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THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
ATLANTA · SAN FRANCISCO
MACMILLAN & CO., LIMITED
HENRY SEIDEL CANBY
SHEFFIELD SCIENTIFIC SCHOOL, YALE UNIVERSITY
JOHN BAKER OPDYCKE
HIGH SCHOOL OF COMMERCE, NEW YORK CITY
All rights reserved
Set up and electrotyped. Published June, 1913.
Norwood, Mass., U.S.A.
PREFACE FOR THE TEACHER
THE TEACHING OF COMPOSITION
ALTHOUGH Shakespeare's Prospero (one of the earliest teachers of composition) failed utterly in other branches of instruction, he was most successful in teaching Caliban expressiveness, as is proved by the exquisite passage in which the monster speaks of “sounds and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not.” And it is Prospero who best sums up the accomplishment of the successful teacher of composition, when he says to his unpromising student: “I endow'd thy purposes with words that made them known.” This, indeed, is the aim of the teacher of composition — to endow the purposes with words that make them known.
Loud controversies have raged as to whether this is possible; as to whether composition can be taught. The rest may reason and welcome; the teacher of composition knows. He knows that literature and the makers of literature cannot be manufactured in the classroom. He knows that the power to write or speak simply and clearly (and his province extends no further) cannot be taught by the mere memorizing of rules. But the
experience of the least successful is sufficient to prove that · the ordering of thought for expression can be taught; that the technique of writing, like any other technique, can be taught; and that not to teach composition would be to lay aside one of the best weapons in the fight for better education.
It is much more profitable to discuss how composition can be taught most successfully ; and in that controversy he who says, “I know,” says much. Yet every year the practice in composition courses grows broader, saner, more stimulative, more efficient. The teacher has learned that it is his duty to teach the tools of writing — the word, the sentence, the paragraph, and other unities — until they may be used as handily. as the carpenter uses his hammer, or the mason his trowel. He has learned that it is his privilege to help in shaping the ideas which pour from life and from books into the student's mind; and he laughs at those who say that the boy or girl has nothing to express. As a teacher, he has become a middleman between thought and expression, valuing both. He is far from claiming victory, but his campaign is beyond the possibility of defeat.
THE TEXTBOOK IN COMPOSITION
The student of composition needs more than an abundance of models. He must have the theory of composition explained in the permanency and accuracy of print. He does not require much theory, but he needs that little immensely; and he must have a textbook.
His best textbook, so the authors of this volume believe, will be neither a treatise on rhetoric nor a mere assemblage of developing exercises. Its outline should be firm and clear, for the plan must be based upon sound logic and sound psychology. Its method of presentation should be informal, but consistent and practicable. Its subject matter, its illustrations, its suggestions, should lend themselves to expansion or selection both by those who learn and those who teach. It should stimulate the mind, while providing that upon which the mind. may feed.
This was the ideal which the authors of this book set before them. It would have been easy to make the book more formal, more dignified; it might have been made briefer; it could have been more searching, more prolific of rules, subtler in dis