"That the age writes so much on Education, shows at once its absence and its importance: only lost goods are cried in the streets."
So wrote Jean Paul Richter, at a period dating 40 years back; to-day the writing on the same theme, far from being less, has increased a thousandfold.
I offer no apology for helping to swell the cry which even in this remote corner of the earth is being daily rung in our ears, but will briefly state why, in the particular phase of it which is about to occupy my pen, I am induced to ask for it the careful consideration of those whom the subject interests.
There is no need to remind readers that the Colony is well provided with schools both private and public, the latter being State institutions; and all are so well-appointed, and ranging from the district school, at which it is understood primary education begins, up to the University, where the most abstruse subjects may be studied, that to many the question will occur, What, then, is there wanting?
Most parents are aware that five is the minimum age at which the Education Act enforces the attendance of children at school, and, as a rule, the masters of the State schools decline to receive any under that age, nor are present school arrangements suitable for their reception. But who would aver that education begins only at the age of five? Instruction may, though it should not; but at five years the faculties of the child have unfolded to such an extent that education for good or for evil has already set its seal on the embryo citizen." Parents are well aware of this, and, accordingly, those who have the opportunity take advantage of the many preparatory schools in operation. There are, however, numbers amongst us who have no such opportunity, and for other reasons besides cannot send their little ones to these schools, but who are thoughtful enough to desire the presence of infant schools to which the very young members of their family might go. Some, doubtless, and perhaps the great majority, would desire to have these schools for the simple reason that while there, the children are "out of mischief." Let us credit at least some parents with much higher motives. As has been said, education has begun its work long before the age of five, and without any doubt that impressionable period of life ought to be utilised to the highest advantage for the child, and in a wider sense, for the common well-being of the race. And on the point just mentioned, I am tempted to ask the statesman, whether it be not a matter worthy his serious consideration that so valuable a part of the training-time of page 2 life of thousands of the future men and women of the Colony, should be left to run riot in weeds and other noxious growths? Is it in the interests of the nation over whose welfare he watches, that no attention should be bestowed here? I ask the question on broad grounds. Happily there is encouragement in the thought that our present Minister of Education, Mr Ballance, is personally in hearty sympathy with the writer in the wish to have infant schools on the Kindergarten principle in our midst. "It would be well to popularise the idea, how would you have such schools organised? Let me have suggestions and information," are a few of Mr Ballance's pointed remarks made on a late occasion when the subject was brought before him. Following up his advice, it is proposed to give, in a few papers to the Otago Daily Times, a sketch of the Kindergarten method of infant education, a method now finding firm footing in England, America, and elsewhere. The source whence the information is derived is from papers sent by the friendly hands of Miss Buss of London, a lady whose name is already associated with the progress of education in Otago. Miss Buss is a member of the London Fröbel Society for the promotion of Kindergartens, and the papers are chiefly contributions to the Society, written by its president, Miss [unclear: Shirreff,] from which I shall quote freely when necessary. "But what is a Kindergarten?" says many a reader; and to those who know it may be sufficient to say that, except by persons directly interested in education, it has been found that there is very far from a general acquaintance with the subject. An article in a contemporary a few evening since is about the only local notice of che system that has appeared.
