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much disillusionment can check. He will wish to write, not of the world he knows so intimately, but of the world of dreams and mysteries, and stirring events. And it is because his imagination outstrips his powers of expression that his written records are naturally incoherent and unfinished. But only the passing years will reconcile him to the world's blindness in not accrediting his genius. It was so with you and with me, dear teacher, and so long as youth sighs
“For old unhappy far-off things
And battles long ago," it must ever be so. Our problem as teachers is to learn how to render youth articulate without reducing it to the incapacity of a mere sentence machine.
In the first place I recommend that composition be kept fairly distinct from the study of literature. The injunction "Go do thou likewise" can mean nothing but tragedy for either pupil or teacher. Theme work should be closely related to the pupil's own thought-life and personal experience, even though he prefer to follow the gleam of the untravelled road. The temptation to describe the sunrise on the Alps is all but irresistible to the young writer who has never observed the phenomenon. The immediate purpose of composition training, however, is not to teach our boys and girls how to write as the masters of style have written, but to teach them how to express their own thought correctly and with some degree of effectiveness. They must be taught to look into their own soul and write--and then to destroy what they have written and try again, this time correcting a few of their earlier mistakes. Not that the mere avoidance of error should constitute the test of excellence, but that the avoidance of error should be recognized as one of the primary conditions of excellence. Felicity and power of expression cannot be directly imparted, indeed cannot be conciously acquired, but clearness of expression and accuracy of thought may be attained through proper instruction, and these in turn may develop that sense of style which belongs to a rich intellectual and emotional experience. The student who possesses literary taste will come sooner or later to feel the power of some great writer and will unconsciously yield his spirit to that of his master. Until this intuitive sense for effective utterance asserts itself, however, the business of instruction must perform the humble duty of improving the unlovely speech of youth. In this connection, it may be added, the teacher should guard against the evil effects of a purely negative criticism. The indication of error is a very small part of theme-reading. There should be helpful suggestions and actual amendment and correction by the critic. And always the teacher should deal tenderly with this themechild, for it is the very breath of life to its author. The pupil's creative activity must be entered into with sympathetic understanding, even while the ugly little deformities are being exorcised.
Let it be conceded that we have not achieved a "spotless linguistic and literary millennium" in our heroic endeavor to teach students to use English with purity and propriety. Let it be admitted further that, if the efficacy of composition instruction in schools and colleges be proved only by the great writers it has been able to make to order, our showing is indeed pitiable. These failures, however, need give us little anxiety. Those who find fault with our achievements take their stand on the assumption that composition was offered as a panacea for the ills of Christendom, and that, having failed to produce literary stars of the first magnitude, it should be abolished and an act of Congress passed "forbidding on pain of death anyone under twenty-one years of age to write a sentence." While this recommendation is not without attraction even to the most devoted teacher of composition, it has about it a pedagogical strut that is more picturesque than convincing. It is true that theme-writing is often barren of results; that there is much incompetent criticism of written exercises; and that such inefficient criticism is frequently more harmful than beneficial. It is likewise true that the average student takes to theme-writing about as enthusiastically as he does to a mustard plaster, which has the superior virtue of actually drawing something out of him. But our failures have not been so flagrant as many would have us believe. Considering our aims, we have accomplished much; considering the possibilities open to us, we have left much to be desired.
Unfortunately, we are apt to confuse ability to write with ability to learn, which confusion, as Professor Lounsbury points out, means a failure to discriminate between a "creative act" and an "act of acquisition." Learning to write, necessarily a slow and painful process, depends upon a number of things besides a technical knowledge of the art, chief of these being intellectual growth. But to exclude composition work from our educational endeavor on the ground that fullness of knowledge and clear thinking should precede communication, is to neglect an important psychological truth; namely, that the expression of thought in words is a part of the creative activity that produces thought. That is to say, thought has no vital significance for purposes of communication until we are able to body it forth in words, which in turn react upon the mind, enriching it through suggestion and association. There must be realization of thought before there can be effective expression of thought, but the activity of expression is likewise a condition of the realization of thought. More than that, expression furnishes the incentive that brings thought processes to the fore. When, therefore, we ask the immature youth to write, we do so not because he has important information to impart, but because he must learn how to command his own mental machinery. We are thus teaching him to think as well as to express thought.
The early study of composition should not neglect thorough instruction in grammar and the rudiments of spelling, punctuation, sentence forms. As the work advances there should be reviews of such portions of the grammar as the faults in composition may render necessary, but this purely mechanical drill, once the composition work is well under way, should be reduced to a minimum. To meet the needs of backward pupils in the upper classes it might be well to conduct delinquent sections, an ever-ready resort in the case of students who are careless or indifferent in their use of English.
Theme-writing should be definitely related to the sources of interest which belong to the successive stages of the student's development. The dramatic interest, therefore, should receive early recognition. The student's social background will determine the character of this appeal. The teacher should ever seek to enable the student to realize his own environment. Children reared in a community where the daily toil of fathers and brothers is daily risk of life, know tragedy at first hand as a brute reality. They should be brought to see it in its spiritual significnce, and thus develop a sense for personal values. The urban youth is quite unimpressed by the sights and sounds that surge about him. He must learn to interpret them. The rural youth must discover the dramatic elements in meadow, stream, and forest. The dramatic instinct is always present; it remains for the teacher to foster and direct it.
