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slate; and detection immediately follows idleness, or an indifferent performance! That a thing, so simple in itself, should abound with so many advantages, is scarcely to be supposed, at a first glance; but, that it does, I am well convinced, by daily experience of its utility; particularly, the improvement it affords by so great a practice in writing.
Boys who learn by the new mode, have six times the usual practice in writing; but, in the old way the expence is, at the first cost, 5 d. per month, for writing books, pens, and ink, each boy: this will be six times increased, if it is desired to give both classes of boys equal practice; the usual cost for sixty boys is 161. 108. per annum.
The many hundreds of respectable characters, nobility, clergy, gentry, merchants, and others, who have visited the institution, can bear witness, that the progress of the boys in writing, by this method of writing all they spell, is astonishing! Not of one, or a few boys, but of the whole school. By this practice of writing on a slate, they learn to humour their pencils, so as to write just like a pen, in making the up
and down strokes of the letters. About one hundred and fifty boys have writing books, and their writing on the slate, is a fac simile of their writing in books: which they seldom do, more than four times in a week, and then only a single copy, which covers but a quarto page, each time. Slates are an article so great in request, on this plan, that it is proper to procure the best sort: those of a reddish cast allow the pencil to play with more freedom; those of the black kind, though neater in appearance, are generally hard and brittle; and the pencil is more apt to scratch than write thereon: yet, there are some of the black kind which are an exception to this observation. If any gentleman, in a country town or village, should be pulling down an old building that has been slated, the damaged slates from it would be a valuable acquisition to village children : for, by the friction of a little Portland stone and water, on the surface of the slate, they will obtain a good polish, and serve as well for use, as slates of ten times their value. I hope to see the day, when slates
and slate-pencils will be more resorted to than they have heretofore been, and thus afford to every poor child a cheap and ready medium of instruction, in spelling, writing, and arithmetic.
A Method of teaching to spell and read, whereby one
Book will serve instead of Six Hundred Books. ... It will be remembered, that the usual mode of teaching requires every boy to have a book: yet, each boy can only read or spell one lesson at a time, in that book. Now, all the other parts of the book are in wear, and liable to be thumbed to pieces; and, whilst the boy is learning a lesson in one part of the book, the other parts are at that time useless. Whereas, if a spelling book contains twenty or thirty different lessons, and it were possible for thirty scholars to read the thirty lessons in that book, it would be equivalent to thirty books for its utility. To effect this, it is desirable the whole of the book should be printed three times larger than the common size type, which would make it equal in size and cost to three common spelling books, value from eight-pence to a shilling each. Again, it should be printed with only one page to a leaf, which would again double the price, and make it equivalent in bulk and cost to five or six common books; its different parts should then be pasted on pasteboard, and suspended by a string, to a nail in E 4
the wall, or other convenient place: one pasteboard should contain the alphabet; others, words and syllables of from two to six letters. The reading lessons gradually rising from words of one syllable, in the same manner, till they come to words of five or six letters, or more, preparatory to the Testament lessons. There is a circumstance very seldom regarded enough, in the introductory lessons which youth usually have to perform before they are admitted to read in the Testament. A word of six letters or more, being di-vi-ded by hy-phens, reduces the syllables, which compose it to three, four, or five letters each; of course, it is as easy to read syllables, as words of five letters: and the child, who can read or spell the one, will find the other as easily attainable.
In the Testament, the words of two and three syllables are undivided, which makes this division of the lessons a more natural introduction to the Testament. In the preparatory lessons I have used, the words are thus di-vi-ded.
+ When the cards are provided, as before mentioned, from twelve to twenty boys may stand in a circle round each card, and clearly distinguish the print, to read or spell, as well or better than if they had a common spelling book in each of their hands. If one spelling book was divided into thirty different parts or lessons, and each lesson given to
a different boy, it would only serve thirty boys, changing their lessons among themselves, as often as needful; and the various parts would be continually liable to be lost or torn. But, every lesson placed on a card, will serve for twelve or twenty boys at once: and, when that twelve or twenty have repeated the whole lesson, as many times over as there are boys in the circle, they are dismissed to their spelling on the slate, and another like number of boys may study the same lesson, in succession : indeed, two hundred boys may all repeat their lessons from one card, in the space of three hours. If the value and importance of this plan, for saving paper and books in teaching reading and spelling, will not recommend itself, all I can say in its praise, from experience, will be of no avail. When standing in circles, to read or spell, the boys wear their numbers, tickets, pictures, &c. as described under the head, Emulation and Reward; and give place to each other, according to merit, as mentioned in the account of the two first classes.
In reading, they read lines or sentences, and sometimes paragraphs, in rotation. They are required to read every word slowly and deliberately, pausing between each. They read long words in the same manner, only by syllables: thus, in reading the word, Composition, they would not read it at once, but by syllables: thus, Com-po-si-ti-on; making a pause at every syllable. This deliberate