It needs not, therefore, to apologise for beginning at the beginning. The words "kindergarten" are German, and may be translated into "children's garden," or "garden of children," the latter giving a perfectly clear idea of the meaning of the term. We speak of a garden of flowers, the flowers being there for cultivation; in like manner the Kindergarten is for the training and culture of that most tender and wonder ful flower—the infant human being. The special features which it exercises for this purpose were devised and founded by a German named Frederic Fröbel, who stands out conspicuous as one of the latest benefactors of his kind, in his clear enunciation of the principles which should guide the educator. A born philanthropist, he made this the study of his life, the theoretical cut-come of which is an incomparable work, called "The Education of Mankind." "But," said he, "I must see infant gardens, I must see my theory put into practice," and forthwith he set about pleading, planning, devising, and before his death he had the gratification of seeing numbers of Kindergartens established throughout his fatherland. Like many others whose lives are a sacrifice of self to the pursuit of some high purpose, his worldly goods were few, and in the prosecution of his great work it is recorded of him that day by day he would travel on foot many miles, frequently resting at night upon the green sward, with "an umbrella for his bedroom, and a knapsack for his pillow." Gradually, as the system made itself known, it was taken up in France and Switzerland, thence to America. In England, as far back as 1851, the first Kindergarten was established in London, by M. and Madame Ronge, both enthusiastic disciples of Fröbel. Their labours excited much interest, and elicited the spontaneous and public commendation of Mr Mitchell, one of her Majesty's school inspectors. Here and there other Kindergartens sprang into existence and flourished, yet the system did not make that advance that it undoubtedly deserved, Nor should this act as a caution to us on this bide the globe. Who that thinks at all but deplores that England, with all her power of intellect, should be so dull to everything like an appreciation of the philosophical principles that underlie the mental training of individual human nature? There, perhaps, hardly anything would be more difficult than to make the need of the Kindergarten felt, became of the preeminence of its merits as a process of harmonious development of the whole nature, on scientific principles. Its constant advocacy, however, by friends of education—many of whom, of course, recognise its true basis—have at last succeeded so well in popularising the Kindergarten, that now the wish to promote the system far outruns the means. A late report of the Fröbel Society states that great limitations to its efforts are imposed by the want of trained teachers, applications for whom from all parts of the kingdom are far in excess of the number of students who enter themselves at the training school. The latest triumph of the system is the acknowledgment of its merits by Sir Charles Reed, chairman of the London School Board. The Board has now adopted it, and already a Normal Training Institution is organised for the supply of thoroughly trained teachers for the Kindergartens attached to their ordinary schools.
Fröbel, as has been said, was born in Germany, and from bis very early years the human intellect was for him a subject of absorbing interest. When a man of mature years, he entered himself a pupil of Pestalozzi, then of European fame; but in the object—teaching, which was the cheval de page 3 balaille of this reformer of infant education, Fröbel failed to find solution of the problem of which he was in search. He yearned to probe into yet greater depths of infant-nature—spiritual, moral, intellectual, and animal depths—of which Pestalozzi's teaching seemed but to touch the surface. Afresh he gave himself up to study, and spending much of his time in communion with Nature, he became her listener and interpreter; he watched her operations and investigated the results with a yet greater earnestness, and to this end: that no system could equal, far less be superior to, training the human plant than Nature's own. Here, then, was what he had been groaning to discover—in Mr Payne's words—"a system working harmoniously and consistently towards a definite end, and securing positive results; a system, too, strictly educational, whether we regard the development of the faculties employed, or the acquisition of knowledge, as accompanying the development—a system in which the little child is the pupil and Nature the educator."
The leading principles deduced by Fröbel, Miss Shirreff sums up under five heads, as follows:—1. All the faculties of the child, mentally and bodily, are to be severally drawn out and exercised as far as age allows. 2. The powers of habit and association—which are the great instruments of all education—of the whole training of life, must be brought to bear from the earliest dawn of intelligence, with a systematic purpose. 3. The active instincts of childhood are to be cultivated through manual, no less than through mental work, and made an essential part of the training. 4 The senses are to be trained to accuracy as well as the head. 5. The children must learn how to observe what is placed before them, and to see it truly—an acquirement which every teacher of science or of drawing will appreciate.
To work out these principles Fröbel devised his practical method of infant education, and the very name he gave to the place where his play-lessons were to be given, marks his purpose. The foreign name, "Kindergarten," England has adopted; its literal meaning has already been explained.
