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enjoying their work, it is probable either that the selection is unsuited to them or that the teacher is emphasizing elements not strictly literary. Practically all criticism in literature classes of the first ten years of school should point children to an appreciation of the best, the enjoyable elements. It should seldom dwell upon, or even point out, the minor defects of workmanship. If the masterpiece has been selected for study, the assumption is that its merits far outweigh its demerits. It is easier, however, to dwell on defects, real or imagined, than it is to bring pupils to enjoy the happy fruits of genius; hence many teachers, especially when young and undirected, develop in their classes a spirit of carping criticism, which certainly does not make for enjoyment, either in young or in old. It may be interesting to know that this story is mathematically incorrect or that this poem is based upon an inaccurate historical report: but neither bit of information adds to enjoyment of the masterpiece. These matters may safely be left to more mature students or, when it is necessary for other reasons to call attention to them, the correction should be made not in the name of appreciation of literature but for the sake of general truth or whatever else makes the demand.
What questions may be asked in the literature class? Those questions, it should be obvious, that lead to an appreciation on the part of the child of the emotion that the author is trying to convey. The questions may be preliminary, concerning matters of translation or reference; they may lead toward making a personal connection between the pupils and the experience presented; they may direct the class toward a more complete appreciation of all that the author suggests: in short, they may do anything that results in enjoyment of the author's effort. It is difficult to see that any questions leading otherwhere are legitimate. The appreciation of the same piece of literature will vary according to many elements-mood, maturity, environment, and the like; hence no set of definite questions will be suitable for all teachers to follow, nor even for the same teacher to follow at different times with different classes. The only directions, therefore, that are really helpful are those that deal with general principles. Definite lesson outlines, like those which will be given in later chapters, may be suggestive and interesting as an application of the principles herein set forth; but before they can be used by other teachers they will need to be assimilated and then adapted to the needs of class and occasion.
Reading and Literature The study of literature should, in conclusion, precede oral reading of literary material sufficiently for the reader to get at the heart of sense and the halo of feeling that surrounds it. Whatever the poem or the prose means to the reader, he must try to make his hearer understand by the skillful use of his voice. He must not only say the words so that the sense is conveyed; he must by inflection and shading of the voice, by the very key in which he reads, by significant pauses and by hurrying, emphasis, or vigor, by slight gesture and facial expression,-in short, by every device at his command he must suggest to the hearer what the piece of literature means to him, particularly how it makes him feel. If through the voice one can produce or awaken in an audience the emotion that possessed the author and that he is endeavoring to convey through his writing, then that is successful oral reading of literature. But to do this one must first of all himself understand and appreciate what he wishes to read.
LITERATURE IN THE ELEMENTARY GRADES
The principles set forth in the preceding chapter are valueless, of course, unless they are practically applied in teaching. When it comes to the preparation of a definite lesson, the principles should be clearly in mind, and, more than that, should demand systematic application. What this is must, from the nature of poetry, vary considerably with the different types chosen for presentation; but many, perhaps most, lessons will follow some such plan as: 1. Preparation, 2. Presentation, 3. Relating to the children's selves, 4. Developing by various devices the connotation of the poem, 5. Deepening the impression; directing and refining the emotion, 6. Recalling by memory or otherwise for renewed pleasure.
Preparation The preparation should be carefully thought out by the teacher. Knowing her children, she will know what words in the poem they do not understand at all, or that they understand only incompletely, what allusions to other stories they know or need to know, what atmosphere the poem will demand for its best reception, and finally, whether the children have had and remember clearly the experiences set forth by the author. Knowing all these things, she must build her foundation for teaching the poem, preferably at some period preceding the actual presentation. By way of illustration, we may make an application to Robert Louis Stevenson's
Here's enough of fame and pillage,
Great commander Jane!
Let's go home again.
Most children in the elementary grades will have an imperfect knowledge, if any, of highland bonnet, leads the rear, alert, Grenadier, martial, double
* Used by permission of the publishers, Charles Scribner's Sons.