Gray, William S.University of Chicago
WILLIAM S. GRAY is a professor at the University of Chicago.
Because of the urgency of preparing children and youth to live intelligently and creatively in a rapidly changing world, it is imperative that current programs of teacher education be critically examined and, wherever necessary, upgraded. It is appropriate, therefore, that ways of strengthening the preparation of teachers in reading be considered in this yearbook. Following a brief review of current practices, improvements at both the preservice and in-service levels will be discussed.
In the discussion that follows, we shall first view recent progress in extending literacy and the size of the task still faced. The remainder of the chapter will consider selected problems involved in promoting literacy within the framework of community education.
The fact was pointed out in the preceding chapter that what adults read and the extent of their reading are influenced by their ability to read. It is equally true that the values derived—pleasure, information, thought stimulation, the solution of personal and group problems—are determined in large measure by their reading efficiency. It follows that the question of how well adults read assumes large importance in any critical analysis of adult reading problems.
This chapter is concerned with the conditions under which reading can be used effectively as an aid to learning and with the types of guidance needed by the learners.
In order to define more specifically the chief aspects of a sound reading program, this chapter attempts to do three things: first, it reviews briefly the steps which have been taken most frequently in providing for the reading needs of high-school and college students; second, it presents examples of reading programs that differ in various significant ways; and, third, it considers criteria underlying a sound reading program. On this broad basis, it outlines the essential aspects of a reading program as recommended by the yearbook committee.
Experience shows clearly that, as a result of carefully planned training adjusted to the progress and needs of students, they are able to read at increasingly high levels of efficiency from year to year. On such a foundation, the guidance in reading provided in the various content subjects can begin at a much more advanced level and can be directed more largely to the development of those aspects of reading competence that are unique to each field.
The language arts as a field of instruction may be considered as comprising two main areas of communication skills: (1) the expressional skills, involved in writing and speaking, and (2) the receptive skills, involved in reading and listening. Each presents somewhat different problems in the analysis and appraisal of meanings. The objectives of the language arts outlined in this chapter are grouped, therefore, under these two headings.
A basic assumption underlying this Yearbook is that the school library at any level of general education is a vital element in the educational process, deriving its objectives from the society, the community, and the institution that it serves. It is assumed also that modifications in school curriculums made in response to social changes and to the controlling philosophy of the school will be reflected in the character of the library materials provided and in their administration and use.
In harmony with the major assumptions underlying this Yearbook, curricula in reading should be based on facts concerning the growth and development of children and concerning their abilities, interests, and needs at each level of advancement. Support for this view is found in the results of research that reveal significant correspondence between a child's level of development and the success accompanying the use of certain types of subject matter and teaching procedures. Other facts, such as the time when various types of experience will be individually most satisfying and socially most fruitful, should also be considered.
Because of their intimate relation to subsequent developments in the scientific study of reading problems, the nature and unique contributions of these early investigations will be considered briefly.
The last ten years form a notable period in the history of reading. As a result of the stimulus provided by such publications as the Report of the National Committee on Reading/ the place of reading in the curriculum has greatly expanded and the content and methods of teaching pupils to read have improved rapidly. Of even greater importance is the fact that reading has acquired broader relationships than formerly in both child and adult life. With increasing frequency the fact has been emphasized that reading must provide more largely in the future than in the past for promoting clear understanding, developing habits of good thinking, stimulating broad interests, cultivating appreciations, and establishing stable personalities. Furthermore, the results of scientific studies have given us a clearer understanding of the nature of reading and of the basic processes involved.
In the discussion that follows, an effort will be made to define reading in sufficiently broad terms to embrace its essential uses in contemporary life, to describe significant purposes of readers, and to suggest important problems involved in improving achievement in reading. Preliminary to these discussions, the relation of reading to learning will be considered briefly.
Two important motives underlie the program that is recommended; namely, to provide appropriate initial teaching, thus securing the development of right attitudes and habits and the prevention of wrong ones, and to promote growth at each level of advancement sufficient to insure maximal achievement in all reading activities in which children engage both in and out of school. Although it is assumed that the guidance outlined will be provided in most cases during specific reading periods, the problems considered are pertinent also in highly integrated programs of teaching.
It is the purpose of this section to consider important facts concerning reading in school and in modern life, and to outline types of reading activities in which children and adults frequently engage. Such an outline reveals, in a limited way, the breadth and variety of reading activities that should be considered in planning a program of instruction.
A detailed study of the desirable reading activities of children and adults of the attitudes, habits, and skills that are involved has led to the adoption of three major objectives of reading. The first two are broad, comprehensive aims that are of first importance in the life of every child and adult. The third emphasizes desirable attitudes and essential habits and skills.
This chapter outlines a modern reading program which, it is believed, will provide rich experience through reading, inculcate strong motives for reading, and develop essential reading attitudes, habits, and skills. The major divisions of such a program, based on periods of devdlopment in reading ability, will be distinguished first. More detailed information will then be presented concerning the purpose, organization of instruction, and desirable levels of achievement for various school grades.
Four years ago a boy who now ranks slightly above the average of his age-group in general intelligence began his school career. He advanced regularly with his class until the autumn of 1920. At that time it became necessary for him to discontinue regular school work because he was unable to read. In class discussions, in ability to solve problems, and in all phases of school work which did not involve reading he equalled or excelled his classmates.
The Committee on Economy of Time in Education has reported during the last four years a number of studies and reports on reading. In the Fourteenth Yearbook (1915) Supt. R. G. Jones discussed the determination and use of standard vocabularies in the primary grades, and S. A. Courtis discussed the determination and significance of standard rates of reading. In the Sixteenth Yearbook (1917) the relation of silent reading to economy in education was discussed and O. F. Munson and J. H. Hoskinson reported the results of an investigation to determine the prevailing practice regarding the use of library and supplementary-reading books in the different grades of the elementary schools in fifty American cities.
George N. Cade & William S. Gray — 1919
The investigation which is reported in this article was undertaken to determine the relative efficiency of teaching in elementary training schools which are connected with normal schools and in elementary public schools. The investigation was prompted primarily by the fact that in some communities in which training schools are located patrons object to sending their children to the training school on the assumption that student teaching is inferior. Universities in many sections meet the same objection when they attempt to secure the co-operation of public high schools in the training of teachers.
Economy of time and effort in education depends in a large measure upon the fulfillment of the following conditions: (a) that there be concentration of attention upon those phases of instruction which are highly important; (b) that each phase of instruction be emphasized at that stage in the development of the child when such instruction will be most effective, and (c) that the subject matter and methods of instruction be selected upon the basis of well-defined and highly desirable purposes which are to be realized. In harmony with these prerequisites of economy in education it is the purpose of this article to discuss the importance and economy of silent reading in elementary-school instruction, to formulate a tentative answer in regard to the periods at which instruction in silent reading may be emphasized effectively, and to outline certain conclusions concerning the subject matter and methods of teaching which are most appropriate for instruction in silent reading.
The word "reading" is here used to include the formal aspects of oral and silent reading. The content aspect of reading is discussed in a later chapter on literature. The determination of the minimum essentials in reading involves two problems, one the determination of standard vocabularies and the other the determination of standard rates of reading. One of these is discussed by Mr. Jones and the other by Mr. Courtis. In view of the active scientific experimentation and investigation that are being carried on at the present time in the subject of reading, a select bibliography by Mr. Gray is provided in order to introduce the reader to some of the more recent experiments.