As Pestalozzi did before him, Fröbel appealed to mothers, but he also went further, and appealed to women generally, as the true educators. Miss Shirreff writes strongly on this point, and her words are of universal application. The system, she says, even for its partial application, requires the thorough training of women teachers, but for its application as a means of national reform, would require that mothers should be educated for the sacred office—that women generally should be taught to consider that intelligent care of the young is the first and most important work for which they need fit themselves. Education in the nursery, and for years after leaving it, is inevitably women's work, and in no one thing in the whole order of the Universe has Nature spoken more strongly than in this. She makes it impossible for us to alter or modify her law. Fröbel knew this, and he is the first who has brought a wide study of human nature to bear upon infant life, and to reduce to system the observations thus made. He watched children closely to ascertain the order of development indicated by instinctive tendencies, and in his advice to mothers, is minute in how these tendencies are to be directed. Growth in one direction must not be allowed to supersede or hinder growth in another, and whilst all the faculties are necessary for perfect life, care must be exercised in aiding their development into harmony with each other, and the Kindergarten gives the opportunity for the practical exposition of these principles as regards children from three to seven years of age. And the training takes in the child's whole nature, aiding its expansion physically and morally, as well as intellectually. The rhythmical movements, the dancing and singing games are not only good for the health, but they make the limbs supple, and improve both eye and ear, and moreover, make the child happy and joyous; while the moral training is carried on through the habit of strict and unreasoning obedience, under a gentle law ever referring to the will of God, who has placed helpless infancy under that loving care which represents His ceaseless love for all his creatures. And by directing observation to order and beauty in external things, and in human conduct, as manifestations of God's rule and presence throughout the world, these things surely tend to form religious and moral associations which, long before the age when any catechism would be intelligible, prepare the mind for the reception of all that is highest in Christianity or in philosophy.
In a paper called "Education too Literary," Dr Hodgson remarks "that the strange exaggeration of the efficacy of reading and writing is an inheritance from the still dominant bookishness of the age"; and evidently Fröbel, in his treatment of the young, held to this belief, for no books are seen in the Kindergarten, and the mechanical process of writing is acquired insensibly, the easy tracing of letters and words being the simple result of the training of the eyes to see correctly, and of the will over the use of the fingers. That no books are used, is because no ideas or facts are brought before the child that he cannot understand and test. Thus, in the play lessons with cubes and other figures, page 4 the teacher simply rules the order in which these shall be approached, using correct names for everything, which the little learner must also use; but the observation of resemblances and differences, the comparisons made and the conclusions arrived at, are the child's own; if he make mistakes these are pointed out. In this way the child handles every object, looks at it, examines it; if anything is built with his bricks, or drawn for him as a model, forthwith he draws or builds similarly for himself. Thus the instinct of activity is satisfied, and the training of the hands, the senses, and the mental faculties are carried on simultaneously, laying the most solid foundation of education.
The Kindergarten motto is "Play is the labour of the child," and accordingly Fröbel utilises play in every form as a means of promoting his purpose. There are first the active games which constitute a large part of the daily exercises, and are participated in by even the very "wee ones," who cannot yet "employ themselves," or join in games that require skill or application. These; games consist chiefly of a great variety of graceful bodily movements, timed by the vocal music of the children themselves. The little songs set to this music are in simple words that speak of nature or the affections, or incite to deeds of kindness, heroism, and such like. Miss Sherriff says that kindergarten dancing, as it is called, differs from the ordinary infant-school dancing, in that the movements are at once more free and more rhythmical. A greater variety of movements are executed in time and order; the children do not merely walk to music, but perform various actions which bring each limb in turn into exercise, and which give suppleness as well as strength to the muscle. The joyousness and cheerfulness with which these exercises are gone through by the children have the happiest effect upon their health and temperament, whilst the important habits of closeness of at tention, order, regularity, and simultaneous movement are being cultivated. With some of the toys that are used in the Fröbel training, the public, even in New Zealand, are not altogether unfamiliar, inasmuch as "Kindergarten games" are to be seen in the toyshops, though their real pur pose is known to few. As playthings they sometimes find their way into nurseries, simply as adding to the variety which, unfortunately for the mental and moral future of their occupants, is oftener than not far too extensive. "I really don't know what to take home to Bob and Johnny," said a young friend to the writer the other day, as inquiringly she looked round the heaped-up shelves of a toyshop; "they seem to have everything already." Mentally I groaned as with the habit of reflection my mind quickly took in the possible consequences to Bob and Johnny. Children, and already they have everything! The remark is the solution to much that is characteristic of the young colonist—a restless unsettledness, a constant flitting from this thing to that, which parents and friends, in sheer thoughtlessness, unconsciously encourage by their lavish expenditure, and consequently almost limitless supply of toys to young people. Our teachers constantly tell us of the difficulty they have in getting their pupils to concentrate their thoughts upon any one subject, and who can doubt but that this matter of the many toys does its part in inducing a roving habit of mind. Prosperity is a blessing, bus not an unmixed one, and if we use it by opening our hearts to spoil the future of our children, far better it were not ours.
