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Regarding the Plan and Purpose of the Book.
The excellent work that has been done in systematizing the reading work throughout the primary grades needs no comment. The lack of a definite method of procedure above the primary grades needs no remark. TEACHING TO READ enters the latter field. It aims to present the subject of reading in a manner more nearly resembling the orderly and systematic procedure used in other branches.
We believe that the problems of the reading class can be attacked in a much more definite way than has heretofore been attempted, and that, by means of a more systematic plan, they can be skillfully and understandingly disposed of, one by one, to the satisfaction of both teachers and pupils.
The problems of the reading class are the Problems of Expression and the Problems of Construction. One by one the selections present them, and one by one the Suggestive Studies aim to help the teacher dispose of them.
The book has been prepared more particularly for teachers, and those preparing to teach. Its first aim is to help them to be better readers; its second, to help them to be better teachers of reading.
Regarding the Material Used.
pupils how to read; that is, how to glean thought and how to express it. The first aim of the reading class, then, should be the regular accumulation of systema-tized knowledge regarding reading. That the material used for the purpose should be of the very best grade it is unnecessary to state; and that a love of good literature will grow with an appreciation of good literature does not require argument.
In leaving the beaten path and introducing the large number of short extracts, the author believes that she is following the logical order of procedure. Such a method is the only one by which we are enabled to present one problem at a time, and to advance directly by successive steps from the easy to the difficult.
Nothing is really lost by such a method of procedure, and a great deal is gained; for short extracts have many pedagogical advantages over complete selections, and, when well taught, prove equally as interesting. They can be used in every way with greater definiteness. With them the teacher can place her finger upon the exact thing that she wishes to teach, and the pupil can see the exact thing that he is expected to learn; the teacher can know by successive and progressive steps if she is teaching it, and the pupil can know if he is learning it, and also know why he knows it. The problem in hand is not confused, blurred, or swallowed up with shifting problems and surrounding material. The mind is not reaching forward so much to the next sentence, paragraph, or page, but is more content to dwell upon the one in hand and to glean from it all that it has to give.
The attention given to short extracts does not mean that the value of continued thinking and complete selections has been underestimated. A special effort has been made to meet the needs along these lines.
To the Teacher.
. The care in questioning may seem overdone, until it is put to a practical test; then we are sure that its value will be shown. As for the argument that it will consume too much time and that there will not be enough left for reading, to that we reply: Then read less and read better. Read what you do read correctly, - if it is only one sentence a day, and have the reason for the correct or incorrect reading understood. If you follow this plan, you need have no fear of the final results. One definite result gained, or partly gained, day after day, will carry you toward the final goal with a sure and steady progress which the bare method of “hearing them read” a set amount, with an occasional question, or criticism, or “try again," can never attain.
If the pupils understand the sentence or paragraph, the questioning will pass rapidly, using but little time, and acting as a sort of mental gymnastic, stimulating and invigorating the minds. If they do not understand it, and the answers to questions come haltingly or are incorrect, then they are not ready to read. Little is gained by parrot-like pronunciation of words. Make haste slowly — and thou shalt speed rapidly in the end.
N. E. T.