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instruction, and quite commonly original sentences illustrating the meanings of the words are requested of the children during the spelling lesson. Then the content of the lesson as a whole becomes miscellaneous. In the four or five upper grades a text-book or speller is customarily used in which the words are grouped according to phonetic analogies (talk, walk, balk, or ale, ail, etc.) or to similarities in meaning (names of animals, articles of clothing, etc.). In this classified speller we see the transfer of coherence from the content side to the form side completed. As long as the words were kept in close connection with their original context, coherence was found in the context and spelling was subordinate to reading. Next the words were detached and arranged in lists. Then the content background faded and there was no coherence on either side. Lastly in the spellers the words undergo classification and there is formal coherence. Necessarily the content (sentences composed by the children) is miscellaneous. It may be remarked in passing, that the extension of the children's vocabulary by the method of giving illustrative sentences is a secondary object. The primary object, that upon which the most emphasis is laid, is the formal one; i. e., to secure correct spelling.
In teaching grammar in the public schools it is customary to cover the field twice: once in the lower grades, emphasizing the art of correct expression; and again in the higher grades, emphasizing the scientific classification of the grammarian. A survey of some of the courses of study and text-books used in the lower grades reveals great differences in the order in which the subject matter is arranged. The reason for this is that the subject matter is only in part grammar, the rest being a collection of what we may call the conveniences rather than the necessities of written thought, punctuation, capitalization, letter forms and abbreviations. There is no particularly useful classification of them. They may be taken up in any order. If we abstract from these, in the more strictly grammatical part of the subject-matter there is a logical order which starts from the sentence as the unit of thought, passes to the identification of its elements, and the classification of these as parts of speech, and comes finally to the complete inflection and agreement of them.
This order is frequently, though we cannot say usually, rigidly adhered to in the elementary course. In the majority of the public schools inflection and syntax are taught throughout the four or five lower grades with no attempt to be exhaustive, but only to get correct usage of the forms most commonly misused. The result is an order of topics which may differ considerably from the one we have outlined; but it is still an order determined by a classification of grammatical forms. Between the stages of this logical classification are scattered without much plan what were called the conveniences of written thought.
In this order the forms and conveniences, not the content in which they are clothed, are taught the child. An illustration from one elementary text-book will suffice to show the method of instruction. The usage which it is desired to teach is embodied in a number of sentences usually unconnected with each other. Then follow remarks and questions calling attention to the usage, then additional sentences framed to show the teacher whether the use has been comprehended, and to give the child practice in recognizing or using it. Then the next usage in the classification is taken up in the same direct way, followed by the next. Here again, as in writing and spelling, the child sees chiefly forms imbedded in miscellaneous and to him relatively valueless content.
There is another class of grammatical text-books and courses of study which seek to retain the logical coherence of the forms and also make the content coherent. The forms are still taught directly and in the order in which they occur in the logical classification, but there is an effort to make a connected content out of the sentences which illustrate any single usage. This is an exceedingly difficult thing to do well, and the resulting content is usually highly artificial.
Thus far we have been speaking of elementary grammar. The advanced grammar of the higher grades differs chiefly in that the logical classification of the forms is more rigidly adhered to, and more exhaustively treated. Technical terms are taught more freely.
We have shown that the effect of teaching knowledge of the symbols and use of the symbols, materials and tools apart from getting a positive and connected content is, at least in the case of writing, spelling, and grammar, to make them primarily studies of forms containing a miscellaneous and incidental and valueless content. The reason why the same is not true of reading is because the technical side of reading is no longer taught directly, but largely in subordination to getting literary, historical, and geographical knowledge, although much still remains to be done to give coherence to the subject-matter.
Here are really two factors which combine to bring about this condition. There is, first, setting up the mastery of the symbols, materials, and tools as an end itself. This is what makes the content subordinate to the forms. There is, secondly, classification of the subject-matter according to the supposed increasing difficulty of the forms and adjustments. The classification is what makes the content miscellaneous. It need not, however, be a classification of forms and adjustments in order to render the content miscellaneous. It may be a content classification; e. g., in spelling, the classification of words according to similarities in meaning. Arithmetic is not a form but a content study, yet its content has been rendered both subordinate and miscellaneous by a classification based on the abbreviations of the process of counting ; i. e., upon an aspect of its content. The distinction between these two factors—the relation of one study to another, and the tendency to over-classification within a single study-will be recognized in the following sections devoted to criticism. At times criticism will be directed against the non-subordination of the symbol studies and the modes of expression to the content studies; and at other times against unnecessary or premature classification. We begin with the former.