This is rather a digression, but it is made to give, as it were, one more reason for the need of the Kindergarten amongst us, as one of its chief efforts is to discipline the faculties into obedience of the will. Thus one of the main difficulties the school teacher has to contend with—the want of mental control on the part of his pupils—would be removed by the time they entered upon the usual school course.
These "toys." then, used in the sedentary games of the Kindergarten, are, in reality, the tools with which the teacher works. Fröbel invented them, and gave them the name of "gifts." Miss Sherriff waxes wroth at the idea of their being regarded a mere toys, or even used as a means of giving common object-lessons. "Nothing,' she says, "can be further from the inventor's purpose. In his system they stand as necessarily connected links; that to fuse into a lesson work and play is the object of the Kindergarten, and this fusion becomes possible only when the objects with which the child plays allow room for mental not less than bodily activity."
Miss Sherriff prefaces her description of the "gifts" with the remark that the subject is unfortunately dry, and that without the assistance of diagrams it is hardly possible to make it quite intelligible. Still Miss Sherriff has succeeded so well in dealing with the matter, that a perusal of her [unclear: paper] leaves a clear impression of the methods carrying out the Fröbel principles. She takes the games in order, and I [unclear: transcrilate] her description verbatim:—
"The first gift is the Ball.—Each child in the class is provided with one; they are all of the same size, and have a short [unclear: stris] attached by which they may be suspended but they are of different colours. The first purpose of giving the ball, as with every other object successively presented, is [unclear: a] draw the child's attention to the [unclear: obvious] page 5 peculiarities that distinguish it from other surrounding objects, whether in form, in colour, in texture, or in properties; that is, whether hard or soft, fragile or elastic, &c.; and the ball is first selected on account of the simplicity of the spherical form making a single impression, requiring, therefore, no combined view of different lines and surfaces. The game or exercise consists of a series of movements executed with the ball, which is now raised, now lowered, placed to the right, then to the left, passed from one hand to the other, from one child to another, noting the effect of each change in relation to the other objects and positions—the movements, now quicker, now slower, being always executed by word of command, and promptly, exactly, and together—things which some may smile at as part of a school lesson, but which are not thought unimportant on the parade-ground of a regiment. At the beginning and ending of such game, whether in opening the box that contains the 'gift,' in taking out the objects, in passing them along one from the other, the same order and disciplined motion is exacted; and besides the results already referred to, a sense of fellowship is created by acting together, and the gentleness enforced by the teachers, and naturally aided by the order and rhythm, excludes all outward token of rude or unkind feeling, and thus, tends to foster the opposite, to create an association of pleasure with kind and gentle intercourse. It may be observed here that moral influence, direct or indirect, is always present in this system, and the repression of selfishness is a leading object. Nothing in the child's whole training is for one alone; there is emulation, but no competition for rewards, and the children's temper is saved from irritation by the absence of all that souring influence that comes from impotent effort, and straining over solitary tasks.
"The second gift consists of a Sphere, a Cube, and a Cylinder.—By means of these the children's natural power of observation is drawn out to discover for themselves the difference between these forms and the manner in which they could be used, &c. We have no longer the simple perception awakened by the ball, but sides, surfaces, lines, and circumferences; and when these are clearly distinguished, the right terms for them are always given, so that when any fact connected with these figures is accurately apprehended, it is also accurately labelled in the child's memory, becoming thus of easy reference hereafter, whether in the advanced series of this peculiar instruction, or in approaching the study of geometry. There is this peculiarity in these games: though intended for such young children (from three to seven generally), there is no attempt to adapt the truths of science to childish apprehension expressed in childish language; the whole aim is to direct infant observation to perceive, and budding intelligence to seize, the true aspects and relations of such objects as are presented to them, and at once to acquire the familiar use of the right terms, which must be learned when real study begins.
