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glides listlessly over the surface of things, without note, and consequently without knowledge; on the other we see an acute, keen, penetrating, searching inspection, which nothing escapes,-a mind whose knowledge is exact and complete, whose information is the result of narrowly examined and well ascertained particulars.
The intelligent teacher, knowing that the keenest exercises of discriminating judgment are, by the law of mental constitution and habit, not unfrequently dependent on the close examination of details, on the power of tracing and detecting the minutest shades of difference in objects and their component parts, leads his pupils, by the closeness of his questioning, to follow the minutest ramifications of diversity, amid apparent similarity, in the objects which he uses as instruments for sharpening their perceptions to the keenest inspection of every feature which is accessible to the discernment of sense. Beyond this point he passes to the use of the microscope, one of the most valuable implements ever devised as an aid to the processes of human culture. A cheap instrument of this description, in the hands of an attentive teacher, has a power which no degree of mental inertia can resist. It has been known to convert, in a few days, a whole school of uncultivated, thoughtless, turbulent children into an attentive, thoughtful, inquiring, docile, and orderly company of little students of nature.
A few minutes occupied daily in observing and tracing the forms of objects, in detail, is, in addition to its ultimate effects on mental habit, of the grest service in the humble relations of alphabetic teaching. A ground work is thus laid for the accurate recognition of the elements of form combined in the visible shapes of printed and written characters, and a surer and more rapid, because a more intelligent, progress secured, as regards the accuracy of the eye in recognizing, or of the hand in repeating the lines, angles, and curves, which constitute the complex forms of letters. Accustomed to the close and minute analysis of form on visible objects of different sorts, the child, if permitted to treat his alphabetic characters in a similar way, takes delight in detecting and naming their constituent parts; and, particularly, when he is permitted to try to delineate them for himself, and thus, as it were, bring them under a kind of ideal subjection to his power.
The discipline of particular observation and searching attention, early secured, becomes, in due season, a complete guaranty for the correct and successful performance of the various gradations of mathematical problems in which a well trained and exact attention is required, whether for the relations of form or those of numbers; and throughout the successive stages of education, in all its departments.
The well trained mind becomes ultimately like the thoroughly magnetized instrument, which leaves no stray particles of the steel-filings scattered abroad, but agglomerates them every one to itself; with a certainty which renders the act no unfitting analogy for illustrating the universal law of gravitation.
Tenacity of attention.-Having used his best endeavors to render the faculty of attention prompt, earnest, and close, in its action, as the guide of the perceptive faculties, the teacher has yet another character to stamp upon it. He would have it not only quick and vivid, and searching, but tenacious and persistent. From an element volatile, fluctuating, and superficial, in its first manifestations, he would have it become, at length, a power fixed, and steadfast, and unfailing. Patiently training it through its incipient stage of short, feeble flights, he inures it to lengthened excursions and sustained exertions, such as all valuable mental attainments demand. Here, again, Nature comes to his aid, furnishing him liberally not only with numerous instruments of discipline in her manifold forms, as objects, individually, attractive and interesting, but with those complexities of shape, and color, and number, those organic relations, and organic contrivances, those compound bodies, those intricate combinations of elements and processes, which all require not only an earnest and close, but a longsustained, unflagging attention, as the only condition of faithful and exact observation and accurate knowledge.
The intelligent teacher watches carefully the ogressive development of his pupil's power of attention, and exercises it according to the increasing force and firmness of its grasp, so as to secure a perpetually growing power of retention, through all the successive exercises which he contrives for its discipline, on natural and artificial forms, their various combinations, numbers, powers, and characteristics, of whatever denomination in the vocabularies of science and art.
Regarding attention as the master power in the grasp of the percep tive faculties, he values, most of all, its strength and retentiveness, its ability to maintain an unbroken sequence of activity, such as not unfrequently demands the incitement of the most earnest desire to arrive at the wished for result, and produce, in turn, the most resolute determination of the will to persevere in action till the result is mastered.
Here, again, the teacher finds his best resort in the objects and processes of nature; unwearied attention is in no way so effectually secured, without undue or fatiguing exertion, as in analyzing and inspecting the various parts of plants, or the anatomical mechanism of animal forms, and, more particularly, of insects. While no humane or enlightened teacher would ever propose even one half hour of
unbroken attention, on the part of very young pupils, twice that time may safely and advantageously pass in the suggestive questions of the teacher, and the ready answers of the pupils, during the examination of a single specimen of the productions of nature. In such circumstances, instruction takes its best form,—that of interesting conversation; and time flies only too fast for both parties in the exercise. Another sustained effort of attention may, by a judicious change in the form of mental action, be as easily secured by permitting the pupil to make such attempt as he can at delineating, in detail, the parts of the object which he has been contemplating; still another may be obtained by permitting him to describe in words, and at full length, what he has observed; and even the giant Despair of "composition" may be conquered by allowing the pupil to write his description.
