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a consequence, children will be retained in school for a longer time. According to the well-known theory of John Fiske, the infancy of the individual, thus prolonged, will result in a higher state of civilization than any yet attained.
HOW TO ACQUIRE A TASTE FOR GOOD READING
BY MISS ELIZABETH SKINNER, DENVER, COLO.
How to acquire a taste for good reading is a question of growing interest, not only to the parent and teacher, but to the nation ; for its life æsthetical, as well as ethical, is embodied in art forms, of which literary masterpieces are in the highest rank.
That which educates and elevates the youth of any land lays for it a foundation of strength and prosperity.
Horace Mann says: “If a boy reads of the friendship of Damon and Pythias, the integrity of Aristides, the perseverance of Franklin, the purity of Washington, he will think differently all the remaining days of his life."
It is a matter of statistics that more than 50 per cent of the children leave the public school before the age of fourteen. The fact that the great majority of them leave without the slightest conception of the influence of books, and without any literary discrimination, should enlist the interest of every educator.
When a child has learned how to read, a vast storehouse opens up before him. On the one hand are means of culture, mental and moral; on the other, possibilities of the deepest degradation. The inventor of the first printing-press realized this, for he said he quailed at the responsibility of giving to evil-minded men so mighty an engine of mischief.
The formation of the habit of reading is the vital question. Many who have given the subject careful study think it is infinitely better for a boy to read anything and everything he can get than to have no desire at all to read. Of this class there are not a few. The mind is, of necessity, active. If one be so unfortunate as to crave demoralizing literature, he will suffer no more from the reading of it than if he were left with his own thoughts. The average boy will not long be satisfied with chaff when wheat is everywhere in abundance. How much worse for a girl to read a book whose moral tone is far below what it should be than to spend the same length of time gossiping about her neighbor or idly dar. dreaming ?
Where shall the work begin, and when ? In the home, by all means, and as early in life as possible. Who so well as the mother understands the disposition of her child; who has a better opportunity of studying his
inclinations ? Parents do not think of waiting till he is six years of age to teach him to be truthful, honest, obedient; they know too well the power of habit.
Story-telling, which naturally precedes reading, can be made of interest to children of very tender age. They can be taught to look forward with pleasure to a part of the day or evening when a good story is read or told to them. This is frequently done when the mother is in the mood to do so, or when she has time. It should be systematically done. She should put herself in the mood; she should take time, and take it daily.
Fifteen or twenty minutes cannot greatly interfere with the day's work or social duties.
How many hours are spent for the adornment of the body while the mind craves food! When your daughters have grown to womanhood, they will not remember whether their little dresses were made of sheer linen or domestic gingham. Your young men will not care whether the ruffles on the waists they wore in boyhood were stitched by hand or machine, but they will remeinber the walks and talks, the stories and books, that did so much to make childhood happy.
Many objections are made to fairy stories on account of the improbability and, in many cases, the impossibility of the conditions. It is thought to be a great mistake to say “the dish ran away with the spoon," or “the cow jumped over the moon." We may say a dog can bark, but not laugh ; and yet the poets we love best tell us of the whispering treetops, the murmuring brooks, and the laughing rills. If it were not for images formed by his own fancy, a child's life would be a barren waste. What would the inventor, the artist, the poet do without imagination ? Let us be generous with childhood, generous as Alexander with his Thracian robber, when he said : “ Take off his chains, and use him well.” Let us take off the chains of children, and let them revel in the realm of imagination. It is theirs by right of inheritance. When nature gave this power to her children, she gave of her choicest gifts.
To those who object to fairy tales there is no dearth of material, if parents will but use it. Children are born naturalists. Their hearts turn to birds, beasts, and flowers, as leaves turn to the light. Nature furnishes innumerable avenues where they may wander with pleasure and profit. Children have preferences, too. Some enjoy travel, others biography, still others science. Indeed, it makes little difference as to the particular book read; it is the class of reading. The teacher has a work that the average mother cannot do. Children's books are publications of later years, and few mothers have time to acquaint themselves with many of them. It is part of a teacher's work to do so.
Too much cannot be said in favor of school libraries, especially room libraries. They are an advantage to the child, the teacher, and the home.
A vast amount of time is squandered in many schools. Tasks requiring fifteen or twenty minutes of solid study frequently take twice as much time. If a boy knows that he has the privilege of reading when his lessons are prepared, he will make the best of his time.
His association with books, his judgment in looking up references, his depending upon himself to select what he reads, all help to make him strong
The literature of school libraries is taken into the homes; a deeper interest on the part of parents is aroused; and a warmer feeling for the school is the result. No money was ever invested that pays a higher rate of interest.
When parents feel that books for their children are a necessity instead of a luxury; when the adornment of the body gives place to the adornment of the mind; when home and school join hands in the uplifting of our children, then will a taste for good reading be established, and literature pure and ennobling will predominate in the land.
THE USE OF THE LIBRARY
BY C. C. YOUNG, LOWELL HIGH SCHOOL, SAN FRANCISCO, CAL. I have at hand a little book' compiled almost twenty years ago, composed of papers nearly all twenty years old and more, in which are discussed, and well discussed, the identical questions that are at present occupying our attention. Every article clearly and forcibly presents the thought that those two great co-factors in the education of mankind, the public library and the public school, can most economically and most efficiently perform their offices only when working together in a well-ordered, well-adjusted union. In every paper the same needs are set forth, the same methods are suggested, the same ideals are pictured, the same hopes are raised, that we are today listening to during these sessions of our department. This was twenty years ago; yet today, with certain notable exceptions, the school and the library have never yet been joined in that union which the lovers of both had so fondly hoped and so assiduously labored to bring about.