"In the use of this second gift we do, however, enter upon the ground upon which Fröbel's system achieves the largest measure of actual instruction in the ordinary sense. The successive series of exercises with the cube, the sphere, and the cylinder, aided later by other 'gifts' and instruments of work, do impart, as they go, on an accurate and familiar acquaintance with the facts and relations on which geometrical truths are founded, and some of the more obvious conclusions are arrived at by a process which makes them henceforth the child's own experience. The advantage so gained in facilitating later study is very great, but far greater is the educational value of the training which has made accurate observation—reasoning from one fact to another—and the perceptions of necessary relations habitual. The boy who carries such habits to school will be among his fellows like the workman who is familiar with his tools, compared to the novice who is only learning their names.
"The third gift is a Cube composed of eight smaller cubes.—The principal object of the exercise with this is to lead the child to distinguish parts from the whole, to observe the distribution of parts, to count them, and to discover modes of construction with the pieces he possesses. The durable lessons learnt are of arithmetic and of symmetry; the former carried by simple steps up to fractions, the latter to whatever figures can be constructed with the little cubes alone. The child does not learn a single rule of arithmetic till he has discovered the sense of it practically; he performs according to order certain operations with the objects before him, divides his little heap, adds, subtracts, and puts together again; and do! a certain result is there before him. Some brief formula may then be given, and he himself perceives what his memory has already done, and his power of doing exactly the same thing again is aided by putting the result into words. The number of figures that may be constructed with the little cubes is greater than we should imagine till we see them before us The most familiar objects are naturally chosen—a table, a bench, a door, a window, a flight of steps; but each furnishes the teacher with abundant means for leading the child to fresh observation, to the perception of similarities and differences, analogies and contrasts, of symmetry with its accompanying sense of completeness, or of the want of symmetry page 6 with its discordant effect. The lesson, if so it may be called, is mingled with whatever of narrative or of natural history the object may suggest to the teacher. 'The child,' as Madame Carpentier remarks in speaking of such lessons, 'is not amused, but he is interested,' and he is interested because his own mental activity is fully drawn out without fatigue. He has no natural aversion to, and no incapacity for, thought, as we may daily learn from the 'why' with which he meets each new event in his experience; but he can think only of facts presented to his observation, and not about words or remote action, of which he is unable to form a conception.
"After each lesson the children build according to their own fancy, emulating each other in their constructions, sometimes imitating some familiar object, sometimes forming mere symmetrical figures as they happen to take more pleasure in one or the other: it matters not so long as originality and activity are both brought into play. 'Want of originality, in the highest sense of the word, among men, is principally caused,' says Madame Von Bulow (one of the best writers on Fröbel's system), 'by the hindrances that keep down the early active tendencies of children, or at least give them no assistance.' She also remarks with equal truth, 'By independent action we prepare independent thought. In the Kindergarten, such preparation begins with the dawn of intelligence, and continues long enough to make the association of pleasure with the exercise of mental activity too strong to be easily broken.'"
For some reason unexplained, the word "gift" is applied by Fröbel to only one more toy, and this completes the series used in the simpler forms of his play-lesson; it i is called
The Fourth Gift, and is also a cube, which Miss Shirreff describes as being "of equal dimensions with the former one, bat subdivided into eight oblong pieces, the length of each being twice its breadth, and the breadth twice its thickness. The cube itself is familiar to the child, but he finds that the pieces of which it is composed, differ from the former ones; in those all the sides were alike in shape and size, in these they vary, and he has in consequence new discoveries to make, and new names to learn. The method and the class of observations in this game naturally follow a similar course to the last, and the amusing work of construction goes on, first under dictation and with commentaries by the teacher, and afterwards greatly according to the child's fancy."
This finishes a description of the toys which present impressions in their simplest form to the child's mind, solids and surfaces only having been dealt with. The next series of objects used as instruments of education in the Kindergarten comprise little sticks, thin baths, metal rings, and portions of rings. As, however, the space at our disposal will not allow of Miss Shirreff's interesting description being continued in full, it must now be given in condensed form, but sufficiently diffusive to keep in view the chief characteristics of Fröbel's principles.
