districts. A one-room school, with from sixteen to thirty pupils of all ages and of all degrees of advancement under one teacher, might furnish forty different recitations or more in a day, of an average length of five minutes each. The teacher was practically reduced to setting a task for each pupil—a lesson to learn in his book. He was not able to test his pupils' understanding of the lesson in the brief recitation of five minutes. He could only at best try their ability to reproduce from memory the words of the book. It often happened that the exact words of the book were preferred to clear ideas expressed in the pupil's own words.

No complete remedy has ever been discovered for the evils of the ungraded school. It seems, after all, to be necessary in the rural school to set pupils at work on the printed page of the text-book and devise such methods as one can to insure the real understanding of the text; the results will be poor enough at best.

In the village and city schools, on the other hand, there will be increased numbers and the possibility of classification, and as a consequence more time for the recitation. The teacher can probe the pupil's mind and discover his strong and his weak habits of study, where his attention has flagged and where he has lost his way in the preparation of his lesson. By the discussion of the several points of the task, one after another, with the different pupils of the class, all its phases are brought out, and each one acquires alertness and corrects his onesidedness. He goes to the preparation of his next lesson with a much-increased power to understand it.

Mr. Johonnot as educational reformer helped thousands of struggling teachers who had brought over the rural school methods into village school (or "union school”) work. He made life worth living to them. His help, through the pages of this book, will aid other thousands in the same struggle to adopt the better methods that are possible in the graded school.

His early advocacy of natural science in the curriculum of the elementary school contributed to improve the course of study by introducing the elements of natural history and natural philosophy (or physics) into the primary and grammar schools. This branch of study, taught in oral lessons, gives the pupil a glimpse into the great process going on in civilization by which Nature is conquered and rendered of service to man. It makes the instruction in arithmetic and geography far more interesting and profitable than it could be without scientific explanations and applications. Children taught the technique of the natural sciences become able to comprehend the constant allusions to scientific discovery found in the daily newspapers and in the books of the day, and by this they put themselves in the way of acquiring a fund of information regarding Nature and mechanic invention without effort.

The elements of natural science can easily be taught, and, once learned, the child has, so to speak, learned the language of science and can have access at will to the storehouse in which all the discoveries are treasured.

The object-lesson and the study of natural science have been and are the watchwords of reform in methods of instruction-especially of reform in those methods inherited from the rural school. The teacher who aspires to better his instruction will read this book

with profit.


WASHINGTON, D. C., August 25, 1896.


An intimate acquaintance of forty years with the author's thought has enabled me to revise his work without changing its essential principles. In some few instances I have taken the liberty to restate his opinions in more modern phraseology, and to extend somewhat the field of their application.

A brief sketch of the pioneer work in Manual Training has been added to show Mr. Johonnot's influence and close connection with the earliest experiments in this country. The two men, Mr. Love and Mr. Runkle, who were the first to actually introduce it, were life-long friends of Mr. Johonnot, with whom he often held counsel.

In my revision I have also noted and emphasized two points made by Mr. Johonnot, which, though not new, had not before received adequate attention : First, the interdependence of the whole body of knowledge is progressively taught in every chapter of his book, and its co-ordination in the Course of Study is continually kept in mind and insisted upon. In view of this unity of knowledge, the shallow complaint so often

« ForrigeFortsett »