Successive Emphases in American Reading Instruction
by Nila Banton Smith - 1932
This article is written for the purpose of pointing out the periods of emphasis in the stream of evolutionary progress in reading, tracing the background influences which have brought them about, and briefly discussing their resultant effects upon reading instruction.
THE story of American reading instruction is a fascinating one to pursue: it is a story of old readers which have moved in long and sad procession from the schoolroom to the garret, from noisy popularity to sad oblivion; it is a story which reflects the changing religious, economic, and political institutions of a growing and progressive country; it is a story which is shot through with glimpses of advancing psychologies, of broadening and more inclusive philosophies, of everincreasing attempts to apply science to education.
This stream of evolutionary progress in reading has undergone a series of emphases each of which has been so fundamental in nature as to have controlled, to a large extent, both the method and content of reading instruction during the period of its greatest intensity. This article is written for the purpose of pointing out these periods of emphasis, tracing the background influences which have brought them about, and briefly discussing their resultant effects upon reading instruction.
Several dangers were confronted in analyzing and organizing the data upon which this article is based. Perhaps some of them should be mentioned at this point as a safeguard against the possibility of conveying wrong impressions in the discussion which follows.
First, there was the problem of setting dates for the periods. The marking of any historical period with a definite initial and closing date is a precarious undertaking. Evolution does not proceed in a regular and orderly fashion with former movements abruptly ceasing and new ones suddenly beginning. There are overlappings and mergings from one periodto another, and there are certain continuous strands of progress which extend throughout all the periods. In spite of these difficulties it seemed desirable to give readers of this article some idea of when certain aspects of reading development were most in evidence. For this reason, approximate dates were set for the purpose of marking off the periods of strongest emphasis in certain directions, but with no intention of conveying the impression that change took place suddenly upon the specific dates indicated at the heading of each period.
Another danger was that of characterizing reading instruction during the different periods of emphasis without conveying the impression that all reading aims, methods, and materials of the time conformed nicely to the general characterization. While it is true that the leading readers of a given period exhibit certain general characteristics in common, it is equally true that every period after the period of religious emphasis was marked by random shots in different directions, and that there were always some authors whose convictions varied from the great body of opinion. The fact that these irregularities are not discussed in this article does not mean that they are not recognized; it means only that space prohibits the discussion of any phases of development other than the broad general movements.
THE PERIOD OF RELIGIOUS EMPHASIS (1607-1776)
The threads of early American history are so inextricably interwoven with the woof and warp of English institutions and customs that any discussion of one is incomplete without the mention of the other. For this reason, let us briefly consider the reading conditions in England during our period of colonization. Religion had been the cause of bloody strife upon English soil for many years previous to the settlement of America. Different religious factions had sprung up, each intense in its own beliefs and each eager to perpetuate its own convictions by impressing them indelibly upon the minds of rising generations. The Protestant denominations of England considered the most pressing of their national duties to be that of providing a school training which would give children a thorough grounding in their religious faith and such reading ability as would enable them to pursue the Word of God for themselves. This religious motive was the one which controlled reading instruction in England when our early colonists migrated to America.
The pioneers of America, themselves, were actuated, of course, largely by religious motives. Many of the colonies were established through the zeal of those who sought freedom of religious worship. The religious motive was the allcontrolling force in their lives; hence, it is quite natural that one should find it permeating and directing the instruction in their schools.
Let us see how this religious motive affected reading materials. There were certain selections which were considered of such deep significance to the young that all children must learn them when their minds were "green and tender." These selections consisted of the Lord's Prayer, the Ten Commandments, the Apostles' Creed, the Catechism, certain passages of Scripture, and religious admonitions and verses. As a natural corollary of the religious intention to acquaint children with these selections, we find publishers devoting their reading texts almost exclusively to these same materials.
The chief characteristics of method during this period were oral reading and memorization. Both of these characteristics were outgrowths of the conditions of the times. Oral reading was popular in the out-of-school life of these people. There was a great dearth of reading materials during the Colonial period. The Bible, generally speaking, was the only book which the home libraries contained, and many families did not even have a Bible. Furthermore, the percentage of illiteracy was very high; so it was customary for the uneducated members of the family or community to gather in little groups in the evenings and on Sabbaths to listen to the reading of the Scriptures by one who had mastered the art of reading.
Rote memorization played a prominent role in the religious activities of the period. People memorized not only the shorter selections, but also lengthy creeds and whole chapters of Scripture. Likewise, children were supposed to learn "by heart" these same religious selections in their readers. Thus, we see that the method of teaching reading reflected the out-of-school conditions and practices of the times.
