1. Is the subject of education intimately connected with the right training of children?

Yes. Education has very much to do with the formation of a holy and useful character. It is to be feared that in their attempts to get what they call "a good education" for their children, numbers of parents undo all the good accomplished by home instruction and example.

Their purpose with regard to the children is all that could be desired. They pray and labour during the early years of childhood to make their darlings good and Christ-like. They shield them, so far as they have opportunity from the temptations of the world, and then, in the inordinate estimate they have formed of the importance and value of a superior education, they place them in circumstances where almost, if not quite, all they have done for the moral and spiritual benefit of the children in the years gone by is for ever undone.

2. What are parents to do? The children must be educated; surely you do not advocate that they should be allowed to grow up in ignorance?

Most certainly not. On the contrary, we think it of very great importance that the children should be educated, and only advise that you should go about the instruction of their minds in such a way as not to endanger the Salvation of their souls. In all educational effort, keep constantly before you the end you have in view, that is, to make your children Saints and Soldiers of Christ. This will help you continually. The supreme purpose of your soul will determine the course of action you pursue. The great end of most unconverted parents is for their children to get on in the world. They want them to be rich, or happy, or to secure a position in society; in short, to do well for themselves-and their parents also, if there is a chance. But your purpose is altogether different. You want your children to be good, and to grow up like Jesus Christ, to be saviours of men and champions for God. Now, if this be so, recollect and act upon it in your educational efforts.

Whether you have one or twenty children, measure all the subjects and methods of instruction that are proposed for them by this rule. With regard to every proposition, ask, "Will this learning help my children to love God more, and to serve their generation better? " If it seems likely to do so, to qualify them more effectually for saving souls, fighting the devil, mastering sin, and following Jesus Christ, secure it for them, if possible. If it be otherwise-as you value the souls of your children, and desire to have the approbation of Jehovah in the Great Judgment Day-do nothing of the kind, whatever this seeming sacrifice may involve either for you or them. In short, we think it will be wise to make it a rule, that, after teaching your children all that is necessary to enable them to carry on the duties of everyday life in family and business affairs, it will be safe for you to decide that they shall learn nothing that cannot really be pressed into the service of God, and used for the Salvation of souls.

We have made this a rule in the education of our own children, and have made them understand, when old enough, that they were being taught this or that branch of learning in order that they might thereby be qualified to take this or the other part in the Salvation War, and have found it act as an encouragement to them no less than to ourselves.

Some of our children-as is well known, we suppose-are now engaged in the thick of the fight, and we do not think we have the faintest reason to regret allowing ourselves to be guided by this principle.

3. But cannot something be said to guide Salvation parents more particularly as to the kind of education which it is lawful and desirable to seek for their children?

We can do nothing more in the space we have at command than give a few hints.

(1.) Parents should keep constantly before their minds the desirability and honour of having their children become Officers in The Salvation Army, and all their education, whether at home or elsewhere, should be shaped to this end. Under the Jewish dispensation it was the custom to offer for the acceptance and service of Jehovah the best of the herd and the first-fruits of the earth. So even now He ought to have the choicest of the family flock to be leaders of His Forces in this War.

(2.) The training should be in accordance with the purpose just named. However limited their means, these motives will make the parents strive to secure for their children at least the elements of an ordinary education. Reading, writing, and arithmetic axe of a hundred-fold greater importance now than in years gone by, and they are attainments which must be possessed by all good and efficient Soldiers, whether they become Officers or not.

Parents should therefore make every reasonable sacrifice to accomplish this for their children, and in the present day they will not find much difficulty in doing so.

(3.) With respect to the higher branches of education, the selection of subjects must be made according to the rule already laid down. If there be the aptitude and opportunity for learning languages, or for excelling in any other studies likely to be of practical service in the War, by all means let your children take advantage of them; but let all be done to qualify them for more efficiently taking their share in the work of extending the Kingdom of God.

In carrying out this recommendation those languages should be selected most likely to be useful in our foreign fields, and those parents who contemplate their children becoming Officers in The Salvation Army should seek advice from Headquarters. We may, however, safely say that no mistake can be made if French and German are studied. 

(4.) When an aptitude for music is manifested in the children, the capacity should be improved and practised as there is opportunity.

1. Let them learn to play such instruments as appear most likely to be useful in the public services.

2. If the children have voices for singing, teach them to sing solos in private, and so get them ready to sing in the Barracks, by the bedside of the sick and dying, or in the open-air.

Every gift, musical or otherwise, should not only be used, but improved to the uttermost, for making known to a dying world the love of Christ and His power to save.

In all this, every care must be taken to keep from everything like performance or showing off. The greater the simplicity, the greater will be the power over the hearts and minds of the hearers.

