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victed and transported to another country; and the expense at tending the conviction and transportation of one delinquent, is sometimes more than would suffice for the erection of an estab. lishment for the instruction of a hundred children.
5. In infant schools, social habits and feelings may be cultivated with safety and with pleasure by the young. In most other circumstances the social intercourse of the young is attended with a certain degree of danger, from the influence of malignant passions and vicious propensities which too frequently appear in the language and conduct of their companions. "Evil communications corrupt good manners;" so that the minds, even of those who are trained with pious care under the domestic roof, are in danger of being tainted with vice, when allowed to indulge in promiscuous intercourse with their fellows. But in infant estab lishments, they are, during the greater part of the day, under the inspection of their teachers, both in school and at play-hours, where nothing immoral is suffered to make its appearance; and the exercises in which they are employed, the objects exhibited to their view, the mutual conversations in which they engage, and the amusements in which they indulge, form so many delightful associations, equally conducive to mental improvement and sensitive enjoyment, which will afterwards be recollected with a high degree of pleasure.
6. The establishment of infant schools in heathen lands, wherever it is practicable, will, I conceive, be the most efficient means of undermining the fabric of Pagan superstition and idolatry, and of converting unenlightened nations to the faith and prac tice of our holy religion. When we would instruct adults in any thing to which they have been unaccustomed, we find the attempt extremely difficult, and frequently abortive, in consequence of the strong influence of long-established habits. In like manner, when we attempt to expound the truths of Christianity to the heathen, and enforce them on their attention, we encounter innumerable difficulties, arising from preconceived opinions, inveterate habits, long-established customs, ancient traditions, the laws and usages of their forefathers, the opinions of their superiors, and their ignorance of the fundamental principles of legitimate reasoning; so that comparatively few of the adult heathen have been thoroughly converted to the Christian faith, notwithstanding the numerous missionary enterprises which have been carried forward during the last thirty years. But if infant schools were extensively established, in all those regions which are the scene of missionary operations, we should have thousands of minds prepared for the reception of Divine truth, having actually imbibed a portion of the
spirit of Christianity, and being unfettered by those heathenish prejudices and habits to which I have alluded. Every infant school, and every school of instruction conducted on the same principles, at which they might subsequently attend, would become a seminary for Christianity; and we might, on good grounds, indulge the hope that the greater part of the children trained up in such seminaries, when the truths and foundations of religion were more fully exhibited to them, would ultimately make a profession of adherence to its cause and interests, and regulate their conduct by its holy requisitions. In this case, instead of a few insulated individuals occasionally embracing the religion of the Bible, we should frequently hear (to use the language of Scripture) of "nations being born at once, and a people as in one day." For, the young thus instructed, when arrived at youth and manhood, would exert a most powerful influence on their fathers, mothers, friends, and relatives, and on all around them-while their own minds have been brought under the most salutary influence, being pre-occupied with those truths and habits which will preserve them from the contamination of the heathenish practices which prevail around them.
It gives me much pleasure to learn, that in the rudest portion of the pagan world, (namely, in the regions of Southern Africa,) such institutions have been recently established, and been accompanied with many beneficial effects. Mr. Buchanan, superintendent of the infant school at Cape Town, during the year 1832, established and re-organized a number of these institutions, at Caledon, Pacaltsdorp, Hankey, Bethelsdorp, Port Elizabeth, Theopolis, Philipston, Buffalo River, and other places; and, though the returns of scholars are not complete, they amount to about 500 children. After the school in Theopolis had been established only six months, the number of children in daily attendance amounted to from 110 to 120. Many of the children were capable of giving effect to the monitory system, and their conduct is described as cheerful, gentle, and compliant, although but a few months before they were most of them "in a state of nature." The infant school at Bethelsdorp was re-established, under the care of a native female. About two years ago it was discontinued, after having been carried on for six months. The advantages, however, which the children had derived during that short period, were evinced, notwithstanding the interval which had elapsed, by the superiority of manner and intelligence which they appeared to Mr. Buchanan to possess over the uninstructed children of other stations. They had been accustomed, after the school was discontinued, to assemble in groups, and repeat for their amusement the lessons and
hymns they had learned at the school. Mr. Buchanan, on a former occasion, assisted in opening and organizing a school at Caledon. On his late visit, he perceived a marked improvement ir. the dress and personal cleanliness of the children. At the opening of the school, out of thirty pupils, two only had any other covering than sheep-skins, and many were unclothed. When he last took his leave of them, they were all dressed like other children, and many of them with considerable neatness. It was apparent, that the children had acquired some sense of the propriety of dress and personal cleanliness, from their manner during the repetition of the lesson, “To put my clothes on neat and tight, and see my hands and face are clean;" and it was equally obvious that their parents appreciated the advantages of the institution, from the fact of some of them having voluntarily requested to be allowed gratuitously to clean out the school-room alternately, and of their having continued regularly to perform that service. The inhabitants of many other villages have expressed a desire for the introduction of infant schools among themselves offered to appropriate for that purpose the best house they had, and promised, when their lands shall be measured out to them, to erect a proper building at their joint expense. In several of the villages they had placed their children under the care and instruction of one of their own number, till a better teacher could be procured. Mr. Buchanan left at Philipston sufficient apparatus and lessons for the establishment of twelve schools-arrangements were in progress for their commencement
and six young persons were attending the schools, to qualify themselves for becoming teachers.*
Such are the auspicious beginnings of infant education in heathen lands, and the pleasure with which its introduction is hailed by the adult population. While many of them are unaware of the blessings to be derived from a reception of the doctrines of religion, they are attracted by the beautiful arrangements and exercises of infant establishments, and at once perceive their beneficial tendency and effects on the objects of their affection; and as their children advance in the accomplishments they acquire at these seminaries, they will every day become more interesting and delightful in their eyes; and it is not too much to suppose, that the knowledge and habits acquired by the children will be the means of enlightening the understandings and polishing the manners of their parents. It ought, therefore, to be one of the first objects of every missionary, to whatever part of the heathen
• See Evangelical Magazine for December, 1833.
