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IN PROSE AND VERSE,
PROGRESSIVELY ARRANGED ;
AN INTRODUCTION TO “A COURSE OF ELEMENTARY
READING IN SCIENCE AND LITERATURE.”
TO WHICH IS ADDED,
A LIST OF PREFIXES, AFFIXES, AND LATIN AND GREEK PRIMITIVES,
OCCURRING IN THE LESSONS.
BY J. M. M'CULLOCH, A. M.
Reading in Science and Literature."
Till within the last few years, the system of Education which prevailed in the majority of our initiatory schools was in the highest degree artificial. The qualification most highly valued in a Teacher was a practical acquaintance with some popular theory of Elocution; and the chief, and, in some instances, the sole end aimed at in Teaching, seems to have been—to burden the memory of the pupil with “ Rules” and “ Extracts” utterly unsuited to his capacity. No one who has escaped the misfortune of toiling through the works of the fashionable Teachers of the last generation,—their “ Speakers, ” “ Rhetorical Readers,” “ Pronouncing Vocabularies," &c. can form any conception of the ingenuity that has been expended in rearing up barriers in the Scholar's way to the temple of learning.–But a better order of things has now dawned ; and the increased demand which has arisen, within the last few years, for Class-books compiled on more simple and natural principles, seems to justify the hope that the artificial system is on the wane, that the success of the experiments recently made in such admirable institutions as the Edinburgh Sessional School,
Circus-Place School, &c. is beginning to be admitted,— and that the time is nearly gone by, when children of seven and eight years of age are to be compelled to waste their time and their faculties on such preposterous and unsuitable exercises as enacting dramatic scenes, reciting parliamentary speeches, and reading the latest sentimental poetry. This change of system is the more deserving of gratulation, as it is as decidedly favourable to the morals as it is to the mental culture of our youth. It is truly deplorable to think of the amount of bad morality and false religion that must have been disseminated among the youth of this country, through the medium of school-books which were mainly compiled from such writers as Shakspeare, Chesterfield, and Hume.
The following little Work has been compiled in adaptation to the Improved System of Teaching, and belongs to the same class of books with the “ Lessons for Schools” of Dr Thomson, the Edinburgh Sessional School Books, and the Author's “Course of Elementary Reading,"—to which last it is meant to be introductory. Being intended for schools, where the Teacher makes it his business to instruct his Pupils in the meaning of what is read, as well as in the “ art of reading,” it has been compiled on the principle of admitting only such lessons as appeared well adapted to stimulate juvenile curiosity, and store the mind with useful knowledge. Simple extracts, relating to Natural History, Elementary Science, Religion, &c. have taken the place of Dramatic Scenes, Sentimental Poetry, and Parliamentary Orations. And while only such pieces have been admitted as seemed likely to inform and interest the youthful mind, care has been taken
so to abridge and otherwise alter them, as to adapt their style as well as their sentiments to the juvenile capacity.
The only novel features in the Work are,—that the lessons are progressively arranged according to their difficulty,--that each of the Five Sections into which it is divided is preceded by Exercises on the difficult and peculiar words that occur in it,--and that, besides the ordinary lessons, there is a series of Elliptical Lessons, or, what have been termed by the ingenious author of the “ Diversions of Hollycot," " Rational Readings." Whether these novelties are also improvements, it is not for the Compiler to determine ; but he flatters himself, that his labour in preparing the “ Introductory Exercises,” more especially such Exercises as those occurring at p. 132, 172, &c. will be fully appreciated by Teachers. The list of Prefixes, Affixes, and Latin and Greek Primitives, given in the Appendix, is no longer, since the publication of his “ Course of Elementary Reading,” a novelty in works of this description.
It has not been judged expedient to append to the Lessons any list of “Questions for Examination,”-although this plan has been adopted and recommended by several respectable writers of school-books. In the opinion of the Compiler, such questions should be left entirely to the discretion of the Teacher. He is the best qualified to suggest and to frame them. And the method of leaving him to put such questions as occur to him during the time of teaching, has this great advantage over the method which supplies him with the questions already prepared, -that it allows him to vary his questions according to the information and capacity of the Pupil, as well as secures him