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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/556

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538
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

method comes into view. The mother tells the child that she is pleased or displeased with him, that it makes her happy or unhappy when the child does this or that, that she thinks he is a good or a naughty boy, etc.—all of which remarks express her feelings, her thoughts, in contradistinction to the actions which have occasioned these feelings and thoughts; the realm of the mind as opposed to the world of activity. Let us here notice that the speech of every people contains these two classifications of words, the objective and the subjective; and indeed it must be so, since we perform actions and we judge of our actions. By this method the child learns in about a year from the time it begins to speak to express itself about what it does and what it thinks.

Now what is the method of the grammarian? The child learns first the names of things that do not appeal to his consciousness, for they do not start from his point of view, but from that of the maker of a book. He learns lists of words—that is, he learns to know the symbol, and not the thing; he translates. He learns about Cæsar's wars and the book of his father's uncle in what is called an exercise. For both of these subjects he feels no interest, which is to be expected, as they are abstract. He sees no action. Of the great part of language, which may be called the speech of feeling, he also learns only in the abstract. He reads that Cæsar was glad or that his father's uncle was angry, but the happiness and the anger are outside of his consciousness; they have been presented to him by symbols, that is, printed words. By this method the child learns in about four years to read fairly well; as a rule, speaking the language is entirely out of the question. The pupils can not talk of their actions and their feelings, because these are represented to them by symbols, for such are printed words; they have not grasped them as actualities. If on going into a foreign country they are able to understand what is being said, the teacher may consider himself lucky. He has done his utmost with the method he has chosen to employ. He has attained something. It remains true that the mother accomplishes more in a shorter time than the grammarian.

But is it perhaps possible to put the two methods together, and thus to create a method which shall contain the good of both? We must not continue always to act as the mother does, to teach after her method, or our pupils will continue to talk like a child of two years, and be furthermore unable to write at all. How shall we manage to melt the two into one compact, inseparable whole?

Let us imagine a class is to take its first lesson in the foreign tongue. First, what shall be the matter of the lesson; then, how shall it be presented? We shall be careful to choose a subject that can be interesting to the pupil, hence a subject containing activity.