« PreviousContinue »
The order of teaching in the Testament and Bible classes in some Schools where the whole number cannot be taken together to public worship, is as follows:
Supposing the School to begin at nine o'clock in the morning; spelling till ten—reading till a quarter past eleven—(the 6th class in the Old Testament)—learning catechisms, hymns, &c. till the conclusion.
In the afternoon, reading—(the 6th class in the New Testameat)—repeating catechisms, &c. learnt in the morning.
Id some Schools a course of reading lessons is regularly appointed to each class for the Quarter.
To obviate every objection which might otherwise be made to Sunday Schools, as incompatible with the duties of the Lord's Day, the exercises of the Scholars on that day should be restricted to reading and spelling, and to learning and repeating catechisms, hymns, portions of Scripture, &c.—Instruction in writing and arithmetic appears also to be desirable; but this being more of a secular concern, should be given on some week day evenings, by teachers appointed for the purpose.
In hearing children read or repeat what they have learned, much care should be taken to make them acquainted with the meaning; that they may understand the sense as well as retain the sound of what they read or repeat. Spelling and reading are important, as they are the first steps to knowledge; but woids are valuable only as they are connected with ideas; it should therefore be the aim of the teacher to impress npon the mind*of the children, the sentiments contained in their lessons. 1 o this end, the catechisms which first engage their attention, should be of the initiatory kind; and after a child has been once through the catechism, it may be proper to require him, on a repetitiou of it, to give the answer to each question in his own' *ords; which may be done by varying the question. This has been found by experience a very profitable method of instruction, as it exercises the judgment as well as the memory, and tends more deeply to impress the mind with the importance of the subject. Children taught on this plan, have obtained more religious knowledge in half a year, than is usually acquired in the space of three or four years.
The lessons, particularly in the Bible and Testament, should he of moderate length, so that the children may be able to relain the ideas: the teacher questioning them upon the contents of the chapter or other lesson, as soon as they have read it, will be found highly useful. The children might also be exero»ed in spelling words selected from the lessons they have read.
When the School closes, let the girls be dismissed first, that they may go home quietly and without interruption: then, after a short interval, let the boys be dismissed, each class separately, beginning with the lowest, that good order and decorum may be preserved, and noise and tumult prevented.
Rewards and Punishments.
Corporal punishment is so unsuited to the Lord's day, and to the institution itself, that it should be avoided as much as possible. Chastisement in a place of worship, and during the service, is absolutely intolerable, and ought never to be suffered. Moderate confinement and fear of shame are preferable modes of punishment; but the. with-holding of those rewards which are generally given to the deserving, will be found the best way of punishing the idle and refractory. At the same time it should be observed, that rewards, though they form a part of the system of many schools, are not indispensably requisite: on the contrary, in many of the larger schools they are not given. If, however, it be thought advisable on the opening of a new School, to make use of such a stimulus, it should be done sparingly and cautiously, that the loss may not be severely felt, should it afterwards be thought prudent to withhold them.
Perhaps the best criterion for the distribution of rewards, is the early and regular attendance of the scholars; taking into the account their general conduct and behaviour. This in some schools is done quarterly from an examination of the roll-books; the secretary making out a list of those scholars whose attendance has been agreeable to the rule, and the rewards being distributed publicly, when the scholars are assembled together. The rewards given are generally small religious tracts. Where there • are inferior rewaids for a second rate of attendance, in a School, in which the classes are accustomed to be assembled together at the opening and concluding of School, the inferior rewards are given in the several rooms, and the others publickly; by which means a greater distinction is made than could be by the difference of intrinsic value in the rewards themselves.
Another plan adopted in some Schools, is the distribution of • tickets to the children, as tokens of approbation for their early and regular attendance, improvement in leaining, or general good behaviour. A certain number of these tickets (generally twelve) entitles the bearer to one penny, or a tract of that value; but if the child wishes to save them till they are sufficient to procure some larger publications, he is allowed to exchange them for another ticket »f superior nominal value, which aij
awers the same purpose to him, and restores the inferior tickets to general circulation. But there is danger that this plan will occasion a sort of trading among the children, and, in a large School the exchange of tickets would entirely occupy the time of one person. Besides that if the privilege of dispensing tickets be given indiscriminately to the teachers, it will prove too burdensome to the finances of the School, and loss may be incurred through the want of proper care in the preservation of the tickets.
But if the School be conducted upon proper principles, the children will soon feel that attachment to it which no system of rewards alone can produce. The distribution of rewards in a large School, even upon the most economical plan, will amount to a considerable sum, which might, perhaps, be more usefully employed in the education of a larger number of children; or might form a fund for the relief of those children who may be sick and in distress. To such scholars, however, as have contiuued in the School a stated time, and have behaved well, the presentation of a bible or testament on leaving the School appears highly desirable.
