Gentle Measures in the Management and Training of the Young eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 327 pages of information about Gentle Measures in the Management and Training of the Young.

The case is substantially the same with the enormous difficulties to be encountered in learning to read and to write.  The names of the letters, as the child pronounces them individually, give very little clue to the sound that is to be given to the word formed by them.  Thus, the letters h i t, as the child pronounces them individually—­aitch, eye, tee—­would naturally spell to him some such word as achite, not hit at all.  And as for the labor and difficulty of writing, a mother who is impatient at the slow progress of her children in the attainment of the art would be aided very much in obtaining a just idea of the difficulties which they experience by sitting upon a chair and at a table both much too high for her, and trying to copy Chinese characters by means of a hair-pencil, and with her left hand—­the work to be closely inspected every day by a stern Chinaman of whom she stands in awe, and all the minutest deviations from the copy pointed out to her attention with an air of dissatisfaction and reproval!

Effect of Ridicule.

There is, perhaps, no one cause which exerts a greater influence in chilling the interest that children naturally feel in the acquisition of knowledge, than the depression and discouragement which result from having their mistakes and errors—­for a large portion of which they are in no sense to blame—­made subjects of censure or ridicule.  The effect is still more decided in the case of girls than in that of boys, the gentler sex being naturally so much more sensitive.  I have found in many cases, especially in respect to girls who are far enough advanced to have had a tolerably full experience of the usual influences of schools, that the fear of making mistakes, and of being “thought stupid,” has had more effect in hindering and retarding progress, by repressing the natural ardor of the pupil, and destroying all alacrity and courage in the efforts to advance, than all other causes combined.


How ungenerous, and even cruel, it is to reproach or ridicule a child for stupidity, is evident when we reflect that any supposed inferiority in his mental organization can not, by any possibility, be his fault.  The question what degree of natural intelligence he shall be endowed with, in comparison with other children, is determined, not by himself, but by his Creator, and depends, probably, upon conditions of organization in his cerebral system as much beyond his control as any thing abnormal in the features of his face, or blindness, or deafness, or any other physical disadvantage.  The child who shows any indications of inferiority to others in any of these respects should be the object of his parent’s or his teacher’s special tenderness and care.  If he is near-sighted, give him, at school, a seat as convenient as possible to the blackboard or the map.  If he is hard of hearing, place him near the teacher; and for reasons precisely analogous, if you suspect him to be of inferior capacity, help him gently and tenderly in every possible way.  Do every thing in your power to encourage him, and to conceal his deficiencies both from others and from himself, so far as these objects can be attained consistently with the general good of the family or of the school.

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Gentle Measures in the Management and Training of the Young from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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