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- Uncle Robert's Geography (Uncle Robert's Visit, V.3) - 1/27 -
UNCLE ROBERT'S VISIT
BY FRANCIS W. PARKER AND NELLIE LATHROP HELM
PREFACE BY THE EDITOR OF THE HOME-READING BOOKS.
The publishers take pleasure in offering to the public, in their Home-Reading Series, some books relating to the farm and other aspects of country life as the center of interest, written by Colonel Francis W. Parker, the President of the famous Cook County Normal School, in Chicago. For many years the teachers of the common schools of the country have been benefited by the inventions of Colonel Parker in the way of methods of teaching in the schoolroom. His enthusiasm has led him to consider the best means of arousing the interest of the child and of promoting his self-activity for reasonable purposes.
The Pestalozzian movement in the history of education is justly famed for its effort to connect in a proper manner the daily experience of the child with the school course of study. The branches of learning taught to the child by the schoolmaster are necessarily dry and juiceless if they are not thus brought into relation with the child's world of experience. Almost all of the school reforms that have been proposed in the past one hundred years have moved in this line. The effort to seize upon the child's interest and make it the agency for progress has formed the essential feature in each. In this reform movement Colonel Parker has made himself one of the chief influences.
The rural school has held a low rank among educational institutions on account of the inferior methods of instruction which have prevailed by reason of the fact that the children were too few and their qualifications too various to permit the forming of classes. Children in various degrees of advancement from ABC's to higher arithmetic, and yet numbering only ten, twenty, or thirty in all, are enrolled under one teacher. Most branches of study could muster only one or two pupils in each class: Five to ten minutes a day is all that can be allowed in such cases for a recitation. No thoroughness of instruction on the part of the teacher is possible, nor is there much improvement to be expected in the method of instruction where classes can not be formed. The benefactor of the country school therefore looks to other devices than class instruction, and the author of this book has shown in what ways the teacher of one of these small schools may extend his influence into the families of his district, encourage home study initiate practical experiments.
It is expected that the teacher, besides his daily register in which he records the names and attendance of his own pupils, will keep a list of the youth of the district who have been in attendance on the school but have left to take up the work of the farm, and that he will endeavor by proper means to persuade them to enter upon well-planned courses of reading. Occasional meetings in the evening at central places, or on some afternoons of the week at the schoolhouse itself, will furnish occasions for the discussion of the contents of the books that have been read, and experiments will be suggested in the way of verifying the theories advanced in them.
Not only can the mind of the country youth be broadened and enlarged in the direction of literature and art, and of science and history, but it can be made more practical by focusing it upon the problems connected with the agriculture and manufactures of the district.
This indicates a career of usefulness for the ambitious teacher of a rural school. There is a large field for the discipline of the directive power open even for the humblest of teachers in the land.
These books of Colonel Parker, if read by the school children, and especially by the elder youth who have left school, will suggest a great variety of ways in which real mental growth and increase of practical power may be obtained. The ideal of education in the United States is that the child in school shall be furnished with a knowledge of the printed page and rendered able to get out of books the experience of his fellow-men, and at the same time be taught how to verify and extend his book knowledge by investigations on his environment. This having been achieved by the school, nothing except his indolence, or, to give it a better name, want of enterprise, prevents the individual citizen from growing intellectually and practically throughout his whole life.
W. T. HARRIS.
WASHINGTON, D.C., August 12, 1897.
Fortunate are the children whose early years are spent in the country in close contact with the boundless riches which Nature bestows.
Amid these environments instinct and spontaneity do a marvelous work in the growing minds of children, arousing and sustaining varied and various interests, enhancing mental activities, and furnishing an educative outlet for lively energies.
Most fortunate are they to whom, at the moment when the unconscious teachings of Nature need to be supplemented by thoughtful suggestion, wise leadings, and judicious instruction, there comes one with a deep and loving sympathy with child life, an active interest in all that interests them, and a profound respect for all that children do well and for all that they know.
Such an one is Uncle Robert. He comes to the children at just the right moment. He directs the sweet strong streams of their lives onward into a channel of earnest inquiry and exalted labor, which is ever broadening and deepening.
Uncle Robert's aim in education is to fill each day with acts which make home better, the community better, mankind better; to take from God's bounteous and boundless store of truth and convert it into human life by using it. His method is simple and direct, founded upon the firm rock, Common Sense. It may be briefly stated as follows:
1. A strong belief in the sacredness of work--that work which inspires thought, strengthens the body as well as the mind, and develops the feeling of usefulness.
2. The images the children have acquired and the inferences they have made are used as stepping stones to higher and broader views.
3. So far as it is possible, each child is to discover facts for himself and make original inferences.
4. He understands the limits of children's power to observe and the demand on their part for glimpses into, to them, the great unknown. So he tells them stories of those things which lie beyond their horizon, in order to excite their wonder, intensify their love for the objects that surround them, and make them more careful observers. In this way a hunger and thirst for books is created.
5. He watches carefully the interests of each child, adapting his teachings to the differences in age and personality.
6. Some questions are left unanswered in order to stimulate that healthy curiosity which can be satisfied only by persistent study--the study that begets courage and confidence.
7. He makes farm work and farm life full of intensely interesting problems, ever keeping in mind that the things of which the common environments of common lives are made up are as well worthy of study as are those which lie beyond.
Uncle Robert's enthusiasm has for its prime impulse a boundless faith in human progress, brought about by a knowledge of childhood and its possibilities.
He believes that every normal child, under wise and loving guidance, may become useful to his fellows, moral in character, strong in intellect, with a body which is an efficient instrument of the soul; in other words, truly educated.
Those who read Uncle Robert's Visit should read through the eyes of Susie, Donald, and Frank. The reading, so far as possible, should be accompanied by personal observation, investigation, and experiment.
FRANCIS W. PARKER.
CHICAGO NORMAL SCHOOL, August 31, 1897.
I. UNCLE ROBERT'S COMING
II. FRANK DRAWS A MAP OF THE FARM
III. THE NEW THERMOMETER
IV. WITH THE ANIMALS
V. IN THE FLOWER GARDEN
VI. SUNLIGHT AND SHADOW
VII. THE BAROMETER
VIII. A WALK IN THE WOODS
IX. THE BIRDS AND THE FLOWERS
X. THE THUNDERSHOWER
XI. THE VILLAGE
XII. A DAY ON THE RIVER
XIII. A RAINY DAY
XIV. THE WALK AFTER THE RAIN
XV. THE BIG BOOK
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