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tence. In this way he will not only become familiar with its form, but what is of equal importance, its use. Without a knowledge of the meaning of words, the pupil is not likely to ever use them, and if he never uses them, it is of no consequence that he knows how to spell them. A neglect to combine spelling and defining, is one cause of the poor practical results attained. In every school I visit I find pupils spelling words that have no more meaning to them than Greek or Choctaw. No explanations are given or required, and having no hold upon the understanding, memory retains them only till the exercise is over, and then casts them off as a useless acquisition. Too much time is devoted to long-tailed words in osity and ation,” to the neglect of the little homely words of every-day use; teachers and pupils seeming to think that words are important in proportion to their length. Most of the spellers in use are badly arranged in this respect, and teachers generally seem to feel morally bound to follow them verbatim; leading their pupils for months through a dense and tangled wilderness of strange polysyllables, with only now and then a familiar form, before reaching the tables of one-syllable paronyms—the “bloody ground” where nine tenths of our orthographical tragedies are enacted.
The spelling book should only be used to select from. The teacher should compile tables of the most common words, and compel a thorough mastery of them, before proceeding to the more rare and difficult. A select list of perhaps two hundred and fifty words thus mastered, which could be done easily in one term, would put his pupils in possession of a vocabulary that would meet the most of their wants, in this line, and enable them to pass for tolerably good spellers; whereas they now devote years and come out, at last, bunglers in spelling the commonest and therefore most important words. Such a list would embrace words like the following: any, many, very, said, whom, could, which, again, cleanse rinse, source, sugar, syrup, written, scholar, sentence, balance, women, business; also these, in their various forms: write, to, there, some, sense, peace, hear, are, whole, course, woulp lie, by, our, seen, no, grown, through, male, sale, see, steal, flour, bread, etc. A good way to select these would be to copy the words misspelled by the scholars in their composing exercises, which should be engaged in daily. By so doing the teacher will find their weak points and be able to apply his instruction just where it is needed.
IF thou art a master, be thou sometimes blind; if a servant, sometimes deaf.-Fuller.
No FOUNTAIN so small but that heaven may be imaged in its bosom.—Harothorne.
ORTHOPY AND ORTHOGRAPHY. PART I.
BY II ENRY CROUSE, DUNN COUNTY.
Experience has long since proved how extremely difficult and unsatisfactory the performance is when children attempt to learn words by letters. Teachers have often complained of the toil, the trial of patience and the loss of courage while teaching their pupils, during six months and often during a year, the straight and curved lines of the twenty-six letters; and with all this effort, some of the pupils are even then forgetful of the names of some of the letters.
Now such experience would seem to show the need for the adoption of an improved method of teaching the art of reading. This improved method is, without doubt, found in the “word method.” For, it is not only a pleasant theory, but an established fact, that a child will learn the name of a word as quickly as he can the name of a letter. In fact every child learns words years before he learns letters, or even before he can understand the use of letters. Now why not carry
this natural method of mental culture from the nursery to the school room ? This would obviate the disgust and weariness with which a little learner must recoil from the task of dwelling six months, or a year, on the names of the alphabetic characters. Is it possible that such“ dwelling” will cultivate an independent spirit ? Will it tend to induce vigor of intellect, or can it implant the disposition to help one's self? Would it not rather establish the habit of dwelling equally as long upon other educational tasks, and of viewing them with the same listless indifference? Indeed, if it did not it would be because there is no force in the power of educated habit.
In true education the mind must first take hold of the idea for the benefit of self, before the tongue can clothe it with its appropriate name for the benefit of others. This is the natural law of understanding. We must know before we can tell. But many school attendants are drilled to tell many things which they do not know-repeat words of which they have no perfect mental conception. How ridiculous a talker would appear who should talk without understanding what he said; hence how ridiculous a reader or a speller ought to appear who reads or spells without understanding what he reads—for reading is virtually only talking from a book. Therefore, let teachers cease to teach pupils to talk, read or write what they cannot understand. Let pupils be taught to read and write their own language first, before they are made to waste time with a mass of foreign and obscure words to which they can attach no intelligent meaning. The true order of
educational advancement is from intelligent talking, to reading, and then to writing the same identical sentences. When learners are able to read everything they have learned to talk, and write everything they can read, they will then be prepared to grapple with fresh ideas; and as fast as each new idea is taken hold of by the mind and clothed with its appropriate name, then that also should be written.
