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a Volling EASY READER;
BY J. OLNEY, A. M.
NEW-H A VEN.
DURRIE & PECK.
NARVARD COLLEGE LIBRARY
FE8 28 1942
Entered according to act of Congress, by DURRIE & PECK, A. D. 1833, in the Clerk's Office of the District of Connecticut.
J. H. WELLS, PRINT.-HARTFORD.
As the great end of elementary education is to develope and bring into exercise the various faculties of the youthful mind, it is of the first importance that such methods of instruction should be employed as will most successfully accomplish these desirable objects. It should ever be borne in mind by those who are interested in the education of the young, that childhood is the progressive state of both mind and body, and that if either is neglected at this stage, it will never attain that height in excellence to which it is capable of ascending. The proper nourishment of the mind like that of the body is generous and constant action, and in exact proportion to the use of this will be the strength of the one, and the power of the other. Much more depends on the early education of chil. dren than is generally supposed. The mind at this age is susceptible of any impression, and can be trained to any habits; and it is at this period that a solid foundation must be laid for all subsequent attainments in the arts and sciences The character of the man must in a great measure depend on the direction that the mind receives, or on the habits that are formed in this period of life. Whatever may be the method of instruction habits will be formed, and these will be good or bad in proportion as the methods employed are judicious or otherwise. How important then, that the education of children should be properly commenced, and conducted,—that the mind at its first setting out in quest of knowledge, should be guided to wisdom's paths which“ lead to the fields of knowledge and the founts of science.”
It is supposed by many that no study is calculated to exercise the mental faculties of children except arithmetic. But this is a great mistake. No study is better calculated to effect this than reading; and as this is the fundamental branch of instruction in our schools, particular attention should be paid to make this in all cases a mental exercise. When this is done, the pupil will make rapid progress, and in the outset acquire the habits of reading for ideas. The powers of his mind will thus be awakened and brought into exercise, and he will be prepared to engage in other branches of study and pursue them understandingly. But let a pupil, six or seven years of age, be permitted to read two or three years, in a careless, unthinking manner,-hurrying over sentences without understanding them-attaching no meaning to the words that he reads, and he will contract habits of thoughtlessness, indifference, and inattention, that will disqualify him for pursuing any other branch of education either with pleasure or profit. The reason is obvious. Such a course of instruction does not lead him to think. The powers of his mind are not developed and his judgment is in no case exercised. Nothing can be a greater obstacle to the acquisition of vigorous habits of investigation and of sound and useful knowledge than the habit of reading without thinking, and of resting contented with a very confused or superficial notion of what is read.
That much time is uselessly spent in teaching children to read-and that bad habits, as regards pronunciation, emphasis, tones, attention, &c., are often contracted for want of suitable books there can be little doubt. In most cases those who have prepared reading books for children, have consulted their own taste instead of that of the class for whom they were laboring. Lessons designed for children should be interesting, suited to the capacities, and adapted to the natural progress of their minds. Books prepared in this manner are read with interest, and always effect the object intended. All attempts to facilitate the progress of the learner by marking emphatic words, inflections of the voice, &c., are injurious, and have a direct tendency to produce re
chanical reading. If the learner understands what he reads, he will read correctly without such assistance,-if he does not, no help of the kind will enable him to read well. But this is not all. The evil is, instead of leading the pupil to exercise his own judgment, as regards emphasis, inflections, &c., and to depend on himself, and rely on bis own powers,--they teach him to depend entirely on these artificial marks, and thus reading is made a dull mechanical exercise. Impressed with the truth of the above sentiments, the compiler has prepared the following work, with a firm belief that its use will have a direct tendency to obviate the evils complained of. The selections have been made with the deepest conviction of the great influence that the first books that are put into the hands of children are destined to exert both on their moral and literary character. No pains have been spared to make it a plain, practical, reading book,—such an one as is needed in our schools;-one that will assist the pupil to spell, define, and pronounce correctly, and to read understandingly. Great care has been taken to arrange the lessons so as to lead the pupil by regular gradation from easy to difficult reading, and to an acquaintance with a few new words in each succeeding lesson. It is believed that the work will be found more interesting, --more judiciously arranged, and, far tetter calculated to induce habits of thought and investigation, than any similar one that has hitherto been published.
In using the following work, it is intended that the learner should spell, pronounce, and define the principal words of each lesson before he reads it. This will enable him to enter into the sense of what he reads,--will call into exercise the various powers of his mind--and daily advance him in acquiring a knowledge of language. That orthography, pronunciation, definition and reading can be taught more successfully in connection than separately, there can be no doubt. For studied in this manner, each assists in the acquisition of the other; and the learner is able to reduce his knowledge to practice as soon as acquired. In ad dition to the above, the attention of the pupil should be turned frequently to the etymology of the language. It will be found a pleasing, and profitable exercise for young scholars to 'trace words to their roots or primitives, and follow out their derivations. This compels them to think, to examine, and investigate for themselves; consequently they proceed understandingly, and pursue these studies as a source of delight and amusement.
In teaching a child to read, the motto of the teacher should be "a little and well.” In the reading of each sentence his attention must be directed to pronunciation, emphasis, cadence, inflections, tones, and the addition or omission of words or letters. Now it must be evident to any one that (the lesson must be short, or many of these subjects must be passed unnoticed. But, one sentence read in which attention is paid to each of these, is more beneficial than pages or even volumes read in a hasty, careless, or unthinking manner. The former method tends to cultivate and discipline the mind, while the latter tends as directly to disqualify or unfit it for all mental exertion. The grand rule, "Read as you converse" ought to be deeply impressed on the mind of the learner, and if this rule is observed, his reading will resemble grace. ful and animated conversation.
To teachers and others interested in the education of the young, the following work is humbly presented with the earnest hope that it may be found useful to the young, in improving their style of reading and in exciting them to virtuous action.
J, OLNEY. Hartford, July 20th, 1833.
LESSONS IN PROSE.