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life, and it will come in an orderly and serviceable way, in proportion as proper discipline and taste have been reached. The fact that education in things is neglected, makes the thoroughness of education in books the more imperative.
The use of books, like the use of other tools, cannot be taught by precept alone. In all education, training is the important thing. What is needed is the direction of the life. Mr. Ruskin says: “It has been the great error of modern intelligence to mistake science for education. You do not educate a man by telling him what he knew not, but by making him what he was not.” Right doing is the end contemplated. And in order to insure right doing, right tastes must be developed, so that right doing is the attraction and drift of the life. Action must produce its channel in the feelings and become habit, and habit must harden into character. When this is accomplished, the will is directed and the future is secure. This is reached by patient training
The neglect of school instruction in reading has been noticed by librarians, and in some instances librarians have organized classes to teach students how to read. But this device cannot meet the need, because it cannot give that patient, persistent discipline which training implies. Training in reading might furnish a thread of unity in all school-work. Something may be done temporarily by genius and enthusiasm on the part of individuals. But the development of a healthy taste in reading, depends so much upon time and the sense of duty on the part of the student that it will be difficult, except in rare instances, to accomplish the end. Librarians may direct taste, but they cannot hope to develop it. The discipline of the school must be directed to that object. If the young could simply be taught to read wisely, civilization and free institutions would be secure. could be taught to read wisely, the public library would be a great blessing and private reading a powerful aid in the attainment of all desirable results.
If the young
REMARKS OF PRINCIPAL H. P. EMERSON. MR. CHAIRMAN,
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN THE CONVOCATION. It seems to me but a few years ago, and yet I have reckoned it up while sitting here, and find it is sixteen or seventeen years, that I belonged to a certain literary society in college, and when we would take in a new member, and wished the young man to have an adequate idea of what we considered the scope of the work to be done in that society, to come into it with a proper ideal, we thought it was necessary to send to Syracuse for the writer of this paper. And now after so many years have elapsed, during which I have not looked on his face, I consider it an honor and I should consider it a pleasure, if I ever considered public speaking a pleasure, that I have been appointed to say a few words on this production of his. The thoughts advanced seem to me eminently sound and wholesome. Amid the many ideas that are advanced regarding what education is, and the multitudinous theories which we hear at meetings like this, as to what subjects are of most value, it has often occurred to me that at least one good test of what education is, and whether any individual is indeed educated or not, is the ability to read English. This, of course, seems at first thought to be à narrow and an inadequate test, yet the more we consider, the more we shall see it is a proper test; for to read English means to understand and appreciate it ; to be able to understand, and appreciate, and appropriate the thoughts in the best productions of the greatest writers of our language. I suppose the only objection that could be offered to this test would be that men ought not only to be readers, but creators. But we should remember it is reserved to only a few to be real creators in any department; that the great bulk of the useful work of this world is done by those who have ordinary gifts, but apply those gifts in the right direction.
I believe that, if this position is true, we cannot emphasize too much the necessity on the part of the teachers of forming the habit of reading in their pupils. I believe a great improvement has been going on in the schools in the past twenty years. Twenty years ago I was a student in Phillips Academy. During the three years I was in that school I never wrote a composition, and I never remember a single instance in which a teacher suggested a book to read or urged us to reading or independent investigation. Of course, in the classics there was a most minute dissection of the text. It was considered a crime on the part of the scholar not to be able to give the force of a Homeric particle, but as to the origin of the Homeric poems, how they came into being, how they were preserved, Wolf's theory about them, not a word was ever said. As to the influence of these poems for a thousand years on the Greek mind; the fact that they were at once the polite literature and the Bible of a wonderful people, that was never mentioned. The venerable principal of the school never paused from his fusilade of questions on Greek prosody and Greek syntax, to point out a beautiful passage, or to tell us why Homer was really a great poet. Just the same in Latin. The teachers seemed to think that Cicero's orations were written to prove that the rules we learned in Andrews and Stoddard's grammar were correct; that they made no mistake when they wrote the grammar. It was all well to spend much time on indirect discourse in Cæsar, but I have thought since, a hundred times, if the teacher had given us a little direct discourse on Cæsar's place in the world as a politician and statesman, and the political tendencies he represented, it would not have been out of place. I have not a word to say against the training of that school in those days. I believe the education they gave was strong; that it strengthened the memory; that it gave the boys self-control and power. I only mention it because, as I look back and remember that there was not an encyclopedia we could get at unless we owned it ourselves, and then compare that endowed classical school with some of the public schools of to-day, I see that the progress has been great and striking. I have a great mistrust, as I manage a school year after year, I have a growing mistrust, of that information of which the textbook is the be-all and the end-all; I have a growing admiration for that information which is given to the scholar, or the scholar is led to find for himself, independent of his text-book; and I feel like rewarding in the school-room the least indication that the boys and girls are learning to feed themselves.
