School Management - Methods of Conducting Recitations
( Originally Published 1897 )
The Recitation.--Ability to conduct recitations is the best test of a teacher's professional skill. Failure in imparting instruction is entire failure. Success in giving lessons usually crowns the teacher with success in his calling. In conducting recitations nearly every element of a teacher's qualifications is brought into play. About the lesson centre all the activities of school life. Here are displayed the personal influence of the teacher, the extent of his knowledge and skill, and that magnetic power which inspires to earnest, loving effort. In the recitation are concentrated the devotion, the thought, the energy and the life of the teacher, as well as the work, the purpose, the zeal, and the skill of the pupil.
The purposes of the recitation are far reaching. It secures the mental discipline of the pupil, and enables the teacher to place himself in active sympathy with those he guides and instructs. It encourages right methods of study, and awakens interest in the subjects of the curriculum. It helps the pupils to express themsleves clearly and accurately, and gives them confidence in expressing their views. It makes them attentive and inquisitive; and, as a consequence, affords the teacher an opportunity to direct their thoughts and to inspire their ambition. The recitation enables the teacher to ascertain what the pupils know, to test their skill and powers, and to measure their daily progress. Errors into which they may have fallen are corrected, work is assigned which is adapted to their capacities, and suggestions are made which become useful for future lessons.
When recitations are conducted with definiteness, pupils are trained to think methodically as well as to express their thoughts in clear, precise, logical and forcible language. An opportunity is given the teacher to explain and illustrate the work assigned, to elucidate dark portions, to multiply facts and arguments, to describe additional phenomena, to suggest new trains, of thought, and to keep before the minds of the pupils proper incentives to study, laudable objects of ambition and motives that tend to moral development.
Preparation by the Teacher.-The teacher must make special preparation for each lesson. To warm and inspire a class, fresh conceptions of the subject are needed. Unprepared lessons are apt to be wanting in definiteness, loose in arrangement, shallow in treatment, and lacking in brightness and impressiveness. The teacher who trusts to evolve what is needed out of the "depths of his inner consciousness" will produce work that is only random, unequal, and disjointed. Unless he makes himself thoroughly familiar with the lessons, his explanations may be faulty, and though he talks in book phraseology his language may have the semblance of knowledge, but will lack teaching power. To the young teacher, especially, the plan to be followed, the illustrations to be used, the analogies to be noticed, the information not given in the text-book to be supplied, the relations of the subject to previous recitations to be shown, and the varied conditions to be met, demand an equipment, which, in justice to the students, cannot be left to the spur of the moment. The teacher must be familiar with the details, relationships, and proportions of the subject. The difficulties of the pupils must be anticipated. The time of the class is too valuable to be taken up with the unskilful explanations and unnecessary digressions which are common when no preparation is made.
The notes prepared by the teacher should present a draft of the lesson with all the important points marked as regards matter and method. The notes should not show excessive detail, and should not be so slavishly followed as to destroy spontaneity. The teacher must not only prepare his own plan, but he must also, as occasion may require, rise superior to the outline he has framed. The highest art is to conceal art, and the true teacher will never appear to be more anxious to follow his notes than to meet skilfully every feature that may present itself in giving the lesson. It follows, that in selecting matter for a recitation the end in view should be fully recognized. The mental capacity of the pupils, their previous knowledge of the subject, the time at the teacher's disposal, and the best methods to be used, will require careful consideration. This may be a great tax on the teacher's time, but it will pay him who wishes to give faithful service and to win success. If system is followed from the first, the labor will be found pleasant and eventually light.
" Such a preparation of the individual lesson is the only sure means of growth in professional knowledge and skill. It is easy and customary to read books of pedagogy to no avail ; the thought presented is held off at arm's length ; it does not become a part of the concrete teaching life. As much as we boast of our study of psychology, it has helped the teacher but little. It is read and then placed upon the shelf, as if it had nothing to do with the real business in hand. Now, such a preparation as here insisted on would force the teacher to feel that psychology is the very breath of life in every teaching act. In the preparation of every lesson, the psychology must be kept at the right hand. The mental processes constituting the particular lesson to be given must be traced out, classified and organized. The psychology of each lesson must be brought into consciousness. This solves the problem of interesting the teacher in psychology."-Tompkins.
