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or sisters, and take part in the exercises in spelling, mental arithmetic, geography, singing, etc.; indeed, in everything except reading.
During the past sixteen years, the parents of many blind children in a neighboring State have pursued the course here suggested, and their children have subsequently entered the institution fully one, two, or more years in advance of those who had received no such training. It hardly need be added that their subsequent progress would be easy and rapid in proportion to the advantage with which they commenced.
AGE AT WHICH CHILDREN SHOULD ENTER THE INSTITUTION.
The age at which it is best for young children to enter the institution depends very much upon the circumstances of the families to which they belong. If they can be under good influences at home, can have the care of mother or sister, can exercise freely in the open air, can be taught many of the things indicated above, it is better for them to remain at home till they are twelve years old; but if they cannot receive proper care, and be taught to some considerable extent, they should enter at the age of nine or ten. Those who enter at this early age need not attend every year till their term of pupilage expires. After learning to read, and making a good beginning in other studies, they may spend a year at home, now and then, and with suitable aid from their friends or schoolmates, may continue to improve, or at least be prevented from forgetting what they have learned.
While pupils are connected with the school, it is highly important they should be present at the opening and continue through the term. Absence for even a few days, visiting, or for other purposes, is attended with great inconvenience; for as most of the instruction is given orally by the teacher, the scholar who is absent cannot make up the missing lessons by studying them from books. The teacher or some other person must repeat all the lessons taught in his absence, or he must suffer from the loss of them during the remainder of the term.
As the blind are to spend the greater part of their lives among those who have sight, it should be the aim of all who have the oversight of them to make them as much like the seeing as possible. They should be most carefully guarded against forming any habits which will be disagreeable to others. The blind are always noticed by strangers, and their manners and habits observed more particu
larly than those of other persons; hence it is a very great kindness to prevent them from forming unsightly or unpleasant habits, or to correct them, if such have been formed.
Parents should be especially careful to prevent their boys from the use of tobacco; beside the trouble which its use must occasion, its influence on all who begin to use it in childhood, is specially injurious, but it is even more so to the blind than to most others. One can hardly do them a greater kindness than to guard them against its use in any form.
STUDIES, ETC., IN THE INSTITUTION.
The primary object is to give to all the pupils a good English education. The studies are the same as those taught in other schools. They learn to read raised print with the finger. Most children can acquire the ability to read thus with some readiness, and many adults have learned to read with such facility as to make it a source of great pleasure and profit to them. Spelling is learned in connec tion with reading, and by pronouncing and spelling words orally to them. Most of the instruction in arithmetic, grammar, geography, history and higher studies is given orally. A daily lesson is given in each of the studies pursued, and a daily recitation required of each scholar. These recitations, conducted either by questions or by the use of topics, together with frequent reviews (given mostly by outlines or analysis by all the more advanced scholars), constitute the means employed to impress upon their memories what is taught, and train them to communicate clearly and intelligibly what they have learned.
In addition to the instruction given in the studies of the several classes during the day, a large amount of general information is communicated to the whole school in the evening exercises. These consist of the reading of works of history, biography, travels, etc., with the current news and items of intelligence from papers and periodicals, and are conducted by the superintendent and the teachers in turn.
For the purpose of becoming familiar with the thoughts and the language of the best authors, the pupils are encouraged to commit to memory choice selections of prose and poetry, and to declaim or recite them before the school. One evening in the week is devoted to this exercise, which is intended not so much as a preparation for public speaking as to give them that culture of voice, and that com
mand of its intonations, which educated seeing persons acquire by reading aloud.
The leading objects aimed at in all departments of intellectual training are, to aid the pupils in acquiring useful knowledge, in the discipline of their minds and in formning correct habits of attention, observation, investigation, study, thought, reflection, etc.
INSTRUCTION IN MUSIC.
Opportunity is given for all to learn to sing, and an effort is made to give them such an acquaintance with music, as an art, as may make it a source of enjoyment to them in future life; while those who have taste and ability to excel, are instructed in the science for the purpose of training them as performers, or preparing them to engage in teaching music as a means of support.