The subject of library and school co-operation, then, is not one on which anything startlingly new can at present be offered. Neither is it possible to compress within the necessary limits of a single paper any. thing like an adequate presentation of even the oft-repeated truths upon a matter of such vast and far-reaching importance. Accordingly I shall take the liberty of modifying the very comprehensive subject assigned me, and shall discuss what seems to me to constitute just now the most vital and necessary phase of that subject, “The Educative Value of the
i Libraries and Schools, by S. S. Green, New York: F. Leypoldt.
Use of Books, and the Responsibility of the School in Inspiring and Directing that Use.” The means of securing books and the methods of using them are both interesting questions, but, after all, they are only details, which, in these days of library activity, will work themselves out, if only a sufficiently strong desire to secure and to use thein is engendered on the part of the teacher. “Where there is a will” there is always to be found a “way,” and the excellence of the way will generally be in direct proportion to the energy of the will.
Ever since the librarian first realized that his mission was something higher than to be a mere custodian of books he has been earnestly and unremittingly seeking alliance with the teacher, his co-worker in the educational world. Time after time has the subject been discussed in his assemblages and brought forward in his journals. From a recent editorial in the official organ of his national association I read: “There is no more important, as there is no more interesting, part of a librarian's work than that dealing with the relations of the library and the school. It seems not too much to say that this is the most vital part of a library's administration. The library that has no connection with the local schools is neglecting its mission and ignoring its noblest opportunities."
So much from the standpoint of the librarian. He would doubtless claim, and could doubtless produce the strongest proofs of his claim, that the teacher has never yet met him half way. To be sure, in the case of certain wide-awake and progressive communities, as in parts of Massachusetts, Wisconsin, and Colorado, and in the case of certain individual teachers of many communities, this claim might be gloriously refuted. Still, on the whole, I think we must admit that, from all appearances, the teacher has never yet sufficiently strongly felt any necessity of joining in that alliance which the librarian has so long been striving to accomplish. It seems to me, moreover, that this apparent apathy must be due to the fact that the teacher has never yet felt any great burden of responsibility or consciousness of a privilege or duty as regards the directing of the reading of the young minds under his charge. Consequently, I believe that our first business, as members of the Library Department of this association, is to insist with all our might, in season and out of season, upon this thesis, viz.: The most important duty of the public school, beyond teaching the child to read, is to teach him what to read and how to read; properly to introduce him to the world of good books, and to give him an ability to discover for himself what is soundest and best in literature. To enlarge upon this thesis, then, shall be our aim today; and I am very sure that it will prove defensible from the standpoint of fundamental pedagogic principles.
The drawing out of the child's latent powers and faculties, his physical and intellectual, moral and spiritual development, is a product, not of the school and the teacher, but of many factors, as diverse and complex as is society itself. Moreover, these educative forces are present, not alone for a single brief period, but thru all the years of man's existence and of the mind's and soul's activity. A school whose organization is such as to disregard these great truths can never take the high position it is designed to occupy. Yet how many schools are so planned and so carried on that the pupil feels only the drudgery and the humdrum of a round of duties, which, so far as he can see, has little earthly connection with the life he expects to live! And how rarely do we meet the boy who, as he goes out into the world, continues of his own volition those studies which, so short a time before, were deemed the necessary and allimportant factors of his development! The school, and after that life and the world -- this fallacy is at the very bottom of the matter. The school does not “prepare for life;” the school is a part of life.
Once granted that the contention is correct that education is not for the few years of a limited school course, but for life, and that the chief function of the school is so to arouse the child's interest and direct his endeavors as to insure a wise and constant future self-education, I think we shall admit that it is not far wrong to say : “ This implies that education must be carried on by means of reading." I judge that no great stress need be laid upon this point in an assemblage of this kind. That systematic, well-chosen, properly directed reading is an almost indispensable factor in the training of the mind needs little proof. Its influence in forming correct habits of thought and research, broadening the horizon of the reader, overcoming narrowness and provincialism, quickening the sympathies, awakening the imagination and ästhetic sensibilities, bringing out the ethical consciousness --- in short, developing that fullness of culture and roundness and nobility of character which are the prime ends of education — all these are too clearly appreciated to require demonstration. As Dr. Harris has so well said: “It is thru literature that the genius of the race, appearing in exceptional individuals, instructs the multitude, educates man's insight into the distinction of good from evil, reveals to him his ideals of what ought to be, and elevates the banner of his march toward the beautiful good and the beautiful true.”
If, then, the reading of good books is so educative in its tendency and so essential to sound development, at what period in the life of man is their properly directed use so important as that at which he is most susceptible to the influences of education? During the years of childhood and youth, when the interest is so easily aroused, when the sympathies are so keen, when the mind is so open to impressions, and the memory so tenacious in retaining them ; when the tastes are yet unperverted, and the capacity for forming ideals is so strong; when the natural appetite for reading is so marked, and when the conditions of life give so much leisure to indulge it—at this time, if ever, is there necessity for wise and skillful guidance in the use of books. This necessity is emphasized all