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read in rotation. It is not necessary that every part of every chapter should be publicly presented. It is not necessary that the pupils should be required to join in the reading. Doubtless, it may be wise to omit verses here and there and to supply such words as may be necessary to make the proper connection. Many of the narratives, especially those of the Old Testament, will be doubly effective when skilfully condensed. But, taking all things into consideration, it is doubtful whether any other incident of school routine has greater influence upon all who assist at it than a morning exercise which includes a short Bible reading and the Lord's prayer, conducted under the direction of a teacher whom the pupils respect and love. It is a means of culture, it quiets disorder, it strengthens the soul for labor, it persuades the mind to good thoughts, it calms the pulse of passion and banishes “the unthankful gloom of care."
As the child advances in the ability to understand and enjoy, the simpler English classics should occupy some portion of his thought. By the time he is eleven or twelve years old he should be able to read clearly, intelligently, and with reasonably good expression, anything which is likely to be put into his way. His chief difficulties in learning to recognize the contents of blackletter forms should now be over. Henceforth his reading should partake of the nature of an intellectual delight. He should begin to apply to the text such principles of expression as his mind can grasp; he should be continually adding to his stock of understood words, and his constant drills in languagework should show him that words are merely instruments usable for certain ends, and that he, as well as another, can gain the power to combine them with effect.
For the culture of his power of observation, and of all the powers which can help him to become an acceptable reader, none, in these days of lessonlearning, is more apt to grow weak from want of use. “ The Young Wide Awake,” a little monthly reader, which he can master only when he is wideawake, will be found very useful. “Train the child to observe, OBSERVE, OBSERVE," says a successful teacher. “The Young Wide Awake" compels him to observe, if he would read at all. The pupil of the fourth, fifth or sixth grade, hails it with delight, and is loath to let it go out of his hands when the lesson-hour is over. He enjoys the stories; he enjoys the languagework. He becomes shrewd in detecting errors in print and in speech. He especially enjoys his own growing ability to get along without help, and is usually much more anxious to see if he cannot study out a puzzling sentence than he is to have it told him.
For the cultivation of memory, he is questioned concerning what he has read; is asked to repeat some of the stories in words of his own choosing, to “cap verses;" to tell in what lesson this or that expression is to be found; to commit worthy selections of poetry and prose, and sometimes to declaim for criticism before his class.
There is little doubt as to the value of the last named exercise. It has been the delight of all cultured races.
Its abuse consists in leading the pupil to think chiefly of “showing off.” Its helpfulness arises from the probable growth in right directions of the mental and moral parts of the being by means of the thoughts assimilated, and the positive improvement of the physical powers as agents of expression. The best results are obtained when the pupil declaims before his own class only, the class, under the guidance of a judicious teacher, freely criticising. Public exercises should be considered as
a means whereby pupils may entertain friends and influence them in favor of the school. They should be the outgrowth of work done in class, and should not consume much extra time in preparation. They should be only so long as to make the audience wish that they were longer. They should include good places for dull pupils, as well as for those whose efforts are always satisfactory, and, by the observance of "authors' days" and the customary festivals of the year, they should lead both pupils and patrons to a better appreciation of literature, a heartier good-fellowship, and a stronger patriotism.
Before we think much further of what the child shall read, we must consider his "reader,”-the book with which he is usually most familiar, and which, taking all things into account, he usually prefers to anything else as a text for the study of reading. The “reader” should be a book of selections pleasing to the child at the age of ten or twelve, and of sufficient value to be remembered by him with satisfaction during his whole life. It should be a book not too simple to be useful-one which is graded down to the pupil's entire comprehension and so burdened with notes and vocabularies as to repress all inclination to exert the mind's activities in personal research. “It should be,” says Ex-Supt. John D. Philbrick, " a book which, according to its grade, comprises selections best calculated to develop the sentiment of the beautiful, the true, the good. Every piece within its covers should be a gem
, of poetry or of artistic prose. The child could not become too familiar with such a reader. Proper instructions in it, such drill upon it as shall weave the substance of its thought into the very fibre of his mind, would far surpass in value the instruction given in any other branch of study included in the school curriculum.”
Supplementary reading may be wisely illustrated with “notes; ” but the reader proper should present to the pupil a comparatively clean text. If there are no vocabularies, he will learn to use the dictionary.
If there are no “notes,” he will learn to hunt up references and ask questions at home and elsewhere which will interest others in his work. If there are no • language lessons” his teacher will be quite likely to find some for him in the text, and he will see that language lessons belong to language and are not like grammar which, according to his view, is a thing apart, partaking somewh the nature of the study of a foreign tongue.