We feel no hesitation in recommending the plan of instruction by gratuitous teachers, the superior advantages of which have been fully proved by experience. But let it be observed, that those who voluntarily engage in this work and labour of lore, should consider themselves as bound by that engagement to a diligent and punctual attendance; the want of which will occasion very serious inconvenience to the Schools which they profess to serve.
It will be evident to those who duly consider the subject, that frequent changes in the mode of instruction must be detrimental to the improvement of the children, and prevent their progress being properly ascertained; it is therefore of importance, that teachers should be procured, who will devote a considerable portion of their time to the work.
When a sufficient number of teachers cannot be obtained, that deficiency may be supplied in some measure from among the Scholars themselves: let a selection be made of those who are most advanced in learning, and who are equally remarkable for their ordeily conduct and good behaviour; for too much attention cannot be paid to the latter qualifications. Let these be employed in instructing the lower classes under the direction •f the superintendent or teachers.—These assistants in a large Kbool may after due '.rial be formed into a seventh class, which will add another step of promotion, and excite emulation in thf higher classes.
The children should invariably be instructed by persons of their own sex.
It will be found beneficial that the teachers should, in the course of the week, inquire of the parents the cause of the absence of such of the scholars as were not present at the School on the preceding Sunday; but when this cannot be done by the teachers, a visitor should be appointed for that purpose, who should make his report weekly to the secretary.
It must be obvious to every thinking mind, that the existence of a Sunday School depends materially upon diligent attendance and punctuality; for so long as the teachers respect their engagements, it will continue and prosper; and in proportion as they decline, it will also decay. This is plain to any one who considers the subject.—If there be no teachers to instruct, it cannot be expected there will long be scholars; if there be nobody to attend the children to public worship, they cannot go; for here it should be considered, are no hirelings to supply deficiencies. Let every one who neglects to attend in his turn, carefully consider these few things. 1. By so doing, he has betrayed the trust reposed in him. 2. He has deranged the order of the School. 3. He has deprived a portion of the children of the instruction which they would have had. 4. He has set an example to his fellow-labourers in the same work, which, if followed, must completely overturn the institution, and, with that, all its good effects. Let no one say, Surely, I may stay away, they can do without one;—one can make no great difference. Rather let him blush if he has indulged a thought so ungenerous, as that of throwing the weight of his labour upon another, who has no more interest in the matter than himself.
The welfare of the Schoal may be said with truth, to depend more upon the promptitude of the teacher to his appointments than upon his abilities; for by regular attendance a person will soon become qualified to fill the place allotted him, while neglect renders the more able almost useless. It may therefore be confidently affirmed, that in a teacher of such a School as this, punctuality is more than talents; for with the first, things will go on; but with the last atone, they cannot proceed.
The evil which the late attendance of teachers is productive of, might also be mentioned; and that not only as it respects the example set before the children, together with the large proportion of their precious time by this means lost; but as it necessarily prevents teachers from calling their scholars to account for a fault of which they themselves are guilty.
It is highly desirable to procure serious persons, if possible, as teachers, and all of them should at least be amiable moral characters. The teachers of the higher classes should be decided characters. Those who have been called by Divine grace in early life will, in general, be found best qualified for addressing young people on the concerns of their souls; they feel peculiarly interested in youth, and the ardour"of their owu feelings leads them to engage in the service with delight and
A competent knowledge of the Scriptures—a capability of Inching in a manner adapted to the capacities of children— and an ardent affection for young immortals—are indispensible in Sunday School Teachers. They should display a combination of gentleness with fii mness—condescension with dignity— and simplicity with sagacity: they should be " wise as ser
Kits, and harmless as doves." Constantly depending on the vine blessing, and diligent in the use of all the means in their power, they will not fail to receive the blessing of Almighty God on their labours; he will teach them how to impart instruction, and while they water others they shall be watered themselves.
In those Schools in which a large number of teachers are engaged, it will become necessary that some one person should be appointed to superintend and direct the concerns of the School for the day.
The superintendent, or a teacher at his desire, should begin and conclude the School with singing and prayer, and give such general advice or reproof to the children collectively, as circum•tances may require. While the Scholars are retiring to their respective classes, the superintendent should admit such children as are waiting to be received into the School: entering their names, ages, parents or guardian's names and place of residence, in the receiving-book; at the same time speaking to the parents on the privilege of admission, the necessity of sending their children regularly, and in time; and giving them suitable advice respecting their own eternal interests, and the importance of setting their children a proper example. The •uptrintendent should then ascertain what progress the children have already made; class them accordingly, and enter their tunics in the roll-book He should afterwards visit the several clashes, to sec whether they are properly supplied with teachers,