The little sticks are about inches, and the laths 10 inches in length. These now represent lines, and the child learns to form the outlines of figures, laying them in this direction and that, making angles and diagrams hitherto unknown; in these operations he is led to observe the points that distinguish them from those he constructed with his cubes, their relation to the latter and to each other, and so on. As each fresh fact is discovered, the proper designation with explanations are given him, and his aptitude and memory, already being well in hand—the result of training up till now—they are retentively and intelligently comprehended by the child.
With the metal rings commence a series of exercises upon curved lines. Besides the new figures produced and facts learned in this field, the imitation of objects passes from that of things constructed by human art to that of natural objects in which curved lines in every variety prevail. In the first place the rings are distributed, and, wish the customary forms, used in opening every game. The teacher begins by remarking on the rings themselves—their size, weight, colour, &c., and then on their peculiar form called a "circle." It is recognised in having been already seen in the base of the cylinder, but the ring gives only the outline or circumference. The rings are seen by the eye to be of equal size, but this is proved by their being laid one upon the other. Then they are laid side by side in contact with each other, and it is noted that if not allowed to cross they touch each other at one point only, but if crossed one over the other, there must be two points of intersection. Other similar exercises follow, in which semicircles and segments of circle) are used—sometimes separately, sometimes to gether, and sometimes all three combined It is thus manifest that the scope for the ingenuity and inventive faculties of the children is given full play; but that is not the point. The thing of importance is, that in these technical exercises the method, which remains the same throughout, is that, of leading, not teaching, the children. They construct, observe, compare, and note result as of themselves. In finding out a new figure or diagram, the design is precious [unclear: to] the child for ever after as a discovery of his own. "He is so placed," in Miss Shirreff's words, "towards external objects, that be page 7 naturally questions them; he goes through the process of self-education, but is saved from the mistakes of the self educated by walking unconsciously in the groove carefully prepared for him."
In all the games that have been described, from the ball to the circles, the objects used have been such as could be placed or displaced, but not otherwise altered. The aim has been to train to manual dexterity no less than to develop the faculties. Another phase of the subject now comes under our notice, and education is carried into a region which strikes us, with our English notions, as strange. This is the cultivation of habits of industry. "Fröbel," Miss Shirreff quotes, "is never weary of repeating that man must not only know, but produce; not only think, but work, and that the capacity for work must be trained in early childhood, side by side with the observing and comprehending faculty, and before the memory is burthened with words and symbols." The value of time is not inculcated by words, but it is learned insensibly by practice, and the production of manual work being carried on throughout the course, the little ones go forth from the Kindergarten armed with a power which in after life will stand them in good stead, come what may.
"For the sake of convenience," Miss Shirreff remarks, she "has gore through the games without interruption, but various kinds of work are taught almost from the beginning." The first is plaiting with strips of paper, and the art consists in the regularity and neatness required, difficult of attainment by the little uncertain fingers, but in course of time it is successfully done. Then comes weaving, also done with strips of paper; and finally, folding and cutting out. The advantage of this sort of hand-exercise over needlework is manifold. It teaches dexterity and neatness of manipulation, and it gives play to the inventive faculties, for, as in the play-lessons, the child is encouraged to originate patterns. Again, at ordinary schools, needlework is confined to girls, while boys learn no manual art at all until they i can hold a pen or pencil; lastly, there is variety and a certain amount of beauty in both plaiting and weaving, which please and interest the children. Nor in the end will needlework suffer, for the neatness, deftness, and accuracy of hand acquired by the Kindergarten little girl will make needlework very easy to learn afterwards.
The latest of these exercises of manipulation is cutting out. It is the most difficult, and allows, for the first time, the child to handle a tool, the use of which is a most important thing to be learnt. All children delight in this, and many acquire a dexterity that is marvellous. Every object may be represented by cut-out paper, and we have seen animals, human beings, houses, trees, and other objects imitated with admirable exactness after a little training.
