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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 26

II.—The Rest of this Combined Course

II.—The Rest of this Combined Course.

It would be impossible to give a complete plan of the Combined English Course we advocate, in an address. This it was not our intention to do. We wished merely to indicate the general method to be pursued, and the spirit in which it should be worked out, and to show at some length, as we have done, the mode of conducting the first and most important stage.

For the rest of the course, each teacher must construct a plan of procedure for himself, arranging the various parts of grammar, analysis, and composition as he thinks best for page 31 himself and his pupils. The materials for such a course are abundant, and to be found in our common text-books on the subjects. I cannot name any one book in which what I recommend is done. But the course is not difficult to construct. Let a teacher place before him several of our best text-books of grammar, analysis, and composition. From the abundant materials and exercises there presented, let him arrange for himself a graduated series of lessons on these conjoint subjects. In doing this, let him attend to the following points :—

1. The great principle that should pervade the course is that it is one based on, and having as its aim, the practical use of the language—in other words, that it is through a Course of Composition; and, therefore, that everything in Grammar and Analysis is to be reduced to practice in Composition. It should, as far as possible, be made a rigorous postulate—nothing taught without being done.

2. Let, therefore, the order in which Grammar is taught be that best adapted to progress in practical Composition. Do not follow Grammar text-books implicitly, but only where the order coincides with this practical aim. For example, the conjunction should not be begun till the children are ready to begin the forming of compound sentences, and then only the coordinative conjunctions, which are used to form these. So again, the relative, and the subordinate conjunctions (which are almost all derived from the relative, and should therefore be treated of along with it) should be taken only when the children are able to make complex sentences, in which these elements are used.

3. Gradually teach Analysis, as it contributes to the better understanding of Grammar, and to improved power in Composition.

4. Make a list, as easily got from our text-books, of the different principles in Composition proper that you purpose to teach the children; arrange these according to the order of difficulty, beginning with the simplest; and combine these with the grammatical and analytic course, so that each shall most assist the others.

5. Every teacher will determine for himself, according to the age and capacity of his children, and the time they page 32 remain at school, what principles in these three subjects he ought to take up, whether few or many, general or particular, in order to gain the aim he sets before him in this study—that of giving them the power, on leaving school, of writing at least a creditable composition, narrative and descriptive; and he will make the points he takes up more or less minute accordingly.

6. Though thus taught conjointly, it should always be kept in mind, that we are teaching three distinct but related subjects, each having its own rules and exercises. Exercises should therefore be given in each separately, in Grammar as Grammar, in Analysis as Analysis, and in Composition. Though combined, and having a distinct series of exercises as thus combined, in which all together are put to practice, they should also be examined and exercised on in the regular way as given in our text-books.

Such a plan of combined teaching of these important subjects he will, I am sure, find to be easier than he may at first sight imagine, with this advantage—that it is his own, and to be worked out by himself, for a definite and most commendable end. I can promise him, that he will be amply repaid for his trouble by the growing power his children acquire in the use of English in writing and speaking, and the firmer and more intelligent understanding of the grammatical structure of the language which such a course will secure.