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In the teaching of children there is danger, in this " eminently practical age,” that the imagination will be too much neglected, and that they will lose something of great value, which cannot be made up to them by all the imperial bushels of facts which may be poured into them. The Fairies have fallen much into disrepute; the Cow no longer jumps over the moon; being a real graminivorous ruminating quadruped, she hardly jumps under it! Meanwhile is truth more honored in this age of gaslight and facts than in the darker age of rushlight and fancies?
The compiler wishes to say a good word for the practice of learning by heart. In what way can the taste be so well cultivated and refined, and the gentler feelings fostered, as by committing to memory, a number of choice poems? The beauty of a true poem cannot be fully known until it is learned by heart. It is then ours, a companion and a joy forever, and, being interwoven with our earliest recollections, it grows more and more precious as we grow older. This, also, is something well worth doing, — to train and strengthen the memory in the period of life in which it may best be done.
When one of the poems has been selected for the class to learn by heart, the teacher should make sure that all the pupils thoroughly comprehend the piece. It is better to put them in the way of finding out for themselves than to give them the information. What is the main idea of the poem is a question which should be always asked. This main idea, or the general meaning, should be brought out so as to be clearly seen and realized.
After the text has been studied, and all difficulties are overcome, the poem may be correctly copied by each pupil, and then well learned by heart. In most cases, the latter part may be out-of-school work. ,
When the piece is publicly recited it should be done with feeling and effect. Attention should be paid to pronunciation, inflection, emphasis, etc.
Such selections as these may be used with great advantage in teaching young scholars the early steps of English composition. They may be required to write out the meaning of the poem in their own words,
- to paraphrase it. Care should be taken that the ideas are correctly reproduced and in good form. The pupil should be taught not to be afraid to use the vocabulary which he already possesses. It is too much to expect him to furnish ideas: these come later on. Practice of this kind with the pen would be of much use where technical grammar, as now taught in most of the schools, is useless. It would be a help in teaching how to write one's native tongue.
L. J. C. March, 1880.
The Three Parts are paged separately; hence the poem must be looked
for in the Part and Page as here indicated; for example, to find the piece
BIRDS IN SUMMER. .... M. Howitt. ..2
· · · · . . . . .
Y, THE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2