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Most of the points given under Grades VII and VIII apply here as vell. To these may be added :
1. Certain elementary principles of rhetoric, such as sentence and paragraph unity, which have been taught previously, should be applied rigidly in criticism. In addition the planning of a longer composition should be taught both by the analysis of good examples and by practice in making outlines. The general principle of coherence should be taught, as applying to the sentence within a paragraph and to the paragraphs that make up the whole composition.
2. Work in spelling, as explained in Grade VII, should be so emphasized as to make pupils feel that it is absolutely inexcusable to misspell the words they habitually use.
VII. REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON LITERATURE IN THE SEVENTH, EIGHTH, AND NINTH GRADES (JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL).
The following report on literature in the seventh, eighth, and ninth grades includes (1) a statement of the purposes of teaching literature in these grades; (2) a statement of the principles governing the selection of this literature; (3) a discussion of the methods to be employed in its presentation; and (4) a class reading list and an individual, or home, reading list for each grade mentioned.
General purpose. The essential object of the literature work of the seventh, eighth, and ninth years is so to appeal to the developing sensibilities of early adolescence as to lead to eager and appreciative reading of books of as high an order as is possible for the given individual, to the end of both present and future development of his character and the formation of the habit of turning to good books for companionship in hours of leisure. To this general purpose, stated somewhat more in detail in the first three paragraphs below, all other purposes must be secondary.
Special purposes.—1. To cultivate high ideals of life and conduct through literature of power, in so far as such appeal is adapted to the understanding and sympathies of pupils of these grades.
2. To stimulate the imaginative and emotional faculties of the pupil to a degree comparable to the development of his reasoning powers in his other school work.
3. To broaden the mental experience by supplying a sympathetic acquaintance with scences in various geographical sections and with historical periods of the world. This has two distinct values: (1) Psychologically it forms centers of apperception about which fresh facts will tend to accumulate in the future, the process being vitalized by the human interest attaching to the central historical or fictional figures; and (2) by the presentation of persons acting in accordance with the demands of conditions new to the pupil an attack is made early in the educative process upon the tendency toward a merely local or provincial outlook upon life.
4. To give the pupil early a delightful first-hand acquaintance with the simpler writings of some authors of high rank to the end
that he may later pass easily and naturally to their more complex works.
5. To present such a variety of types of literary production as is consonant with the pupil's mental grasp in the given grade and with the accomplishment of the other purposes herein indicated.
6. To improve the pupil's powers of self-expression by energizing his thought, by presenting worthy models of construction, and by instilling a feeling for style in the narrow sense through direct contact with simple masterpieces rather than through specific study of technique.
7. To fix in memory a considerable body of suitable poetry and prose, which shall serve throughout life as a source of joy, a criterion for the evaluation of other writings, and a stimulus to further reading.
8. To train pupils in discriminating among the current publications and dramatic productions, choosing the best.
II. PRINCIPLES OF CHOICE.
1. Value of content (power of broadening the mental vision and stimulating thought); ethical soundness, human sympathy, optimism; literary qualities.
2. Power to grip the interest of pupils of the given grade. They must enjoy, not merely tolerate.
3. Subordination of excellence of style, when necessary, to value of content and power to arouse interest.
4. Recognition of the fact that the reading interests of seventh, eighth, and ninth grade pupils are almost entirely narrative, but that there should be an effort to secure such diversity as is possible in time and place of action, with due attention to heroic subjects, and to the best from foreign literatures and the past.
5. A variety of choice such that no school shall be required, for the sake of uniformity, to refrain from doing its best in both organization and extent of course.
6. The need of organizing the reading, especially that to be done in class, so that the selections will constitute something of a progression or course. It must, however, be recognized in the literature of grades seven, eight, and nine that there are but two fundamental principles of arrangement or development; namely, variety within clearly marked limits and gradual growth in breadth of content and depth of appeal.