This narrative or dramatic interest naturally commands descriptive resources. Action and movement must be projected against a background, and persons and things and events must be portrayed in relationship. The treatment, clearly, must be objective and narrative in its method. But when character values emerge, description becomes expository in purpose, and the young writer begins to generalize. The junior year should emphasize description in its wide range of possibilities. It is at this time that the student tries to set his world in order. He passes judgment upon men and events; he seeks for significance in conduct, and discriminates between relative values. He sees his world in broad-stretching variety.
Exposition and argumentation should receive special emphasis in the senior year. At this time, analysis, synthesis, and inference naturally attain high favor, and while the study of literature is affording insight into literary values, theme-writing should enable the student to organize the facts of his experience into effective expositions and arguments. Along with a knowledge of the elements of prose and poetic style, he should be encouraged to exercise his critical opinion.
In conclusion, permit me to say that I do not believe that the three purposes of English instruction should be formally distributed in the program of study. The time to be given to each will depend upon the peculiar needs of the students. A predetermined number of recitation periods to be devoted to each discipline makes for deadly routine and sure failure. It may be assumed, however, that formal analysis should claim approximately one-fifth of the time during the first two years, and not more than one-third during the last two years. Literary appreciation should occupy perhaps three-fifths of the recitation periods during the first half of the high school course, and less during the later years, more time being devoted to outside reading as a source of inspiration and cultivation. Composition, carried through the four years, should claim not less than onefifth of the early study, and should be gradually increased as the student gains experience and command of his powers of expression. The important feature of this plan, I repeat, is its flexibility. The teacher must apportion these several interests as occasion requires.
My recommendations, then, are as follows: that the types of literature studied be adapted to the different stages of mental development; that the early emotional interest he fostered; that much attention be given by the teacher to the pupil's voluntary reading and that this reading be widely extended; that essay reading be reserved for the advanced classes ; that the class-room study of poetry in the early years be restricted to epic and dramatic types, but that the teacher take advantage of the pupils' superior listening vocabulary by reading to his classes such lyrics as are easily within their range of appreciation ; that students be given more good modern fiction to read and fewer of the incomprehensible masterpieces of classic sanction; that a real effort be made to cultivate literary taste; that the distinct aims in English study be kept reasonably distinct that composition be made to serve the purpose of self-expression and communication, not the trick of feeble imitation. Add to all this my conviction that teachers of English must educate parents to an appreciation of the responsibility of the home in the cultural development of children; that teachers of English must abolish the cheap vaudeville and flashy literature; that teachers of English must have the hearty co-operation of the teachers of other subjects in fostering good speech habits among students; and, finally, that teachers of English should be given first place in heaven-and I rest my case.
PHYSICS AND CHEMISTRY CONFERENCE
THE AMPLITUDE OF VIBRATION, AND THE PRESSURE AND
VOLUME CHANGES IN A SOUND WAVE.
MR. W. W. SLEATOR, UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN.
The method of the experiment and computations of this paper may be found in Rayleigh's Theory of Sound, Vol. II, Page 433 f.f., or in Barton's Text Book of Sound, Page 588 f.f.
Sound is a vibratory Phenomenon, propogated by waves which are longitudinal. It is a fair and natural question to ask how far the particles -or layers--of air may move back and forth in any particular wave. I shall try to answer this question in a particular case, and to find also the accompanying pressure and volume changes of the medium. The values obtained, however, will not be actual ones, but will be small members which the true quantities cannot exceed. My numbers will certainly be too large, but they will indicate the order of magnitude of the actual changes in a sound wave.
The general plan of my undertaking is as follows. I shall find the energy per second required to produce a constant sound. Then, from the mass of air holding a known amount of energy, it will be possible to obtain the amplitude of vibration of the particles. From this amplitude I can
I compute the volume change, and then the corresponding pressure change. The computations which follow are appropriate only in the case of a pure tone. To obtain values for these quantities in the wave due to a fundamental with overtones, or to several sources, would be much more difficult. It will be necessary also—and will cause no appreciable error—to consider the section of the wave dealt with to be plane.
The simple apparatus used to produce the sound consists of a stopped wooden organ pipe connected to a source of compressed air at constant pressure. By means of a glass "T" the air entering the pipe has access to one arm of a U tube holding water-a water manometer. This manometer measures the pressure of the entering air. The volume of air per second may be found by the amount of water displaced when the tube is disconnected from the organ pipe, and held far enough below the surface of water to produce the same manometer reading as the sound required—that is to say by downward displacement of water from any convenient container.
To compute the energy radiated in sound each second it would be necessary to know what fraction of the total energy supplied finally became sound. By basing the computations upon the total energy, I secure values for aniplitude etc. larger than the actual values.