Such processes prepare the young student in due season, for those arduous and unflagging exertions of attention by which he ultimately succeeds in solving lengthened and complicated problems in mathematics, disentangling long and inverted sentences by tracing the grammatical relations of their parts, and following, with patient assiduity, every step in extended and abstruse processes of reasoning on subjects more purely mental in their character.
(To be continued.)
IX. ORIGIN OF THE TREATMENT AND TRAINING OF IDIOTS.
BY EDWARD SEGUIN.
NONE but God can do anything of himself alone. Hence, the question of priority in human discovery is always contested. If the truthful history of any invention were written, we should find concerned in it the thinker, who dreams, without reaching the means of putting his imaginings in practice; the mathematician, who estimates justly the forces at command, in their relation to each other, but who forgets to proportion them to the resistance to be encountered; and, so on, through the thousand intermediates between the dream and the perfect idea, till one comes who combines the result of the labors of all his predecessors, and gives to the invention new life, and with it his name.
But, in good faith, this man is but the expression,-honorable and often honored,—of human fraternity. And, it is only from this point of view that the full benefit of the discovery is seen: being the common property of mankind, it gives us wider and deeper feelings of mutual dependence or solidarity. A short notice of the origin of the treatment and training of the unfortunate idiots will be an illustration of this law of mutual dependence.
In the year 1801, the citizen M. Bonnaterre discovered, in the forest of Aveyron, France, a wild boy. This naked boy was marked with numerous scars; he was nimble as a deer, subsisting on roots and nuts, which he cracked like a monkey, laughing at the falling snow, and rolling himself with delight in this white blanket. He seemed to be about 17 years of age. Bonnaterre permitted this wild boy to escape, but afterwards retook him and sent him, at his own expense, to the abbé Sicard, director of the Asylum for the Deaf and Dumb, at Paris.
Sicard had just succeeded the illustrious abbé L'Epée; and, Bonnaterre thought him to be the most suitable man to perform the miracle of which he dreamed, the education of this creature, the most inferior that had ever been seen under the form of humanity; but, he was mistaken. Sicard exhibited, for some days, to the learned and curious, the being, who was constantly throwing away his clothes and endeavoring to escape, even by the windows, and then left him to wanerd, neglected, under the immense roofs of the school for deaf mutes. No. 5.-[VOL. II, No. 1.]—10.
But, the wild boy of Aveyron had been seen by all Paris. If the crowd of visitors had found him a subject of disgust, he excited in the mind of the thinkers and philosophers a livelier interest. Some of those who had held conversation with Franklin on the liberty of the world, were still living, and by them the subject was brought before the Academy of Sciences, where it produced interesting and fruitful discussions.
Two men were particularly conspicuous for their interest in the wild boy of Aveyron, viz.: Pinel, physician-in-chief for the insane, author of the Nosographie Philosophigue, who declared the child idiotic,—the sequel proved him correct; and Itard, physician-in-chief of the deaf and dumb, who asserted that the subject was simply entirely untaught. Itard did more; he named him VICTOR, doubtless as a sign of the victory which education should achieve in him over brute nature. But, he did more yet; he received him into his own house, employed a governess for him, and devoted to him a portion of his time, otherwise so fully occupied, for six years.
This devotion of Itard to this child and to science, is the more worthy of praise as, based upon a metaphysical error, his efforts were constantly met by disappointment; and yet, he never yielded to the feelings of discouragement. His errors were these: He obstinately saw in the idiot the savage; and, resting in his studies, as well as in his faith, on the materialistic doctrines of Locke and Condillac, his teachings sometimes reached the senses of his pupil, but never penetrated to his mind and soul. He gave to his senses certain notions of things, he even excited in him a physical sensibility to the caresses bestowed upon him; but, he left him destitute of ideas and of social or moral feelings, incapable of labor, and, consequently, of independence. He was, in the end of that painful and fruitless trial, immured in a hospital, where he passed the remainder of his life.
But, if these six years were almost lost to the wild boy of Aveyron, they bore their fruit in the mind of Itard. Although closely occupied in his investigations of the diseases of the ear, he often thought of the experiment of his youth, and sometimes he regretted the renown which attached itself to his name as a surgeon,- -a renown that sent him patients from all parts of Europe, but left him no leisure for his philanthropic study and experiment.
It was in this state of mind that Itard, in 1837, was consulted by the celebrated Guersant, principal of the children's hospital of Paris, in the case of a young idiot. "If I was younger," cried Itard, "1 would charge myself with his care; but, send me a suitable man, and