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WITH PLEASURE AND ADVANTAGE TO THEMSELVES
AND THEIR PUPILS,
TO WHICH ARE ADDED, AN
INTRODUCTION TO MENTAL ARITHMETIC AND A
SKETCH OF MNEMONICS.
BY JOHN SMITH,
LECTURER ON EARLY EDUCATION, &c.
“ Light is not more pleasant to the eye than knowledge to the mind.”
PRINTED BY E. AND J. SMITH.
KEY TO READING, &c.
There is so much amusement, and so much, instruction, to be derived both by the young and the old from a proper mode of reading and conversing, either at school or at home, that I feel satisfied there need never be an hour passed away unprofitably by parents and children, or teachers and pupils, when they are respectively together, if the mode alluded to be once properly understood, and its practice commenced with willingness of mind.
I have two practical proofs of the correctness of this opinion. In my own family, whenever it is likely that I shall have a leisure evening at home, my children, who are from seven to thirteen years of age, eagerly seize the opportunity of requesting that they may have an exercise in reading with me; and frequently they ask permission to invite some of their school-fellows to join them. I never refuse to grant these favours, and am consequently sometimes surrounded by a goodly parlour class of my own and my neighbours' children, who, with
myself, spend as happy an hour as can well be imagined; for, besides our attention being kept most cheerfully alive from first to last, we are all of us either receiving or imparting useful knowledge at every step of our playful progress. In a family, too, in the Vale of Llangollen, the members of which are relations of mine, and with whom I recently spent a few days, the charms and advantages of this mode of reading, which I there introduced for our amusement in the evenings, are feelingly appreciated by both grave and gay; for never, after I first opened the subject to them, did I quit the house for a ramble during the day in that romantic neighbourhood, but the children entreated me to return early in the evening, that they might have a reading lesson before their hour of retiring to rest. I always did so: their teacher joined us in the delightful exercise ; and the pleasure they all seemed to feel will, I dare say, live long in their remembrance.
This is precisely the position in which all education ought to be placed : instead of being shunned as something irksome or disagreeable, it ought to be sought after with avidity; and until this shall be the case, education, which is so blessed in its effects, will be but in a state of barbarism as to its mode.
It will be found that the plan of reading lessons to which this little publication is intended as a Key, is founded on the principle of causing every important word in a lesson to be discussed until understood by the reader; and it will, very properly, be said there is nothing new in the principle. I say “properly,” because it is doubtless the case. Long before I was born, readers were examined on the meaning of words, and the construction of sentences in their lessons. I have seen much of this kind of examination, and so, no doubt, have thousands of my countrymen. It is a subject to which I have paid considerable attention; having for some years been in the habit of requesting from my
children rather nice expositions of words used either in their own conversation, or in reporting what they were studying at school. But the extent and beauty of the plan, as I am about to lay it before my readers, must, I think, have something new in them, or I should not now be writing upon the subject, for I am only induced to commit these pages to the pre by urgent and irresistible solicitations.
During a recent tour in the North of England, in which I and my friend Mr. Dolier had the honour of submitting to the public our views on education, and our inventions for rendering it more easy and attractive than it has hitherto been, I never gave that portion of our lectures which related to reading without receiving afterwards many inquiries for some further explanations which should enable parents and teachers to carry home with them something like a key (that was the term