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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 26


page 16


One of the chief ends of our whole school course is to give a boy the power, on leaving school, of using correctly, and if possible with ease and power, our English tongue. This being so, a stranger unacquainted with our school system would expect that a careful, systematic, and graduated course of instruction with exercises in the practical use of the language, in other words, in Composition, would be given; and that if one thing would receive more constant and careful attention than another, it would be this. Yet strangest of all possible things in any educational course, little or nothing of this is done in our schools generally. Where it is attempted, the course is, in most cases, very partial and unsystematic, and the mass of our children leave school with little practical power of using the language by which they are to do the business of life with correctness or power, and fewer still, with any degree of harmony or taste. This is scarcely credible, and, the more one thinks of it, the stranger does it appear.

Yet in the northern district, I could not name six schools where composition is fully and systematically taught. In the few that teach it, weekly exercises are given out, which are corrected by the teacher, and in which errors are pointed out as they casually occur. In the mass of schools, not even this is done, and the child leaves school with little or no attempt having been made by the teacher towards this most practical of ends. I have taken special note on this point, as I attach to it special importance, and I therefore speak with the greater certainty, but with the greater sorrow. After I came to the northern district, I wrote few reports, in which this subject was not specifically recommended. This ought not to be, and we should set ourselves to rectify our procedure in this important and practical matter.