III. METHOD. Both the pupil's reading in grades seven to nine and the teacher's guidance of that reading naturally divide into two distinct phases. A few tried pieces of high order may well be read in class sym
pathetically, for content and beauty, and at the same time simpler works should be read by the pupils individually and for the most part at home. The classroom work will stimulate and help to control the outside reading and this in turn tend to develop the desired habit of reading freely and wisely. There will be suggested methods appropriate to each of these forms of the teacher's work.
1. Fundamental is the comprehension of the meaning of the work as a whole, and of the contribution of its various parts to that meaning. In narrative this involves an understanding of the cause-andeffect relationship between the various incidents and between character and action, a study that often culminates in the perception of some pervading principle governing human life. As to order of procedure, in the case of many shorter forms it is advisable to begin with an oral reading that carefully preserves the spirit of the work and to follow this reading with a discussion of the more important interpretative details. In the case of the longer works it is usually necessary to examine first the successive sections and then by a rapid review to unify these into a compact whole. It is important to avoid the two extremes (1) of merely reading the work without any adequate comprehension of its message, and (2) of entering into labored analysis. What constitutes an effective middle between these extremes must be settled independently by each teacher for each work on the basis of (1) the difficulty of the writing and (2) the needs and mood of the class.
2. Stimulation of the imaginative and emotional faculties of the pupil is mainly dependent upon inducing him to identify himself in thought with the writer and (in narrative) with the characters. He must be led for the time to see and to feel as did the writer, or to hope or fear, to despair or triumph, as do the characters in the play or story. To this end more than to any other must the teacher's interpretative powers be bent, for if he fails in this, the work can not rise above the mediocre. As a means of securing this attitude of mind, the pupil may, for instance, be asked to visualize a scene orally without glancing at the text, the test in such a case being consistency with the author's conception, and not mere repetition of details held in memory from the reading; or he may be asked to talk or write upon a situation parallel with that in the text, but drawn from his own experience, real or imagined; or he may take part in arranging and enacting simple dramatizations.
3. The teacher should be equipped with various types of additional information for various types of writings. Such are: Additional features of background, human and otherwise, for foreign scenes;
details concerning the life and conceptions of the peoples who produced such primitive forms of literature as “ The Odyssey” or “The Song of Roland ”; and anecdotes illustrating the personalities of the authors. Such detailed methods, however, as are involved in the presentation of a play of the time of Shakespeare have in general no place in the work of these grades.
4. In the reading of poetry special attention should be paid to the cultivation of a keen ear for the lilt of the verse. In the earlier part of this three-year course the chief reliance must be upon the pupil's sense of rhythm as stimulated by contact with a teacher skilled in oral interpretation, but toward the end of the three years he should perhaps be ready for a knowledge of the use of the four principal feet as obtained by the analysis of very simple and regular lines of verse and by making verses of his own.
5. Some of the passages read should be committed to memory, the passages being assigned by the teacher, or selected by the class as a whole, or left to the choice of the individual members of the class. The method of memorizing is important. If pupils will read aloud the passages selected, once or twice a day thoughtfully for a couple of weeks, they will find they have unconsciously mastered them. Passages so memorized will be remembered much longer than those learned in shorter sections day by day. Several repetitions of such passages at gradually lengthening intervals will be necessary to insure their permanent retention. Memorizing should follow, not precede, a clear perception of the progress of the thought of the selection.
6. Grammatical analysis and word study are valuable aids in determining the meaning of a given passage, and should be used whenever necessary for that purpose. Their introduction into the literature hour for any purpose other than this, however, is to be deplored. Other uses, essential and vital, they have; but these should be given another place in the English course.
MEANS OF ENCOURAGING AND TESTING HOME READING.
Home reading should be encouraged and guided by every means the teacher can devise. Each teacher should make from the books and magazines that are or can be made available a list for each grade sufficiently long and varied to permit the pupils of the class to choose books and magazines within their individual taste and grasp. The reading should be classified into such main groups as long stories, short stories, biography, travel, popular science, current events, poetry, and drama. While large individual choice should be allowed, each pupil should be required to delve into several fields like the above.