Imagens das páginas

regard to propriety of pronunciation, emphasis, tones, and pauses. No one can read to the edification of others, without a careful attention to all these particulars. This part of reading is learned more by imitating good readers, than by the study of rules. Only here and there one wouldever learn to sing, if all their knowledge of the subject were gathered from books. The common school teacher must pursue a course similar to that practised by the teacher of music; he must read, and require the pupil to imitate his tones, emphasis, cadence, &c. Unless such an example be daily held up before the children, it cannot reasonably be expected that they will read mechanically well.

Those teachers, who hear a class read three or four times in a day, and direct one or another to read faster or slower, or to regard their pauses, but set before them no example for their imitation, do not teach with any effect. It would be as well to omit reading entirely, for they would be sure to acquire no bad habits.

“Some teachers do not even correct their pupils when they read wrong, or, if they do, it is a correction without explanation; their attention, while the class read, is sometimes almost entirely occupied with doing a sum, mending a pen, or setting a copy.

În teaching the mechanical part of reading, it is well for the teacher occasionally to select short sentences, by whieh some rule may be illustrated, and read them as they should be read, and require each member of the class to do the same. If it be desired to illustrate the nature and power of emphasis, he may repeat a sentence like this: ‘Shall we get a lesson in geography to-day?' * Let each scholar repeat it with the emphasis on we, and then with the emphasis on geography, and then on to-day; and let the teacher show them that a change in the emphasis would call forth a different answer. In a similar manner cadence may be illustrated. The following sentence may be used : Hear instruction, be wise, and refuse it not; and the pupils may be required to read it, making a full cadence of the voice at instruction and wise, and then without. By some such process all the rules that belong to mechanical reading may be clearly explained.

[ocr errors]



“The intellectual part of reading is the most important and the most difficult. It consists in teaching children to understand what they read. This is too much neglected; many children grow up without knowing that sentences, sections, chapters, and even books are a kind of pictorial representation of the writer's thoughts. A thing may be described by a picture or by words. The great object of teaching children to read is, that they may understand the picture, and derive information from the perusal of it. Children and youth often read as though they were performing a mere mechanical exercise, and as if a good reader was to be known by the marks of a good skater-by his velocity, and the variety of his evolutions. Let them understand that the object of reading is very different from the object aimed at in jumping a rope; that it is not for exercise, but to cull and collect the writer's thoughts, and to preserve them for future use. In order to do this, children should be required to give the sense of what they read. This must be done in childhood, or, when they become adults, they will read without much benefit.

“ Teachers should question their pupils, with more or less particularity, according to time and circumstances, in regard to what they have read, and in regard to the truth of any sentiments advanced in the lesson. They may also be questioned about the meaning of words, their composition and derivation, about the name of the writer, and respecting any thing else suggested by the lesson, that is connected with the enlightening of the child's mind.

« I have no doubt there would be more harmony on religions, and political subjects, if the number of intelligent readers of books were increased. There are in this land of liberty, where every one has *he privilege of reading and thinking for himself, very many who depend on others to think for them. Their opinions on all subjects are derived from some influential leader, whom they regard as an oracle of wisdom. This is a kind of liberty that ought not to be tolerated in this country; the liberty of receiving our opinions from others, without venturing to read and think for ourselves, is reducing the mind to a state of slavery. This will, to some extent, be the condition of every one who is not in childhood and youth taught to read understandingly.



“The rhetorical part of reading consists chiefly in entering into the spirit of the author, so as to imbibe his temper and feelings. A scholar may read correctly and intelligently, but without any rhetorical effect. Perhaps it is not possible for every scholar to attain a high degree of excellence in this department. There are but few good orators, and but few good musicians; for a similar reason there are but few good rhetorical readers. It is only here and there one, of all those who can read, that do read with force, variety, and, if necessary, with deep emotion,

“ Though rhetorical excellence is not expected in all readers, yet something can be done by the teacher to improve the style of a child's reading; he can break up that peculiar tone that is neither reading nor singing, but a burlesque upon both; he can do something towards mellowing the voice that now grates harsh thunder.' It is a subject that is worthy of attention. If, however, the teacher himself has no skill or taste for such reading, I should not advise him to attempt to teach what he cannot practically illustrate.

“ There is another important matter connected with this subject, which must not be omitted. It is the cultivation of a taste for reading in children. If they can read, but will not, they might as well have never learned. The teacher should take some pains to cultivate among his pupils a fondness for reading. This is generally a consequence of teaching scholars to read understandingly. If they get information from the perusal of books, they will generally be fond of reading, but not always. There must be an acquired love of knowledge; the innate love of it, that exists to some extent in all, is not sufficient; it needs guiding and controlling."




“I shall finish these general remarks, by laying down a plain distinction between the two sorts of reading, the grammatical and the rhetorical,

Grammatical reading, * as I have just intimated, respects merely the sense of what is read. When performed audibly, for the benefit of others, it is still only the same sort of process which one performs silently, for his own benefit, when he casts his eye along the page, to ascertain the meaning of its author. The chief purpose of the correct reader is to be intelligible ; and this requires an accurate perception of grammatical relation in the structure of sentences; a due regard to accent and pauses, to strength of voice, and clearness of utterance. This manner is generally adopted in reading plain, unimpassioned style. The character and purpose of a composition may be such, that it would be as preposterous to read it with tones of emotion, as it would to announce a proposition in grammar or geometry in the language of metaphor. But though merely the correct manner suits many purposes of reading, it is dry and inanimate, and is the lowest department in the province of delivery., Still the great majority, not to say of respectable men, but of bookish men, go nothing beyond this in their attainments or attempts.

