Geography will similarly be presented in its factual aspect, with maps,natural features, and visual presentment of customs, costumes, flora, fauna,and so on; and I believe myself that the discredited and old-fashionedmemorizing of a few capitol cities, rivers, mountain ranges, etc., doesno harm. Stamp collecting may be encouraged.
It is clear that the successful teaching of this neo-mediaeval curriculum will depend even more than usual upon the working together of the whole teaching staff towards a common purpose. Since no subject is considered as an evil in itself, any kind of rivalry in the staff-room will be sadly out of place. The fact that a pupil is unfortunately obliged, for some reason, to miss the history period on Fridays, or the Shakespeare class on Tuesdays, or even to omit a whole subject in favour of some other subject, must not be allowed to cause any heart-burnings--the essential is that he should acquire the method of learning in whatever medium suits him best. If human nature suffers under this blow to one's professional pride in one's own subject, there is comfort in the thought that the end-of-term examination results will not be affected; for the papers will be so arranged as to be an examination in method, by whatever means.
The Rhetorical Précis: Explanations and Examples
However, it is in the highest degree improbable that the reforms I proposewill ever be carried into effect. Neither the parents, nor the trainingcolleges, nor the examination boards, nor the boards of governors, northe ministries of education, would countenance them for a moment. For theyamount to this: that if we are to produce a society of educated people,fitted to preserve their intellectual freedom amid the complex pressuresof our modern society, we must turn back the wheel of progress some fouror five hundred years, to the point at which education began to lose sightof its true object, towards the end of the Middle Ages.
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Our Reading will proceed from narrative and lyric to essays, argumentand criticism, and the pupil will learn to try his own hand at writingthis kind of thing. Many lessons--on whatever subject--will take the formof debates; and the place of individual or choral recitation will be takenby dramatic performances, with special attention to plays in which an argumentis stated in dramatic form.
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Let us now quickly review our material and see how it is to be relatedto Dialectic. On the Language side, we shall now have our vocabulary andmorphology at our fingertips; henceforward we can concentrate on syntaxand analysis (i.e., the logical construction of speech) and the historyof language (i.e., how we came to arrange our speech as we do in orderto convey our thoughts).
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This reminds me of the grammar of Theology. I shall add it to the curriculum,because theology is the mistress-science without which the whole educationalstructure will necessarily lack its final synthesis. Those who disagreeabout this will remain content to leave their pupil's education still fullof loose ends. This will matter rather less than it might, since by thetime that the tools of learning have been forged the student will be ableto tackle theology for himself, and will probably insist upon doing soand making sense of it. Still, it is as well to have this matter also handyand ready for the reason to work upon. At the grammatical age, therefore,we should become acquainted with the story of God and Man in outline--i.e.,the Old and New testaments presented as parts of a single narrative ofCreation, Rebellion, and Redemption--and also with the Creed, the Lord'sPrayer, and the Ten Commandments. At this early stage, it does not matternearly so much that these things should be fully understood as that theyshould be known and remembered.
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So far (except, of course, for the Latin), our curriculum contains nothingthat departs very far from common practice. The difference will be feltrather in the attitude of the teachers, who must look upon all these activitiesless as "subjects" in themselves than as a gathering-togetherof material for use in the next part of the Trivium. What that materialis, is only of secondary importance; but it is as well that anything andeverything which can be usefully committed to memory should be memorizedat this period, whether it is immediately intelligible or not. The moderntendency is to try and force rational explanations on a child's mind attoo early an age. Intelligent questions, spontaneously asked, should, ofcourse, receive an immediate and rational answer; but it is a great mistaketo suppose that a child cannot readily enjoy and remember things that arebeyond his power to analyze--particularly if those things have a strongimaginative appeal (as, for example, "Kubla Kahn"), an attractivejingle (like some of the memory-rhymes for Latin genders), or an abundanceof rich, resounding polysyllables (like the Quicunque vult).