« PreviousContinue »
who can read one selection well has gone a long way toward being a good reader. The teacher who said to her pupils, “I shall read to you tomorrow,” recognized this truth and knew the value of an occasional exercise of that kind. Good pedagogy approves of a judicious use of methods of imitation in teaching reading.
The biographies are intended to acquaint the children with the personal characteristics and lives of the authors, making them more interesting and real to the children, giving them the human touch and incidentally furnishing helpful data for interpreting their writings. In this connection, the authors have, by permission, drawn freely from Professor Newcomer's English and American Literatures. "Helps to Study” include questions and notes designed to stimulate inquiry on the part of pupils and to suggest fruitful lines of study. Only a few points are suggested, to indicate the way, and no attempt is made to cover the ground adequately; this remains for the teacher to do.
While placing emphasis primarily on the thought-getting process the formalities of thought-giving must not be overlooked. The technique of reading, though always subordinate and secondary to the mastery of the thought, nevertheless claims constant and careful attention. Good reading requires clear enunciation and correct pronunciation and these can be secured only when the teacher steadily insists upon them. The increase of foreign elements in our school population and the influence of these upon clearness and accuracy of speech furnish added reason for attention to these details. Special drill exercises should be given and the habit of using the dictionary freely should be firmly established in pupils. The ready use of the dictionary and other reference books for pronunciation and meaning of words, for historical and mythical allusions should be steadily cultivated. Without doubt much of the reading accepted in the public schools is seriously deficient in these particulars. The art of good reading can be cultivated by judicious training and the school should spare no pains to realize this result.
Professor Clark, in his book on "How to Teach Reading," sets
forth the four elements of vocal expression-Time, Pitch, Quality and Force. We quote a few of the sentences from his treatment of each of these elementary topics.
“I. TIME. Time, then, refers to the rate of vocal movement. It may be fast, or moderate, or slow, according to the amount of what may be called the collateral thinking accompanying the reading of any given passage. To put it another way: a phrase is read slowly because it means much; because the thought is large, sublime, deep. The collateral thinking may be revealed by an expansive paraphrase. For instance, in the lines
“Not a drum was heard, not a funeral note
As his corse to the rampart we hurried,
why do we read slowly? The paraphrase answers the question. It was midnight. There lay our beloved leader, who should have been borne in triumphal procession to his last resting place. Bells should have tolled, cannon thundered, and thousands should have followed his bier. But now, alas, by night, by stealth, without even a single drum tap, in fear and dread, we crept breathless to the rampart. This, or any one of a hundred other paraphrases, will suffice to render the vocal movement slow. And so it is with all slow time. Let it be remembered that a profound or sublime thought may be uttered in fast time; but that when we dwell upon that thought, when we hold it before the mind, the time must necessarily be slow. If a child read too rapidly, it is because his mind is not sufficiently occupied with the thought; if he read too slowly, it is because he does not get the words; or because he is temperamentally slow; or because, and this is the most likely explanation, he is making too much of a small idea. To tell him to read fast or slow is but to make him affected, and, incidentally, even if unconsciously, to impress upon him that reading is a matter of mechanics, and not of thought-getting and thought-giving."
“II. PITCH. By Pitch is meant everything that has to do with the acuteness or gravity of the tone-in other words, with keys, melodies, in. flections and modulations. When we say of one that he speaks in a high key, we should be understood as meaning that his pitch is prevailingly high; and that the reverse is true when we say of one that he speaks in a low key. While it is true that the key differs in individuals, yet experience shows that within a note or two, we all use the same keys in expressing the same states of minds.
The question for us is, what determines the key? It can be set down as a fixed principle, that controlled mental states are expressed by low keys, while the high keys are the manifestation of the less controlled mental conditions. Drills in inflections as such are of very
little value, and potentially very harmful. Most pupils have no difficulty in making proper inflections, so that for them class drills are time wasted; for those whose reading is monotonous, because of lack of melodic variety, the best drills are those which teach them to make a careful analysis of the sentences, and those which awaken them to the necessity of impressing the thought upon others. We have learned that when a pupil has the proper motive in mind and is desirous of conveying his intention to another, a certain melody will always manifest that intention. The melody, then, is the criterion of the pupil's purpose. The moment a pupil loses sight of a phrase and its relation to the other phrases, that moment his melody betrays him.',
“III. QUALITY. Quality manifests emotional states. By Quality we mean that subtle element in the voice by which is expressed at one time tenderness, at another harshness, at another awe, and so on through the whole gamut of feeling. The teacher now knows that emotion affects the quality of tone. Let him then use this knowledge as he has learned to use his knowledge of the other criteria. We recognize instinctively the qualities that express sorrow,
tenderness, joy, and the other states of feeling. When the proper quality does not appear it is because the child has no feeling, or the wrong feeling, generally the former. There is but one way to correct the expression, i. e., by stimulating the imagination."
"IV. FORCE. Force manifests the degree of mental energy. When we speak in a loud voice, there is much energy; when softly, there is little. Do not tell the child to read louder. If you do, you will get loudnessthat awful grating schoolboy loudness—without a particle of expression in it. Many a child reads well, but is bashful. When we tell him to read louder, he braces himself for the effort and kills the quality, which is the finer breath and spirit of oral expression, and gives us a purely physical thing-force. Put your weak-voiced readers on the platform; let them face the class and talk to you, seated in the middle of the room, and you will get all the force you need. On the whole, we have too much force, rather than too little. Let the teacher learn that we want quality, not quantity, and our statement of the mental action behind force will be of much benefit in creating the proper conditions."
To discriminating teachers it will be apparent that this book is not the usual school reader. On the contrary it differs widely from this in the cultural value of the selections, in the classification and arrangement of material, in the variety of interest to which it appeals, and in the abundance of classic literature from American authors which it contains. It aims to furnish the best in poetry
and prose to be found in the literature of the English-speaking race and to furnish it in abundance. If these familiar old selections, long accepted as among the best in literature, shall be the means of cultivating in pupils a taste for good reading, the book will have fulfilled its purpose.
For permission to use valuable selections from their lists, acknowledgment is due to Messrs. Houghton, Mifflin and Company Charles Scribner's Sons, and The Whitaker and Ray Company.
Grateful acknowledgment is also made to those teachers who have given valuable suggestions and criticisms in the compilation of this book.
THE AUTHORS. April, 1909.
“We live in deeds, not years, in thoughts, not breaths ;
PHILIP JAMES BAILEY
FAMOUS RIDES, SELECTIONS FROM SHAKESPEARE AND OTHER
POETS, AND STUDIES IN RHYTHM.
PAUL REVERE'S RIDE
HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW
LISTEN, my children, and you shall hear
He said to his friend: “If the British march
Then he said "good night," and with muffled oar
• For Biography see page 194.