« AnteriorContinuar »
tions to the examinations set for entrance to the University of California, Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, etc.
A word in regard to the results obtained. First, the student's interest in his work far exceeds that aroused by any other method of teaching that I have ever tried. He more nearly forgets that he is getting a lesson for the teacher, and works from a desire to know; consequently he soon learns to accomplish a much larger amount of work in a given time. Second, the student does the work required much more easily than when he learns a mass of facts which are not real to him. Third, his intelligence becomes much broader than the outline of facts on which he must pass examinations, and he seldom makes bad mistakes in the interpretation of his facts, and of their relations to other events. Fourth, the results of his work are more permanent. A text-book learned, even with all possible attention to explanation and outside illustration, is too apt to be displaced in the mind by the next one poured in ; whereas, knowledge of things and of events takes a natural place in the growth of the mind as a part of itself. Experience proves that after a year's time the knowledge retained by our boys is sufficiently ready and accurate to be serviceable. Fifth, the mental discipline acquired is perhaps the most important single result. An actual change in the pupil's vocabulary is made. An actual broadening of his ideas with reference to all other subjects takes place as a result of his familiar contact with so many first-class authors. He acquires a practical ability to work in a library and there hunt down a subject without mental confusion or loss of time, and he forms the invaluable habit of outlining and summing up the work that he does. The general discipline resulting from history work is so great a reinforcement of his studies in English that in value a year's work might well-nigh count for a year in that course.
I wish to call the attention of teachers to two points. First, the study of United States history can be made much easier and more effective by supplying the right books for pupils to read dur
ing the year preceding the one in which they are to study history. There are many boys' books which boys and girls will read if they can get them ; such as the volumes of Towle's “ Heroes of History” series, Cooper's novels, Coffin's “Story of Liberty,” “The Boys of '76," Moore's “Pilgrims and Puritans," etc.
Great care must be taken not to force on the pupil books too old for him. If the right books are found, no urging more than their presence and a little wise care on the part of the teacher is necessary to insure their being read by the average pupil. If all children came from intelligent families, care on the part of the teacher about this previous year's reading would not be an urgent necessity; but they do not, and the possession by the pupil of some general information of a kind similar to the subject to be taken up is essential to ideal success in teaching any branch of study. Second, it is time that United States history be no longer considered a study for children and kept in grades below the high school and the academy. As long as it is so placed, the study, of necessity, reduces itself to a succession of striking stories and a certain amount of biography and historical geography. Especially is it impossible to teach to immature children anything worthy the name of history about the period since the signing of the Treaty of Paris.
The more they can learn about our country, its heroes and great events, the better, if this earlier work can be followed by a year's study of our national history in the high school. Unless a considerable amount of civil government, politics, and diplomacy is combined with the study of our history, its incidents, heroes, and wars may be very interesting and valuable, but they are only the material for the study of history. If the making of intelligent citizens is one chief aim of our schools, our national history and government ought to occupy no secondary place in our courses of study, and the candidate for admission to college should have compassed all their elementary facts and principles.
It touches our national pride nearly that so many American institutions still admit boys who must be well up in mathematics, in dead and in foreign tongues, even in European history, but who may be totally ignorant about the development and character of this late, most wide-reaching, and profoundly important phase of world history, the Republic of the United States. This is the more to be regretted since a wide range of electives makes it possible, or probable, that the majority will graduate, even from our foremost institutions, as ignorant on this subject as when they entered.
I wish to acknowledge my indebtedness, in the preparation of this book, first to my husband, Charles Davidson, who has shared so large a part of the burden of preparing the manuscript, and whose advice and judgment have been my constant reliance; to Mr. W. T. Reid, Principal of Belmont School, whose generosity in providing books and facilities has made this experiment in secondary education possible, and whose faith and patience have given to both teacher and pupils the utmost freedom in their work; to Assistant-Professor William Carey Jones, of the University of California, and to Professor Jesse Macy, of Iowa College, Grinnell, Iowa, for suggestions, help, and encouragement of value.
In so large a number of references there may be some mistakes. I shall thank any teacher who will point out an error. I shall also be glad to receive any criticisms, suggestions, new references, etc., which result from experience in using the book and which will enable me to improve a future edition.
HANNAH A. DAVIDSON.
BOOKS NECESSARY TO THE STUDY OF UNITED
STATES HISTORY BY THE LIBRARY METHOD.
It is very desirable that the school library should contain as many of the best books as possible. Many valuable books can be had for a small sum. It costs less to furnish a library, in a secondary school, for the study of history than to fit up a laboratory suitable for the study of physics or chemistry, yet one should occupy as important a place in the course as the other. But where a good list of books cannot be had, much can be done with an extremely limited list. For instance, a school can get one complete set, preferably Bryant's, if but one, and a number of small books on different periods, such as Fiske's “Irving's Life of Washington,” Fiske's small “The War of Independence," Johnston's “ Politics ” and “ The History and Constitution of the United States,” Andrews' “ Manual of the Constitution,” etc.; very good work can be done with such a list of books if each student owns a few necessary volumes himself. Montgomery's “ American History,” Ginn & Co., especially for the colonial period; A. Johnston's “ History of the United States,” Holt & Co., especially for the national period ; MacCoun's “ Historical Geography of the United States," and some good handy atlas, make a serviceable list for the individual student to own. If possible, he should add Andrews' “ Manual of the Constitution" or some similar work. When nothing else is possible, a teacher can sometimes get together a library which is much better than none by asking each student to contribute the loan for the term of every book on United States history to be found in his home or borrowed in the neighborhood.
The library, to-day, is at the centre of every efficient school. The school which has none will show a first sign of growth by beginning to get one.
DIRECTIONS ABOUT THE USE OF A LIBRARY IN
STUDYING HISTORY; FOR STUDENTS.
First. You are not expected to read the entire list of references on each topic. In many cases the account given in one book is nearly a duplicate of that given in the others. Form the habit of taking each day the one of the standard books, Bryant's or Bancroft's or Doyle's history, for instance, which you like best to use, and of reading all the references found in it carefully; then go over the topics assigned for your lesson and ask yourself about each, whether your knowledge of it is complete and satisfactory : if it is not, consult other books; when you find what you want, go on to the next topic, but do not give up without finding what you are looking for, until you have exhausted the entire list of references given. After you have gone through the lesson in this way, if you have any time remaining, spend it in reading other references in the books that interest you most. You ought, usually, to have time to read at least two different accounts on the topics of your lesson, and to look at the maps, portraits, etc., in a number of other books.
Second. Do not try to commit to memory or to take notes (except on such matters as boundaries, treaties, etc.) while you are reading. Read as you read any book in which you are interested; when you are through and have closed your book, make your mind sum up what you have read; if you forget some important point, go back and look up that one, no others. By making a pencil and paper your walking-staff and leaning on it, you may easily cripple your memory for life.
Third. Put into your note-book any facts which you fear that you may forget. Put into it nothing but exact statements in the