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ADAPTED TO THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE REVISED CODE
EDITED BY THE Rev. A. R. GRANT
RECTOR OF HITCHAM, AND HONORARY CANON OF ELY; FORMERLY
H.M. INSPECTOR OF SCHOOLS
STRAHAN & Co., PUBLISHERS
The problem which a Standard Reading Book proposes to solve, is not so easy as may appear at first sight. Every one will allow that teaching to read is something more than teaching the mechanical art of putting sounds to given combinations of letters. I think most of those who have given attention to the subject will agree, that it includes also such an unfolding of the intellectual powers, and furnishing the mind with knowledge, as that the mechanical art may be practised with intelligence, and not only with intelligence, but with sufficient pleasure to ensure its being pursued from choice after the period of instruction is over.
The earlier Reading Books which came under my notice as a School Inspector, committed, in my opinion, the mistake of giving too much importance to one of the objects above mentioned, viz., the communication of knowledge.
They crammed the young mind with more food than it could digest, and of a kind unsuited to its powers. Instead of knowledge therefore, they too often only communicated a nearly incurable aversion to reading. The next Books went into the opposite extreme, and provided nothing but amusement in the earlier standards, from which there was an abrupt step in the higher standards to selections from works on history, biography, and the like. This I consider was also a mistake, on account of the absence of intellectual training, which cannot be spared out of the labouring child's short time of schooling, however unobjectionable or even useful a part merely amusing reading may sustain in the education of those classes which are not stinted for time. I think that both kinds of Reading Book have missed
the real essential, which is, that while the end of instruction is steadily kept in view, the ideas as well as the language should be adapted to the age of the children to be taught.
The higher classes of society are abundantly supplied with books wbich at least fulfil this condition, while children of the lower classes, who are necessarily much more backward in intellectual development, are set down to read detached passages out of Standard Authors. The reading lessons which we want, are compositions written expressly for the purpose,-suited to children without being childish, sensible without being dull, giving elementary knowledge in a form fitted to excite interest and curiosity; introducing common-sense reasoning on the ordinary matters of life ; associating knowledge with every-day business, instead of leaving it in the cloudland, where it rests with most children-apart from interest or pleasure—and ever, whether expressly or by implication, bringing to bear on the heart and conduct, the great principles made known to us by Divine Revelation.
This description appears to me to apply to the following lessons. These are the ends the authors have had in view; and they have had opportunities possessed by very few people of gaining an intimate knowledge of the character and capacities of those for whom they write.
My part in the work has been limited to revision and suggestions, unless I may add a very cordial approval o its publication,—which, perhaps, from my official experience, has been taken for more than it is worth, but which I hope to see ratified by those who are carrying on the deeply important work of primary education.
A. R. G.
INTRODUCTORY NOTE TO FIRST STANDARD.
It has been observed that little children learn to read yerse much more rapidly than prose. In this book an attempt is made to educate their ears as well as their eyes, by teaching them words that rhyme.
Instead of the usual Alphabet it has been found better to give them only the small letters at first, and the consonants in connection with the vowels.
No word is introduced with which young children are not familiar; and some dialogues are added, in the hope that they may learn to read them in a more spirited and intelligent manner than is common in schools where the books contain narratives only.
The Revised Code requires monosyllables only in the First Standard; but many words of two syllables are so easy that they have occasionally been introduced.
The first line of the first lesson should be read to the children by the teacher. Then the whole class should pronounce it after him simultaneously three or four times. After this each child should read one word singly. Very little children should not read more than fifteen minutes at a time, but they ought to have four such lessons every day.
It is recommended that the children should learn to read Lessons 1 and 2, first straight down, and then from left to right.