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THE STUDY OF A STORY. CTUDY with a class of older pupils, for a
month or so, ten minutes daily, a good piece of wsiting which is interesting and within the compass of their understanding. Consider (1) the general ineaning; (2) the meaning of parts ; (3) the words and phrases; (4) ideas or facts new to the class; (5) subjects of the separate paragraphs ; (6) the characters of the story; (7) the references, allusions, etc., and (8) the figures of speech, if the advancement of the class will warrant.
In subsequent lessons about the same, obtain from the pupils their idea of the purpose of the story, and some expression of opinion regarding it. Require each to give a summary of facts of every kind, learned by him from the study of the story, the same to be carefully classified and arranged.
Hawthorne's “The Great Stone Face" affords admirable material for this kind of exercise.
A topical analysis of the story would be a possible additional exercise resulting from the study.
Paraphrasing of passages and grammatical analysis of selected paragraphs will necessarily form a part of these lessons.
Lamb's “Tales from Shakespeare”; “The Snow Image” and “ David Swan," by Hawthorne; “Supper at the Mill,” by Jean Ingelow; “ The King of the Golden River," by Ruskin, are suggested as other material for this kind of work.
Another exercise may be upon the characters in a story. Prepare for this exercise, some weeks beforehand, by directing the pupils to read carefully, or re-read before a given date, a suitable story of your selection.
Soon after the date, limiting the time, without warning, and after the usual preparations for writing have been made, give the subject or subjects for the day from the characters of the selected story. Example :
“The boys may write to-day about · Wamba, the Jester'; the girls about “Cedric, the Saxon'”; or, “ The girls may write to-day about 'Felicie,' and the boys about · Prinhac,'” giving but one subject to each part of the class at one lesson.
Close to the same time, give such directions as this : (1) “You may write about The House of Cedric, the Saxon,' or The Customs and Manners of the Saxons'; or “The Costumes of the Saxons,'” and the like. Or as this: (2) “ One week from to-day you may be ready to recite from memory a descriptive passage from the story you. have lately read; you may each select the passage you prefer."
After the date set, give, as before, the new exercise without warning: (1) “You may put the substance of the passage which you have learned into dialogue form, using the words and phrases as closely as possible.” Or thus (2): “Separate the passage you have learned into its grammatical component parts; (a) arrange these in columns according to their classes, that is, words, phrases, clauses, members; (6) place all these in separate columns according to their functions; arrange words, etc., in the various columns, in alphabeti. cal order." Or thus (3): “Write a short description of some person, place, or thing, known to yourself, modeling the manner and form of your sentences on those of the passage learned, but using your own vocabulary.”
A fourth exercise may consist of the results of the pupils' independent thinking about parts or characters of the story. Example :
“You may write, this morning, what you think about the most interesting person of the story; about the story as a whole.”
Many more exercises in kind will be suggested to the teacher by the conditions of the story
itself. But it will be a mistake to keep the same story too long in hand at one time. It would be better to read a new one, for the sake of the read. ing merely, and to make use of it while it is still fresh in interest, than to dwell too long on one.
In most schools it will be necessary “to edu. cate " the classes “up” to reading. A large percentage, even in the best schools in the best wards of cities, will be found to be ignorant of books of any value; the scant vocabulary of the brightest pupils will show this to be true, without any inquiry.
To create a taste for reading, set apart a time once a day if possible, once a week at least, for reading a real book. Begin to read, watching carefully for signs of inattention; if the class do not listen well, either take another book, or take a little time to explain that this story is interesting, although the beginning seems dull ; keep maps on the desk, if places are mentioned; ex. plain freely, at the outset. Simplify the language where it is not clear, at the beginning, by changing, here and there, uncommon to better known words. Read only a little at first. When the book has been read partly through, if the interest is sufficient, take no more time with it, but allow the children to finish, directing them where and how to get books. Say that as soon as all have finished, another shall be taken up. Make use of the first for conversation exercises.
In young classes read, at first, such stories as can be finished at one short reading. When enough has been done to accustom all to hearing and liking to hear, choose something that can be finished in two readings, and increase at discretion till a book can be read. The rapid increase in understanding book-language will make the value of this practice apparent.
The every-day reading lessons will be much more easily learned.
Note I. By means of this and the preceding exercises the teacher will be aided in her efforts to change the character of the reading of her pupils, or even to get it entirely within her control.
NOTE II. Even in the youngest classes, it is easy to make valuable oral exercises, in the recital of the story without questions, each one going as far as he can without leaving out, and the next taking up the story where he fails to remember the exact order.
NOTE III. Read Hale's How to Do it" often.
Stories for Young Pupils :
“ The Princess and the Goblins.”—Macdonald. “The King of the Golden River.”-Ruskin. “ Pilgrim's Progress." (One syllable.) “Robinson Crusoe.” (One syllable.) “Water Babies.”—Kingsley.