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The expression "study literature ” has been used here. For a long time it was doubted in the English schools whether pupils should “study” English literature, and it was well into the nineteenth century before the greater universities there founded distinct chairs of English literature. Latin and Greek, they argued, might be “studied,” but English writings should simply be “ read.” It is indeed doubtful to-day whether our public school method of wearing a classic to tatters before passing to another is of any great value. G. Stanley Hall says that he has found children spending weeks and weeks upon one poem or story, when in the same time they should have read many. Impressions are the things needed in childhood. It would seem, therefore, far better in our public school work to read our classics in an easy, appreciative way, and have easy, unconventional discussions of them, than to have this intense, word by word, chronological, philological, destructively critical, and totally unsentimental exercise now known as “studying literature.” Of course, the words are true, "To read without reflecting is like eating without digesting;” but just as true are those nobler words, “ Books are windows through which the soul looks out." Let us, then, be careful lest we glaze the windows with scholarly sand.
First and Second Grades
“ The pleasant books, that silently among
Spake from the printed leaves or pictured faces."-Longfellow. We here deal with strangers in a strange land. The little ones come hesitatingly, often tearfully, from their homes into that curious cage, with its straight rows of immovable seats, its white, staring walls, its regularity and angularity, its utter absence of homelike things—that curious cage which modern civilization has decreed necessary for taming the barbarous human soul—the typical schoolroom. Much depends upon these early days. It is very uncertain whether the tender heart of the nature-loving child will become so interested as to overcome its intense aversion to all this regularity and angularity, and thus keep from feeing to the hills, whence cometh his help; in ordinary language, from playing "hooky” and getting soundly thrashed afterwards. The school must be made decidedly interesting—more interesting than the winding path over yonder hill or the swimming pool in yonder meadow.
The beginner cannot read; he cannot write; it would be a heinous crime for him to talk out loud! How shall we teachers interest him? Literature comes to our rescue. If the schoolroom prevents his experiencing adventures of his own, he must take the next best substitute—hearing about the adventures of others. Choose, then, stories full of activity, and, above all else, try to recite them instead of reading them. How real they will then become! Moreover, how can you expect the child to memorize these little tales if you yourself cannot tell them “by heart?"
Yet this repeating of the story by the pupil is a very necessary part of the system. The little one should be encouraged to stand up among his fellowstudents and in his own simple, frank, and often incorrect speech, tell the story that has touched his heart. And do not stop him to correct his errors of language. The fairyland all fades out of a boy's soul when you thrust a cold chunk of grammar down his throat! Let him tell his story in his own way, and, in his enthusiasm, he may surprise you by his vividness of description. Render unto Grammar the things that are Grammar's, and unto Literature the things that are of Literature.
Toward the close of the first year the child should be encouraged to write in a few sentences the stories that he has learned; but such work should be very limited. A thing that should receive far more encouragement is the invention of stories by the children theinselves. The child is your true story-teller ; but the talent is generally crushed by a mass of scholastic facts long before he reaches manhood.
The following books are suggested for this age. They will necessitate a little loss of dignity on the part of the teacher, a little unbending, a little humbling oneself to the stature of a child. But of such is the kingdom of Heaven! The world needs a few million teachers who are still children. Bear this fact in mind as you read or recite to your smaller brothers and sisters the following stories:
Mulock's Adventures of a Brownie, Jack, the Giant Killer,
Stories from American History, Little Red Riding Hood,
Wiggin's Bird's Christmas Carol, Æsop's Fables,
Cyclops, Baucis and Philemon, Grimm's Fables,
Phaeton, Neptune, Vulcan, Three Lang's Fairy Books,
Golden Apples, Circe's Palace,
The stories of the boyhood of great heroes; such as Columbus. John Smith, Washington, Lincoln, Lee, Grant, etc.
A few short memory gems should be given.
