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THE UNITED STATES
For High Schools and Academies
HANNAH A. DAVIDSON, M.A.
BY HANNAH A. DAVIDSON.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
TYPOGRAPHY BY J. S. CUSHING & Co., Boston, U.S.A.
PressWORK BY Ging & Co., Boston, U.S.A.
A Few words of explanation in regard to the scope and plan of this little book are necessary. It has grown out of class-room experience, and has been-shaped to the practical needs of the pupil. It is an attempt to connect history teaching in the secondary school more closely in method and aim with history teaching and study in the college and in the university. In the best institutions the study of history is no longer the study of a textbook. The library is the workshop, the best books that have been written are the tools, the teacher is the guide, and the pupil's mind must do the work.
It is, comparatively, a simple task to force a boy's memory to retain the minimum of information which will enable him to pass his college examinations; the difficult task is that of aiding him to acquire the mental discipline and the habit of independent work which will sustain him satisfactorily in college work.
The objects of the method of instruction outlined in this book are two: First, to help the pupil to acquire this discipline and to train him in those methods of work which he ought to use throughout his college course ; second, to give the pupil a sufficiently broad and reliable knowledge of facts to serve as a basis for his future study of constitutional history, politics, etc., and to put these facts into such due relation to each other and to commonly accepted opinions that they will not have to be readjusted with broader knowledge.
This book has been used for three years in manuscript by boys in the fourth year below entrance to the Freshman class at Harvard University ; in other words, the boys have studied United States history in the year in which they have begun Latin, algebra, and geometry. At first, I felt uncertain of the extent to which pupils of this grade could use a library for their work. The results have surpassed my expectation.
The list of books given is far from complete, but nearly all the references have been tried by the test of actual use by the boys. Many of the books on United States history, which are indispensable to a teacher's library, are either too extended treatises or too old in language and method of treatment for a boy's use ; for such reasons Von Holst's, MacMaster's, Shouler's histories, and similar works, have been excluded. Others, as the “ American Statesmen” series, which are excellent outside reading, are too diffuse, and often treat public events too much from the standpoint of one man's part in them. It has been very difficult to find suitable maps and charts for reference. There is no atlas worthy the name to accompany the study of the settlement of the colonies and the development of the United States.
A few brief suggestions will best explain the use of the book.
First. The library is as indispensable to the student of history as the laboratory to a proper study of chemistry or physics ; pupils must be given free access to it, and books, tables, and hours must be conveniently arranged for study. No one student is expected to read all the references given on each topic. A few words of instruction calling attention to important references, emphasizing points to be borne in mind, and suggesting queries to be answered by the pupil's reading, should accompany the assigning of each lesson. The large number of duplicate references is given, first, that several boys may use the same library at the same time; second, because it is desirable that different boys should get their information from different sources, - the sum total of intelligence acquired by the class is much greater, and the boy, individually, is gradually freed from slavery to text. It is usually necessary that a teacher should go into the library a few times with each new class, and show the pupils how to work without wasting time.
Second. All students are required to have small bound note
books, and to keep in them such summaries and memoranda as the teacher shall direct; for instance, of treaties, boundaries, contracts, etc. These note-books are handed in at the close of each month for inspection, and a small per cent of credit is given on them in making up the month's report.
Third. Every fifth recitation is given to written work. It is one-half the task of the teacher of history in the secondary school to teach the boy to say accurately and concisely the thing he has learned. Nearly all the forgetting which troubles students is due to inability to define clearly in language the ideas that they have acquired. The chief cause of this inability on the boy's side is an actual lack of vocabulary. It is as necessary in teaching history and civil government as in teaching geometry, to insist that the pupil shall acquire, define exactly, and use habitually, the correct expressions of his branch of study. Few boys beginning the study of history make accurately so simple a distinction, for example, as that between 'to appoint' and 'to elect.'
The only method that I have found thoroughly efficient in securing the habitual use of an accurate vocabulary by pupils in secondary schools is that of requiring one written recitation per week, the questions covering the work of the four preceding days. These questions differ essentially from those given at regular examinations. They are often topics, the entire hour being given to three or four. They call for a full and careful statement of whatever in the week's work the pupil is most likely to forget or to give inaccurately and incompletely. These papers I mark with great care, calling attention in the margin to all mistakes in spelling, rhetoric, and grammar, as well as to mistakes in history and to inaccurate expressions, but never correcting the mistake for the pupil. I require entirely rewritten every topic which falls below the standard established for passing by the school, and the careful correction of all mistakes in other parts of the examination paper.
Once in five or six weeks I give a regular examination on the work of the preceding month, similar in the character of its ques