Imágenes de páginas

days gone by has been discarded because fear and repression are recognized as paralyzing to the best in children. Various methods have been suggested to bring freedom into the schoolroom. Tolstoi allowed the children to follow their own impulses. Dr. Montessori makes the child's instincts the guide for the schoolroom. In the method under consideration the child is working with a sense of freedom as much as the children of Tolstoi yet that freedom never degenerates into license. The "hear-a-pin-drop" condition may come but not because it has been sought. The people of this country in adult life look only to the forces within themselves to control their activities and so are unconscious of police or laws. Note carefully that the child putting himself into the "Good Class" has no consciousness of constraint from without and therefore is establishing the habit of citizenship. Again, a state of high, pleasant excitation (we call it enthusiasm) is conducive to both health and success. That state becomes the usual condition of the school. The high characteristics of self-determination, namely, initiative, intensity, persistence, produce results. These are the characteristics which, joined to "Good Will to Men," would solve the difficulties not only between capital and labor but between all classes of society, which today so harass the world. The one thing that stands forth suprisingly as an unplanned result of this method, second only to the results in character, is the gain in knowledge. In a graded school in which graduation was based upon the New York State Regents Examinations, the number of graduates had averaged ten per year for ten years. Under this method, with no greater number of pupils to draw from, the average number of graduates per year was between thirty and thirty-one. This method, then, commends itself as furnishing, without making pleasure an end, a healthful, pleasurable school life, a larger store of knowledge, a desirable training in citizenship, and preeminently, a "more abundant” spiritual life. The writer has endeavored in these three articles to give just a glimpse, just a beginning of one method of moral education which she has proved successful. She does not claim that this is the only method. There are numberless consecrated teachers who

have inspired their pupils with high ideals and helped them to embody them in noble living. There are countless others, however, who feel the need of moral education in the public schools, but who do not see clearly the definite steps that lead to the realization of their high aim. It is the hope of the writer that these articles may be suggestive to this class of teachers. She knows from long experience that this type of work can be undertaken successfully by any earnest, devoted, intelligent teacher.


Developing a Taste for Real Literature
T has often been said that it is necessary for people


to cultivate a taste for music and for art. It undoubtedly cannot be questioned that some people have a highly developed, (if it can be called highly zımıncamın developed) taste for jazzes and futuristic pictures. However, people do not have to cultivate a taste

for reading. There are few persons in this world, especially Americans, who do not like to read some kind of fiction—whether that fiction be real literature or the snappy stories of a best-selling magazine.

This craving for reading of some sort is fittingly illustrated in one of Thackeray's "Roundabout Papers," "On a Lazy Boy" when he comments upon "the appetite for novels extending to the end of the world; far away in the frozen deep, the sailors reading them to one another during the endless nights far away under the Syrian stars, the solemn sheiks and elders hearkening to the poet as he recites his tale; far away in the Indian camps, where the soldiers listen to -'s tales or 's after the hot day's march; far away in little Chur yonder, where the lazy boy pores over the fond volume, and drinks it in with all his eyes; the demand being what we know it is, the merchant must supply it, aз he will supply saddles and pale ale for Bombay or Calcutta.'

[ocr errors]

Though it is not necessary to train a child that he should enjoy a story, it is essential to show him what stories to read so that his tastes when they are changed, as they inevitably will change when he grows to maturity, will be for the best in literature. His taste should grow delicate and not coarse and we should give him the proper meat on which he may feed his reading soul.

The child of ten may tell you that he likes a certain story because it is like a fairy tale and when that same child is old enough to read "The Great Stone Face," he will tell you he likes

it because it is not like a fairy story. A girl of eleven will say she likes Kipling's "Just So Stories" because they are funny, wild or exciting they tell how different things are made, how the kangaroo got his legs and so forth, or perhaps that she dislikes them because they are babyish. The same girl later in her teens will smile at the story, and say that it is cute. My purpose is not to discuss the way in which tastes for different forms change, but rather to show how a taste for the best things in literary art, no matter what the form, may be developed.

From the time the primary child learns his first poem until he memorizes the "Village Blacksmith" because he loves the poem, his taste may be said to be developing. I have often heard people, and especially boys and girls, say they did not like poetry, yet when I told a fifth grade class to memorize the stanzas of “The Village Blacksmith" they liked best, nearly half the class memorized the whole poem. The same thing happened when they read "Hiawatha's Hunting." They said they could not stop after they had once started, and the words seemed to follow one another so that it was easy for them to learn the lines. One child was absent when the sixth grade studied "The Children's Hour," and when she did hear the poem, she said she saw no sense in it. The rest of the class were righteously indignant and told her the meaning of it, whereupon she became just as enthusiastic as they. If even in the lower grades, one subject is shown to be connected with another, and all the subjects are shown to be related to the experiences of the child and its family, there is no difficulty in obtaining a keen appreciation of poetry. If the stories of "Evangeline" and "The Courtship of Miles Standish" are connected with the stories of the hardships of the Pilgrims and the Acadians which they have studied in their history class, the child will be developing a taste for poetry, and will not shun it when allowed to choose his own reading. I do not mean that he will choose to read poetry rather than a love story when he is grown, but that he will not always choose the love story and that he will not always omit the bits of poetry he finds in his favorite magazine.

If the study of the "Lady of the Lake" is connected with the student's previous knowledge of English history and the customs of the Scotch, they will become so interested in the story of Ellen that they will finish it long before it has been finished in the class room. It would be a gross error to ask an eighth grade class to read all of the poem at one sitting or even all of one canto. But after a few short lessons have been assigned and the story is fairly started, lo! some omniverous readers will slyly tell something that is ahead of the lesson and the whole class will. ask you if you care if they read ahead. That is just what the wide awake and clever teacher has been working for all the time. She wants them to read when they are not asked to read. The same is true of any narrative poem, be it "Sohrab and Rustum" or "Enoch Arden," and they will be just as anxious to hunt for the beautiful similes in the former poem as the teacher is desirous of having them do it.

All this training will reap its rewards and the high school boy or girl will not be so often puzzled by the blank verse of some of Shakespeare's dramas and will understand the heart and soul of the poet when he reads Palgrave's "Golden Treasury." Though a boy may be a bit lazy when you ask him to memorize so many of the lyrics in the "Treasury," before he has finished, he is literally enjoying himself, whether he knows it or not, and may show you that he is by standing on a log on the top of a mountain, in the middle of the class picnic, and quoting unasked all the sonnets he has learned.

A taste for good literature may be evolved by training along other lines. If a child has a good foundation of fairy stories of different countries, he will understand and enjoy the stories of Arthur and the Round Table when he reads Tennyson's "Idylls of the King." He will recognize his childhood friends when he reads the "Midsummer Night's Dream," or in the Wife of Bath's Tale when he goes to college and reads Chaucer in the original. When he meets the Faerie attendant in the Marchantes Tale, he will feel he is treading on familiar ground. If he has had a good foundation of Grecian mythology and knows the old Greek myths,

« AnteriorContinuar »