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oral themes; the third, writing out what has been prepared and presented orally.
The following will serve to illustrate this plan of oral composition.
202. Subject. Abraham Lincoln. Assignments—(one to each pupil).
1. Lincoln's parentage.
7. Lincoln as a storekeeper, postmaster, and deputy to county surveyor.
8. As Assemblyman.
27. What Lincoln did for America. 28. Lincoln's mastery of English.
Ida Tarbell's Life of Lincoln will furnish material for each of these themes.
203. Material. In an exercise like this a topic is given to each pupil with an exact reference directing him what to read and where to find his material to read. On the first composition day he is ready to state briefly what he has found, and in a few words the teacher will indicate what he is to do with his material. The pupil who is assigned the first topic above—“Lincoln's Parentage” —will bring into class and present facts somewhat as follows:
Lincoln's family came to America from England. Settled in Hingham, Mass., in 1635. One Samuel Lincoln left a large family,--four sons who became prominent in colonial affairs. Their descendants were mostly well educated and prosperous :
Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts, Supreme Court Judge, graduates of Harvard and Williams, Governor of Maine, Member of General Assembly in Pennsylvania. Abraham Lincoln, grandfather of the president, was a prosperous farmer in Virginia. Sold out and followed in the trail of Daniel Boone to Kentucky. Shot and killed by Indians. Left three children; the youngest, Thomas, was the father of Abraham Lincoln. A good carpenter, but unprogressive and illiterate. Married Nancy Hanks, a sweet tempered, beautiful woman, the center of country merry-making, and a famous spinner and housewife,-a cousin. Lived at Elizabethtown, Ky. Here Abraham Lincoln was born, February 12, 1809.
204. Determining the theme. When these facts have been read or told, the teacher by questioning or by direction should show the pupil what to make the central idea in his theme. It may be in this case the idea that Abraham Lincoln was not “white trash” as many suppose, but that he descended directly from excellent people and that the wonderful abilities that he later developed may well have been inherited.
With this (or some central thought) to group his ideas around, the pupil will then prepare a speech of two hundred or two hundred and fifty words for the next day.
205. Oral presentation. On the second day each pupil will present his theme orally. Careful preparation in arranging material and practice in shaping and speaking it will enable him to cover the essential points in the time given. When he is called, he should step to the front of the room, face the class, and talk directly and earnestly to them. He should confine himself strictly to the time that is allotted. If he runs over his time, he should be sent to his seat, even if his theme is not finished.
The second day's oral theme may be something like the following:
A great many people think that because Abraham Lincoln lived in a log hut when he was a boy, and read by the firelight, and did his arithmetic lessons on shingles, he was poor white trash. His father was poor-a carpenter in the days when most folks lived in log houses, and there were not many people or houses. But the Lin
colns of earlier times were among the first settlers of Massachusetts and were a well-to-do, well educated, and prominent family. Among them we find a governor, a lieutenant governor, a supreme court judge, members of legislative bodies, college graduates, professional men, and prosperous tradesmen. They were a mighty race, big in body and mind. Nothing trashy about these men. Lincoln's grandfather, after whom he was named Abraham, owned a great deal of land in Virginia, which he sold for 5000 pounds, so that he could follow the trail of Daniel Boone to Kentucky. Records show that he owned seventeen hundred acres of land there, and that he had personal property which at his death was valued at 69 pounds,-a very respectable sum in those days when an axe and a rifle were about all á man needed.
On the mother's side the Hanks family were little if any less prosperous than the Lincolns. They came to America in 1699, and old deeds show that they were owners of large tracts of land. Thus it will be seen that Lincoln came of an excellent family.
206. Criticism. Criticisms of oral themes should follow immediately after the theme. They should be constructive, although gross errors should be pointed out and corrected. The class will readily furnish most of this criticism; what it omits can be supplied by the teacher.
207. The written composition. The third day's assignment, the written theme, may cover the same ground, or it may be longer. For this a group of four or five may all have the same subject which is based on the material which all four or five have used in their oral themes. Thus the first five topics on Lincoln might be combined
under one title, “Lincoln's Early Life." By close attention in class the principal facts to be used will be gathered. These papers should be carefully written outside and brought to class. There, one from each group may be read and commented upon. Later they should be corrected in the usual way.
208. Stories. Later,, a day spent on Lincoln stories and anecdotes will furnish material for other interesting themes. These may be told to illustrate various characteristics of the great man —his shrewdness, his tenderness, his wit, his determination, his love of fun, his physical strength, etc., etc.—two or three anecdotes by as many pupils to illustrate each one.
209. Discussion. After this a debate on some question suggested by the reading and discussion can be planned. For example, Was Lincoln right in issuing the Emancipation Proclamation? Was Lincoln right in holding that no state can exist part slave and part free? Did Lincoln treat McClellan fairly?
210. Description. Lincoln's cabinet might next be described, two or three pupils taking each member. Each should take a different part, one a description of the appearance and personality of the man, another his work in the cabinet, a third his relations with Lincoln, or Lincoln's opinion of him as illustrated by an incident or story.
211. Other topics. All this about Lincoln is given to illustrate how a subject may be handled and how the same material may be used for a