Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

mind has become rested by some change of employment, another point can

proper sequence of thoughts regarded.

Mr. Winship illustrated his views of systematic methods by giving a very interesting account of how he tamed a crying baby on board the cars.

N. E. W., Rec. Sec.

MEETING OF CLASSICAL AND HIGH SCHOOL TEACHERS.

THE third annual meeting of the Massachusetts Association of Classical and High School Teachers was held at the English High School-house in this city on the 25th and 26th of February last. In interest and profit it was not less successful than its predecessors. No small share of this success must be ascribed to Dr. Taylor, who has been the President of the association from its foundation, and who, we are glad to say, has consented to fill this position for another year.

At the opening of the session, a statement of the finances by the Sec'y showed that nearly money enough had been collected the preceding year to pay all past claims, and defray the expenses of the session then being held.

Several amendments to the constitution proposed by the Secretary were referred to a committee consisting of Messrs. Hammond of Monson, Parsons of Waltham, Frisbie of Northampton, and Bradbury of Cambridge. Messrs. Collar of Boston, Rugg of New Bedford, and Hills of Lynn, were appointed as a committee to nominate officers for the ensuing year. The discussion then began upon the pronunciation of Greek.

Dr. TAYLOR, in opening the discussion, said that teachers were much embarrassed by not knowing what system to adopt. At Harvard College, according to Prof. Sophocles, there were not less than thirteen different styles of pronunciation.

Mr. GARDNER, Head-Master of the Boston Latin School, said that he did not follow his own belief. He believed in pronouncing by quantity, but had been coerced to change twenty years ago, - a thing which he ridiculed then as he was ready to ridicule now. As there were so many methods of pronunciation, he thought it was immaterial which was adopted; even the teachers in his own school did not pronounce alike. He did not suppose any modern system of pronunciation would be intelligible to the ancient Greeks and Romans. For his part he did what Harvard told him to do. He was ready to "float with the tide."

Mr. BURNHAM, in discussing the question, considered first what in the abstract ought to be, and second, what is best under all the circumstances. The Greek Language is no more a dead language than the English or French, but is spoken in the streets of Athens now; and the standard of pronunciation ought to be that of the modern Athenians, which he maintained was the most beautiful and melodious system. It was not exactly like the Continental method, though the vowel sounds were substan. tially the same. The subject of accent he thought was a difficult one to deal with. In order to preserve linguistics and metaphysics from the tendency of modern times to neglect them, they ought to be made as interesting and attractive as possible. It was better to have a poor system and follow it accurately, than to go on with uncertainty in a really good one.

Messrs. PERKINS of Lawrence, and PARSONS of Waltham, spoke briefly upon the topic, and gave some facts in relation to the diversity of pronunciation in Harvard College. It was stated that not only the professors differ among themselves, but individual professors pronounce the same words differently on different days.

Prof. TAYLOR said that the main consideration for the retention of the Continental or modern Greek system of pronunciation was, that the higher institutions require it. If it was the general conviction of the teachers that the old English system, which possessed at least the dignity and authority of age, was the best, he hoped they would express the feeling. He should rejoice if the old system that was taught fifty years ago could be again revived and generally adopted, and he thought it would be for the benefit of the country if it was again made the standard of pronunciation.

A committee, consisting of Messrs. Taylor, Burnham, Bradbury, Gardner, and Smith, was appointed to prepare and report resolutions upon the subject for the action of the association.

The second subject was then taken up, and Mr. SmitI of Dorchester read a very interesting paper upon it. He defined a classic as any writing which embodies the highest thought or describes the highest action in the clearest, strongest and most beautiful language. It is only when language clothes the noblest and tenderest emotions, and embalms the most heroic deeds, that it is classic. When we speak of classic education as simply education in Greek and Latin authors, we exclude much of that which is most classic in ancient thought. Classic influences of greater value have come from Judea than from Rome or Greece.

The speaker quoted Bunyan to show the qualities of style which he acquired from the Hebrew classics, and spoke at length of the influence which the effusions of the sacred writers of Palestine had upon our best modern writers.

He claimed that Shakspeare was a first-class classical scholar. He thought it a matter for regret that the study of our own vernacular had been disconnected from the classic originals, and advocated the use of good translations, and showed how the Latin authors and modern English translators and writers of a similar style could be combined in instruction. Grammars, he thought, should be used with care and kept in their place. He read extracts from educational works to enforce his ideas.

Rev. Mr. Tufts, of Monson, read an essay on the same topic. He

thought the grammatical knowledge to be derived from the study of the classics assists very much in acquiring good English style. From the drill of translating comes clear ideas, and a precise expression to the student. Irving, Motley, Prescott, Webster, and many other eminent writers, owe their simple, forcible and perspicuous style to classical training. Other things being equal, a classical knowledge will lead to a greater success in the various employments of life, and the truth of this is gradually coming to be acknowledged.

Mr. Hunt, Master of the Boston Normal School, stated that he was opposed to the wasting of so much time in the study of the ancient classics. He believed that all the advantages could be gained from good translations At one o'clock the morning session was adjourned.

The meeting reassembled at half-past two o'clock, when Article 3 of the Constitution and By-Laws was so amended as to read, “That the officers of the society shall consist of a president and four vice-presidents; a recording secretary, who shall also act as treasurer; a corresponding secretary, who shall also act as collector of all moneys and auditor of accounts. These officers shall constitute a Board of Directors, who shall have the power to call special meetings of the society."