Folding paper affords the opportunity of continuing the elementary geometrical instruction begun ab an early stage in the various games. By folding squares of paper in different ways, but always with strict attention to accuracy the child discovers by the result of his own observation the important fact that the angles formed at one point of intersection of two or more lines must be four right angles, or equal to four right angles, and the fact so acquired is to him a self-evident truth. Such empirical knowledge may be an improper mode of approaching exact science, but it is the only mode possible in childhood, and it will be found no small advantage later that the intelligence has learned to view such facts as practical truths.
After some manual skill and accuracy of eye have been acquired, drawing lessons begin. Fröbel, says Madame Von Bulow, "required from every educated person a certain degree of skill in drawing, for the purpose of assuring accurate perception of objects, and likewise to make use of plastic art as a means of cultivation. He considered it as highly important that a child should acquire some facility in drawing before he learns to road or write, since the representation of actual things should precede the representation of signs and words." This is, of course, quite at variance with the general practice, but, as Miss Shirreff says, "those who might dispute the question of precedent will hardly deny that drawing has never yet been made use of in education as it might be; that a study which, besides all its practical advantages, affords the most admirable means of training accuracy of observation and truth of reproduction, of cultivating at once the senses and the most valuable mental habits, has been strangely neglected."
Fröbel, as just stated, was a firm believer in teaching the child to draw, and he begins the lessons in the humblest manner, for the first instrument used in delineation is no other than a large pin. The little fingers, yet unable to hold or grasp a pencil with steadiness, readily manage the pin; and the first efforts are made by forming the mere outlines of figures by a succession of pinholes pricked on the paper. At first, to guide the little ones, ruled paper is used, and for a time attention is entirely given to making the boles at equal distances and of equal size. As soon as the hand is steady enough to use a pencil, a ruled slate is the next stage, and, after a certain proficiency with this, comes the black lead pencil on paper which is ruled in regular squares. Ruled in this fashion it has the advantage of saving the beginner from gross errors till the steadier hand and eye page 8 can draw correct lines, true both in direction and proportion. Then comes the drawing of geometrical figures and patterns similar to those the learners constructed with their laths and rings; and lastly, drawings are made from copies of simple objects or groups of objects. This is about the utmost that is attained by the little pupils of the Kindergarten; nor does Fröbel encourage a much greater advance at their age. He reserves it, as other instruction is reserved, for what he calls transition classes, the teaching in which is a preparation for the more advanced studies in the ordinary schools.
Miss Shirreff finishes her papers on the Kindergarten by again pointing out that drawing precedes writing, and that writing so far precedes reading that the pupil must be able to trace at once the symbols that are given to him as representing certain sounds. Heading is afterwards a matter of easy attainment, and though these essential arts are late in being acquired compared with the teaching by other methods, the wisdom of the plan can hardly be questioned. The very essence of the Fröbel principles is to aid and guide development from observation of nature and of surrounding objects, and to withhold the fretting and cumbering the understanding with words and phrases, the meaning of which the child has not yet capacity to comprehend. "It would be curious to inquire," says Miss Shirreff, "how much of the loose thinking and the hazy perception of truth which characterise the majority of even the educated portion of mankind, might be traced back to the absence of any definite impressions made in childhood in connection with the instruction given to them. The minds of children taught from books are occupied with words, and words to them are vague, and often void of meaning. Outside the school they acquire definite impressions but they are acquired at random, and may be wholly wanting in accuracy. These impressions, however, will exercise more in fluency than what is learned at school, for the instruction there given is quite apart from any practical region, and has no solid foundation in observation or experience."
Such is a brief sketch of what seems to rational and intelligent method of dealing with children under seven or eight years of age. Instead of being made recipients of knowledge they cannot comprehend, and [unclear: the] facts they do not understand—as, for in stance, being taught arithmetic as an art not as a science—the main effort of the system now under consideration is simply to prepare the mind to accept these with intelligence when presented at a more advanced stage of the mind's maturity Finally, to quote Miss Shirreff once again
"Ordinary schools make it their great business to impart knowledge; the Kindergarten aims at developing the human being. It is only by the fitness of their pupils in ripe years for the manifold work of life, that the two systems can be fairly compared and judged."
Port Chalmers, Otago March, 1879.
Printed at the "Daily Times Office, Rattray Street, Dunedin.