« PreviousContinue »
of prizes, consisting of toys, bats, balls, kites, &c. but the books with prints or pictures are more in request among the children, and generally more useful than any other prizes whatever.
I believe, the emulation I have described as united with my methods of teaching, will be found most useful as a stimulus to the exertions of those scholars who possess no more than common abilities; indeed, it is for this class of learners, who, in general, give the most trouble, that such methods of teaching and encouragement are most wanting. The drudgery of teachers is always greater or less, in proportion to the quickness or dullness of their scholars; but, in these modes of teaching all must exert themselves according to their abilities, or be idle. If they exert themselves as well as they can, they will improve accordingly-if they are idle, it is immediately detected, and as rapidly punished; of the method of doing which I shall treat presently. However, where lads of genius and quickness of intellect are found, they will soon show themselves. Indeed, I believe, that many lads of genius are unknown in the schools they attend, even to the masters themselves, because they have no stimulus to exertion, no opportunity of distinguishing themselves--or, that nothing happens to develope their latent powers. Similar to this was the case of the Portuguese in Brazil, who frequently passed diamonds, when in the rough, through their hands;
and despised them as pebbles; but; when the mines were discovered, they regretted their ignorance. Whenever superior merit shows itself in schools, it should always be honoured, rewarded, and distinguished: one or two lads of this description influence a whole school by their beneficial example. I generally reward such by gifts of some of the most valuable books and other prizes : silver pens, and sometimes silver medals. The medals are engraved with the name of the youth who obtains them, and for what given. To some of my senior lads I have given silver watches, at my own expence; and think the encouragement so given has had its good effect.
Another method of encouraging deserving youth, who distinguish themselves by their attention to study, is equally honourable but less expensive. I have established in my institution an order of merit: Every member of this order is distinguished by a silver medal, suspended from his neck by a plated chain. No boys are admitted to this order, but those who distinguish themselves by proficiency in their own studies, or in the improvement of others, and for their endeavours to check vice.
It is certainly a distinction founded on the principle of nobility. In a community, those who, from the nobler motives that animate the human mind, render important services to the nation to which they belong, are its nobles; and it is impossible that
the son of such a man should not inherit his father's distinction, if his own conduct does not disgrace it. It is morally impossible, that the splendour of actions which are of real benefit to society, or of another class of actions, which are of no real good to, but only dazzle mankind, should not shed a kind of true or false lustre over the descendants of such distinguished men. I believe this is the original principle of true and of hereditary nobility. Hereditary nobility cannot possibly exist in schools, but it may in the first instance. In every case the distinctions of nobility that exist in society at large, are only civil distinctions, that imply the possessors have rendered a real service to the state. Nobility may possibly be abused, as other institutions are; but I think it in itself one of the most beneficial distinctions that ever existed in society at large. A distinction that has existed, and will exist in all societies, because it is natural. The distinctions and titles which are attached to nobility, are only a civil description and definition of what existed before. Those distinctions
proper or improper, as they are connected with truth or flattery; but the foundation of nobility still continues pure, uncontaminated, and beneficial to society. In the community at large it is more distinguished, because the cause of it is more beneficial and extensive. In small and select societies, of any description, the advantage of civil distinctions for those who are privileged by them, is, that they are
-+ known, in a good degree, at first sight, to strangers
and foreigners. They do not stand in the back ground, as they would if their merit was unknown and undistinguished. Every boy of merit in my school, who has a silver medal, is distinguished at first sight, by those benevolent characters who often visit it. No question is more common from a stranger, than, 'Why does that boy wear a medal; and for what?' Every individual so honoured, is conscious that he stands in a conspicuous situation; and, that his medal proclaims his merit to all who see him. He also knows, that it was only obtained in consequence of his diligence, either in teaching others, or improving in his own learning;, and, that no indifferent or bad boy can obtain this reward also, that if he becomes such, he will forfeit his distinctions. This makes him anxious, by a perseverance in good conduct, to merit the continuance of distinction. This is a stimulus to order and improvement, which children, taught only under the influence of the cane and the rod, never can enjoy. Those medals are not often given away, but remain in the school, and are distributed, to those who are priviledged to wear them, morning and afternoon; and are returned, before the boys leave school, to the monitor who is appointed to take care of them. No instance has occurred of losing a medal by theft-a singular thing among so many hundred children.
Another method of rewards is for those boys who are first in their classes: these have not only a badge of merit, of leather gilt and lettered, but a similar badge lettered Prize Book," ‘Prize Cup and Ball,' * Prize Kite,' &c. The boy who continues first in his class, for three or four successive times, is entitled to the prize lettered on the ticket he has worn. If any boy excels him, he forfeits his ticket and place in the division, to that boy. The boy who obtains the ticket once, must retain it three or four times successively--if he once forfeits his place and ticket, he forfeits his chance of the prize, although he may have obtained it three times out of four. These prizes are very much limited to the arithmetical classes.
There is also a similar method of encouraging the monitors to diligence. The object for them to pursue is to improve their classes as much as possible. Each monitor of a class or division, is to teach that class a specific object or lesson. When the boys have individually acquired the object of their studies, it will be perceived, by the system of inspection before described, that they are removed to another class. The monitors who improve their boys, so as to get them to another class, are permitted to wear a ticket, Commendable Monitor;' and, whoever gets this six times in succession, is entitled to any prize, which may have been previously promised by the master, according to his