The Association then adopted the following resolutions reported by the committee appointed in the morning:

Resolved, That in view of the difficulty found by experience in securing uniformity and accuracy in Greek pronunciation by adopting the modern Greek and Continental system, this Association recommends a return to the English system of pronouncing both the Latin and Greek.

The following subjects were then announced for discussion: — “The effect upon the preparatory schools of the new requirements proposed for admission to Harvard in mathematics,” “How much time ought to be given by those fitting for college to the study of mathematies?" and “Ought physics to be taught to those fitting for college?” President Eliot of Harvard College, being present, was invited to address the association. He said that the new requirements referred to in the subjects before them for admission to Harvard College were merely proposed; no change had been made, and he doubted if any further change would be made. The proposition proceeded from the board of overseers, and within two weeks a resolution was passed in favor of the adoption of new requirements “as soon as practicable.” The standard in mathematics had been raised somewhat within two years, and he did not suppose it would be again raised for four or five years, at any rate. In regard to modern languages, a single change had been made this year. Next year the examination of applicants for admission in French would be as difficult as that now held at the beginning of the year, and the student that could pass the examination would not be required to study French the first year. Those who could not would be allowed to study French as they now did. This would make a slight inducement for students to acquaint themselves with the elements of French before they entered college. On being questioned in relation to English literature, Mr. Eliot said that Mr. Thomas Lee had left a bequest, a portion of which was given each year in prizes to those who were the best readers in the freshman class. This year three hundred dollars was distributed in five prizes, and next year he supposed more money would be spent in that way. He thought more attention should be paid to English in the preparatory schools. He thought it possible that the requisition for admission to the college in this department might be raised the present year, but nothing had yet been determined on that point. In relation to physics, Mr. Eliot said, that he thought if that word related merely to mechanics, applicants for admission should bave a knowledge of the elements; but if it related to light and heat to chemistry, he thought there would be no requirements of that sort, as these studies were not suited to persons so young. It was not likely that the number of Greek authors which it was necessary to have a knowledge of to enter Harvard would be diminished, or the amount diminished, but he hoped the number of years devoted to the preliminary training in Latin and Greek would be reduced by improved methods of teaching, thereby leaving more time to be given to other studies. The tendency of scientific schools, he thought, was to adopt the same requisitions as those of the colleges, so that boys could pursue the same course in preparatory schools, whether they entered college or the scientific institutions. He hoped the schools would hold on to their present programmes, with such slight modifications as would be found possible by giving up a portion of the time now devoted to Latin and Greek.

These statements of President Eliot were made partly in answer to questions from members of the association. Mr. SMITH, of Dorchester, thought that an examination in English literature ought to be required for admission to college. Mr. PERKINS, of Lawrence, believed that teachers had been too much influenced by the requirements in mathematics, that not enough was required to enable the student to take up profitably the college mathematics. Mr. COLLAP., of Boston, was strongly in favor of boys having some degree of preparation in English literature. President Eliot stated that the college did not expect an acquaintance with English literature, but only with English.

In answer to Mr. HILLS, of Lynn, who asked how, in the time allotted, scholars were to go over the preparatory course required, President Eliot said, that he thought much of the difficulty was in the schools below the High school; that, considering the amount of progress, too much time was spent in these lower schools. Remarks were also made upon these topics by Messrs. HAMMOND, GREGG, ANDERSON, BURNHAM, GARDNER, and PARSONS.

Mr. COLLAR, of Boston, read a carefully prepared paper upon the question, “ To what extent, and in what way, ought derivation in language to be taught."

Mr. DANIELL, of Boston, also read an excellent paper upon the same topic, drawing his illustrations from the French language.

In answer to a question from Mr. Gardner, President Eliot and Prof. Goodwin both stated that they believed in the scientific teaching of the French language.

At five o'clock the association adjourned till evening.

On the reassembling of the association at half-past seven, a paper was read by Mr. BRADBURY of Cambridge upon the question, “How far should the translation of a language conform to the original?”

The points which he considered essential to a good translation were: – 1st. That the exact meaning of the writer should be expressed: 2d. That this should be done in idiomatic English:

3d. That so far as is consistent with the first two points, the translation should be literal.

These three points were enforced, and illustrated by sentences from Latin and Greek authors.”

Mr. GARDNER agreed with Mr. B. in theory, but believed the thing impossible in practice. With his boys, the difficulty was not in getting good English, but in getting any English at all. He insisted upon a literal translation. If a boy was not obliged to translate literally, he soon forgot the construction.

Mr. COLLAR believed that boys should be required to make the most elegant translation possible, and that it was the duty of the teacher, after his pupils had attempted a translation, to show them, if possible, a better way. The president and Mr. Burnham related several ludicrous mistakes that had arisen from a too literal rendering of the original.

The PRESIDENT believed that translations ought always to be made in idiomatic English.

Mr. PHIPPS, of the Board of Education, spoke of the difficulties attending the teaching of the classics in a large portion of the High Schools of the State, where one teacher was required to teach all the various branches in those schools.

Mr. GARDNER defended his pupils from any want of ability, for he contended that they could render their translations into as good idiomatic English as any boys elsewhere. What he meant to say in his remarks was, that his boys were not absolutely correct.

The association met for the last session of their third annual meeting Saturday morning at 9 o'clock, the president, Prof. $. H. Taylor, in the chair.

The question taken up for discussion was, “ Points of Difference between Latin and Greek.” The discussion was started by Prof. Taylor, who compared the relative advantages of study in the two languages, and their fitness for disciplining the mind. He seemed to favor the Greek, and said that though it was not governed by general laws, like the Latin, yet it was fuller, richer, and more comprehensive.

« AnteriorContinuar »