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laid down—and (2) of finding out in a given page or chapter as many examples of the ablative absolute as possible.
I am far from saying that there are no cases in which it is good to give out a home exercise in anticipation of to-morrow's work. You wante.g. to have an ode of Horace or a fable of La Fontaine prepared to-morrow. Now if you say to a child, “Learn this, and be prepared to-morrow with a complete translation of it;" and you expect then to find him able to account for all the idioms and allusions, what you are asking is somewhat unreasonable. The complete understanding of the whole passage is precisely that which your teaching is meant to give him. You must not throw upon him so much responsibility. But it is well to say: "We are going to take to-morrow the twelfth ode of the second book, and we shall read it in class together. Find out therefore to-night from the dictionary all the words you do not already know.” That is a perfectly legitimate requirement. If that is fulfilled, you have some material to work with. You read it line by line, you elicit by questioning as much grammar and idiom as is known, you supply the new facts, the illustration of new grammatical difficulties, the allusions, the significance of the metaphors, the turns of happy expression; and then, when you have done this, you say, “To-night I shall expect you to write me a full and careful translation of the whole; and here are a dozen words—proper names, idioms, or allusive phrases—which you will underline, and on each of which you must write a special comment or explanation."
Thus you will see, the home or evening work which may legitimately be set is partly preparatory and partly supplementary to your class teaching. But the best part of it is supplementary. And I have no doubt that, as a
General conclusion as to Written Work. 157
general rule, the chief value of written exercises is to give definiteness to lessons already learned, and toʻthrust them home into the memory rather than to break new ground. Kindle interest and sympathy first. Let the scholars see what you are aiming at, and catch something of your own interest and enthusiasm in the pursuit of truth, and then they will be prepared to take some trouble in mastering those details which they see to be needed in order to give system and clearness to their knowledge. But he who expects children to master with any earnestness details of which they do not see the purpose, is asking them to make bricks without straw, and will certainly be disappointed.
Examina. The whole subject of Exaininations looms very large tions.
in the vision of the public and is apt to be seen out of its true proportions, mainly because it is the one portion of school business which is recorded in newspapers. We shall perhaps arrive at right notions about it more readily, if we first consider the business of examining as wholly subordinate to that of education, and as part of the work of a school. If we are led to just conclusions on this point, we may then hope to consider with profit the effect of the tests and standards applied to school work by outside bodies, by University Examiners, or in com
petitions for the public service. The art of First, however, we may be fitly reminded that the art putting of putting questions is one of the first and most necessary questions.
arts to be acquired by a teacher. To know how to put a good question is to have gone a long way towards becoming a skilful and efficient instructor. It is well therefore to ask ourselves what are the conditions under which catechizing can be most effective.
The object of putting questions to a child whom we are instructing may be:
(1) To find out what he knows, by way of preparing him for some further instruction.
(2) To discover his misconceptions and difficulties.
(3) To secure the activity of his mind and his cooperation while you are in the act of teaching him.
(4) To test the result and outcome of what you have taught.
So that interrogation is not only a means of discovering what is known, it is itself a prime instrument in imparting knowledge. In the employment of all our faculties, we want not only the dynamic power, but the guiding sensation to tell us what we are doing. If a man is deaf, he soon becomes dumb. Unless he can hear himself, he ceases to know how to talk, and he soon leaves off caring to talk. So as we go on giving a lesson, we are completely in the dark, unless by means of constant questioning we keep ourselves en rapport with our pupil, and know exactly whether and how far he is following us.
Hence the first object of questioning is to awaken The quescuriosity, to conduct the learner, so to speak, to the tions of boundaries of his previous knowledge, and thus to put his mind into the right attitude for extending those boundaries by learning something new. And we all know that the one person who is generally reputed to be the master of this art, and who has in fact given his name to one particular form of catechizing, was Socrates. Now what is the Socratic method of questioning? Socrates was, as you know, a philosopher who lived in the golden age of Greece, when intellectual activity in Athens was at its highest point; and the function he assigned to himself was a very unique one. He saw around him a people who thirsted for knowledge, and were very fond of speculation. He saw also that there was a large class of men, Sophists, Rhetoricians, and others, who sought to satisfy
this appetite. And what struck him most forcibly was the haste with which people generalized about things which they had imperfectly examined, the heedlessness with which they used certain words before fixing their meaning, and generally the need of more self-examination and self-knowledge. Hence it was the chief purpose of the dialogues which have been handed down to us by his affectionate disciples Xenophon and Plato, to clear men's minds of illusions, and of the impediments to learning; and rather to put them into the best attitude for receiving knowledge and for making a right use of it, than to give to them definite dogmas, or authoritative statements of truth. I should have been well content if the plan of these lectures had allowed of our devoting one of our meetings exclusively to a consideration of his remarkable career, and to the effect of his method of teaching in awakening enquiry, and in purging and disciplining the faculties of his hearers. But it must suffice if I say even to those of you who do not read Greek that by devoting a little time to the perusal of some of the dialogues as given by Whewell or Jowett in their editions of Plato, or to a translation of the Memorabilia of Xenophon, or to Mr Grote's or Professor Maurice's account of the teaching of Socrates and the Sophists of his day, you will accquire some very valuable hints. Meanwhile I should like to give you one short and free translation of a little dialogue from Xenophon which is characteristic of his method.
A Socratic There was a young man named Euthydemus in whom he took dialogue much interest, and who was fired with a very strong ambition to
distinguish himself as a thinker and a philosopher. So Socrates placed himself in his way and said:
“They say, my Euthydemus, that you have collected many of the writings of those men whom we call wise: Is it so?”.