It is not enough, in fact it is not at all to the point of educational advancement to tell over the name and numbers of the letters of a word. For many of these letters have no orthæpic value at all, and hardly any of them are sounded as they are named; hence the names of the letters of a word are no daguerreotype of its pronunciation. No person can correctly give the pronunciation of any word by merely knowing the names of its component letters. In fact the names of the letters of a word serve rather to confuse and mislead a learner than direct him to its correct pronounciation, e. g., in the word “ though we have only two phonic elements, and still by the alphabetic method we have to repeat the names of six letters; hence two-thirds of the letters in this word are useless, and only one-sixth of the whole has the sound of its alphabetic name; one-third of the letters of this word combine so as to form a common English sound, a phonic element. Now such experience of our young learners cannot be otherwise than pernicious in its influence. Learners are so taught as to regard as useless one-half, often two-thirds of what they recite, and a large proportion of the remaining part is of doubtful significationsometimes meaning one thing and sometimes another. Hence doubt and uncertainty become incorporated with nearly every lesson learned in school.
THE ART OF TEACHING.
BY MULEY MUSICUS.
Men or women who have taught school, or who have attended school within such time as their memories run not to the contrary of their actual experiences therein, cannot but smile at the sang-froid, or rather naivete, with whicn many of our educational writers throw off their estimable suggestions. As an instance, take the selection in the November number of the JOURNAL, taken from the Massachusetts Teacher. The writer asks, what is teaching? then goes on to define and illustrate, using for his illustration and definition a conversation between teacher and pupil, which every teacher knows, at sight, never transpired, and never could have transpired, but between the tongue of an educator and a creature of his own brain. The conversation upon the same subject might have been somewhat like the following:
Teacher. (Having a class of six to twenty pupils at thboard, whom he has directed to pass their hands over the surface), “ James what kind of a surface is it?"
James. (With a grin that expresses a great deal to a sensitive teacher), “ It is a black surface, sir.”
Teacher. “I did not mean the color of the surface, James, but what kind of surface." James. 66 Oh!
A smooth surface." Now the teacher might, if he had been a genius, have taken that description and proceeded; but, unfortunately, he had read the conver• sation between tongue and creature, and, in his innocence, thought that the only right conversation to hold, so he plies James once more with the pertinent question: Teacher. “Oh! James, you do not understand me.
I mean, what kind of surface.”
James. (When he heard the word kind so emphasized, almost leapt from the floor,-he had the idea), “ It does service for the 'rithmetic class, sir."
James uttered this in the manner of a conqueror; he looked at the teacher with eagerness for approval. The pupils tittered. The teacher turned every color but that of the surface, began to lose patience, and tried again.
Teacher.—“James, you will please not trifle with me or the subject; will you tell me what kind of surface it is, you have just passed your hand over?"
James, (disconcerted and sulky;) “I don't know what you want me to say.”
Teacher.-" Take your seat, sir, and try to brighten your mind.” The teacher, not willing to give up such a fine plan of teaching with one effort, turns to a bright girl, who he knows will understand him:
Teacher.—“Susie, what kind of a surface have you passed your hand over?"
Susie.—(She is a very precise little body,) “It is a wood surface covered with paint.”
The large pupils, who have become interested, smile--some audibly. Susie looks embarrassed, for she was sure she was right.
Teacher, (becoming excited).—“Susie, you do not quite get my idea either, I wish to know what kind of surface it is."
Susie looks hard at the board. The look is suggestive. Anna sees it and gains a thought, raises her hand and snaps-snaps as only a
school-girl with moist fingers can snap. Teacher turns, as Arabs do at time of prayer-towards his place of deliverance—forgets to speak to Anna about snapping, in his eagerness to hear the required “flat and plane surface.”
Teacher.-" Anna, you may answer.”
Teacher.—“ Anna, you are partially right. It is a hard surface, a very hard surface-for this class to describe. Now I will tell you
how a pupil in a Massachusetts school described it to a very learned man: He told his teacher that (very slowly) it was a flat and plane surface.”
A sigh of relief was heard from the class, while James grunted under breath, “I could a told you that, if I'd only know'd what you wanted.
THOUGHTS FOR THE TEACHER BAND.
BY JENNIE F. LITTLE, LODI.
(Read before the Institute at Lodi, Oet. 4, 1872.)
Hemm'd in by the bluffs of our landscape,
Wisconsin's boast and her pride;
We turn from the world aside;
And toils of our wand'ring way;
As teachers gathered to-day.
We turn to gather the gleanings,
To cull bright thoughts as flowers,
Of the future weary hours.
When the heart grows sick and faint,
When lips utter no complaint.
For the darkness of the past
And mortals behold at last
Of another day than ours;
And vanquish Darkness' powers.
For to-day all over our land