Preparation by the Pupils.-Teaching is poor unless it tends to make pupils do much for themselves. Many teachers appear to give recitations with such elaborate detail as to induce pupils to believe that they have little to do themselves. Oral instruction, if effective, should lead the way to book study and independent investigation on the part of those instructed. The pupil (except in elementary classes) must study the lesson in order to acquire know-ledge, to express himself clearly, to seek information about what he understands only imperfectly, to examine relations and principles, to gain mental discipline, and to acquire habits of self-dependence.
For young children, little home work should be assigned. It is cruel to give children of only ten or twelve years of age lessons requiring hours of home preparation. It is desirable, however, to accustom children at an early period to habits of home study. When they get as far as the second book they might be assigned lessons requiring a few minutes' home preparation. Before reaching the High School, children should not, as a rule, have lessons assigned that will require more than an hour of time out of school. In the case of High School pupils, one hour for the first form, two for the second, three for the third, and four for the fourth, will be a safe guide in determining the length of home lessons. No doubt some pupils would not be injured by more home work than is here suggested. A great deal must be left to the good judgment of the principal; but if pupils are actively engaged in mental work during the school hours, it will be found unnecessary to burden them to a greater extent than mentioned with heavy lessons to be prepared in the evening.
Periods of study should be provided during the day. In ungraded schools such periods are a necessity. In graded schools, a part of the time of each recitation should be taken up in preparation by the class, under the teacher's direction. In this way pupils may study with profit and learn in the class-room how to analyze, to summarize, to compare, and to judge. When these processes are left to the teacher, the recitation becomes too often a repetition of the words of the book, and sinks to a mere mechanical exercise. The use of the " summary," the " compendium," and the aid of the " coach," are foreign to the science of education. In the preparation of their lessons, pupils should be trained to make their own summary, to form their own outline of the lesson, and to search for them-selves facts from the dictionary, the map, or the more advanced text-book. No system of preparing lessons by the pupils is defensible that does not increase their skill, develop their intellectual powers, and strengthen their moral faculties. While the pupils are preparing the lesson in school, the teacher should be on the alert to give them needed help. He should not provide them with crutches, nor should he allow them to flounder in the mire when a helping hand will put them on the highway.
The Manner of the Teacher.-A teacher should take such a position as will enable him to see each child with ease. He should be careful not to fall into the common error of addressing his remarks to some few pupils just in front of him. He should neither remain still as a post, nor walk about in a fidgety, restless way. A good teacher will not find it necessary to stand all day. His control of the pupils should not prevent him from sitting during portions of some lessons. Whether sitting or standing, all his movements should be graceful and natural.
A good manner is founded on good temper. Moroseness, fretfulness, coldness, lack of sympathy, or anger, will cause any teacher to fail in giving instruction. Self-possession, readiness of resource, vivacity of manner, the absence of a noisy, bustling manner, that cheerfulness which wins attention, and that authority which is decided, but not obtrusive, should mark the teacher in the presence of his class. The manner of the teacher should be such as will encourage the timid, but repress the impertinent. Little time of the recitation should be taken up in reprimanding pupils. A simple glance of his eye or shake of his head on the part of a good teacher, is more effective than a half-hour's scolding.
The proper management of the voice in teaching a lesson has an important bearing on the conduct of the pupils and on the effectiveness of the instruction. Some teachers speak so softly and so indistinctly that they cannot be heard by all the class. More frequently teachers speak in a tone that is so high as to be unnatural. Children are only too ready to imitate the example of a teacher who is so demonstrative as to shout his words. Clearness and force of speech are essential. Instruction should be communicated distinctly and impressively. Emphasis and impressiveness need, however, to be employed in varying degrees according to the nature of the matter dealt with. Children are apt to be troublesome if taught in a timid, awkward and hesitating way. They should not be spoken to in a haughty or domineering manner, but it is absurd to beg of them to give attention, or to use a beseeching tone in cultivating a love for the subject.
The explanations or illustrations must not be after the style of a person " saying his piece." It serves no good purpose to refer to things in a cursory manner. Each step in the lesson should be emphatically dwelt upon and wrought out to a definite conclusion. Indirect repetition is an essential feature of good instruction. It involves a higher and a different degree of mental activity. Impressiveness also demands recapitulation at the end of the lesson. In this way the memory is aided, not merely by a mechanical, but by a logical process. Pupils are led to discriminate what is of primary importance from what is secondary, and conclusions from arguments. For similar reasons it becomes necessary to recapitulate the substance of a series of lessons. In teaching lessons the importance of time must not be overlooked. Accumulations of illustrations, extravagant repetitions, useless digressions, and delays on unessential points, are to be avoided.