Pratt's Colonial Children,
Stories from American History, King of the Golden River,
Stories about great heroes, Hawthorne's King Midas,
Stories about Ceres, Diana, ProserLittle Lord Fauntleroy,
pine, Niobe, Hercules, Achilles, Black Beauty,
Argus, Diana, Perseus. Aunt Martha's Corner Cupboard,
The memory-gems should deal strictly with those things that the child observes and loves; such as trees, grass, birds, domestic animals, and conceptions of home life.
The End and Aim of Education is the Development of Character
DELANCEY M. ELLIS, NEW YORK STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT
THE expression “Visual Instruction” brings a question to the minds of most
laymen, and in fact, to many in the teaching profession. It is a term used in reference to a work which is being carried on by the New York State Education Department, and is perhaps a misnomer. It might more properly be called “Instruction by pictorial or graphic reproduction,” for such is the meaning of the words. Many have believed that Visual Instruction has to do with the correction of defective vision or to the training of the sight as one would refer to the training of the voice. This is not the case. The term was coined many years ago when the American Museum of Natural History started a course of instruction for the teachers of New York City in geography and natural history, courses of lectures being given by the members of the Museum staff and illustrated by lantern slides representing many of the valuable specimens to be found among its wonderful collections. Although this work was started in a very modest way, its helpfulness was demonstrated so rapidly that it was soon necessary to provide larger quarters. It was not long before these lectures, besides being given to all of the teachers of New York City, were so prepared that they could be sent with a set of illustrative slides to each of the State Normal Schools. A few years later, in response to a general demand, the Legislature provided sufficient funds for extending the system to the cities and villages of the State. While the lectures were prepared and sent out by the American Museum of Natural History, the old State Department of Public Instruction exercised general control. In the meantime the University of the State of New York had inaugurated a scheme for the circulation of lantern slides to institutions under its jurisdiction.
About a year ago the Commissioner of Education organized the Division of Visual Instruction in the new State Education Department, unifying under one head the work heretofore carried on by two separate agencies. After some months devoted to reorganization, the Division began active work September first last along lines and under regulations so framed as to broaden the scope and usefulness of the work, and to meet the ever increasing demand from the entire educational field. Under these regulations a vast number of illustrations are open to all schools, institutions and organizations in the State under the jurisdiction of the State Education Department, or chartered by or registered with the Regents of the University at virtually no cost whatever, the only restrictions in their use being that slides must neither be used for other than educational purposes, nor upon any occasion at which an admission fee is charged or a collection of any kind taken.
Through the perseverance and unbounded enthusiasm of Dr. Albert S. Bickmore, who was formerly in charge of the work, the State is now in possession of nearly 24,000 negatives including reproductions of natural scenery, historic places, famous buildings, manners and customs of peoples, physical phenomena, etc., comprising probably the finest collection of negatives extant, and undoubtedly the only collection used exclusively for educational purposes.
A catalogue of the entire collection of slides is being issued (the first secţion of which has already been distributed) thus enabling the teacher to learn without correspondence the available subjects and to select from them slides best suited to his individual needs. It shall also be the especial business of the Division of Visual Instruction for the next few years to prepare sets of slides for use in the classroom to illustrate the courses in many subjects outlined in the elementary and secondary syllabi issued by the State Education Department. With each set will be issued an explanatory bulletin. In addition there will be prepared topical lists of slides upon many subjects for which there is special demand.
There are other agencies for carrying on “ Visual Instruction” beside the stereopticon and lantern slide. The moving picture, the projecting of opaque objects by the projectoscope, the hand picture and the stereoscopic view all serve the same end. The practical usefulness of the projectoscope is as yet open to discussion, owing largely to the difficulty of successfully projecting an object which absorbs rather than reflects light.
