Imágenes de páginas

haying time, there came up a shower which ruined a quantity of hay. The professor appeared vexed, and wanted to know who was responsible for the rain this time, but the culprit could not be found.

Eight thousand dollars per annum is expended by the Government for the support of the school. In the two rooms were seated perhaps one hundred "little Injuns" of both sexes. There were two lady teachers, and a bright-looking Indian girl assisting them. The faces of the Indians reminded me of the Japanese. I positively could not distinguish the two if they were placed side by side. Dark in complexion, with flat noses and straight black hair, the striking resemblance of the two races certainly argues a common descent. Some of the younger children were full of mischief; the older ones appeared grave and devoted to study, but they are shy, and scarcely spoke in an audible tone during recitations. Some appeared to be hopelessly dull, returning all attempts to instruct them with a stupid stare. The instruction, of course, is all in English, and the children are said to speak it fluently, being instructed in it from the time of their entrance.

These Indians are mostly converts to Christianity, being members of the Methodist and Baptist denominations. They have some natives preachers. The white missionary, who is sustained by the Baptists, is obliged to use an interpreter, as the people will not attend services when English alone is spoken.

A few of the people are industrious and enterprising and comfortably situated. The larger part, however, are indolent and unaspiring. The musical talent of some of the boys has been developed by organizing a brass band, and they have gone as far as Atlanta, Ga., to play.

Their games of ball are very exciting. They divest themselves of nearly all their clothing before beginning a game, and the object of each party in the game is to take the ball away from the other, throwing one another upon the ground, and using great violence.

These people have dwelt during the greater part of the present century in these solitudes. They hear of their kinsmen on their fertile lands beyond the Father of Waters, but appear to be content to dwell here in the shadow of their rugged mountain peaks and beside the clear, rippling waters of their streams.





VERY pupil should be given an opportunity to read his composition, and to have the best features of his efforts pointed out. It may take up several full periods of the class work for all to read; but the reading should be kept up as long as there is any general interest made manifest by the members of the class. All should then be required to copy their compositions with ink on heavy ruled paper, using only one side. The teacher, in reading the compositions, should make very few corrections. In most instances a mark, made with a blue pencil, indicating the mistakes, will be all that is necessary. The best results will generally be attained by the teacher's simply pointing out the mistakes and letting the pupils make their own corrections. Let them do the work. In no other way can they accomplish anything in composition writing. They learn to write by writing.

Before the compositions are returned, one or more regular class periods might be spent in talking about them. The teacher might call attention to mistakes that have been made by the members of the class without mentioning their names, tell how these mistakes should be corrected, and make further suggestions with regard to form; for example, capitalization, punctuation and paragraphing. But these, it must be remembered, are only the external features of the work in hand. Suggestions with regard to form in writing, however important they may be, appeal to a majority of the young pupils as nothing but dry-as-dust rules. Such suggestions or rules should, unquestionably, be given whenever occasion demands their application; but can we not, at the same time, give them. suggestions that appeal more directly to their tastes, to their desires, something in which they are directly interested? Many of the pupils in writing these simple accounts of their own experiences may have used, unconsciously perhaps, elements of narration which the great story writers use; namely, association, environment, suspense, surprise, suggestion, move

ment, climax. These and many other fundamental elements may be found in narrative compositions written by young pupils. True, their efforts may be crude, but all such efforts should be praised. Point out the passages where any of these elements have been used; then turn to literature and read passages in which the great story-writers have used the same elements. The opening paragraph of Dr. Brown's Rab and His Friends affords an excellent illustration of association and environment; or what we might appropriately call the setting or situationthe time and place of the action. In other words, this writer, in the introduction to his story, has answered in a succinct way not only the questions when and where, but also the question who; the what and the why he answers in the development of the plot and the purpose of his story. Irving's Legend of Sleepy

Not so;

In their

Hollow and Hawthorne's Great Stone Face afford illustrations of the other elements to which reference has just been made, besides furnishing illustrations of other additional principles; namely, unity, coherence, characterization, subordination. Verily, there is no end to the variety of interest that can be aroused in the teaching of elementary narrative composition. DESCRIPTION.-Since young children are naturally fond of stories, it is maintained by many that there should be very little, if any, descriptive writing in the lower grades. children can describe as well as they can narrate. oral work, probably the best results will, in most instances, be attained through narration, but in their written work it will oftentimes be more pedagogical to begin with description. Oral composition appeals almost entirely to the ear; but the first steps in written composition must necessarily appeal primarily to the eye. By means of books that contain colored pictures, little children in the primary grades can be taught to appreciate form and color.* In connection with the colored pictures of flowers in these books, little poems in which the flowers are mentioned might be used as memory gems, or as bases for simple reproduction. The poets tell about flowers,-their forms, odors, colors; why cannot children, too, be allowed to tell about them? Are not children word-painters in the same