Value of Method.-In imparting instruction the teacher must recognize the pupil's natural method of learning. If pupils are brought to think in the right way the mode of conducting the lesson must be a good one. The importance of method in all kinds of skilled work is now fully recognized. The best teaching comes from clearly defined methods which are based upon laws and principles. Bad methods of instruction will develop idleness, defective observation, unreliable judgment and reasoning, and moral torpitude. The end of education must be kept in view by the teacher in the selection of the expedients of the class-room.
All prominent educators hold that the best method, and, in fact, the school itself, is the personality of the teacher. It would be wrong, however, to suppose, on this account, that every teacher should be left free to invent his own methods. The wisdom of preceding generations of teachers cannot be neglected, and therefore the methods devised and practised by them should be made a faithful study. The teacher who wishes to profit by the experience of others must appropriate to his use the most approved methods employed by the best teachers. He must do this in such a way as to reproduce them according to his own individuality, and to adapt them to the peculiar wants of his own pupils and to the conditions of the lesson. Method is valuable, not when the teacher becomes a skilful imitator, but when his method is a natural outgrowth of his own personality. To condemn method, and to say that energy guided by inspiration will suffice, is to set aside the science of education and the results of experience.
A good method of teaching economizes time, saves labor, lessens worry, prevents weariness, promotes thoroughness, banishes spasmodic effort, inspires the teacher with confidence, and leaves his mind free to make the best use of any opportunity that may arise in the course of the recitation. Method is valuable to the beginner and to the experienced teacher. Method is essential to the highest genius, and the want of it causes many failures. Hard work alone will not guarantee success. The mental activity and intellectual effort necessary for skilled teaching will not be secured without rational and thoughtful work. Teaching is not merely a matter of drill. Such a system of instruction only tends to make the minds of pupils storehouses for dead lumber. It makes children listless and worn, and leads to over-pressure. It also causes teachers to look upon their calling as a wearisome and monotonous business.
It should be understood that a method is at best only an orderly procedure. To adhere rigidly to some set course of action is to drift into dead formalism and render teaching mechanical. The good teacher must not only know all the best methods of instruction, but he must know what plans are best suited to the circumstances of the time. The mode of conducting a recitation will vary with the subject and the conditions of the class. The plans of the teacher must be elastic and allow proper freedom of action. Circumstances must often determine the " tools " to be used. The trained teacher may have such a knowledge of the various devices employed in class recitations as will enable him to command readily the use of that method which is best adapted to the particular occasion. In considering the principal methods of giving instruction it should be understood that each of them is not separated from the others by clearly defined characteristics.
Empirical Methods.-It is sometimes urged that any plan of teaching, which has been tested by experience and found successful should be employed, without any effort being made to ascertain why it succeeds, or what are the limits of its application. Such views lead to the adoption of methods that are empirical, and, as a consequence, untrustworthy. They introduce mechanical teaching, and as their underlying principles are not understood, they are often used in unsuitable cases. It is doubtless true that various methods may be used with success by different teachers. It is true, nevertheless, that in every part of the lesson certain methods or devices may be adopted which are superior to all others for the special occasion, and the process of trying plan after plan, till one is found to succeed, and then following it blindly, has no justification in these days, when the importance of school life forbids any waste of time or misdirection of mental activities.
Empirical methods are, however, deserving of investigation. The science of education cannot yet afford to ignore any method of instruction which the untrained yet experienced teacher has found to be useful in the school-room. An examinaion of empirical methods will often enable the scientific searcher after truth to solve educational problems, and to bring to notice valuable pedagogical principles.
" The mere fact that there are so many methods current, and constantly pressed upon the teacher as the acme of the educational experience of the past, or as the latest and best discovery in pedagogy, makes an absolute demand for some standard by which they may be tested. Only knowledge of the principles upon which all methods are based can fine the teacher from dependence upon the educational nostrums which are recommended like patent medicines as panaceas for all educational ills. If a teacher is one fairly initiated into the real workings of the mind, if he realizes its normal aims and methods, false devices and schemes can have no attraction for him ; he will not swallow them `as silly people swallow empirics' pills '; he will reject them as if by instinct. All new suggestions, new methods he will submit to the infallible test of science, and those which will further his work he can adopt and rationally apply, seeing clearly their place and bearings, and the conditions under which they can be most effectively employed. The difference between being overpowered and used by machinery, and being able to use the machinery, is precisely the difference between methods externally inculcated and methods freely adopted, because of insight into the psychological principles from which they spring."-McLellan and Dewey.
