Tuesday, 15 July 2014

School Method - teaching reading in the 1800s

Fossicking around in an antique centre on the weekend, I stumbled across a text book for pre-service teachers dated 1897. This amazing little book details all that the beginning teacher needed to know upon entering a class in the 19th Century. Titled 'School Method.', it includes notes and hints from lectures delivered at the Borough Road Training College in London. Fastidiously notated by its original owner, this text reveals an incredible insight into teaching over a hundred years ago.

The chapter on teaching children to read is fascinating; the use of language quite remarkable. It details reading as being commonly allowed to be the most important of the "three R's" - as it is the great means by which we obtain an acquaintance with matters that lie out of the sphere of our own direct observation.

It goes on to say that reading is a difficult subject to teach and that this is chiefly for two reasons; one, the nature of the subject and two, the nature of the learners. 

Well, that pretty much covers all bases I would think.

The section on teaching the alphabet is something else though...
The teacher must endeavour to make this first stage as interesting as he can. His object will be to complete the association of form and name of each letter, as soon and in as pleasant a manner as possible. He must take into account the tender age of his pupils, and the mental and physical peculiarities inseparable from it; such as their love of novelty, and their inability to bear long-continued and exacting mental strain.

I never knew that teaching the alphabet needed to pleasant. Physical peculiarities? The mind boggles. I don't know about having to be of a tender age either to experience exacting mental strain - I think that would be more the domain of the teacher after reading this! 

This is a classic to treasure for many more years to come. I am just delighted that it found me - even with all my peculiarities!

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