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well off without this knowledge as with it-perhaps better, as such knowledge turns the lad into a "wind-bag," as Carlyle might say, and gives him the appearance of being well-informed without the reality But I neither despise a knowledge of history and geography; nor do I think that these studies should be neglected for foreign languages or science and it is because I should wish a pupil of mine to become, in the end, thoroughly conversant in history and geography, that I should, if possible, conceal from him the existence of the numerous school manuals on these subjects.
We will suppose that a parent meets with a book which he thinks will be both instructive and entertaining to his children. But the book is a large one, and would take a long time to get through; so instead of reading any part of it to them or letting them read it for themselves, he makes them learn by heart the table of contents. The children do not find it entertaining; they get a horror of the book, which prevents their ever looking at it afterwards, and they forget what they have learnt as soon as they possibly can. Just such is the sagacious plan adopted in teaching history and geography in schools, and such are the natural consequences. Every student knows that the use of an epitome is to systematise knowledge, not to communicate it, and yet, in teaching, we give the epitome first, and allow it to precede, or rather to supplant, the knowledge epitomised The children are disgusted, and no wonder. The subjects, indeed, are interesting, but not so the epitomes. I suppose if we could see the skeletons of the Gunnings, we should not find them more fascinating than any other skeletons.*
* Books for a beginner should contain a little matter in much space.
Ascham, Bacon, Goldsmith, against them.
19. The first thing to be aimed at, then, is to excite the children's interest. Even if we thought of nothing but the acquiring of information, this is clearly the true method.
and, as they are usually written, they contain much matter in a little space. Nothing can be truer than the saying of Lakanal, “ L’abrégé est le contraire de l'élémentaire: That which is abridged is just the opposite of that which is elementary." When shall we learn what seems obvious in itself and what is taught us by the great authorities? "Epitome," says Ascham, "is good privately for himself that doth work it, but ill commonly for all others that use other men's labour therein. A silly poor kind of study, not unlike to the doing of those poor folk which neither till, nor sow, nor reap themselves, but glean by stealth upon other's rounds. Such have empty barns for dear years." (School Master, Book ij.) Bacon says (De Aug., lib. vj., cap. iv.), "Ad pedagogicam quod attinet brevissimum foret dictu. Illud imprimis consuluerim ut caveatur a compendiis: Not much about pedagogics. My chief advice is, keep clear of compendiums." And yet "the table of contents" method which I suggested in irony I afterwards found proposed in all seriousness in an announcement of Dr. J. F. Bright's English History: "The marginal analysis has been collected at the beginning of the volume so as to form an abstract of the history suitable for the use of those who are beinning the study.”.
I would rather listen to Oliver Goldsmith: "In history, such stories. alone should be laid before them as might catch the imagination: instead of this, they are too frequently obliged to toil through the four Empires, as they are called, where their memories are burthened by a number of disgusting names that destroy all their future relish for our best historians." (Letter on Education in the Bee: a letter containing so much new truth that Goldsmith in re-publishing it had to point out that it had appeared before Rousseau's Emile.) A modern authority on education has come to the same conclusion as Goldsmith. "The first teaching in history will not give dates, but will show the learner men and actions likely to make an impression on him. Der erste Geschichtsunterricht wird nicht Jahreszahlen geben, sondern eindrucksvolle Personen und Thaten vorführen." (L. Wiese's Deutsche Bildungsfragen
Arouse interest. Dr. Arnold's historical primer.
What are the facts which we remember? Those in which we feel an interest. If we are told that So-and-so has met with an accident, or failed in business, we forget it directly, unless we know the person spoken of. Similarly, if I read anything abou: Addison or Goldsmith, it interests me, and I remember it because they are, so to speak, friends of mine; but the same information about Sir Richard Black more or Cumberland would not stay in my head for fourand-twenty hours. So, again, we naturally retain anything we learn about a foreign country in which a relation has settled, but it would require some little trouble to commit to memory the same facts about a place in which we had no concern. All this proceeds from two causes. First, that the mind retains that in which it takes an interest; and, secondly, that one of the principal helps to memory is the association of ideas. These were, no doubt, the ground reasons which influenced Dr. Arnold in framing his plan of a child's first history book. This book, he says, should be a picture-book of the memorable deeds which would best appeal to the child's imagination. They should be arranged in order of time, but with no other connection. The letterpress should simply, but fully, tell the story of the action depicted. These would form starting-points of interest. The child would be curious to know more about the great men whose acquaintance he had made, and would associate with them the scenes of their exploits; and thus we might actually find our children anxious to learn history and geography I am sorry that even the great authority of Dr. Arnold has not availed to bring this method into use. Such a book would, of course, be dear. Bad pictures are worse than none at all: and Goethe tells us that his appreciation of Homer was for years destroyed by his having
A Macaulay, not Mangnall, wanted.
been shown, when a child, absurd pictures of the Homeric heroes. The book would, therefore, cost six or eight shilings at least; and who would give this sum for an account of single actions of a few great men, when he might buy the lives of all great men, together with ancient and modern history, the names of the planets, and a great amount of miscellaneous information, all for a shilling in "Mangnall's Questions"?
However, if the saving of a few shillings is more to be thought of than the best method of instruction, the subject hardly deserves our serious consideration.
§ 20. It is much to be regretted that books for the young are so seldom written by distingu ed authors. I suppose that of the three things which the author seeks, money, reputation, influence, the first is not often despised, nor the last considered the least valuable. And yet both money and influence are more certainly gained by a good book for the young than by any other. The influence of "Tom Brown," however different in kind, is probably not smaller in amount than that of "Sartor Resartus."
§ 21. What we want is a Macaulay for boys, who shall handle historical subjects with that wonderful art displayed in the "Essays,"-the art of elaborating all the more telling portions of the subject, outlining the rest, and suppressing everything that does not conduce to heighten the general effect. Some of these essays, such as the "Hastings" and "Clive," will be read with avidity by the elder boys; but Macaulay did not write for children, and he abounds in words to them unintelligible. Had he been a married man, we might perhaps have had such a volume of historical sketches for boys as now we must wish for in vain. But there are good story-tellers left among us, and we might
Beginnings in history and geography.
soon expect such books as we desiderate, if it were clearly understood what is the right sort of book, and if men of literary ability and experience would condescend to write them.
§ 22. If, in these latter days, "the individual withers, and the world is more and more," we must not expect our children to enter into this. Their sympathy and their imagination can be aroused, not for nations, but for individuals; and this is the reason why some biographies of great men should precede any history. These should be written after Macaulay's method. There should be no attempt at completeness, but what is most important and interesting about the man should be narrated in detail, and the rest ghtly sketched, or omitted altogether. Painters understand this principle, and, in taking a portrait, very often depict a man's features minutely without telling all the truth about the buttons on his waistcoat. But, because in a literary picture each touch takes up additional space, writers seem to fear that the picture will be distorted unless every particular is expanded or condensed in the same ratio.
§ 23. At the risk of wearisome repetition, I must again say that I care as little about driving useful knowledge into a boy as the most ultra Cambridge man could wish; but I want to get the boy to have wide sympathies, and to teach himself; and I should therefore select the great men from very different periods and countries, that his net of interest (so to speak) may be spread in all waters.
§ 24. When we have thus got our boys to form the acquaintance of great men, they will have certain associations connected with many towns and countries. Constant reference should be made to the map, and the boys' know. ledge and interest will thus make settlements in different