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SUGGESTIONS TO TEACHERS
THE GENERAL USE OF THE BOOK
MANY pupils do not know how to use a book economically or intelligently. The suggestion is accordingly offered, that at the beginning teachers and pupils together make an examination of the book. There should be a brief discussion of the purpose and use of the table of contents, index, pictures, maps, questions and directions for pupils, lists of books, review chapters, material in the appendix, and a typical chapter of the text.
The attention of the class should be called to the Periods into which the history of the country is divided. The blackboard may be used to indicate the dates of each Period, the pages given to each by the authors, and the significance of the name of each Period. A line drawn to a scale on the board, with different colors used for the Periods, may represent the time which has elapsed since 1492.
QUESTIONS AND SUGGESTIONS FOR PUPILS It is believed that the questions and suggestions at the close of each chapter are such as first, to stimulate thoughtful reading and study; second, to suggest good methods of studying and profitable topics for discussion; third, to furnish a review of important geographical facts; and fourth, to arouse interest in the problems of the present. The questions have not been framed for the purpose of reviewing facts that are obvious from the text.
Of course no pupil will be expected to answer all of the questions or to follow all of the directions. Some may be assigned to individual pupils who may be called upon to report to the class; this will afford good material for home study or investigation.
COMPOSITION SUBJECTS The suggested composition subjects may be used either as a part of the historical work or as an exercise in English; or better still, as a correlation of the two. Letter-writing is a profitable form of describing events; here the imagination may be employed and the individuality of the pupils encouraged.
DRAMATIZATION There will be found suggestions for dramatization; this is one of the most efficient methods of vivifying historical facts. Many teachers bear testimony that it affords means of arousing interest when others fail. It is natural for children to act out events; this instinct may be used with advan
tage by the teacher. Elaborate preparation is not essential; neither is costuming. Sometimes it is advisable for children to write and to commit parts to memory. However, when interest is aroused, pupils will have little difficulty in finding expression for their ideas in dramatic situations.
Suggestions for dramatization should as often as possible come from the children themselves, rather than from the teacher. Here, as elsewhere in school work, the more the initiative of the pupil is used the better.
Pupils should be asked to recite extracts from famous speeches, and patriotic sentences spoken by statesmen and soldiers in important crises.
DEBATES Occasionally, the class may select a question for debate, then choose sides and discuss the question, within prescribed time limits. Such a discussion at the same time affords training in English, tests the accuracy of the pupil's knowledge, and reveals the fact that there is often more than one point of view relative to important public questions.
It will be observed that the chapters comprising “The Period of Discovery ” and “The Period of Colonization" are equipped with outlines. The pupils, under the guidance of the teacher, should themselves prepare the outlines for those chapters in the book for which the authors have not supplied outlines. The models show that the best plan is not simply to copy the paragraph headings, but frequently to combine several of these under one subject in the outline. From this practice pupils will form the valuable habit of analyzing chapters and learning to rely upon themselves.
DATES The memorizing of a few important dates is suggested and urged. This can be accomplished in a brief time, if the pupil sets about it in earnest and if the teacher believes in it. The possession of such dates will be of great convenience throughout life, and is an aid in the organization of historical facts. A brief list of “Significant Dates ” (with paragraph references) is given on page xviii. It is believed that pupils should be able readily to associate all of these dates with their corresponding events. For the sake of emphasis, the most important dates are repeated at the end of appropriate chapters.
ASSIGNMENT OF LESSONS
Teachers are urged to assign lessons with care. The brief time required for the assignment will profitably be employed if it results in arousing interest, if enthusiasms are created, and if the pupils are led to discover the aim of the new lesson. Such an assignment will result in a more vigorous and intelligent attack on the problem, and greater economy in study.
It is believed that lessons, as a rule, should be assigned by topics rather than by a given number of pages.
THE RECITATION Every good teacher knows that the character of the recitation largely determines the habits of study. It should largely be the pupil's affair. He should form the habit of talking in connected and continued discourse, without interruption from either the teacher or the other pupils. This discourse should, of course, be in the words of the pupil and not those of the authors.
The pupil should be encouraged to give opinions of his own, to make inferences, and to draw conclusions. There will often be differences of opinion among the brighter pupils in the interpretation of facts. Such opinions should be expressed as an outcome of the varied reading done in preparation for the lesson. Establish the fact that there may be a difference of opinion and that no text-book is a final authority.
Statements of classmates may be challenged by the pupils and they should ask questions. Indeed, the asking of questions by the pupils, either of one another or of the teacher, is by no means common enough in schools.
In a measure, children may with profit carry on the recitation themselves. Herein, the activities of the children, not those of the teacher, should predominate. The teacher guides and directs, but subordinates herself; she keeps the recitation in the proper channels; she stimulates interest, and brings out points that have been omitted. She asks questions, of course; but asking questions, the answers to which are obvious from the book, is not teaching of the highest order.
The pupils in recitations should make considerable use of the blackboard in the description of events.
REVIEW CHAPTERS At the end of each Period is a review chapter. Taken connectively, these will afford a convenient means of reviewing the entire history of the country in a condensed form. It is believed that these chapters will be welcomed by teachers and pupils.
REVIEWS BY USE OF INDEX The Index may be used with profit to review important subjects or topics. For example, the teacher who wishes at the close of the Civil War to review the history of slavery may ask her pupils to consult the Index for the topic “Slavery,” and to prepare a complete review of the subject. One pupil may be asked to take up the introduction of slavery into Virginia, another slavery in the colonies, another the compromise regarding slavery in the Constitutional Convention, and still another the Missouri Compromise, and so on.
In a similar manner the successive acquisitions of territory may be reviewed by consulting the topic “Expansion of Territory” in the Index. Likewise the biographies of prominent men may be reviewed.