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its origin to a strong conviction that much of the difficulty experienced in teaching reading, and of the languor and listlessness which pervade the atmosphere of schools, is to be ascribed to the unsatisfactory nature of the reading-books in general use, which are founded either upon no principle at all, or upon one-sided and therefore erroneous principles. The principles which have guided the Editor of the present compilation are, it is believed, those which are now regarded by our best educators as firmly established.

2. As the title imports, a leading feature of “The Graduated Series” will be the graduation of the difficulty of the lessons. This feature characterises, indeed, in a greater or less degree, all school reading-books which have any pretensions to the name. But the novelty of the present project is, that it seeks to base the idea of graduation on a more philosophical foundation than existing works of the same kind have attempted to do. Even where a consistent endeavor to graduate the difficulty of the lessons is capable of being recognised in the reading-books ordinarily employed, it is invariably found that a mechanical rule has been followed, which removes some impediments while it leaves many others actually untouched. It has hitherto been the practice to graduate reading-lessons, almost exclusively either according to the complexity of the grammatical constructions, or according to the difficulty of the words which occur in them. This practice has resulted from a too limited view of what the term “reading” should imply. A lesson cannot be said to be properly read unless it is fully comprehended ; and it obviously by no means follows that a lesson is easy

of comprehension because it exhibits a scarcity of unusual words and constructions. A sentence which may be uttered and grammatically analysed with great facility, may present a very hard problem to the intellect. This is a consideration of the utmost consequence. In graduating the lessons of the present Series, the Editor has had reference, not only to their verbal and grammatical peculiarities, but also to the general calibre of mind requisite to understand and appreciate the ideas which they express.

3. “The Graduated Series ” will differ not less widely from its predecessors in the subject matter than in the arrangement of the lessons. Most of the present reading-books either abound in abstract essays, and in rhetorical or poetical common-places, or they consist of compendious and unadorned outlines of some of the branches of natural science. The objection to both classes of books is, that they are essentially uninteresting to the youthful mind. The latter class has been especially in vogue since it has become customary to talk of the necessity of imparting information in schools on what has of late years been termed "Common Things.” It has been too often forgotten that the communication of this sort of knowledge, however useful it may be, is secondary in importance to the cultivation of a taste for reading, and to the training of the power and the habit of independent thinking and observation. But it is beginning to be recognised, that one of the most infallible ways of creating a distaste for inquiry into the construction and phenomena of the material universe, is to burden the mind with a mass of technical facts; that such facts are not necessarily wholesome food merely because they bear upon subjects which are 6 familiar" to every one; and that the question whether they are available in an educational point of view, must always depend on the form and style in which they are presented to the intellect, and on the relation in which they stand to antecedent knowledge. Nor are the materials of good reading-lessons to be looked for in what are known as “Rhetorical Extracts.” The range of thought to which such selections appeal is generally wider and deeper than a youth can compass. It is obvious that the pupil should be made to read of things which awaken his sympathy, not of things which lie beyond the sphere of his sympathy, A point of cardinal importance is, that unless his interest is excited, he never reads well. On the other hand, it is astonishing how much knowledge of elocution he almost intuitively displays if his mind only perceives vividly, and warmly enters into, the matter of which he reads. The element of attractiveness is thus indispensable in every reading-lesson. It is believed that, in the unusual prominence which it gives to this element, “The Graduated Series ” will be found to present a contrast to



those with which it enters into competition, and to provide the best of all substitutes for the old schemes of " rules for reading,” for the discontinuance of which it is a sufficient argument that they have never served any purpose but to annoy and embarrass.

4. The charge of encouraging desultory and immethodical thinking is frequently and with justice preferred against the employment of books of miscellaneous extracts for educational purposes. A strenuous endeavor has been made by the Editor of the present Series to obviate this charge. He has by no means attempted to exhaust subjects systematically; but he has striven so to select and arrange, that each lesson will either prepare the way for something which follows, or throw additional light on something which goes before. In other words, he has throughout aimed at a certain continuity in the treatment of topics. Beginning with rapid and rudimentary sketches, which rouse rather than gratify the appetite, he has endeavored to lead the pupil, by gradations as nearly imperceptible as possible, to a somewhat deliberate and special survey of the great departments of human knowledge, and to an approximate estimate of their relations and proportions.

5. Care has been taken, without violating the principle of a graduated arrangement as already laid down, to preserve a natural sequence in certain cases in which convenience obviously demanded it. In Book IV., for example, the order of the lessons in Natural History corresponds to the order of those in the Geographical Section. All the historical extracts are arranged chronologically.

6. It is no part of the Editor's plan to supplant the excellent Text-Books of special instruction already in existence. In certain instances, however, where a vivid conception of salient points of interest in history and natural science could be presented within reasonable compass, pieces have been furnished, either as compilations, or as original contributions. But this has been done chiefly with a view to encourage reference to sources named, or to stimulate to further research.

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In introducing to the public the first in order of issue of the Graduated Series, it is necessary to direct attention to an expedient which has been adopted with the view of rendering the lessons suitable for the purposes of collective teaching.

Every schoolmaster must have experienced the difficulty of apportioning a necessarily short reading lesson, so that every individual in an ordinary class may have a fair share of reading exercise. Either each scholar reads a portion which, for the sake of shortness is incomplete in sense, or for the sake of completeness is so long as to encroach on the claims of the rest.

In some cases, the plan of limiting an individual exercise by a period has been hitherto followed on the ground of its intelligibility, as a mechanical rule, and because of the necessity of giving each member of a class, more or less, an active share in the lesson; in others, a paragraph is given to each, on the argument that the object of reading aloud is best gained by the oral association of the whole of the sentences that bear upon one part of a subject.

The plan of arresting a reader at a full stop, merely because it is a convenient grammatical ending, is only defensible as an adaptation to the apparent exigencies of a school. It is, without doubt, indispensable that each pupil should play his part; but it by no means follows that the reading of a disjointed statement or fraction of an illustration, merely in order that the pupil may have, at separate intervals, two mechanical exercises instead of one, is the quickest mode of attaining the object of the art of reading. Again, if it be allowed that reading is capable of being made an intellectual as well as a technical art, the plan of reading by paragraphs is unobjectionable; but the practical necessity of extending one short lesson over a considerable number, and within a limited period of time, interposes an

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