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are few single powers which, if mastered early, will save more time and give more practical help in later study than the power of being able to make an intelligent, comprehensive, and proportionate sum.. mary of what is read.



When the child first enters the school, he is inclined by nature to follow the passing show; he lacks the ability to concentrate. Consequently, he is led from recitation to game and from game to manual work, spending but a short time in each. But as he proceeds through the grades, the number of studies grows fewer and the periods longer. This marks, in a general way, the organization which the school has to correspond with the growth in sustained and independent attention on the part of the child.

For the child to reach this goal much direction is necessary, especially in the earlier years in school. With the exception of the recitation proper, which must always remain the paramount factor in the school work, no other agency is so far-reaching and so fraught with beneficial results in the hands of a resourceful teacher as the assignment. Well made, the assignment saves the time of the succeeding recitation and makes it more profitable than it possibly could be without the preparation of the child's mind that is afforded through the assignment.

The Immediate and the Ultimate Purpose

The immediate purpose of the assignment is, as just suggested, to guide the child in preparing for whatever the new recitation will present, to direct him toward the accomplishment of whatever he can do by himself, in all cases saving the time of the recitation proper. The immediate purpose varies, of course, according to the difficulty or strangeness of the new material and according, also, to the knowledge, industry, and habits of the children; but, at the same time, all assignments should have the same remote purpose. They are intended to afford growth toward independence and initiative in thought and action. Teachers will do well to remember that however varied the immediate demands, the ultimate purpose has a constant claim, too, which should influence every assignment made.

Superintendent Spaulding has made some excellent suggestions for the assignment of a reading lesson.*

“In the first place the teacher should always have a definite, particular, and satisfactory reason for assigning each individual lesson. The order of the book, or general practice in reading, won't suffice. This reason should be based on the teacher's knowledge of her pupils, their interests and needs, and on a knowledge of the lesson. Ordinarily no lesson receives less, while hardly one needs more, carefal preparation by the teacher than does the reading lesson. The answer to the question, What are the pupils to read the lesson for? will

* Preventing and Correcting Defective Reading.

suggest definite directions for the preparation of the lesson. The central and most important end is always, of course, to get the thought. But for young readers, or for those with the word reading habit firmly fixed, this end must be made definite by concrete questions. From a study of the lesson the teacher may form a series of questions, the answers to which by the pupil will necessitate his getting the thought of the lesson. The questions should be so constructed that they can not be answered in the words of the book. As a negative of this positive requirement, the pupil should always be required to note every word, phrase, or statement which means nothing to him, or about whose meaning he is not perfectly sure.”

At first all assignments should be made by the teacher with great care and precision. As the children grow in power, they may occasionally be permitted to suggest the assignment, which will be discussed and amended by the teacher in class. Later still they may sometimes be trusted entirely to make the assignment and prepare the lesson by it. Much of this, however, will not occur until late in the grades. It affords an excellent means of strengthening the selective power and of encouraging originality.

Characteristics of a Good Assignment In making the assignment, no less than in teaching the lesson, it is wise that the teacher keep constantly in mind that one thing at a time should be attempted. There are so many ways in which the children should improve that the teacher, especially when young and ambitious, is inclined to attempt too many at a time and consequently gets no satisfactory and permanent results from any of them. It is far better to make haste step by step, steadily even if slowly.

It is not possible that perfection be obtained in any field of reading before another is attempted. But work must be done definitely on one thing at a time. It may be that the time given definitely to one phase of reading-synopses, for example is only five minutes a day; but that time should all be taken up with the one topic. Or the whole recitation period may be given to one phase of reading until the children understand it, realize its importance, and make some improvement.

Then it may be left for a while and taken up again later for further work and progress.

It is the hope, of course, that the children, by applying what they have learned in class to their own private reading and study, will have made some independent progress. This should be encouraged by the teacher in every way possible. The assignment can save time by directing the class to the phase of reading that needs particular attention, demanded by either the selection to be read or the progress of the class, and by insisting that other phases of reading already studied shall not be wholly lost sight of while new matter is undertaken.

It is rather trite to say that the assignment should be definite, but in the reading and literature classes teachers often sin grievously in this respect. The

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