« PředchozíPokračovat »
MR. GOODRICH's History of the U. S. has unquestionably had a more extensive and useful circulation than any other. Every patriot may hail it as a rich blessing to our country. Its brevity seems to be its greatest imperfection. For this imperfection, I have attempted à remedy in the following Supplement, which constitutes more than half of this little manual. Very great efforts have been made to render this Supplement at once as useful and as interesting, as possible. That the attempt has not been unsuccessful, there have been the most pleasing testimonials from those, who have used the first edition. It is thought, that in connection with Mr. Goodrich's work, this Supplement contains a more particular and interesting account of the early events of our history, than any other history of the U. S.
It is hoped that none will object to the smallness of the print, as these works contain more matter than a common octavo volume, at half the price.
The following Questions were the fruit of necessity, used at first in manuscript, and afterwards printed for the special advantage of a class. From intensely studying the human faculties from witnessing the improvement of the youthful mind and its progress in knowledge, I have become more and more impressed with the importance of written or printed questions, for teaching almost every branch. If any can seem to teach better without them, they must be such prodigious geniuses, as ordinary spirits cannot easily imitate. The method of teaching by permanent questions, is undoubtedly among the happiest improvements of the present age. Nor do I believe, that any person can render instruction so useful without them.
Reflection and experience have also shown me, that the questions should be numerous, and the answers short. If the answer is long, it is generally hard to be committed, harder to be retained, often but imperfectly comprehended, and faintly impres sive. In this case, the child generally learns words, rather than ideas. Ask a child, whether God forbids the labor of the ox on the Sabbath. Though he may have repeated the fourth com mandment 100 times, he probably cannot tell. Ask him, if God forbids stealing and murder, he can tell at once. It is my fixed opinion, that five short answers containing the same ideas, as one long one, may be learned and retained with half the effort and double the advantage; and not only so, but that five answers intimately connected in sense, may often be fixed in the mind more easily than a single isolated one of the same length. If answers are short, the pupil's progress is much more sensible and animating to himself; and in reciting, it is much easier for the hearer to decide, whether the answer is correctly given. This renders it peculiarly convenient for pupils to recite their reviews to each other.
For these reasons, it is confidently hoped, that these questions will be found essentially superior to those in common use. Possibly they are too numerous. But I am inclined to think them too few. In reviews, the teacher may omit as many of them, as he pleases, especially those relating to numbers. An important general idea may remain, though the exact number cannot be recollected!
The effect of these questions, as already witnessed, especially upon the younger pupils, has been most pleasing. It is astonishing to find, how much is remembered for months, by children, not ten years old. These children can not only answer most of the questions ; but they can talk upon the subject with the same clear understanding and lively interest, as upon their own personal concerns ; thus evincing, that the matter of their lessons must have been the subject of their meditations, and probably of their mutual converse and of their dreams. May we not hope, that the acquisitions thus gained, associated and pondered,
will be retained and improved, till the end of life? Such an effect, however, cannot be produced merely by a host of questions. There must be intrinsic interest in the matter, sound logic in the arrangement, and skilful exertion in the teacher.
The questions requiring definitions, may perhaps be thought to deserve still greater angmentation. A very great part of a good education consists in learning vernacular words and phrases. Foi us the knowledge of our own language is incomparably more important, than that of any others. The words of our language, with which every one should be well acquainted, are a formida. ble host, not less than 20,000. Almost every one of these has several significations. What a task to conquer them! a task most grievously neglected - a task, that should be commenced in infancy, and connected with every succeeding study; and this not merely to learn the language, but chiefly to gain the most thorough, familiar and profitable acquaintance with science and literature. What an inestimable treasure is Dr. Webster's great dictionary. O that it could be an inmate of every house, espe cially of every school-house.
It is hoped, that the miscellaneous questions will be founa peculiarly valuable. Perhaps no equal portion of the pupil's time is so well spent, as what is devoted to these. They test his fidelity in learning his previous lessons, and conduce to guard him against cheating himself by neglecting a single answer. They directly stimulate the mind to the most vigorous exercise ; and their effect seems to be like that of clinching a nail. The answer is retained with fourfold tenacity.
A question may here arise, Would it not be a farther improvement to have all the questions miscellaneous ? I think not. Such a plan would destroy the variety of study, to which the miscellaneous questions are now so happily conducive. It would render the exercise too difficult and irksome for many a tender mind. The nail should be well driven, before it is clinched. The plan has been attempted in relation to a history of England; but manifestly without success. By faithful study and recitation, the pupil should become familiarly acquainted with every fact in its proper order. Like the bricks or stones in an arch, they will then sustain each other. But as single events are often mentioned, or alluded to, it is desirable, that the pupil should be able to answer questions miscellaneously; and the teacher is advised to ask them occasionally in a different order, especially in reviews.
Perhaps it may be useful for a class, after going once or twice through the whole history, to be examined in all the miscellaneous questions, answering a question first from one number and then from another.
If any teacher should have the goodness to favor me with remarks upon this work, or upon any subject relating to our profession, they will be most gratefully received. Printed communications will be peculiarly acceptable.
It is hoped, that most of the notes in the following work will be found peculiarly useful as exercises in reading. Selections in reading-books are often read badly, because they are not felt nor understood.
Parents may find it a task no less beneficial than delightful, to aid their children in learning the lessons of their country's history.
For the convenience of teachers in assigning lessons, the longer chapters are divided by sections.
JOSEPH EMERSON. Wethersfield, Ct., Jan. 5, 1830.
TO THIS REVISED EDITION.
The revision and enlargement of the History, to which the earlier editions of this work were adapted, occasioned so many alterations, that the answers to many questions could not be found. This caused much embarrassment to both teachers and scholars, though not to such an extent as to destroy its usefulness. The public have continued to call for this system of questions till it is felt that they have a right to an edition free from the inconveniences above inentioned. Such an edition is now furnished.
The whole work, in other respects, is substantially what it was before. One of the notes has been shortened, because the ground was so fully covered by the additions to the History. A few unimportant questions have been omitted.
CONTENTS OF CHAPTERS.