Oh what, oh what shall be required?

I may have mentioned it before, and if so then I do again because it bears repeating; a child should be exposed early and often to the best works there are to offer. Why do we wait so long to expose our children to Benjamin Franklin, or Alexander Dumas, or Robert Frost? It has been proven time and again that the mind of a child is more accepting of information and learns faster than the mind of an adult. Shall we not teach them earlier than later in that case?

This point will be almost a reprinting of the Friday before the last post, only this post will have with it the specific requirements that the ten-year-old must adhere to. What they are supposed to learn and to what depth. Again this is from the ‘Appleton’s 1878 Fourth Reader‘.

4th reader

For Preparation: I – Allusions, historical, geographical, and literary. II – Spelling and pronunciation; words to be copied, and marked with diacritical marks, hyphens, and accents. III – Language Lesson. IV – Words and phrases to be explained in the pupil’s own words, giving the meaning as used in the lesson (not the general definition). V – Style and thought. Numbers I and V to suggest topics of conversation on the reading lesson; numbers II, III, and IV to be prepared by the pupil. There may be some points in numbers I and V that are too difficult for many of the pupils for whom the reader is intended. The teacher will use his discretion in selecting topics from these numbers for explanation to his class.

I. Benjamin Franklin, an eminent American philosopher and statesman, born at Boston, Mass., January 17, 1706. His father was a soap and candle maker. Benjamin learned the printer’s trade and moved to Philadelphia. He discovered the identity of lightning and electricity. His efforts secured the alliance of the French with America in the Revolution. He also assisted in making important treaties, and in forming the Constitution of the United States.

We The People

II. Write out and mark the pronunciation of Friends, Filled, Whistle, Laughed, Unnecessary, Neglecting. (See Webster’s diacritical marks on page 98, and in the introduction to the spelling lessons of the Appendix.)

III. “Children” – what change is necessary to make this word refer to only one? What meaning does ‘ing’ give to the word ‘whistling’? Find other words in which it makes the word refer to continued action. Dr. Franklin wrote “says I” for, “said I” – why incorrect?


IV. ‘Coppers’ – what coin does this mean? What does ‘Charmed’ mean? ‘Voluntarily’? (willingly, or of his own accord.) ‘Disturbing’ means what? Who is ‘Cousin’? What is a ‘Bargain’? What is ‘Folly’? – ‘Vexation’? “Impression continuing on my mind”? (i.e., I remembered it.) “Ambitious of the favor of the great”? “Fond of popularity”? (in this case desiring the people’s votes.) Who is a ‘Miser’? What is the meaning of ‘Esteem’? – ‘Benevolent’? – “accumulating wealth”? – ‘Comfortable’? – “contracted debts”? (ran in debt.) “Ended his career” means what? “False estimates they had made of the value of things”? (i.e., made mistakes about the worth of things.)

Do you think of any other examples to add to these of Dr. Franklin? in which people have “given too much for this whistle”? Write out such a case in your own words. What is meant by “the great”? How can they bestow “favor”?

Look at the depth of information required. Would we not be better able to have our children pronounce things correctly if they understood ‘diacritical marks’? Would they not better understand the words we ask them to know how to spell? Idioms are such a huge part of our language and yet they stopped teaching them from the time period I just presented to you, and now. That’s all just touching on the surface.

Growing mind

There is so much more that we have come to leave out of school than include. We don’t need to make things easier for our children. We don’t need participation trophies and/or grades. What is needed is for our children to be challenged in ways that will actually engage their minds and help them grow.

What are your thoughts on our current education system and how it affects our children?

Tim R.

It is a privilege to read to the world.

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