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story of Rip Van Winkle. This is given in the form of an analysis so that the relative proportions may be seen. As indicated later, the teacher may require this to be filled out, orally or in writing, as fully as he pleases.
A Synopsis of Rip Van Winkle I. Introduction. 1. Place
(a) his children
(c) his dog II. Rip's Adventure. 1. Introduction
(a) why on the mountain
(b) the view
5. The stolen drinks and sleep III. After the Awakening.
1. Surprises in the mountains
(a) the village grown
(c) at the tavern
1. Shelter with his daughter
Another form of synopsis is illustrated in the following analysis of one of the Autocrat Papers:*
not truly characterize
The proposi- I think there is one habit,-I said to our comtion: Slang is worse than pany a day or two afterwards,—worse than that making puns. of punning. It is the gradual substitution of cant
or slang terms for words which truly characterize Slang does
their objects. I have known several very genteel
idiots whose whole vocabulary had deliquesced into its object. some half dozen expressions. All things fell into
one of two great categories,-fast or slow. Man's
chief end was to be a brick. When the great calamExamples : 'fast,' 'slow,' ities of like overtook their friends, these last were 'brick,' 'cut
spoken of as being a good deal cut up. Nine-tenths up.'
of human existence were summed up in the single
word, bore. These expressions come to be the alSlang fails to gebraic symbols of minds which have grown too
weak or indolent to discriminate. They are the blank checks of intellectual bankruptcy ;-you may fill them up with what idea you like; it makes no difference, for there are no funds in the treasury upon which they are drawn. Colleges and goodfor-nothing smoking clubs are the places where
these conversational fungi spring up most luxuriWhen freely
antly. Don't think I undervalue the proper use used it cor
and application of a cant word or phrase. It adds
piquancy to conversation, as a mushroom does to vocabulary.
But it is no better than a toadstool, odious to the sense and poisonous to the intellect, when it spawns itself all over the talk of men and
discriminate shades of meaning.
rupts and starves
* Quoted, by permission of the publishers, Allyn and Bacon, from Scott & Denney's Composition-Literature, pp. 331-333.
Its source is contemptible.
Objection : The Autocrat sometimes uses slang himself.
Reply: (a) On rare occasions a slang phrase may be precisely what is needed.
youths capable of talking, as it sometimes does. As we hear slang phraseology, it is commonly the dish-water from the washings of English dandyism, school-boy or full-grown, wrung out of a three-volume novel which had sopped it up, or decanted from the pictured urn of Mr. Verdant Green, and diluted to suit the provincial climate.
The young fellow called John spoke up sharply and said, it was “rum” to hear me “pitchin' into fellers” for “goin' it in the slang line,” when I used all the flash words myself just when I pleased.
I replied with my usual forbearance.—Certainly, to give up the algebraic symbol because a or b is often a cover for ideal nihility, would be unwise. I have heard a child laboring to express a certain condition, involving a hitherto undescribed sensation (as I supposed), all of which could have been sufficiently explained by the participle—bored. I have seen a country clergyman, with a one-story intellect and a one-horse vocabulary, who has consumed his valuable time and mine) freely, in developing an opinion of a brother minister's discourse which would have been abundantly characterized by a peach-down-lipped sophomore in the one word—slow. Let us discriminate, and be shy of absolute proscription. I am omniverbivorous by nature and training. Passing by such words as are poisonous, I can swallow most others, and chew such as I can not swallow.
Dandies are not good for much, but they are good for something. Then invent or keep in circulation those conversational blank checks or coun. ters just spoken of, which intellectual capitalists
(6) Absolute proscription is not advocated by the Autocrat.
(c) A slang phrase may be filled with meaning by a man of thought.
may sometimes find it worth their while to borrow of them.-HOLMES: The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table, II, p. 353.
Questions for Criticism The reports that the children make will probably be defective in many ways. The teacher's first attention should be given to the question, “Has the pupil got the right notion from the whole article?" Then, “Has he reported everything of importance?” and, “Are all of the necessary details reported in their proper order?”
Finally comes the most difficult task of deciding what shall be included in and what excluded from the report. Probably the best way of going at this problem is to decide first on the large divisions of the article and the relation of these divisions. Thus, the story of Rip Van Winkle falls into four, possibly three, parts. The first gives the setting for what follows and introduces Rip and his family; the second, Rip's adventure; the third, the bewilderment of the poor man when he awakens from his long sleep, and the explanation of his absence; and the fourth, if a fourth be made of one paragraph, the shelter that the old man receives for his last days.
What, next, are the larger units under these divisions? These are indicated in the outline on page 214 by arabic numerals. Thus the analysis may be continued, subdividing each division made, until the report has reached its proper limits. It is profitable occasionally, especially after there has been some practice on this sort of thing, to have several synopses, each of different length, made of the same article. This gives a good drill in proportionate values.
Synopses in Private Reading When a pupil has difficulty in remembering what he has read in study, it is a good plan for the teacher to help him privately. After he has read a paragraph, the pupil is asked to tell in his own way what he learned from it; then, after a group of paragraphs, what he learned from them. The failure to do this regularly is the cause of as much lost time as any other one thing. Many of the best readers make it a practice, after finishing an article or a chapter in a book, or even the book itself, to turn the pages again, slowly recalling the points made by the author. This, one will find by trial, is a great help to the memory. This is the best time, too, for testing the truth of the author's statement and for meditating over what was read. But before this review can be made the reader must have formed the habit of getting the thought from each paragraph as he goes over it. Indeed, there is no other way to read.
Although this is a part of the reading work in school, it should not be confined merely or even largely to literary material-stories, poems, and the like. Indeed, its chief practical value will lie in the help it will give pupils with their future acquisition of information, both in and out of school. There