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DIDACTICS

FOR COMMON SCHOOL TEACHERS

By

HENRY SABIN, LL.D.
Superintendent of Public Instruction for the State of Iowa 1888-92
and 1894-98. Chairman of Committee of Twelve

on Rural Schools, N. E. A. 1895

RAND, McNALLY & COMPANY
Chicago
New York

London

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THE PREFACE

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URPOSES.-This book is addressed to that large

body of teachers who are at work in the common schools of the land. It is designed to be helpful to those who have had little or no professional training and whose outfit consists mainly in their native good sense, and in a fair knowledge of the common branches. Whatever there may be of value in the volume is drawn very largely from an experience of over fifty years in school work. While acting as supervisor of schools, and at institutes and educational meetings, it has been my custom to note down those points of practical importance in which the body of teachers seemed to need instruction. From these notes I have prepared a volume for those who are disposed to investigate school affairs from a common sense standpoint. Much genuine pleasure has been derived from the writing of this volume, and it is sent forth in the hope that it may prove an aid and encouragement to those who desire to enter more fully into the true spirit of teaching, without which all knowledge is formal and valueless so far as the school is concerned. There are countless numbers of teachers who regard only the subject matter contained in the books, and neglect "to teach the child,” which is a far more worthy object.

Not long since the statement was made by a prominent superintendent, and greeted with applause, that he measured the worth of a teacher by the number of pupils in her room who could pass a successful exam

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ination for promotion. This book has been written, not only to combat, as far as possible, such ideas as this, but to inculcate and enforce the opposite, which Edward Thring formulates in these words: "Education means training for life. Lives, not lessons, are dealt with; with its corollary, that no system which battens on books is true.''

I have no desire to appear as a critic. The oftrepeated story of incompetent teachers and wretched schools, dinned into the ears of young teachers, has a most disheartening effect. It kills their ambition, dwarfs their enthusiasm, and sends them to their schools with the feeling that in nine cases out of ten failure is inevitable. On the contrary, I would take down the shutters, and throw open the schoolroom doors, that God's pure air, the warm sunshine, the songs of birds, and the smell of flowers may come in and fill every crevice and corner of the room, so that the humblest teacher may see and feel what a noble, Godlike thing it is to strive honestly and conscientiously to do one's duty.

ARRANGEMENT OF SUBJECTS. - It is proper here to call attention to the arrangement chosen for the subjectmatter in the different chapters. This volume is designed as a counselor, which teachers can keep on their desks, and to which they can refer at odd moments, as they have time or as occasion suggests. While there is a common vein of thought and purpose easily traced, running through the entire book, each chapter has a character of its own; it stands out by itself, and is intended to meet an individual purpose. Thus, any teacher can select the chapter which seems to meet personal or present necessities, and defer reading the others until a more opportune time.

ARRANGEMENT OF CHAPTERS.-In arranging the chapters the reader will find that the first four have reference to the nature of teaching and the preparation of the teacher. This is followed by two chapters having special reference to the child and things which will be most useful to children. Moral instruction, as of greatest importance, follows next, with its adjunct, habits. School government natyrally follows this. The health of the school and the cultivation of taste are next. Then the recitation follows, not because it is of minor importance, but because other things which have been mentioned are necessary in order that the recitation may be of most use. Oral instruction, as closely allied, follows recitation. The other subjects, memory, imagination, and so on, come in their natural order. Special attention, however, is called to the last chapter, regarding books and their uses.

HENRY SABIN. Des Moines, Iowa, June, 1903.

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