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The letter A, shows the entire surface of the desk, which is supported by two, three, or more legs, as usual for such desks, and according to the size. B, is a vacant space, where the boys lean their left arms, while they write or print with the right hand. The sand is placed in the space C*. The double lines represent the ledges (or pantile laths) which confine the sand in its place: sand of any kind will do, but it must be dry. The boys print + in the sand, with their fingers: they all print at the command given by their monitor. A boy wḥo knows how to print, and distinguish some of his letters, is placed by one who knows few or none, with a view to assist him; and particularly, that he may copy the form of his letters, from seeing him make them. We find this copying one from another a great step towards proficiency. In teaching the boys to print the alphabet, the monitor first makes a letter on the sand, before any boy who
* The space C, is painted black; the sand mostly used, is whitish: when the children trace the letters in the white sand, the black ground shows them to more advantage.
knows nothing about it; the boy is then required to retrace over the same letter, which the monitor has made for him, with his fingers; and thus he is to continne employed, till he can make the letter himself, without the monitor's assistance. Then he may go on to learn another letter.
The letters are taught in courses: they are arranged in three courses, according to their similarity of form. There are three simple examples, which regulate the formation of the whole alphabet, First, a line, as in the letters, I, H, T, L, E, F, i, 1: Second, depending upon the formation of an angle; as, A,V,W, M, N, Z, K. Y, X,—v, w, k, y, z,x: a circle or a curve; as, O, U, C, J, G, D, P, B, R, Q, S,a, o, b, d, p, q, g, e, m, n, h, t, u, r, s, f, s, j. These courses of letters are soon acquired, on account of the similarity of form. The greatest difficulty in teaching the letters occur in those, the form of which are exactly alike, and are only distinguished by change of position; p, q, and p, d, are perpetually mistaken for each other; by making the two letters at the same time, the children readily learn to distinguish them. Then again, they are all employed printing at once; and it is both curious and diverting to see a number of little creatures, many not more than four or five years old, and some hardly that, stretching out their little fingers with one consent, to make the letters. When this is done they sit quietly till the sand is smoothed for them,
by the monitor, with a flat-iron, as commonly used + for ironing linen. The sand being dry, the iron meets no resistance, and thus, all the letters made in a very short time, by each boy, are, in as short a time, obliterated by the monitor; and the boys again apply their fingers to the sand, and proceed as before*
Another method of teaching the alphabet is, by a large sheet of pasteboard suspended by a nail on the school wall; twelve boys, from the sand class, are formed into a circle round this alphabet, standing in their numbers, 1, 2, 3, &c. to 12. These numbers are pasteboard tickets, with number 1, &c. inscribed, suspended by a string from the button of the bearer's coat, or round his neck. The best boy stands in the first place; he is also decorated with a leather ticket, gilt, and lettered merit, as a badge of honour. He is always the first boy questioned by the monitor, who points to a particular letter in the
* Having some old alphabets, which were of no use in the school else, they were nailed before each boy; this is not absolutely necessary, but contributes to expedite their progress.. While the monitor iş, smoothing the sand, the employment of the class is unavoidably suspended: the time thus unoccupied is, indeed, but short; but the afor little printed alphabet often attracts the involuntary attention of the children, when waiting till the sand is ready for them. The example of one often spreads through the whole class; and they make quite a buzz, repeating their letters, till the monitor calls them again to make use of their fingers to shape in the sand.
alphabet, “ What letter is that?” If he tells readily, what letter it is, all is well, and he retains his place in the class; which he forfeits, together with his number and ticket, to the next boy who answers the question, if he cannot.
This promotes constant emulation. It employs the monitor's attention continually; he cannot look + one way, while the boy is repeating his letters an
other; or at all neglect to attend to him, without
being immediately discovered. It is not the moni+ tor's business to teach, but to see the boys in his class
or division teach each other. If a boy calls A, by the name of B, or O, he is not to say, it is not B, or O, but it is A; he is to require the next boy in succession to correct the mistakes of his senior. These two methods, of the sand and alphabet card, with their inferior arrangements detailed, are made use of daily in rotation, and serve as a mutual check and relief to each other.
The figures are taught in the same manner. Sand is a cheap substitute for books any where; but more so in those parts of the country where the soil is
sandy, than in London. This method was taken in + the outline from Dr. Bell, formerly of Madras; but
he did not say, in his printed account of that institution, whether wet or dry sand was used. It for a long time involved our minor classes in much difficulty, having begun with the wet sand: we continued it some time. It required great care in
wetting : if wetted either too much or too little, it was equally useless and inconvenient; it occasioned a deal of trouble to smoothe, and took double or treble the quantity of sand which it would have taken dry. All these difficulties my boys overcame in a short time; but every time we had a change of monitors in this class, we found it a troublesome qualification for him to attain the art of preparing it properly. All these difficulties were obviated by my hearing from Dr. Bell, that it was dry sand. This circumstance fully shows, how essential a minute detail is, to the ready practice of any experiment, and will be an apology for the length of this, on the art of teaching the A, B, C. We of course use no books for this class of children, nor indeed for several other classes, as will be seen in the sequel.
SECOND CLASS. The second class are chiefly boys who, having learnt to print the alphabet and figures in sand, and readily to distinguish the same on paper, are then advanced to this second, and comparatively superior, class. Their business is to spell short words, by writing them with their fingers in the sand, as the monitor dictates to them: a method clearly described in the account of the new method of spelling in the sequel: the monitor pronouncing a word, as, to, &c.; or a syllable, as, ba, &c. and each boy printing it on the sand with his fingers, and thus spelling it. The order of the desks, and smoothing