Newspaper Page Text
THE MAUI NEWS
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 23, 1905,
The Teaching of Reading.
BY II. M. WLL8.
I have chosen for my main topic,
'iTbe Teaching of Reading." This
part of our work, however, is so
tdosely related to that of teaching
Language that it if almost impossible
to treat of the one without toi ching
upon the other.
The wise master builder plans
tower and dome before he begins
work upon the foundation; designing
the details of of each room according
to its use, and picturing in hi mind
the unified and completed whole.
Following the example of the build
er, it behooves us as teachers to
consider what our aim shall be in the
teaching of each subject not only as
to the immidiate result, but as to the
larger life effects of our teaching.
What would be thought of a build
er who would work blindly on from
day to day making a something with
out foundation and without plan;
adding a board here, a stone there,
and putting in an occasional prop to
support the nondescript whole? And
if after working upon it a certain
prescribed time, he should call the
thing complete, what sor t of complete
ness would it be?
If we as teacher have no broad
general plan as to what our teaching
should accomplish in its ultimate re
sult; as to the practical usefulness
of this sluoy, the mental and moral
training of that, shall we not be as
liable to ridicule as the foolish builder?
First of all, then we should remem
ber that the thousand or more "chil
dren in the public schools of. Maui
are soon to be a thousand citizens; the
boys to be voters, the girls the wives
of voters; that out from among these
very children whose destiny is so
largely placed in our hands are to
come the law-makers, judge, police
officers, supervisors, yes, and more
than all the-homemakers of Maui.
Shall our electorate be one of
ignorance and vice, a shame and a
disgrace to the island? Or shall it be
one intelligence, industry and right
living? The answer lies largely with
the answer to this other question:
How much and what shall our chil
dren read? For aside from the per
sonal influence of the teacher, which
aftt r all is the most important ele
ment in school life; aside from her
wise counsel her chaste life and her
patieut sympathy with the joys and
sorrows of childhood, what the child
shall read and how muoh he shall
read is the most vital question that
we as teachers have to answer.
If his life's reading is confined to
the books of the prescribed course or
to small part of it which he is able to
compass, bis citizenship will not be of
the hightest orders, excellent as
that course may be.
It is a lamentable fact that a
large part of the children in our
schools never get beyond the third
or fourth reader and some even at
fifteen years of age "graduate" from
the second. It is also a lamentable
fact that a much larger percentage
never read at all except from their
school books either in school or out
of school before or after they leave
school. Indeed they often lose the
ability to read that was once acquir
ed in school. The buried talent soon
corrodes, and the ability to read,
from lack of use, is soon lost.
In an intelligent community on the
mainland and in the best of our
lands homes, the teacher has only to
instruct in the art of reading. The
home supplies the test. With the
world of books for children the maga
zines and papers that flood or best
Amerioun homes, it is often a pro
blem to keep the child from being too
much of a book worm. But in the
vast maiority of our Island homes
there is no opportunity incentive, nor
encouragement for our children to
read; and that which is taught in our
schools at so great labor and expense
becomes a lost art. The opportunity
and the encoragement to read must
nnme from the teacher if it ever
comes at all. It becomes the teach
ers privelege to roll away the stone
nt ignorance and open wide the door
of this vast treasure house of reading,
Let us set ourselves resolutely
work, then, and see if we cannot
make of this rising generation
school children intelligent readers of
some of the worlds best books and
papers. We come to the practi
problems before us.
How shall we teach the subject
reading so that our children shall
make more rapid progress and thus
be able to cover the larger ground
necessary to an intelligent citizen
How shall we arouse in them
desire to read for themselves from
other sources than their prescribed
readers? How shall we and they
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obtain such reading matter? These
are some of the questions that con
front us. Let us take up the first
problem as ft relates to young chil
One great hindrance to rapid pro
gress in the early years of a child's
school life is the large number of
grades in a room and the consequent
pressure of work that so many teach
ers have to contend with. - In the
multiplicity ot grades, the incoming
class of youngsters is apt to be neg
lected. It is a common thing in
schools of one or two rooms tor young
children to be in school a term or
even a year, before any serious at
tempt is made to teach them any
thing. This should not be. In
few days or weeks at the most, the
new boy will get his bearings, and be
ready for direction. Then he should
be set to work. To do otherwise is
to put a premium on laziness mischief
and inattention, whose lessons will
not soon be foregetting. Besides we
are robbiug him of several months
of time, to say the least.
Think what it would mean if taken
from the other end of his course. It
means evenmore than that at the
beginning. If you wish bright, in
dustrions pupils in your school, begin
young and keep them busy at pro
fitable work through all the grades.
Then make a beginning with the re
caiving class, be it ever so small. If
the work presses, an other pupil can
drill the youngsters for a fe w m inutes
It is a common mistake when real
serious work is begun with a class
to drive too fast at the start. Give
children all they can do, ana never
work on a lesson at any given time
till thev weary of it, but come back
to it often and often in review, and
let every word, be mastered.
The list of words, one of the new
repuirements, while seeming, perhaps
added burden, is realy a blessing in
disguise of rightly used.
In the earlier years, the list would
best be in form of a chart, both for
nermanence. and for convenience in
The new words of each lesson should
go at once upon the chart, and the
children drilled upon their pronuncia
tion before the lesson is read. But
this is not the most important point.