I have listened with delight to this paper, and particularly to one part of it. I do not believe it possible for the secondary school to be brought up to the highest state of efficiency, unless scholars are incited to independent reading. It is the beginning of selfeducation and thus of real culture. We all know, as teachers, the tendency of schools. There is a tendency in all education to drop into formalism and routine; to become bookish; to use words apart from the things or the truths behind the words. If we do not do it ourselves, we know teachers who have persisted in doing it; who are satisfied to ask certain questions and get certain answers out of their pupils. We all know how good reciting sometimes covers up a lamentable lack of real knowledge. So I believe, while recitations and text-books are necessary, it is also necessary for us to encourage scholars to this collateral reading, and it is upon this point I wish to say a few words and close, on the point of making reading a help in the class-work we do from day to day, and thus breaking up what is mechanical and artificial in school instruction. It has always seemed to me there is an analogy between the process of education in this particular and the preparation of the soil for the seed. Here is a field to be cultivated. The farmer puts in his plow and it cuts through the tough sward and lays the furrows over and there they lie shining and regular; but it is not fit for anything yet; you cannot raise anything there yet. Then he comes on with his harrow and the sharp teeth cut athwart the regular furrows, leveling down and filling up. Then you have a field which is not quite so handsome, but it is worth a good deal more, for it is fit to take the seed. It is so with the scholar. Take the subject of American history. In the ordinary school the lesson the scholar learns to-day he recites; next day another recitation, and so he learns his daily lesson and recites it. At the end of the term his knowledge is like the natural field. There are the separate furrows, each furrow measured by the width of his text-book or the width of his teacher. Now let that same scholar do some independent reading, I don't care if it is another text-book or the lives of American statesmen. And this independent reading does just the work that harrow did in the field. It levels down and it fills up, and in the place of mechanical work, and disconnected, memorized facts, the idea of cause and effect comes in, and instead of regularity, continuity.
I have seen this process wonderfully illustrated in a class in political economy. I don't suppose it is possible in mathematics and the exact sciences to realize this in any such degree, but there is something in the spirit as distinct from the letter even in those branches. Take a class of fifteen or twenty in political economy. Say to one boy, here is Mills' work on Liberty ; I want you to read this in the course of the next month, and I am going to ask you, from time to time, what you see that is striking in it, and you may tell the class about it. Give another Professor Ely's "History of the Labor Movement in America;" give to another Professor Sumner's work on the “Social Classes” and so on through the list. Then, to relieve the tedium of recitation, have these boys and girls tell what they find in these books. When you get through and come to examine, you will find these scholars instead of giving lean answers, making you disgusted after the patient work you have given them, sometimes surpass your own expectations instead of disappointing them. In our school, I do not suppose it is any better than others, but we have come here to compare
methods own school, besides the regular, formal library which we report yearly to this office, we have in each large room what I call a handy library books we make no account of in our annual report, books of perhaps only ephemeral interest. Into that library we throw any books, political tracts, addresses, pamphlets, any thing that will interest and stir up the boys and girls. We keep no track of those books. When a boy has his lessons and thinks he has time, he gets a book, reads it and puts it back. Of course, we lose a book once in a while, but it does not cost much. We also have, in some rooms, a list of books, perhaps a dozen or twenty, posted up on the wall, which the scholars are urged to read during the year they sit in that room. But there is another way in which I have undertaken this year to give proper direction to this
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work. Our Buffalo library is in a new building, which is probably not excelled anywhere. We have all the conveniences which ought to belong to such an institution. This spring, with the hearty concurrence and coöperation of the library superintendent, I took the school in two divisions of about 225 each to the lecture room, and Mr. Larned explained to the scholars how to use the resources of that library; how to search for and find information on any subject, and thus to save a deal of pell-mell hunting; he showed them the use of the indices and finding list; and all the various facilities of such a library; he took several subjects such as “Deep Sea Dredging,” “The Assassination of Lincoln,” the play of Hamlet, and showed the school how to go to work to get information on such a subject, and I think it was a good beginning of an increased use of that library on the part of the school.
Now I suppose all teachers are pained, I know I am, when I meet scholars graduated two or three years, and find they are just where they were when they took their diploma. They have not started an inch; if anything they have moved backwards. If we want to prevent this result, the surest preventive is to teach them while in school, how to read, and then if they have discovered some aptitude for the natural sciences before leaving school, they will make excursions beyond the limits of their text-books into the vast regions of scientific literature beyond. If while in school they have felt any responsive emotion as they have read the great thoughts of the immortal poets, you will find them reading these pages, not as a task, but as a delight after they have left school. Then they will learn that the best acquisitions come after school days are ended, and we shall find such scholars, and such scholars will find themselves getting not only that information which intelligent people are coming to regard as second handed, and artificial, but also acquiring, while in school and after they leave school, that genuine culture which comes from within and is an outgrowth of character.