without directly quoting him. He gives in a note the passage he had in his mind. "Id imprimis

« ForrigeFortsæt »