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should have been required to pronounce the word slowly, so that he might apprehend the sound of each element thereof. If after this experience he should still have been confused in regard to the last syllable, the teacher should have asked him to pronounce it very slowly so as to separate it phonetically, when he could not have failed to discover his error. The teacher should not have called up any special thing she had taught him. By means of skilful questions she should have led him to analyze the situation before him, so that he might apply to it what he had been taught that would help him to solve his problem. Then he would have been selfhelpful in a real sense, because he would have learned how to assist himself on similar occasions in the future.
During the recitation period in which “sirloin” was being spelled the expression “all right” came Making it unneces- up for attention. One pupil sary for pupils to use spelled it "alright”. The their experiences teacher said, "You are not correct; try it again.” This time the boy said "alwrite”. Then followed this comment by the teacher: "When you spelled it the first time the last part, ‘righť, was correct. You should not have changed that, but it was the first part that was wrong. Now try it and spell ‘all’.” In this way the pupil was led
to spell the word correctly. This case, like the first, shows a lack of skill in training a pupil to be selfhelpful. The teacher should not have told him that “right” was correct until he himself had discovered from an analysis of the word and its meaning that it was so. She should have required him to state what the word to be spelled meant, and then what “write” meant; and this would have led him to see that it was wrong to use this latter form. He was, of course, confused by the identity of the sound of the two words, and he was not really thinking of what the word to be spelled denoted. He was proceeding more or less automatically in response to the sound, which is apt to become a habit with pupils who are depending upon others to assist them in straightening out their errors. If in all their work children could be held to an analysis of what they were attempting to do, so that they might bring to bear on the thing in hand their past experience with similar things in respect alike to meaning and to form, they would acquire a tendency to do this on every new occasion, which would be the greatest safeguard against the making of errors. This is really what the principle of self-activity demands; and the teacher who can utilize it to the greatest degree will certainly achieve the highest success in his work.
Most teachers feel they ought to assign tasks to be done by their pupils at home. It is expected that Home study by pu
parents will render assistance in pils and training in the performance of these duties. self-helpfulness
Indeed, teachers often say it would be impossible for their children to accomplish the necessary work of the school without some help in the home. It is a common thing to hear teachers tell their pupils they should get aid from their fathers and mothers; but at the same time they "must do the work themselves". How many teachers appreciate that a large part of the tasks many pupils do at home with the assistance of their parents is largely mechanical? It is probable that not one parent in fifty knows how to guide his children so that they will take the initiative in their study. Observe a father helping his nine-year-old son in arithmetic, let us say. It is required to solve this simple problem: “A boy in going to school walks for fifteen rods along the street on which he lives. Then he turns to the right on a street that runs at right angles, and walks for twenty-five rods. Then he turns to the left on a street that runs at right angles and walks eighteen rods. He goes to school in the morning and in the afternoon, and comes home for his luncheon. How many rods does he walk in going to and from school each day?"
Of course, there is nothing in this situation which a fifth-grade pupil should not understand readily enough, if he be guided to think through the conditions step by step. But when he first reads the problem he is apt to be confused, because all the conditions surge into his mind at one and the same time, and he has not learned how to pilot his way through them point by point. He is apt to say then, “I do not know what to do.” This always means that the total situation is confronting the novice, and he can not start at the beginning, and follow the straight path along to the end. Good teaching would lead him to do just this. A skilful teacher would not tell the pupil anything unless it appeared to be necessary. Such a teacher would simply lead the novice to start at the proper point in his thinking, taking up each factor in order, and making drawings so as to help him break up the total situation, writing down distances in the right places, and so on.
But what is the parent apt to do? His most active impulse is to "help" the learner, which, as he thinks, The typical par
requires him to relieve the child ent's method of of his difficulties, and this "helping his child
means to enable him to get the answer with the least effort so he can present it to the teacher. The typical parent is interested in having his child arrive at the result most easily, rather than in having him gain the experience of constructing the situation in his own mind, discovering the causal relations, and thus really solving the problem. So the parent will in most cases tell the novice what to do. The parent may even take the pencil and do the figuring, partly because of his eagerness to "help,” and partly because of his unwillingness to take the time to cause the pupil to work everything out for himself. It is probable that most of the work done in the home is of this character. Needless to say, it develops vicious habits of mind in pupils, habits which it is difficult for the teacher to overcome.
Let us glance at another instance of a common method of home instruction. A teacher sends a puAn illustration of pil home with instructions to bad methods in look up in the dictionary the new home instruction
words in his reading lesson, and to select from the definitions given for any word one which might be substituted for the original. The teacher tells the child he can have his mother "help" him, but that he "must do the work himself". Now when the pupil comes to the mother for assistance, this is the way they attack the situation. The first word the child needs to look up is, we will say (this is an actual case, reported exactly as it happened) triumphal. He has not had much experience in