The Developing Method.-Opposed to merely empirical processes is the developing method, of which the essential feature is the direct exercise of the child's faculties. It assumes that the efforts of the teacher are founded on psychological principles, and that the nature and powers of the pupil are taken into account at every stage. The teacher bases his instruction on recognized principles of intellectual development, (Chapter III.) and leads his pupils to discover facts for themselves, and to form conclusions that are the outcome of the knowledge acquired. The developing method is at variance with all artificial teaching, and is adopted wherever pedagogy has attained its place in systems of education. It assumes that the formation of character is the real work of the teacher.
Book Knowledge.-No wise teacher undervalues the study of books by his pupils. He who has guided a class to profitable reading has accomplished much. Some of the best work of the school is the cultivation in the pupils of a love for reading.
" Book work for lessons has obvious advantages. It is definite ; it puts into concise and rememberable form ; it focusses, so to speak, much of what is treated discursively in oral lessons ; it can be revised again and again, as often as is necessary, until it is under-stood. Just as oral teaching is the main instrument for awakening intelligence, so book work is the chief safeguard for accuracy, clearness of impression, and permanence. We cannot do without either. It is, however, the best teachers who are most in danger of undervaluing set lessons from books. It is the worst, or at least the commonplace, the indolent, the uninspired teachers, who have a constant tendency to over-value them. "-Fitch.
Oral Instruction.-Oral instruction has its place in connection with every subject taught in the school. It may be given by the teacher, either to supplement the text-book, or by way of general explanation. The teacher takes the place of the book, or gives such information as cannot be supplied from text-books. He directs children before they learn to read, and when they are able to study from books he increases their powers of acquiring know-ledge, and prevents them from making blunders.
" It is chiefly by means of the living voice that scholars can be really inspired ; it is only when the eyes meet, and expression and gestures are seen, and tones are heard, that there arises that subtle and indefinable sympathy between teacher and taught, which is so essential to the intellectual life of the scholar. Then only can there be that adaptation of the matter to his wants, the light glancing over unimportant details, the rest and repetition over the more significant facts, the pause after what is exceptionally difficult, the happy illustration, the argumentum ad hominem, the brisk and pointed question by which the teacher assures himself that he is being followed and understood."-Fitch.
The Lecture Method.--The lecture system of giving instruction consists in the teacher's presenting and discussing a subject, while the pupils sit and listen and attempt to fix in their minds the leading features of his address. The pupils may take notes, or the teacher may give an outline of the subject, and suggest the best method of study and the proper books to be consulted. It is only in colleges and universities, or in technical, scientific and professional schools, where the students are supposed to have considerable maturity of mind, that the lecture method is much used. The chief advantage of this method lies in the fact that the lecturer can reach a large audience at the same time, and thus present his knowledge without increased effort.
There are strong objections to the frequent use of the lecture system in schools, on account of its serious dangers. The signs of collective animation are often mistaken by the teacher for individual progress. It often leads pupils to reproduce in his own words whatever they have been taught. The desire to be interesting and fluent may cause the teacher to indulge in generalizations, picturesque statements, pretentious knowledge, and mere talk. It occasionally fosters vanity in a teacher who imagines that to speak continuously upon a subject for some time shows cleverness. In some cases he comes to have a liking to hear himself talk, and harangues his class in the style of an orator. It is needless to add that such lecturing is not teaching. A good teacher is not necessarily a good public speaker.
The lecture method has its place. To some extent it is necessary in every lesson. With skill and judgment it becomes very serviceable in giving illustrations and explanations. The extent to which it is employed should depend on the age, power and advancement of the pupils. With little children it should rarely be employed in any continuous form. For advanced classes the lecture plan may be adopted with much greater chance of success, though perhaps in no lesson should it be used alone. Even in universities the professor who teaches a subject well relies on other methods.
When the lecture method is used it should be controlled by definite purpose, and should be kept within clearly defined limits. The lecture should be suggestive as well as definite. The facts should be stated in language readily comprehended, and in a simple and direct way. The ideas should be connected, the expressions persuasive, vivid and interesting, and the manner bright, earnest and sympathetic. Pupils must be kept interested, and with this object the points must be presented with varying deliberation and emphasis.
" Whenever the teacher does not first excite enquiry, first pre-pare the mind by waking it up to a desire to know, and if possible to find out by itself, but proceeds to think for the child, and to give him the results before they are desired, or before they have been sought for-he makes the mind of the child a two-gallon jug, into which he may pour just two gallons but no more."-Pale.