In a word, his reader should be his study-room, his supplementary readingbooks his play-ground. Until the subject-matter has been gone over once at least, his supplementary reader, unless the work in it is like that which he is described as doing with “ Young Wide Awake,” should be interrupted only by such criticism as may spontaneously arise. The free influx of the author's thought and feeling, the free expression of the pupil's conception of the same, should be unhindered by the looking up of words and references. This reading should be the test of the pupil's ability. It should be sight-reading always. In his reader he reads for profit. Let him here read for pure pleasure if he will; for, if the subject-matter be worthy, and he reads it with “zest and the spirit of honest delight,” you may know that he is “drinking in the author's soul-power, and that what he is drinking is going to the right
The work done in the “reader” should partake of this character. The easier selections only, should be read until the mind and soul expand to the conquest of the harder ones. Let us have no “book-gluttony and lesson
bibbing,” no “straining of the callow brain " so that the mind will be “conceited in the forenoon of life, and stupid all the afternoon.” If the pupil has an ideal fourth reader, and any one should ask how long he might profitably dwell with it, the answer would be that it is not necessary that he should ever have a higher reader. Effective work may be done with this one through several grades.
Let us notice some work in the seventh grade. The selection is “ Drifting," a poem by Thomas Buchanan Reed. The class have been working upon it about three weeks, referring, however, by way of comparison to many other places in the book. Most of them can, without much hesitation, point out the similes, metaphors and personifications; analyze the simpler sentences ; put on the black-board a map of the location; describe the stanza, and give the rhythm of any line. When these pupils enter the high school, they should withont “ parroting,” or having been “stuffed,” but by a process of natural growth, understand the less perplexing figures of speech, the proper arrangement of words in sentences, what the term "concord ” means, and how to apportion thought in writing an essay. They should be able to recognize the common stanza forms, write out ordinary rhythms in musical notation, and reproduce any not too difficult poetical selection in respectable prose. It will be good exercise for them also, if they are asked sometimes to fill blanks of all sorts in an unfamiliar piece of poetry. The differences in their choice of words, and the closeness with which they will approach the very term used by the poet, render the exercise highly interesting.
If well taught the pupil will reach the fourth reader when he comes to the fifth grade, be ready to pass from it in two years and a half, his next reader lasting him through his grammar school course. If, however, he has a good supplementary reader, he may not need his “next” reader.
As for his supplementary reading, it should be limited in quantity. If it is not, the pupil's power of concentration and application will be shattered, the habit of "literary dissipation” will be fostered, and there will be no time for exercises in oral expression. Elocution may have “no place in actual life," but those of us who have heard read from the pulpit in the tone which would characterize the reader's request for another cup of tea, the lines
“ When as returns this sacred day,
Man comes to meet his Maker, God,
How spread his sovereign's praise abroad ? are inclined to believe that it has. By elocution, now-a-days, is meant the study of expression for its use and value as a means of getting on in the world, as well as for its efficiency in developing voice and gesture power. “What I learned in the elocution class concerning the interpretation and influence of tone considered as a thing apart from the words to which it may be applied, has, I think, proved of decided advantage to me," said a young grocery clerk not long ago.
But there is still another reason why supplementary reading should be limited in quantity, and that is, because most of the matter which the pupil reads in class outside of his reader, should contribute as far as possible to the formation of his literary taste.
But supplementary reading should be most excellent in quality. The question “How much?” should always give way to the question “What?”
There are two very good papers which pupils will like. One is called “ School Days,” and will be welcomed in the fourth, fifth and sixth grades; the other is “The School World," and that the sixth, seventh and eighth grades will enjoy. Both papers are published by the same firm, and they are mentioned because the price asked for them will bring them within the reach of most schools. Both contain, in addition to their stories, a considerable amount of valuable geographical, historical and literary information. No periodical whose table of contents embraces stories only should be allowed as supplementary reading. One interview with such matter usually entirely satisfies the pupil. He cannot be induced to dwell upon it, and it is not right that he should be required to do so.
Fourth and fifth grades will like “The Book of Tales," of the Standard Supplementary Series, and Johonnot's charming " Neighbors with Claws and Hoofs.” The upper fifth and sixth grades would get along nicely with Hawthorne's “Little Daffydowndilly and Other Stories,” Hawthorne's “Biographical Stories,” and Kingsley's “ Water Babies.” The upper sixth would relish Kingsley's “Greek Heroes,” tales from natural history, selections from Plutarch's “Lives," anything else good in the way of biography, and probably Scott's “Lady of the Lake.”