Rhetorical reading has a higher object, and calls into action higher powers. It is not applicable to a composition destitute of emotion, for it supposes feeling. It does not barely express the thoughts of an author, but expresses them with the force, variety, and beauty, which feeling demands.”

The following is an extract from Professor Nichol's Translation of Wilhn's excellent work, “ Education of the People:”+


“Formerly, much time was lost in merely learning to read; and, in most cases, it was only imperfectly learned, since what was read was seldom understood. One of the chief reasons of this want of success— besides the teaching being quite individual was the system of spelling, founded on the custom of giving the letters names expressing very imperfectly their pronunciation.

“It is not enough to be able to read mechanically: children must be taught to read with expression; and to attend to the pauses, which the sense and punctuation require. For this purpose, they must be made to understand what they read; that is to say, they must be made to read only what is within their reach, and can be explained to them without difficulty or danger.


* Grammatical Reading is another name for Intellectual Reading.

f" The Education of the People, a practical Treatise on the means of extending its sphere, and improving its character, By T. WILHM, Inspector of the Academy of Strasburg."

“This is not the place to inquire what reading books are proper to put into the hands of children; that is a question connected with the whole of their education: but I must observe, that as soon as the children can read with some degree of facility, they ought to be allowed to read only what they are able to understand, aided by a few explanations. If the pupils in elementary schools too often read without observing the necessary pauses, it is not always a proof that they do not understand what they read; but it always proves that they do not pay attention to the meaning of the words they utter. This inattention may proceed, in the less advanced pupils, from their still having to struggle with the difficulties of reading, and from their minds being fully occupied in deciphering the words; but, in the case of others, it is probably more the fault of the teachers than of the pupils. The inattention with which children read even that which they do understand, and, consequently, the want of expression and logical accuracy which result, proceed most frequently from their being made at first to read what is above their comprehension —what was mere words to them, and not ideas to be seized and retained. We cannot, therefore, begin too early—the first difficulties being overcome—to render children attentive to the meaning of what they read; and then they will themselves give the proper tone to their reading, dividing the sentences according to their meaning and to the punctuation; in this way the study of languages would begin, as well as that of realities.

“Children must be early accustomed to read as they speak; and to give up, as much as possible, purely mechanical reading."


The following SUGGESTIONS on the subject of READING are in accordance with the views we have taken. They appeared in “ The Christian's Penny Magazine,” addressed to a Mother, by a writer under the name of C'lericus."


“ The rules for a correct pronunciation are few and simple.

“ Ist. Let attention be paid to your child's pronunciation and your own, that no provincialism of accent cling to the vowels. It is in the proper enunciation of the vowels, whether single or in combination, that purity of speech greatly consists.

“2dly. Let every letter of a word have its due pronunciation, as distinctly though not so prolonged, as it would have in the recital of the alphabet.

“Bly. Let the letters, whether vowels or consonants, which terminate & word, be distinctly pronounced.


“Closely connected with pronunciation is reading, upon which you will perhaps allow me to offer you a few observations,

ner, &c.

“ Books abound with a variety of directions as to the art of reading well, and dilate considerably upon tone, emphasis, pronunciation, man

All these rules, however, appear to me to be practically comprehended under the following, which are all that are necessary to be attended to, at least during the first years of education.

Ist. Endeavour to communicate the habit to your child of reading slowly. This rule is exhibited in those well-known words:

“ Learn to read slow: all other graces

Will follow in their proper places.'

“ The philosophy of this rule is this: that under the method of reading slow, there is time for the reader to remember and to keep in view all the other directions as to good reading with which his mind has been furnished. Besides which it is to be remembered, that reading has reference to other persons rather than to the reader himself. The use of the eyes

is all that is needful to the solitary reader; but as reading aloud has regard to other persons, who may be situate at distances more or less remote from the reader, the habit recommended in those lines is the best adapted that can be imagined to secure his being heard and understood by them all. This rule, of course, ought not to be carried to an extreme; nor will it, if the following be attended to in conjunction with it, namely,

“2dly. That the reader, whatever may be the composition which he is to enunciate, should make it his first and most imperative rule, to understand most thoroughly what he is about to read to others;—then let him put himself into the mental attitude (so to speak) of the writer; and the more he observes these two rules, and the more he disregards all attention to tone and manner, the more natural, and therefore the more pleasing and forcible, will his manner become.

“Observe too most carefully to instil into your pupil's mind, that he is to transfer his mode in conversing into his reading. Never, under any circumstances, allow him to believe, that an assumed manner can be half as good as that which is natural to him. Thoroughly disgust him with the idea of putting on a different manner when he is about to read, from what he would have in conversation on the same subject. Let it be your cardinal rule with him, that the more truly natural he can be, the more truly excellent his manner will become. Let him however be taught not to think about being natural. He will become unnatural if he strives to be natural. The best plan, for him and for every one, in reading, is not at all to think about manner, but to begin; to force, to cultivate, to affect nothing. If he should not succeed, it is because his mind is not so active as at other times; he is tired, sleepy, or out of health, &c., &c. He will do better at another time, when these circumstances are different.

“ 3dly. Habituate him to read in a moderately loud tone. This will conduce to his health, as constituting an exercise to his lungs : it will compel him to attend to distinctness and propriety of pronunciation; indistinctness and impropriety being far less discernible in a low and $o-tering mode of reading. It will also contribute to that manly and ank- address, which is the charm of innocence and youth.

« AnteriorContinuar »