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DISTRICT SUPERVISOR OF SCHOOLS, HARRISBURG, PA.
MANY teachers entertain a conviction that most text-books for use in grammar- and high-school grades, especially in the latter, require too much time for a thorough mastery of their contents. The number of subjects taught in schools of all kinds and grades has greatly multiplied in recent years; but the school day is no longer than it was in fact, it is shorter; nor has the school year been lengthened much, least of all in towns and cities. Consequently there is much complaint concerning overloaded courses of study and crowded annual, weekly, and daily programs. There are those among educators, and others interested in educational improvement, who advocate a reduction in the number of subjects taught and a more intensive study of the branches retained. It is not within the province of this Preface to predict how the evil complained of will be remedied; but experience in the schoolroom has led many teachers to believe that less voluminous text-books would be at least a partial remedy. If the demands of the age require an increasingly greater number of subjects to be taught, it follows that less time must be given to each subject. But unless the text-books are proportionately reduced in their scope, the attempt to get over them will result in skimming and skipping, and consequently in an imperfect and evanescent knowledge of the contents.
From this point of view, the author herewith offers a text-book on the Government of the United States, which he believes will perform its mission without invading the rights of other branches of study having an admitted right to a place in the curriculum. In preparing the book, great care was taken not to omit anything essential to organic unity, logical and chronological sequence, historic illumination, and practical application. Omissions are chiefly along the line of economics and social and political science. Not that matters pertaining to public finance, banking, taxation, international law, municipal law, political parties, civil and political rights, are nowhere found in the book. Certain elements of these
subjects are incorporated wherever they have an incidental bearing, but there is no space devoted to elaborate discussion of them.
The author further desires to call attention to some features of the Chapter on the Constitution. He wishes to emphasize what he says in his note to the teachers, p. 37. The direction therein given for the thorough study of the text of the Constitution by means of questions, should be carefully observed. If the answers are not faithfully garnered and stored away in the memory, the pupil will be without a knowledge of many of the simplest, yet most essential, elements of the Constitution. For, as is stated in that note, the answers are not found in the author's text, but in the text of the Constitution. Then, too, the pedagogic value of the questions should not be overlooked. Many pupils in secondary schools have not had sufficient mental discipline to read the thoughts; they will read simply the words, especially in subjects that are new, and somewhat abstract like the Constitution. Questions and answers do more to make pupils think than consecutive statement does. Catechizing acts on the mind like the whip on the flesh. It promotes activity.
The last chapter will enable the pupil to make comparisons of the Government of the United States with that of the leading nations of the world. Such a comparative knowledge cannot fail to be of interest and benefit. The people of the United States since the SpanishAmerican War have been forced to take note of all phases of life as it exists in other countries. Two of those whose governments are treated in this book-Russia and Japan-recently became objects of world-wide interest in everything that pertains to them. The other three are the mother-countries of most native-born AmericansEngland, France, and Germany. A study of their government needs no apology.
L.'S. SHIMMELL. May 5, 1906.