* See The Baldwin Primer and Crosby's Little Book for Little Folks (American Book Co), The Finch Primer (Ginn & Co.), Bass's Lessons for Beginners in Reading (D. C. Heath & Co.), The Werner Primer (Werner School Book Co.).

sense of the term that poets are? Do they not tell about things -what they are-oftentimes with surprising originality? Then, too, how easy it will be, while teaching this kind of writing in the lower grades, to keep the work in touch with literature! In their reading lessons and memory gems the children's attention might be called to passages that portray pictures by means of words. Could a child read or recite Robert Burns's

"Wee, modest, crimson-tippèd flower"

without seeing in his mind's eye a picture of the daisy? or Goldsmith's oft-quoted line,

"Sweet as the primrose peeps beneath the thorn,"

without seeing a mental picture of the primrose; or, perchance, some other flower with which he is more familiar and which he has already personified and recognized as his companion? Children not describe what they feel! Give them an opportunity; they will describe as well as narrate.

Pupils in high schools oftentimes prefer descriptive writing to narrative. The reason for this is probably because the variety of interest in descriptive writing is more obvious. If, then, description is more interesting to the little folk in the lower grades, and is the choice of many pupils in the secondary schools, why can it not be made attractive in the intermediate and higher grades of the elementary schools? There are many ways in which this can be done. Some topic that appeals to the personal experience of the pupils might be assigned. Take, for example, MY MORNING WALK. After a formal outline shall have been made, and the pupils shall have prepared the first draft of their compositions, they should be asked to take their pencils and paper and to jot down all the elements of nature

*The term "word-painter," according to certain authorities, is a misnomer. See Baldwin's Specimens of Prose Description, pp. x, xi (Henry Holt & Co.), and Arlo Bates' Talks on Writing English, p. 183 (Houghton, Mifflin & Co.). But while it is true that words cannot really paint, and that all that the writer can do with words is to bring before the mind of the reader certain images of things which the latter has seen, it must be admitted that the image presented by means of descriptive writing is much broader in its application than the one presented by means of painting. The painter is limited to form and color; while the writer in making his appeal to the reader has at his command color, form, sound, odor, and motion. Since there is no satisfactory term, or definition sufficiently simple and clear, to convey to pupils in the lower grades the idea of the image presented in descriptive writing, probably the best term that can be used is "word-painting" or "word-picturing." Either of them implies that description is a portrayal by means of language, and will serve as a sort of working definition.

referred to in the compositions while they are being read. In the five elements of nature which are used in descriptive writing, namely, motion, sound, color, form, odor, be written on the board, the young writers will at once manifest interest; for they will be pleased to find that they have used many of them in their compositions. They should now be permitted to point out their favorite passages in which these elements are referred to. Suppose that several members of the class should note that the pupil who had just read his composition, in describing what he saw in his morning walk, had mentioned motion a number of times; for example, suppose one of the passages to be, The gopher seeing us sped like an arrow to its hole; or probably a passage like this, The little prairie flowers as they were blown by the gentle wind seemed to be dancing for joy. Ask these young critics which of these passages is their choice; and then ask them to tell why they like it. Many of them will prefer the sentence in which the dancing flower is mentioned. While the interest is aroused, an opportunity will be open for beginning the teaching of the figures of speech; not by memorizing text-book rules, but in a live way. The flower that danced for joy can easily be made an interesting topic for class discussion. If the pupils are permitted to express themselves on this topic, the flower to them will soon become a personality -a companion. There will be no need of a formal definition. for personification; the name of the figure of speech is all that is necessary; they already know its application-they feel its application; all they need is a word by means of which they can express their thoughts and feelings. But some pupil may say that he prefers the passage in which a reference is made to the gopher's speeding like an arrow. Give him an opportunity to tell why he likes it. He will doubtless not be able to give a strictly formal definition for ŝimile; he will probably say that he has often shot arrows from his bow, and knows something about the rapidity with which they speed. That is definition enough; he understands the application of this figure of speech. This is all that is necessary. Without wasting time in memorizing definitions in regard to figures of speech, the pupils can learn, in connection with their composition work, the uses, not only of personification and simile, but of nearly all the figures

« AnteriorContinuar »