The upper seventh and lower eighth will be prepared to look with favor upor Irving's “Rip Van Winkle," "Legend of Sleepy Hollow," and “Christmas Eve;" Hawthorne's “Wonder Book;" Longfellow's “Evangeline," “Hiawatha,” and “ Miles Standish,” and any judicious selections from our ballad literature.
The upper eighth ought to read something like Bryant's "Thanatopsis and Other Poems," from the English classic series; “Selected Poems from Longfellow;" Coleridge's " Ancient Mariner," and the “Christmas Carol," by Charles Dickens.
It is quite impossible to lay down laws which will govern all reading classes, so the course just outlined is intended to be suggestive rather than definite. During their last half-year the eighth grade of 1887 in our schools read the “ Ancient Mariner,” and based their
promotion exercises on an exercise prepared from the life and works of Coleridge. The present eighth grade will have finished by January 29th, 1888, “Selections from Bryant," “Selections from Longfellow," the “Christmas Carol," and probably the “ Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”
Some of this matter may be procured in pamphlet form for two or three cents each copy, and when selections from our standard poets and prose writers cost so little, it seems as if supplementary reading might be carried on in almost
school. When the pupil passes from the Grammar to the High School, this kind of work should not be discontinued. There should be some masterpiece-work in every grade. The High School of Worcester, Mass., studies two American authors each year, giving to the work two school-hours each week, all the High School pupils doing substantially the same work at the same time. During the first year, the authors were Bryant and Irving. Then came Longfellow and Hawthorne, than Whittier and Holmes, and finally Lowell and Bayard Taylor.
Of the work on Lowell, Mr. A. S. Roe, the principal says, “In our search after the fourth poet of our series, there was no cause for hesitation. Naturally we selected James Russell Lowell, and entered upon a half-year with him.
Unfortunately for our plan this year, he found a free text-book law in force, and the school committee had not warranted the purchase of Lowell's poems for school use. However, having had permission to go ahead, we asked the pupils to purchase, and this was done so generally that less than fifty copies had to be secured from the city for the use of the new pupils who could not or would not pay for them. At this time the school numbered six hundred youths. Underwood's “ Life of Lowell” was our standard book for reference, and on our shelves we had all Lowell's prose works. The “ Fable for Critics ” afforded a deal of entertainment to those who had read many of the authors named therein, while the “Biglow Papers” amused and interested all. Lowell's poems have not been set to music to any great extent, in fact, he once wrote to certain Worcester people that, to the best of his knowledge and belief, not a line of his had ever been set to song, so when one of our number wrote a very sweet melody to “The First Snow Fall”, we thought it of suflicient moment to write him about it, though he was then in England.”
As a matter of fact, however, some of Mr. Lowell's poems had been set to music. Mr. Roe mentions one, and a melody for “Aladdin's Lamp” was composed and sung by Mrs. Scott-Paine, as long ago as 1879, I think.
“There is no question,” continues Mr. Roe, “but that the study of Lowell carried our students to a higher range of thought than that to which they were accustomed. There were some to whom his thoughts did not appeal, in whose soul no responding chord was struck; but they were not many. To secure from the pupils a statement of their appreciation, they were asked, in certain classes, to write briefly their opinions of the author. Here are a few of the answers given by pupils of the entering or beginning year, taken at random from a large number of papers. The question was, “Has the study
' of Lowell been profitable to you?i »
1. The study of Lowell has been profitable. It has taught us the value of poems, to read and understand the deep thoughts of the poet. have learned we will probably remember through life.
2. I have learned a great deal from Lowell. He has taught me to speak in a more polished manner.
3. I do not think the study of Lowell has been very profitable to me. I do not like poetry anyway, because you have to read so far before you can get any meaning out of it.
4. The study of Lowell has been profitable to me, because I have learned the meaning of a great many new words which I should not have known had I not studied Lowell.
5. It has not been profitable to me (writes a boy of thirteen), as I had read, carefully and thoughtfully, all his poems before, and would have preferred studying some other author.
6. The study of Lowell has been profitable to me, for it has given me an idea of how the people felt about slavery just before the war. His sonnets have given me some history of the lives of great men.
7. It has been profitable to me, because it has taught me to see the beauty of the birds, trees and flowers; and the beauty of all earthly things.
“Absolute agreement,” Mr. Roe concludes, “could not be expected; but to the great majority of the school, the work was agreeable in a high degree. Had the question been put to older pupils, more polished but no more frank replies would have been received.