The Conversational Method.-It is often the most effective means of imparting instruction to allow the teaching to assume the form of conversation. The teacher-plays the part of a sympathetic friend, and, with the absence of formality or apparent desire to instruct, a pleasant chat about the subject causes the children to forget that they are taught, and induces them to learn with-out feeling that school work is a drudgery. The pupils are encouraged to talk and ask questions of the teacher, who in turn puts questions to them, and guides the conversation with a settled purpose. When conducted with spontaneousness and simplicity, and without any conventionality, this method is well adapted to the wants of young children. Even with older pupils, it forms a very agreeable change from the lecture or the ordinary question method. A genial and scholarly teacher may, in this way, add much to the information obtained from text-books.
The method has its dangers. Skill and judgment are needed to secure brightness, freedom and naturalness, and at the same time to avoid what is artificial, indefinite, dull, or ludicrous. If wisely used it generates a love of learning, and trains the child to communicate with ease, confidence and accuracy. Caution is required to prevent random talk, rashness of statement, frequent digression, oversight of some pupils, and forwardness of manner in others. The teacher needs to have full knowledge of his subject and good control of his class.
The Discussion Method.-Occasionally the recitation may take the form of a discussion. The subject for consideration may be announced, and pupils may be asked to maintain certain positions, to present arguments, or to offer or meet objections. The teacher directs the discussion and prevents any tendencies to disorder or to the use of desultory talk. Vigorous thought and independent expression of opinion may be fostered in this way, and pupils may learn to have regard to the views and feelings of others. Sharp retorts or personal allusions should not be allowed, and liberality of opinion, courtesy and fair play should be placed at a premium. In High Schools the discussion method, in the shape of a debate, may now and then form a feature of the programme. A good teacher will find it a great aid in interesting pupils in history, literature and other subjects, and in giving them confidence for speaking in public.
The Question Method.-The question method is by far the most valuable means of conducting a recitation. Its importance demands special consideration. (Chapter XV.).
The Socratic Method.-This is a mode of putting questions in such a judicious way that the pupil is led to discover truth for himself. It was named from the Grecian philosopher Socrates, and is used' extensively . by the disciples of Pestalozzi, and by all modern educators. The teacher acts constantly as a guide, and puts his questions in such a way that the pupils gain knowledge by their own effort. The pupil is led to think, to reason, to gain information, and to discover his own errors. He overcomes obstacles, surmounts difficulties, and wins victories. He becomes a worker, gains courage and strength, and forms habits of self-reliance. In the hands of a poor teacher it has little use. Teachers who are familiar with the science of education, and who understand the principles of psychology, will find the Socratic method a powerful instrument in giving original instruction. It would be unwise for a teacher to regard the Socratic method as one to be generally followed. Training questions and Socratic questions are not in all respects identical. The developing method will ordinarily give rise to the question method, but other kinds of questioning (Chapter X V.) will be used.
" Socrates had not the spirit of a teacher of little children, and judging from his practice as we know it, he would certainly in that capacity have been a failure. He usually drove his hearers to the conclusion he wanted. It is the business of the teacher of children to guide and lead, and they require much more help and direct explanation, interspersed with the questions, than the ordinary Socratic dialogue would give. "-Landon.
The Topic Method.-When this method is used it is understood that some subject is proposed for consideration. Each pupil may be required to tell all he knows about the topic assigned. Pupils in this way may be trained to give a connected statement of their opinions, and to answer questions dealing with the subject. Like other methods it has its dangers. The time of the class may be wasted in hearing recitations, and there may be little opportunity for real teaching. Thoroughness and attention may be neglected. In primary teaching the topic method should be used sparingly, and in any case it should be supplemented by other modes of instruction.
The Comparative Method. - The distinguishing feature of this method is the use of comparison or contrast. One fact, or a series of facts, having been placed alongside another, there is an examination of the two in close connection. An examination of this kind increases the knowledge which the pupil has of each and strengthens the impressions made. The method cultivates the power of observation and discrimination, and in the case of young children it becomes very valuable. It excites their curiosity, intensifies their interest, and leads them to discover points of difference and similarity in matters brought to their notice. In teaching geography, history, science and literature, the comparative method has an important use.
Illustrative Methods.-Illustrative methods render vivid what is abstract, technical and scientific. They excite interest and curiosity and stimulate investigation. In this way attention is aroused, the memory strengthened, and force, picturesqueness and impressiveness are added to the teaching. There are two kinds of illustrations.