The difficulty with hand pictures is that in order to be of practical use there must be a copy of each picture for every member of the class at the same time to prove effective. This same, criticism is of equal force as to the stereoscope. On the other hand, by the use of the stereopticon, the picture is before thc entire class at the same time, making possible the use of a pointer and a free discussion between teacher and pupils; the size of the picture adds to its impressiveness; the accurate coloring of a slide materially increases its instructive value, and the necessary darkness of the room shuts out extraneous diversions and concentrates the attention of the pupils upon the picture and consequently upon the lesson. .,, In these days when electric current can be obtained in even the smaller villages of the State, the use of a stereopticon has come to be a simple matter. A stereopticon can be taken into any classroom, an attachment with the source of power instantly made, a screen lowered from a spring roller, and the outfit is ready for operation. While it is preferable that the windows should be equipped with black shades, still practical results can be obtained by drawing shades of the ordinary neutral tints generally in use. It is no uncommon thing in the State to find a school building with several rooms equipped for the use of the stereopticon, and in some instances, every classroom is so equipped. In those places where electricity is not available, either oxyhydrogen or acetylene gas is in use, the latter having come to be an efficient, convenient and safe lighting agent.
The lantern slide can be used in the entire field of education, from the kindergarten to the university, and in the teaching of many subjects in which its usefulness is not recognized by the average teacher. In the kindergarten the judicious use of slides upon animals and flowers and scenes bearing upon the games which the children play, arouses a discussion and teaches the young mind to describe what the eye shows it.
In the grammar grades, there are many subjects which become infinitely more interesting and consequently more instructive to the pupils when illustra
tions are used than is possible by the sole use of the printed text with here and there a small and somewhat poorly executed halftone. In the study of geography, how much easier to define a cape after seeing a large picture of Point Reyes, or a volcano after looking at a view of Mt. Pelee in eruption. How much more clearly do we learn to understand the topography of the Empire State if the eye is allowed to sweep across a wide panorama of the Adirondacks from one of the highest peaks, or its commercial supremacy if we can gaze upon one of the great centers of trade from a vantage point on the roof of a skyscraper.
The history of our State appeals to us with a greater force when a view of Washington's headquarters at Newburg brings up an interesting story of bygone days, and the history of our country is more real as we stand in Arlington Cemetery and read the inscription upon the tomb of the Unknown Dead.
The interest in civics is quickened if one looks out from the top of the Washington Monument upon the seat of government of the nation, or stands upon the threshold of the Senate Chamber or the Court of Appeals in our own State Capitol.
Literature acquires a new significance when we can look upon the homes of Longfellow, Lowell and Whittier and visit the haunts of Shakspere and Scott and Robert Burns. Although Nature Study can best be carried on in the fields amid a natural environment, still we cannot always find within a reasonable distance from home the animals and insects we wish to study, and the opportunity to observe their habits of life and their methods of defense. Moreover, so much of plant life is at its most interesting stage during the vacation period. All of these can be and are being faithfully portrayed by means of lantern slides.
In the secondary schools the lantern slide is of wonderful assistance in the study of the sciences, and when the use of the moving picture becomes more practicable we shall see before us the breathing of a fish under water, and the growth of a plant. In this latter connection, it is interesting to note that the United States Department of Agriculture is now carrying on experiments of this nature. A moving-picture camera is placed before a growing plant, an exposure is made every twenty-four hours, and when the plant has matured, its life history is told upon the film. The film is then run rapidly through a moving picture machine and the plant grows before the eyes of the observer, seemingly a trick picture but in reality a scientific record.
The entire range of art can be brought into every schoolroom. The works of the great masters are being so faithfully reproduced as to excite the wonder of those familiar with the originals. Raphael's "Sistine Madonna," with its deep spiritual significance, Sir Joshua Reynolds masterpiece, “ The Child Samuel,” Landseer's “Distinguished Member of the Humane Society," and many others are works with which all should be familiar, and the originals of which are seen by comparatively few.
In the university the student in architecture has a valuable aid in reproductions of the architectural triumphs of the world, both ancient and modern, and the student in engineering gains valuable information from pictures which portray the great engineering feats of the century. Many more applications might be cited did space permit.