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power of independent work, presupposes that she will give them assistance when they ought not to have it. But there is no ground for that presupposition. We should not condemn an educational theory as unsound because poorly trained teachers cannot apply it. Such a judgment would bar the path to every improvement in education. A wise superintendent, appreciating the fact that his primary teachers are unable wisely to devote all their time to a single class of students, would not require this until he had qualified them for it by careful training. But there is surely a wide difference between maintaining that a given primary teacher will do more effective work by dividing her time among two or more classes, and contending that a properly trained primary teacher cannot best promote the interests of her pupils by devoting all her time to a single class.
The Economic Difficulty. – Some people who are convinced by this argument may urge the economic difficulty. They may say that boards of education cannot be prevailed on to employ primary teachers enough to carry out this plan. Of course if they will not, they will not. But if they are amenable to reason they can readily be made to see that their attitude is a block to progress that the schools under their control, at least with regard to the primary grades, will only “mark time.” It was only in the last century that the economic difficulty seemed to almost every people an insurmountable obstacle in the path of popular education. But little by little the world is beginning to see that whatever the interests of the rising generation demand must be made possible; that everything is secondary in importance to giving to children such an education as will enable them to make the most of themselves in the world. Once convince a man that the school is an institution by means of which society undertakes to bring about a realization of its ideals, and you have gone a long way towards wringing from him the admission that whatever it requires for its most effective work must be furnished.
Second-year Work. The work of the second year should be of the same general character as that of the first. The child should be able to read by the end of the first year. The additional hour that he may be required to spend in school each day may be occupied in reading at his seat, with the exception of a short period that might be devoted to an oral lesson in geography.
QUESTIONS ON THE TEXT. 1. What are the worlds with which the child has some acquaintance when he begins his school life?
2. What is meant by “first-hand knowledge of men,” and what, in the case of the child, is the source of it?
3. What can the school do in the way of determining the character of the child's second-hand knowledge of men ?
4. How may readings and stories and nature study be made the basis of language lessons ?
5. What purpose is served by the teaching of drawing ?
6. Why should singing be included in the exercises of the primary school?
7. What follows from the fact that young children do not know how to study ?
8. Reply to the economic objection to giving children in the primary grades the entire time of their teacher.
SUGGESTIVE QUESTIONS. 1. Show that the child has a rudimentary acquaintance with astronomy, zoology, physiology, botany, chemistry, psychology, meteorology, and history when he enters school.
2. Show from your own observation that children can be interested in readings and stories as early as the first year of their school life.
3. Through what law of the mind does the enthusiasm of a teacher influence her pupils ?
4. “A large part of the material of thought is furnished by our sense-impressions." Will you show by illustrations that a part of the material of thought comes from another source?
5. Illustrate the relation between an accurate knowledge of objects and the enjoyment of literature.
6. Why ought the school from the beginning to aim at developing the capacity to enjoy literature?
SHOULD READING AND WRITING BE TAUGHT
BEFORE THE AGE OF TEN?
In the preceding chapter we discussed the course of study in the primary grades from what may be termed the traditional point of view. But high authorities claim that reading, as well as writing and other processes involving precise measurements, should not be taught before the child is ten years of age. Before stating the argument of the reformers in the case of reading, it is desirable to make a distinction. Reading for the sake of reading is one thing; reading for the sake of getting knowledge is quite another. And it is evident that perfectly conclusive arguments against the teaching of reading in the one sense may have no weight whatever against the teaching of reading in the other.
It is Argued that Reading should not be Taught Before Ten Because (1) the Function of Books is Supplementary.It is urged that it is a mistake to teach reading before ten for the sake of getting information, because the function of books is supplementary — to supply second-hand knowledge when first-hand cannot be obtained — and that the learning about things for himself is the best use the child can ake of his time during the first ten years of his life. This argument is defective in two particulars. In the first place it overlooks the influence which second-hand knowledge may exert on the child's desire to acquire knowledge for himself. That this influence is very powerful is proved by the universal experience not only of grown-up people but of children. In the second place it assigns no reason for limiting to ten years the period during which the child shall be entirely occupied in gaining first-hand knowledge. That before information can be got from books the child must have learned many things for himself ; that, when he is able to acquire knowledge by reading, it may be desirable for him to be confined entirely to first-hand knowledge, is not questioned. But precisely how long after the child's development makes it possible for him to enlarge his experiences by reading must we wait before teaching him to read ? Evidently those who say until he is ten years old answer the question just as arbitrarily as it is answered by current practice. We can determine whether it is wiser to teach the child to read at ten than at six only by prolonged and careful experimental study. Only by the careful comparison of multitudes of children who have been taught to read at six with equal numbers of those with whom the process has been deferred until ten can any one say that those who spend the first ten years of their lives in enlarging their experiences at first hand have been the more wisely trained.
(2) Because the Child has no “ Natural Desire to Learn to Read.”—The claim that reading is a process distinct in itself, that it is not a thing that a child “takes to naturally," and that therefore it should not be taught before the child is ten, rests on different grounds. It may at once be granted that if reading is dissociated from the gaining of information, if it is taught merely as a translation of a lot of