It will be the aim to make the instruction in this department, as in others, practically useful, by giving to those who attend to instrumental music the opportunity to practice upon such instruments as they may be expected to possess, or be able to use after they leave the institution; and to give time to practice upon the less common and more costly instruments only to those of marked ability, or those likely to use these attainments in teaching, or otherwise, as a means of livelihood.
SOCIAL AND MORAL CULTURE.
It is of pre-eminent importance to give to all the pupils such social and moral culture as is needed to make them agreeable members of the family and the social circle; so that, if they do not succeed in supporting themselves by their industry or skill, they may be enabled to endear themselves to relatives or make friends who will not allow them to suffer or to be thrown upon the public for support.
All accustomed to observe, must have noticed that it is very rare that a person of good education, agreeable manners and correct habits is compelled to seek a home in an alms-house. A very large proportion of the inmates of such institutions, and of the recipients of public charity generally, are persons who are deficient not only in intellectual, but in social and moral culture (always excepting those worthy persons who have been reduced to a state of dependence by misfortune or by the vices of others). On the other hand, it is equally well known, that in almost every community there are persons, especially females, provided with comfortable homes in good families,
who, were it not for their intelligence, amiability and worth, would have been thrown upon public charity.
Our beneficent Creator has so constituted us that there are very few who may not, by a proper course of conduct and a good use of the capabilities He has bestowed, secure friends who will willingly share with them whatever their industry or energy can secure for themselves. We have for years acted upon the belief that the blind are not an exception to this law, and that if they faithfully use the opportunities afforded them in such an institution, and wisely improve their abilities, they may expect their attainments to be properly valued, and their worth duly appreciated by their friends and the communities in which they reside. But, while holding and teaching these views, we have endeavored to impress upon the minds of our pupils the importance of the most thorough preparation for obtaining a livelihood by their own exertions in some department of intellectual or industrial labor.
SABBATH INSTRUCTION AND EXERCISES.
In addition to the daily reading of the Scriptures, in connection with morning and evening worship, a regular Sabbath school and Bible-class exercise is held every Sabbath morning. If the weather is favorable, the pupils attend morning service at some one of the churches in town; otherwise, a service is conducted in the institution chapel. In the afternoon, an hour or more is spent in reading to the school from the best class of Sabbath-school books, and in the evening a similar reading is given from religious papers and periodicals. Beside these exercises, the pupils have access, in the reading rooms, to copies of the Scriptures, hymn books, and the catechism of the Protestant Episcopal and of the Roman Catholic Churches, in raised print.
The discipline of the institution must be parental, more like that of a family than an ordinary school. Indeed, it is simply a family school; the pupils are, for the time, our children. Many of them enter when quite young; like other children, they need sympathy and affection, as well as constant care and judicious training. Some have known but little of parental care or home affection; some have been neglected almost entirely in every respect, and consequently know little of gratitude or any other kindly sentiment; while others have been treated with too much of a certain kind of tenderness,
have been petted and indulged till they have become habitually selfish and exacting, and it now requires peculiar care and skill to check those tendencies, and to enlist them in the work of correcting their own defects. Still, taken as a whole, a class of blind children. differ but little from others of the same age and opportunities.
Parents who wish to understand the circumstances and duties of those who have the charge of such a family as this, by day and by night, through the week and on the Sabbath, in health and in sickness, have only to imagine their own families increased from four or five to twenty times that number, and to remember that each of these requires as much of ingenuity and of skill for his successful management as any one of theirs, and that every one has just as strong a claim upon our sympathies and affections as the single cherished one whom they have intrusted to our care. We know of no better rule than to endeavor, in all their training and in all our intercourse with them, to do what intelligent, judicious and conscientious parents would wish to do for their children, and to treat them as we would wish our own children to be treated.
More than half the pupils are orphans, or half-orphans; and it adds much to the interest of our work to feel that we have the opportunity in this comfortable home, provided for that purpose by the State, to give them something of that kindly care and nurture which parental love may not supply, but which the young so greatly need while endeavoring to prepare for the duties of life.
Instruction and training is now given to the young men in the art of making corn brooms. This is a trade by which any worthy, intelligent and enterprising blind man may support himself respectably, especially if located in or near a village of a few hundred inhabi
In addition to bead-work, knitting and crocheting, the older girls are taught to sew by hand, and to use the sewing machine.