The keynote to all advancement in
reading especially in the early years,
is drill! drill! drill I A few minutes
only at a time, several times a day,
mostly on the review words of the
list (and the review here means all
the words that the childreu have
learned,) (till they become well fixed
in the mind.) This is work that older
nnnils can helD with, so these is no
excuse for its neglect in any school.
This may smack too much oi
"grind," for those whose idea is that
school life should be one perpetual
Kindergarten; that the teacher's
sole function is to entertain or to
make life easy for the children.
But the truth is that the normal
child loves to master his lesson as be
loves to succeed in play, and that
which he can do well he loves to do
again and again. Not that he should
be kept at the drill long at a time
but by a frequent change the mind is
refreshed,' and he comes back to the'
old task friadly. Rob him of this
satisfaction over work well done,
work that he has done, and we rob
him of much of the best that life can
The object of the word drill is that
the child may be able to recognize
every word he has had as an old
friend, no matter where he may see
it. The fruit will not be lone in
ripening. The child will take a real
delight in reading new stories through
the use of those words that he has
learned before. A few new words
may be encountered each day, but
these are soon mastered through the
courage born of former conquests,
and his ability to master new lessons
will grow as his list of words grows
Without this frequent drill the
child is plunged in to deep water with
every new lesson. The half-known
word, party learned in former lessons
has neither the familiar face of a
friend nor the interest ot a stranger.
The mind becomes confused, and even
old friends take on new forms; wild
guesses are made, and with much
prompting from teacher or sympa
thetic pupils, the bugbear of a read-
ice lesson is gone through with for
the day. Such work is not only dis
couraging to a child, but deuioraliz
ing as well. Some children are good
at memorizing. They will learn a
page, or even a book by heart and
once given they will read whole
pages beautifully without reading
at all. Drill on the list of words
soon detects such parrot work. An
other advantage of the list of words
is that the teacher knows just how
much each pupil really knows of his
reading lesson, just how much her
class knows, iust how many new
words there are la each lessou, and
hence just how long a lesson to give
How long a class should be kept on
this drill In the recognition of words,
depends upon your class. However,
as the child progresses from grade
to grade, and from book to book, his
lessons should lengthen, aud hence be
will have more practice in reading.
His more extended reading then little
by little will take the place of the
drill on the list of words for recog
nition merely until at last it sup
plants it enterely, or nearly so.
And now comes another difficulty,
more serious than the first, the great
bugbear in the way of more general
and more extended reading among
our Island children, namely, the
ability to understand what is read
How little we realize the breadth
and depth and complexity of our lan
guage until we begin to teach it to
these children. Words and ideas that
to an American child have grown up
with him, have surrounded him from
Infancy, have been as the very air he
treathed, these same words and
ideas to these Island children in their
narrow lives and still more narrow
training in English are like a sealed
book. And strangely enough the
difficulty seems to grow as the class
It is comparatively easy to fun
ction in a child's mind the words
book, slate, runs, plays, white, black
and all the words taught in the
earlier years, but how shall we teach
the complex and subtle 'phraseology
of some cf their more advanced les
Here too, as in the earlier grades we
are apt to make too great haste and
attain too little speed. The lack of
definite knowledge of the meaning of
words in lessons once pasied makes
each advance more difficult, and
reading in place of being a delight,
becomes a bore.
One cause of the child s trouble 11
that be does not read enough to fix
in mind the words be has once learn
ed. But the problem is to find suf
ficient reading matter so that our
classes may have this large practice
without meeting too many terrors
by the way in the shape of unknown
words. By following closely the pre
scribed readers they will not get this
breadth of reading so much to be de
sired. Just here Hawaiis Young
People comes in as a great help,
especially if we have the ten or more
volumes to draw from. Books that
should be in every school.
The list of words may help us here,
too. In these older years the child
ren should keep their own lists,
practicing on their pronounciation
when necessary, but largely for the
sake of fixing In mind the meaning of
Do not add too many new words to
the list each day, but give them some
means of fixing the meaning of each
word in mind. ' A small picture, a
mtence that has the word in it, a
synonym or a short definition in terms
that they understand. These defini
tions the children will learn, and
short drills may be given both in
pronouncing and in functioning the
The definition may be inadequate
quite likely will be, but it will serve
at least as a guide post, pointing the
way to the hidden meaning of the
word. Much reading will both am
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plify and clinch the definition given.
Every day there should be read not
only the advance lesson, but some
review lesson as well, several review
lessons if possible.
This will give practice both in
pronouncing and in the mental fun
ctioning of the words of our lists.
There is small advantage in readiug
the advance or any lesson over and
over again the same day provided
the word drill has been adequate
previous to the lesson.
But all this it not sufficient if our
children are to be iudepeudent rea
ders ot books, papers and raagaziues
after they leave school. The habit of
outside readiug uust be formed dur
ing their school days, and it will re
quire some exertion on, the part of
the teacher to produce this result.
Where possible, libraries should be
started, and the children encouraged
to take books home to read. Old
magazines may often be obtained,
whose pictures, at least, will teach
much without a teacher. The news
of the world should be nude a part
of each day's program in tho upper
grades, referring to maps for all im
portant places. Children should bo
encouraged to take some paper of
their owu, aud in soino families the
parents may be induced to subscribe
for a magazine or two.
(Continued ou p.ige 6)