One objection against teaching the symbol studies and the modes of expression apart from a valuable and connected content has been clearly stated by others. (1) In life outside the school we are interested in ends primarily, and in symbols and
Prof. J. Dewey, The Elementary School Record, 1900, pp. 49-52, 230-1; Supt. C. B. Gilbert, Educational Review, '96, Vol. XI, p. 316.
the different ways of doing things only as they are instrumental in securing the ends. It is contended that the child is not different from the adult in this respect; indeed, being capable of a less degree of abstraction can stand less concentration on means apart from ends. To treat the symbol studies and the modes of expression as co-ordinate with the content studies is for the child an undue separation of ends and means, with the result that he fails to see the application of the symbols and modes of expression, hence has little motive for acquiring them. Or, if through their employment in the content studies the child does see their application, they are also continued as separate studies, and there they are not embodied in a content which he regards as worth getting or communicating. This is the question of motive, of getting the motive which actuates the child to acquire the symbols and modes of expression to be an internal motive, his motive, rather than a more or less uncomprehending compliance with outside requests. If reading and writing, spelling and grammar, are means to ends in normal social life they should be presented as such to the child, i. e., in subordination to some positive content. And once more by this is meant not in subordination to abstract content, or to any content whatever, but to content, either direct experience or information, as it is found in ends which the child presents to himself under the stimulus of a sufficiently varied environment.
There is another objection to teaching the symbol studies and modes of expression as separate studies which is not so often stated. As already shown at length, when the forms and habits are made ends pursued for their own sake they, not necessarily it is true, but nevertheless almost irresistibly, undergo a classification which determines the order in which the topics are taken up in these studies. This leads to frequent oversteppings of the child's circle of experience. To pass over the doubt whether the child comprehends the philosophy of the copy book, it is now generally admitted that the words selected for spelling should be limited to the children's written vocabulary. Yet in a typical speller used in many cities at present, the principle of phonetic analogy leads to the introduction in the fourth grade of the following words: blithe, niche, gripe, copse, scud, thyme,
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craunch, sward, ruse, cloy, whorl, eyrie. Similarly in grammar an arrangement of the subject-matter according to a logical classification of grammatical usages leads to the introduction of sentences beyond the children's comprehension, of which the following taken from a single page are examples : (fifth grade) “ Between the mind of man and the outer world are interposed the nerves of the human body.” “Feudalism did not and could not exist before the tenth century.” By perfection is meant the full and harmonious development of all the faculties.” “All forms of the lever and the principal kinds of hinges are found in the body.” This error permeates also the content studies wherever a logical in contrast to a psychological classification determines the order of topics. In arithmetic it leads to the use of large numbers in connection with the subject of numeration in the third grade ; to the use of rarely used units of measure in the fourth and fifth grades; and to business transactions beyond the experience of the children in the fourth to seventh grades.
A third objection is the miscellaneous character of the content. We have dwelt much upon this feature because it is fatal to interest, if continued long. In the public school system of one large city miscellaneous unconnected content filled an average of about one half of the total school hours in eight years. The studies which contributed the miscellaneous content were writing, spelling, language and grammar, arithmetic and algebra. Five thousand six hundred and ten minutes weekly in all eight grades were devoted to these subjects, and 5,975 to all other subjects and exercises. There is a place in the school for this miscellaneous content. Its place is not to be a substitute for the coherent progressive content, through which the child becomes acquainted with the forms, but to follow that, and its function is to give the child material for gaining speed in recognizing and using the forms. When restricted to its normal place, it would probably come nearer to occupying a sixth than a half of the total school time, and of course not the whole time devoted to any one study. The exact amount would be determined by the degree to which the child's interest in the ends upon which he is engaged—some coherent progressive content
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