(5.) No time should be wasted in acquiring what are called "accomplishments" unless they are capable of being turned to account in the great business of saving men.

(6.) It is good, usually, for children to be taught some useful trade or profession. While it should be the main purpose of the parents that their children should become Officers in The Salvation Army (especially when they give evidence of being strong and gifted), it will be very useful for them to learn some trade or business, in which case such a choice should be made as can be best turned to account in future Salvation work. We have a great hope that multitudes of children will grow up in The Salvation Army so possessed and inspired with the love of God and souls as to be willing to go into all the countries of the earth when circumstances render it necessary, working at their own trades, as Paul did, as a means of support, while directing their best energies and consecrating every hour of time possible to the Salvation of men.

(7.) The children should be carefully educated in the facts and doctrines of the Bible, but most of all, in its great moral and spiritual truths. We mean by this that it is far more important that your child should imbibe the spiritual and practical lesson contained in a fact or history than that he should remember the particulars of that fact or history.

(8.) Let the children be thoroughly instructed in the principles, history, aims, and methods of The Salvation Army. On both the preceding topics we hope, ere long, to prepare catechisms in the simplest and most interesting form.

4. Having said so much on the subject of education could you not give us some suggestions as to the best method of imparting it?

(1.) In teaching children it is of first importance that they should thoroughly master the rudiments or foundations of whatever knowledge it is proposed to teach them. Let the alphabet, tables, the fundamental rules of grammar, the main outlines of geography and history, and everything else of the kind, be apprehended and fastened on their memories for ever. Unless children master the first principles of learning before they are allowed to advance further, they will all the way through life have to waste time and strength in continually coming back to them.

We fear the majority of teachers are verily guilty in this matter, being more concerned to make a good show with their pupils in superficial and desultory attainments, than to lay a good foundation in the most essential points in a useful education.

If you want to carry your house well up, and wish it to stand firm, don't be in too great a hurry with the foundations. See that they are firm as a rock, and then hurry on.

Carry out this rule--or, as far as you can, see that others do it-in the education of your children. You will find it a very great advantage, and much time will be saved in the long run; for if they are a little longer about the business at first, they will far more than make up in speed in after days.

(2.) Be at all manner of trouble always to make them understand you. We believe that fully one-half of the labour spent on teaching children is thrown away for the simple reason that the children are supposed to understand things of which they are ignorant. Especially is this true of young children. One of the first duties of a teacher is, at every point of his lesson, to find out whether he is understood. It is ever so much easier for children to commit a lesson to memory when they understand it than when they do not. There are certain rules of grammar, it is true, and many other things that the children must commit to memory before they can fully comprehend their application or their meaning, but we very much question when it comes to studying history, geography, and most other subjects, whether an ordinary child can very easily retain anything in its memory of which it has not a correct understanding.

By way of illustration. One of our little orphans at The Training Home was in trouble about her history. She is only some six years old, and she had lost a mark because she did not know her lesson. A little comrade appealed to my daughter for her, and said he thought she did not understand the lesson. The defaulting child was sent for, and the question was asked, "What part of your lesson is it that you do not know?" It was an answer to the question, "Who succeeded him? " that is, "What king reigned after him? " My daughter asked her if this had been explained to her. She said, "No." Then she was asked if she understood what it meant, and she said, " Yes, it meant, 'Who sat on him?'" It was explained to her that this was a mistake, but that it signified, "Who sat after him?"

How much more forward are children for this sort of cramming? For, speaking correctly, it is not learning at all. They had better learn one question and answer only, and know what they signify, than commit a chapter to memory and be ignorant of its meaning.

(3.) Do not give too much instruction at a time. This is a serious mistake indeed. Too long lessons are hindrances rather than helps. The mind is a vessel which can only hold a given quantity, and with young children it is a very small quantity indeed. It will help you, in teaching, to stop and consider what that measure of containing power is likely to be, and adapt your instructions accordingly. Some teachers will go on pouring in, and pouring in, more and more, long after the powers of attention and memory in the child have been taxed to their utmost limits, and the overstrained mind grows bewildered, and collapses, and all is forgotten together.

A little at a time, and that little well understood, should be your rule. We have known very few teachers in our time-and very few schools-that have not seemed to defeat their purpose by having too many subjects and too lengthy lessons about them, entailing too many hours' study in succession. Cram! cram! cram! every day, and then a long vacation, in which nothing whatever is done except getting into mischief, and forgetting most of what was learned in the "cram! cram!" time before. How much better would it be to take some little, at least, of the vacation every day, and the balance at the end of the term!

5. Is it not important that simple illustrations should be freely used in teaching children?

Yes, it is a useful custom in teaching men and women, but doubly so in dealing with children.  





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