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All of these stories are intensely interesting and are such as our pupils would like to read in English. We must not overlook the element of interest in literature, all the more as the direct method is vitally concerned with thoughtmatter, with content. In fact, we should encourage our students to engage in outside reading as much as possible. Their appetite once aroused, this ceases to be a difficult task but becomes on their part a labor of love. Such extra reading can be of great value when reports on books read at home are brought to class and discust. We have done this for years in Jamaica High School with most gratifying results. 5
Discussions on effective modern language instruction and on efficient preparation for teaching, on subject-matter and on form, have their place. But let us not forget one thing above all, that, in addition to sound scholastic and professional training, lofty ideals must inspire every teacher. Love for his students and a high conception of his calling should invariably supplement thoro preparation. In this very connection, I wish to cite in translation a few lines of a book in which is portrayed the ideal schoolmaster. I have reference to one of the recent German Erziehungsromane, called Heideschulmeister Uwe Karsten by Felicitas Rose, where we read:
“Sixty boys and girls! Sixty human souls! And in each a divine spark, in each a desire, a longing for light. In each a pathetic petition to kindle this spark, to let it grow, to fan it incessantly until it develops into a pure flame. And this petition is made to me; I am permitted to grant it. Is there anything more precious? Schoolmaster! People pronounce that word so thoughtlessly, and yet no one should be so presumptuous as to call himself thus."
CARL A. KRAUSE New YORK
5 For outside reading consult A. Kenngott's valuable contribution in the School Review, June, 1914.
THE FARMER AND HIS TOOLS
Books are tools to the farmer as well as to the doctor or the lawyer. We hear an almost tiresome amount about the cultural and recreational value of books for the rural community but we do not hear half enough about the use of books by the farmer as tools of his profession. People get their culture by different methods and certainly their recreation. Reading is the last thing that appeals as recreation to an individual who has neither inherited nor formed the reading habit, and there is much waste effort in trying to force books on people who do not want them. But concerning the use of books, bulletins and the publications of the agricultural press by farmers in order to become better farmers there can be no two opinions. Farmers as a class, however, are not good readers and even the bulletins and circulars of the U. S. Department of Agriculture and the state agricultural experiment stations often receive scant attention at their hands. Information must be connected with what a man already knows to be of use, and the problem of getting the farmer to read more than he does is a matter of making connections. It is doubtless important to create a demand for books but to supply the demand that already exists is the first thing to be attended to and should receive the most careful and painstaking attention from everybody who is sincerely interested in the improvement of country life.
A scientist writing recently said that the indications are that the conquests of science in the future will be mainly over "things in the small.”
A survey of human endeavor at the present, would seem to show that he is right. There is less and less of generalization and more and more of the direct effort to accomplish a specific single result. The value of the individual is more appreciated. “One thing
nt about the rural t the use
nly their Es recreaformed n trying m. But lications
at a time and that done well” is the working principle of an increasing number of people. Mendel observed a single character of his peas at a time, and by this method manifested a law which has thrown a flood of light upon the breeding of both plants and animals. Those interested in the question of rural betterment thru the agency of the printed page might do worse than to confine their attention for a while at least to the means of making connections between the immense mass of publications extant on the subject of agriculture and the man behind the plow, in the interest of whose accomplishment it has all been done. There is no branch of human toil in which we are each more intimately interested than in the practise of agriculture, and we wonder whether there can be found a set of men anywhere who care as little for what the rest of the world is doing in their line as the farmer. "He is of all individualists the greatest," some one has said and "the poorer he is as a farmer the greater his individualism.” So the problem of connecting the practise and the theory of farming has become acute. The agricultural colleges and experiment stations have recognized it as evidenced by short courses and extension work; the U. S. Department of Agriculture has recognized it as shown by the corn and other club work among the young people, the demonstration farms, the county agent (of whom more later) and the recently enacted Smith-Lever agricultural extension bill, an epoch-making piece of legislation; the Banking association of the United States has recognized it and organized an agricultural committee which is doing work of far-reaching extent. Certain commercial firms have undertaken to set up these connections thru agricultural propaganda work, which in the case of one corporation of which we know, spends $60,000 a year in postage alone, in this branch of its business.
The railroads are doing the same sort of thing in their own way, and good is undoubtedly being accomplished by each one of these agencies. But there is a vast untilled field still remaining.
The first organized effort to get books to the rural popu
lation thru traveling libraries was begun by the state of New York in 1895. Since then more than half the states in the union have followed suit. Most of the systems are state-supported but others are the work of women's clubs, boards of education or railroad companies. As first sent out these libraries consisted of small collections of books in fixt groups which were sent to different towns or districts where they were kept until read or until the community wanted a new set when they were exchanged for another lot. In some cases the plan worked well, in others the interest soon died out and in response to inquiries sent out by the New Jersey commission in regard to this lack of interest, Miss Askew reports such answers as “The books don't suit us,” and “Books don't get us nowhere.” The answers were true-a set of books, tho chosen with the greatest care by those ignorant of the needs or tastes of a special community, was powerless to arouse the interest necessary to make them of use. In most cases reading has to be first purposeful and then recreative. New Jersey had put her hand to the plow and there was no turning back, so the traveling library commission decided to employ people to campaign in the interest of reading. “These people spoke at harvest homes, visited granges, talked to merchants, tried to interest the school children, worked to get the teachers to train the children to use books and teach them to turn to books in after-life as well as to teach them the mechanics of reading. They drove thru the country, stopping here and there to visit farm houses and hold wayside conversations, trying to show the people how books could come in touch with their lives. *** They pointed out that the aim of these libraries was to give the country boy and girl the same chance in life as the city boy and girl, to enable them to know and appreciate good literature, to give them books to enable them to find out what work they would like to take up and to help them study that work. They showed that these books were meant to help the farmers grow better potatoes and market them to better advantage, to help the farmer's wife do her cooking
with less work and better results, to help the small town merchant and artisan in their work, to show the people how the country is governed and keep them in touch with the political and economical questions of the day and last but by no means least to bring them in contact with the outside world and give them pleasure.” So writes Miss Askew in her inspiring article on Reading for Rural Communities. When a new station was to be established a survey of conditions would be made by one of the “library visitors” and a library made up of books suited to the special tastes and needs of that particular section. In addition to this, individuals wanting a special book were encouraged to write to the commission, and in one case 1500 books had to be bought in one year to meet the demands of these individual borrowers who wanted special material. А further improvement still has been made by using the long distance telephone or a personal letter to answer encyclopedia questions.
The choice of a location for a traveling library is an important part of the work of the library agent. Postoffices and crossroads stores are favorite places, but tollgates, creameries, schoolhouses, lighthouses, fishing villages, log cabins, lumber camps, factory settlements and private homes are also used as stations-in fact there is no place where people go in the natural pursuit of business that the traveling library has not been placed to help and interest. Those in charge of this work, especially in the large states, have felt the difficulty of fitting the traveling library to the needs of the community from one central distributing point in the state, and out of this difficulty the county library plan has grown. This new scheme proposes to establish libraries supported by the county, with a central clearing house and branches at every post-office, town hall, school or other center of community life. Thus many sections which at present have no libraries will be able to establish them. If a county has no community large enough to support a library unaided, the county library plan will enable all the communities to club their resources by levying