Faith and Duty: A Course of Lessons on the Apostle's Creed and the Ten Commandments for Children of Eight to Ten Years

 
9781484035542: Faith and Duty: A Course of Lessons on the Apostle's Creed and the Ten Commandments for Children of Eight to Ten Years

EXPERIENCE proves that the warfare for God in this world must be waged in great part on the battlefield of the soul of the child. If this were not so, how are we to explain the fact that the enemies of the Church have always endeavoured to eliminate the teaching of catholic truth from the primary schools? EVERY book of lessons must be in the nature of suggestions only, for each teacher will adapt them to suit himself; nevertheless, it is sometimes a help to a busy teacher to find the spade work done for him. Further, a book necessarily aims at helping the untrained, and for their sake it is hoped that others will excuse the emphasis laid on educational commonplaces. These lessons are worked out on Herbart's Five Formal Steps, and certain main principles have been observed; e.g., that education is a drawing-out rather than a pouring in" that there should be "no impression without expression" ; that the matter must always be related to the children's interests; that a subject must be so presented to the intellect that it rouses the emotions and thus brings the will into play. "He that would have a cake out of the wheat, must tarry the grinding." The teacher feeds the mill of the child's mind with the grain of knowledge in such quality and quantity that the mill may bite and grind the grain into flour-i.e., assimilate the knowledge. When so ground the flour can be baked into a nourishing loaf-i.e., the assimilated knowledge can be crystallised into a set formula, which is an invaluable intellectual store. As Professor James says, "verbal material is, on the whole, the handiest and most useful material in which thinking can be carried on " (Talks to Teachers, chapter 12). Here comes in our incomparable Catechism, and appended to these lessons is a suggested method of memorising it. To quote Professor James again (ibid., chapter 13): "The more accurately words are learned, the better, if only the teacher make sure that what they signify is also understood;" and he gives the following illustration of the "Tong method: " A friend of mine, visiting a school, was asked to examine a young class in geography. Glancing at the book, she said: 'Suppose you should dig a hole in the ground, hundreds of feet deep, how should you find it at the bottom-warmer or colder than on top?' None of the class replying, the teacher said: 'I'm sure they know, but I think you don't ask the question quite rightly. Let me try.' So, taking the book, she asked: 'In what condition is the interior of the globe?' and received the immediate answer from half the class at once: 'The interior of the globe is in a condition of igneous fusion.' " Now of course when a child answers a question parrot-wise it means nothing to him: it is simply an undigested lump of unground grain; and there is this danger with a question and answer Catechism. Have ,ye not the classic instance of the child who, when asked by the examiner: " Are we bound to support our Pastors?" replied, "We are not bound to support our Pastors, for they can neither see nor hear nor help us!" But if the child memorises the Catechism answers and statements, having first thoroughly grasped their meaning and expressed it in his own words, he can afterwards be required to fit them to the questions if necessary, in which case they will be real answers.

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