world he is destined, to establish, as far as practicable, seminaries for the development and instruction of infant minds; and every facility for this purpose should be afforded him by the Society under whose auspices he goes forth to evangelize the nations.
7. Infant schools ought to be universally established, for all classes, and in every country of the civilized world. It is an opinion which still too much prevails, that such establishments are chiefly calculated for the instruction of the lower classes of society. But this is a gross misconception of the nature and tendency of infant institutions, and a very dangerous mistake. These schools are adapted no less for the improvement of the higher, than the lower ranks of the community; and, unless they be soon adopted by the superior classes, the lower ranks may soon advance before them, both in point of intelligence and of moral decorum. For, in many of the families of the higher ranks, immoral maxims are inculcated and acted upon, and many foolish and wayward passions indulged, as well as in the families. of their inferiors; and, although the manners of their children receive a superficial polish superior to others, their moral disposi tions are but little more improved, and they possess nearly as little of what may be termed useful knowledge, as the great body of the lower ranks around them. Till the families of all classes feel the influence of the instructions and habits acquired at such institutions, the world will never be thoroughly regenerated. In the meantime, if the higher classes feel averse that their children should associate with those of an inferior grade, they have it in their power to establish infant seminaries exclusively for themselves. But I am sorry to find, that, in this country, scarcely any schools of this description have yet been established. There ought, however, to be no objections to children of different ranks associating together for the purpose of instruction; unless in those cases where children are accustomed to dirty habits, or where they may be exposed to infectious diseases. In the Northen States of America, perhaps the most enlightened in the world, children of all ranks are taught in the same seminaries, without any artificial distinctions ;-all are nearly equally enlightened and improved, and society, in its several departments, moves on with the greatest harmony.
In concluding these remarks, it may not be improper to observe, that teaching the children to read ought not to be considered as one of the main objects of infant schools. Many parents are still so ignorant and foolish, as to estimate the advantages of such schools, merely by the progress they conceive their children have attained in the art of reading. They are unqualified for appre.
ciating intellectual instruction and moral habits, and have no higher ideas of the progress of education, than what arise from the circumstance of their children being transferred from one book to another; and hence, they frequently complain, that their children are learning nothing, because no tasks are assigned them, and no books put into their hands. But, it ought to be generally understood, that the art of reading is not the main object of atten. tion in such seminaries, and that they would be of incalculable importance, even although the children were unable to recognise a single letter of the alphabet. At the same time, the knowledge of the letters and elementary sounds, and the art of spelling and reading, are acquired in these schools-almost in the way of an amusement-with more facility and pleasure than on any plans formerly adopted.
In throwing out the above remarks, I have all along taken for granted that infant schools are conducted by men of prudence and intelligence. It is not sufficient for insuring the beneficial effects of these institutions, that the individuals who superintend them have been instructed in the mode of conducting their mechanical arrangements. They ought to be persons of good sense, of benevolent dispositions, having their minds thoroughly imbued with the principles of Christianity, of an easy, communicative turn, and possessed of all that knowledge of history, art, and science, which they can possibly acquire. For no one can communicate more knowledge to others than what he himself has acquired; and no teacher can render a subject interesting to the young, unless he has acquired a comprehensive and familiar acquaintance with it. In order to secure efficient teachers for these establishments, normal schools, or other seminaries, would require to be established, in which candidates for the office of infant teachers might be instructed, not only in the mode of conducting such institutions, but in all the popular branches of useful knowledge. For, upon the intelligence, as well as the prudence and moral disposition, of the teachers, the efficiency of infant seminaries will in a great measure depend.
The first idea of infant schools appears to have been suggested by the asylums provided by Mr. Owen, of New Lanark, for the infant children of the people who were employed at his spinningmills. Mr. Buchanan, under whose superintendence they were placed, was soon after invited to London, and a school was opened under his direction and management, on Brewer's Green, Westminster, which was established and patronized by H. Brougham, Esq. M. P., the Marquis of Lansdowne, Zachary Macauley, Esq.,