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Two demands, seemingly conflicting, have made a new first-year book in English for high schools a necessity,--the first being the demand of the college for better written English on the part of the entering students; the second being the demand of the public for a more democratic distribution of courses than a college preparatory school offers.
An examination of the two demands will show, however, that they are after all not diametrically opposed. Right thinking, clear and adequate expression, efficiency, are the reasonable and just demands both of the public and of the college. Neither is concerned with the method of doing the work, so long as desired results are obtained. The demand of the college for efficiency of expression has led to compulsory courses in English in our high schools, with a corresponding increase in the number of hours required for the study. No longer is it felt that only the gifted few can write; it is demanded that all shall write. The demand of the public, on the other hand, has led to the reduction of the elementary courses from nine years to eight, and the introduction into the high schools of the so-called vocational courses. The result has been to increase enormously the size of our first-year classes. These people also must be taught to write. In its way, then, the demand of the college is as utilitarian as the demand of the public. Both are asking that the youth of our land shall be taught to
express themselves with the lucidity, the ease, the directness, the force, of which our noble language is capable.
As high school teachers we have been slow to arise to the occasion. Our teaching has often been too academic; we have copied the college methods without examining them to see whether they were pedagogically sound as high school methods. The consequence has been that we have allowed our classes to drift along, with the burden of real preparation placed on the pupils of the upper classes. Such slipshod work as this not only has failed to prepare classes properly for college, but has left out of account those pupils who are not preparing for college, as well as those who leave school before the course is completed. We are beginning to see, however, that English as well as other branches of study can be taught in a definite and logical manner; that the proper time for beginning the work, whether in preparation for college or for the world at large, is in the first year; that, sound as college methods may be for the college, they may not be sound for the high school; that the whole of rhetoric should not be taught in the first year, or in any year, any more than the whole of algebra or the whole of Latin; that a book containing all the principles of rhetoric is, at this early stage, in the highest degree confusing; and that practice under direction is essential to coherent expression.
There has been accordingly a shift in the emphasis. The comprehensive rhetoric written by a college rofessor for adult classes or for teachers, has yielded to the simple text-book written by a teacher for a specific class. We are laying the foundations of rhetoric where they should be laid, in the first year of the high school course,
To meet the requirements of this shifted emphasis, this book, "Foundation English,” has been prepared. It is a book of exercises, designed for a specific class, to be taught by teachers who presumably have obtained their preparation in the principles of rhetoric elsewhere than in the pages of the book used in their classes. The exercises have grown out of the needs of actual classes, and are the result of years of teaching. The methods which are outlined have been tried with eminently satisfactory results in the High School of a manufacturing city, where pupils come from the homes of working people, largely of foreign extraction, as well as from the homes of the cultured and well to do.
Acknowledgment of indebtedness is due to Messrs. Houghton Mifflin Company for permission to use passages from Holmes, Longfellow, Thoreau, Poe, Emerson, Bryant, and Whittier; to Messrs. Ginn and Company for the use of quotations from Gage's Introduction to Physical Science; to Messrs. Charles Scribner's Sons for selections from Stevenson and a passage from John C. Van Dyke's Nature for Its Own Sake; and to Scott, Foresman, and Company, for the paragraphs from The Story of the Middle Ages, and Greek Gods, Heroes and Men, by S. H. and S. B. Harding; also to Messrs. Scott and Southworth for the use of the s-form from their Lessons in English.
To Mr. James D. Horne, Master of the Lawrence High School, Miss Susana T. O'Connor of the English Department of that school, Miss Gertrude M. Hall of the Mechanic Arts High School of Boston, and other teachers, I am deeply grateful for the loyal support which has made possible the carrying out of my theories; as also to Miss Leila M. Lamprey, Supervisor of Primary Grades in Lawrence, for reading proof, and to Dean Hurlburt of Harvard College and Professor Lindsay Todd Damon of Brown University for help and encouragement in the initial stages of the book. No words can adequately express my gratitude to Professor Frank Edgar Farley of Simmons College for guidance in preparing the manuscript and for untold favors besides.