« PreviousContinue »
SKETCH OF AN ENGLISH SCHOOL.
For the Consideration of the Trustees of the Philadelphia Academy.
Ir is expected that every scholar to be admitted into this school, be at least able to pronounce and divide the syllables in reading, and to write egible hand. None to be received that are und years of age.
FIRST, OR LOWEST CLASS
Let the first class learn the English grammar rules, and at the same time let particular care be taken to improve them in orthography. Perhaps the latter is best done by pairing the scholars; two of those nearest equal in their spelling to be put together. Let these strive for victory; each propounding ten words every day to the other to be spelled. He that spells truly most of the other's words, is victor for that day; he that is victor most days in a month, to obtain a prize, a pretty neat book of some kind, useful in their fu ture studies. This method fixes the attention of children extremely to the orthography of words, and makes them good spellers very early. It is a shame for a man to be so ignorant of this little art, in his own language, as to be perpetually confounding words of like sound and different significations; the consciousness of which defect make some men, otherwise of good learning and understanding, averse to writing even a common letter.
Let the pieces read by the scholars in this class he short; such as Croxal's fables and little stories. In giving the lesson, let it be read to them; let the meaning of the difficult words in it be explained to them: and let them con it over by themselves before they are called to read to the master or usher; who is to take particular care that they do not read too fast, and that they duly observe the stops and pauses. A Vocabulary of the most usual difficult words might be formed for their use, with explanations; and they
might daily get a few of those words and explanations by heart, which would a little exercise their memories; or at least they might write a number of them in a small book for the purpose, which would help to fix the meaning of those words in their minds, and at the same time furnish every one with a little dictionary for his future use.
THE SECOND CLASS,
To be taught reading with attention, and with pro per modulations of the voice, according to the senti ment and the subject.
Some short pieces, not exceeding the length of a Spectator, to be given this class for lessous (and some of the easier Spectators would be very suitable for the purpose.) These lessons might be given every night as tasks; the scholars to study them against the morning. Let it then be required of them to give an account, first of the parts of speech, and construction of one or two sentences. This will oblige them to recur frequently to their grammar, and fix its principal rules in their memory. Next, of the intention of the writer, or the scope of the piece, the meaning of each sentence, and of every uncommon word. This would early acquaint them with the meaning and force of words, and giving them that most necessary habit of reading with attention.
The master then to read the piece with the proper modulations of voice, due emphasis, and suitable action, where action is required; and put the youth on imitating his manner.
Where the author has used an expression not the best, let it be pointed out; and let his beauties be particularly remarked to the youth.
Let the lessons for reading be varied, that the youth may be made acquainted with good styles of all kinds m prose and verse, and the proper manner of reading each kind-sometimes a well-told story, a piece of a sermon, a general's speech to his soldiers, a speech in a tragedy, some part of a comedy, an ode, a satire, a letter, blank versé, Hudibrastic, heroic, &c. But let such lessons be chosen for reading, as contain some
useful instruction, whereby the understanding or mo rals of the youth may at the same time be improved.
It is required that they should first study and un derstand the lessons, before they are put upon reading them properly; to which end each boy should have an English dictionary to help him over difficul ties. When our boys read English to us, we are apt so imagine they understand what they read, because we do, and because it is their mother tongue. But they often read as Parrots speak, knowing little o nothing of the meaning. And it is impossible a reader should give the due modulation to his voice, and pronounce properly, unless his understanding goes before his tongue, and makes himn inaster of the sentiment. Accustoming boys to read aloud what they do not first understand, is the cause of those even set tones so common among readers, which, when they have once got a habit of using, they find so difficult to correct; by which means, among fifty readers we scarcely find a good one. For want of good reading, pieces published with a view to influence the minds of men, for their own or the public benefit, lose half their force. Were there but one good reader in a neighbourhood, a public orator might be heard throughout a nation with the same advantages, and have the same effect upon his audience as if they stood within the reach of lis voice.
THE THIRD CLASS.
To be taught speaking properly and gracefully; which is near a-kin to good reading, and naturally follows it in the studies of youth. Let the scholars of this class begin with learning the elements of rhetoric from some short system, so as to be able to give an account of the most useful tropes and figures. Lo all their bad habits of speaking, all offences against good grammar, all corrupt or foreign accents, and all improper phrases be pointed out to them. Short speeches from the Roman or other history, or from the parliamentary debates, might be got by heart, and delivered with the proper action, &c.-Speeches and scenes in our best tragedies and comedies (avoid
ing every thing that could injure the morals of youth) might likewise be got by rote, and the boys exercised in delivering or acting them; great care being taken to form their manner after the truest models.
For their farther improvement, and a little to vary their studies, let them now begin to read history, after having got by heart a short table of the principal epochs in chronology. They may begin with Rollin's ncient and Roman histories, and proceed at proper ours, as they go though the subsequent classes, with he best histories of our own nation and colonies. Let emulation be excited among the boys, by giving, weekly, little prizes, or other small encouragements to those who are able to give the best account of what they have read, as to times, places, names of persons, &c. This will make them read with attention, and Imprint the history well in their memories. In remarking on the history, the master will have fine opportunites of instilling instruction of various kinds, and improving the morals, as well as the understandings, of youth.
The natural and mechanic history, contained in the Spectacle de la Nature, might also be begun in this class, and continued through the subsequent classes, by other books of the same kind; for, next to the knowledge of duty, this kind of knowledge is certainly the most useful, as well as the most entertaining. The merchant may thereby be enabled bet ter to understand many commodities in trade; the handicraftsman to improve his business by new instruments, mixtures, and materials, and frequently hints are given for new methods of improving land hat may be set on foot greatly to the advantage of a ountry.
THE FOURTH CLASS.
To be taught composition. Writing one's own language well, is the next necessary accomplishment after good speaking. It is the writing master's business to take care that the boys make fair characters, and place them straight and even in the lines but te form their style, and even to take care that the supe
and capitals are properly disposed, is the part of the English master. The boys should be put on writing letters to each other on any common occurrences, and on various subjects, imaginary business, &c. containing little stories, accounts of their late reading, what parts of authors please them, and why; letters of congratulation, of compliment, of request, of thanks, of recommendation, of admonition, of conso lation, of expostulation, excuse, &c. In these they should be taught to express themselves clearly, con cisely, and naturally, without affected words or high own phrases. All their letters to pass through thei master's hand, who is to point out the faults, advisa the corrections, and commend what he finds right Some of the best letters published in their own lan guage, as Sir William Temple's, those of Pope and
is friends, and some others, might be set before the youth as models, their beauties pointed out and ex plained by the master, the letters themselves transcribed by the scholar.
Dr. Johnson's Ethices Elementa, or Firs! Principles of Morality, may now be read by the scholars, and explained by the master, to lay a solid foundation of virtue and piety in their minds. And as this class continues the reading of history, let them now, at proper hours, receive some farther instruction in chronology and in that part of geography (from the mathematical master) which is necessary to understand the maps and globes. They should also be acquainted with the modern names of the places they find mentioned in ancient writers. The exercises of good reading, and proper speaking, still continued at suitable times.
To improve the youth in composition, they may now, besides continuing to write letters, begin to write little essays in prose, and sometimes in verse; not to make them poets, but for this reason, that nothing acquaints a lad so speedily with a variety of expression, as the necessity of finding such words and phrases, as will suit the measure, sound, and