(a) The first of these may be termed objective, as they bring into action the use of the senses. Objective illustrations are of various kinds : (1) Objects. These should be a well-arranged series of articles suitable to give systematic illustrations for the subject to be taught. (2) Pictures and diagrams. These should be provided, if possible, by the trustees, but the teacher should be expert in putting on the blackboard what may not be available. (3) Maps and models. Much apparatus may be provided without much expense. (4) Experiments. Mere book knowledge is now at a discount in mastering chemistry, physics, biology, etc.
(b) The second class of illustrations may be termed oral. There are two kinds of oral illustrations. (1) The particular may be used to explain the general. For instance, the nature of an adverbial clause may be made clear by furnishing examples. (2) One thing may be understood by mentioning another of an analogous nature. A river may be explained by saying it resembles a stream which the pupils may have seen.
Analytic and Synthetic Methods -The student gains knowledge by a two fold process. He observes individual cases and forms them into groups on account of certain points of resemblance. The method is called the synthetic. On the other hand, he may, from certain recognized principles, make an arrangement of individual cases. In this way he employs the analytic method. By the analytic process knowledge is taught by beginning with the whole and proceeding to its elements or constituents. By the synthetic process the procedure is from the elements or constituents to the whole. If, for instance, in grammar the pupils are taught the general characteristics of the different parts of speech and then enabled to understand the function of the sentence, the synthetic method is used. If, on the other hand, the function of each part of speech is taught after that of the sentence is made clear, the analytic method is employed. Each method has its advantages. Generally speaking-especially with young pupils--the analytic method will be found preferable.
Inductive and Deductive Methods.-The mode of giving instruction may also be inductive or deductive. By the former general truths are reached through particular ones. By the latter particulars are reached through generals. With deductive teaching the definition cornea first. With inductive teaching it comes last. Inductive methods enable pupils to discover principles and laws. Deductive methods enable them to test the truth of enunciated principles. It is evident that, like analysis and synthesis, induction and deduction have their respective
advantages. All deductive teaching is by its nature analytic, and all inductive processes are synthetic. The converse propositions are not, however, true. A pupil may be taught the facts of some historical event, or those of some geographical division, synthetically, but these facts would not be grouped by induction. The constituent parts of a sentence or of a country may, on the other hand, be taught analytically, but not by induction. For young children the inductive method is preferable, but it is a mistake to infer that even with them it should be used to the exclusion of deductive processes.
Auxiliary Methods.-In addition to the proper use of the methods mentioned, various expedients are utilized by the skilful teacher. The use of written exercises and practice in written examinations (Chapter XVI.) will be found very valuable in teaching most subjects. Reviews and outlines of a series of lessons are common in High Schools. Pupils may he assigned the duty of reporting the substance of a lecture, or that of putting in writing a list of their difficulties in mastering a lesson. Different topics may be assigned to different groups of pupils, with the abject of increasing the application of certain members of the class and fixing responsibility. It sometimes saves time and awakens enthusiasm by adopting for a few minutes the "concert" method of conducting a recitation. To overcome timidity the pupils in one row of seats may be required to answer together. A change in the method of conducting a recitation may often prove necessary before the time of the lesson has expired. It not unfrequently becomes essential for the teacher to bring to his aid some temporary expedient in order to create interest and check idleness. To measure every moment the effect of his teaching on the class, is a duty that devolves upon him who successfully conducts a recitation.
Objectionable Methods.-Almost any method of conducting a recitation is objectionable that is not adapted to the nature of the lesson, or to the age, attainments, or mental condition of the pupils. Many antiquated methods have not yet disappeared from some schools. The constant marking of the record of each pupil during the lesson is a relic of the past. In a few places children are still "turned down" for making a mistake. It is still no uncommon thing to hear of young children deprived of sleep on account of the heavy lessons they have to prepare for the next day.
The parrot method and the cramming process linger in some localities. Some teachers have no system in teaching. They drift from one plan to another, and only "keep" school. They have no fixed purpose, no mastery of the subject, no regard for the previous knowledge of the class, and no definiteness in the questions put to the pupils.
Many teachers attempt too much in a recitation. The lesson is too wide in scope. Introductions are too long. The important facts are not emphasized. With others, there is too much drill and too little educative work, or the language is "above the heads" of the pupils, and unreasonable digressions are frequent. Children are often bewildered by the discursive way in which their teachers give instruction. The presentation is clumsy. The lesson is not stimulating. Mere talk-wordiness-amusementis not teaching.