PERIOD OF NATIONALISTICMORALISTIC EMPHASIS (1776-1840)
By the latter part of the eighteenth century the vividness of the early strife for religious freedom had been dimmed in the birth of new generations who had learned of the ardent efforts and bitter struggles of their forebears only through hearsay. Their own hearts and minds were occupied completely with the new struggle for political freedom and the business of developing a young nationstrong, unified, and harmonious.
The mental horizon of these people had been broadened by the growth which had taken place in commerce and industry, and by the development of better facilities of communication and transportation. The expansion of the press and the increase in literacy had extended their range of interests and information. These and several lesser influences gradually brought about a weakening of the religious emphasis in education. The Revolutionary War and the birth of a new nation were culminating forces in forwarding the secularization of instruction.
These changed religious, economic, social, and political conditions were accompanied, as one would expect, by different motives for reading instruction. Of all these influences, the new political aims were strongest in bringing about change. While the greatest concern of the Church had been that of instilling religious convictions and preparing for salvation, the foremost goal of the State was that of building national strength and making good citizens. Reading content now had several new functions to perform: that of purifying the American language; that of developing loyalty to the new nation, its traditions and institutions, its occupations and resources; and that of inculcating the high ideals of virtue and of moral behavior which were considered so necessary a part of the general program of building good citizenship.
One finds the nationalistic motive of reading manifesting itself in the new texts in a variety of ways. The most obvious evidence of this trend is in the names of the readers themselves, many of which were of a strongly patriotic tone. Several books appeared with such titles as these: The American Spelling Book, The American Selection of Lessons for Reading and Speaking, The Columbian Orator, The American Preceptor, American Popular Reader, Class Book of American Literature.
Upon examining the content of these and other readers of the period, one finds that the nationalistic aim strongly influenced the selection of the materials which they contained. Lyman Cobb keynotes this new emphasis in the preface to his North American Reader in which he says:
The pieces in this work are chiefly American. The English Reader, so largely used in our country, does not contain a single piece or paragraph written by an American citizen. Is this good policy? Is it patriotism? Shall the children of this great nation be compelled to read, year after year, none but the writings and speeches of men whose views and feelings are in direct opposition to our institutions and government? The United States has political and civil institutions of its own; and how can these be upheld, unless the children and youth of our country are early made to understand them by books and other means of instruction?1
Not only did the nationalistic aim exert an influence over the content of the new readers, but, to a large extent, it also shaped the methods which were used in teaching reading during this period. Great stress now came to be laid upon exercises in, and rules for, correct pronunciation and enunciation designed to overcome the diversity of dialects which existed in America, and to promote greater unity of the American language. Noah Webster, the author of the most popular readers of the period, was gravely concerned with the language situation, and in the preface of his famous BlueBack Speller he expressed his foremost aim in this way:
To diffuse a uniformity and purity of language in America, to destroy the provincial prejudices that originate in the trifling differences of dialect, and produce reciprocal ridiculeto promote the interest of literature and harmony of the United Statesis the most ardent wish of the author; and it is his highest ambition to deserve the approbation and encouragement of his countrymen.2
The emphasis upon elocutionary delivery reached its greatest intensity during this period. Oratory held a prominent place in the social and political life of the young democracy; furthermore, the patriotic selections in the new readers had to be delivered in an eloquent manner if they were to serve their purpose of arousing strong nationalistic sentiment in the hearts of young Americans. The nationalistic objective of the time was responsible, then, for the strong new emphasis upon this phase of method in reading instruction.
The stress of nationalism is so startling and conspicuous at first sight as to overshadow a second and independent point of emphasis which is revealed upon closer study. This second emphasis is moralism, an influence which permeated reading instruction quietly and unassumingly but so persistently and universally as to claim an equal rank with nationalism in characterizing the period.
For generations, reading had been looked upon as an instrument for promoting "the good life." The broadened interests of the people of this period led them to forsake strictly religious reading instruction as too narrow a program to meet their expanding needs. Many of them, however, still believed that one of the most important functions of education was to make children "good," in other words, to build character. The method which they conceived as being the most effective in promoting this aim was that of impressing on young minds the ideals of virtue and morality; hence, the readers were eagerly seized upon as carriers of moralistic content. This was but the natural transition from the religious motive of the previous period to the secularized motives of successive periods.
We have seen, then, that the broader point of view in religious training was responsible for the strong moralistic note of many of the new readers. We have also seen that the nationalistic influence was directly responsible for changed methods of teaching reading, and for the liberal use of patriotic reading materials written by American statesmen and authors.
PERIOD OF EMPHASIS UPON GERMANPESTALOZZIAN PRINCIPLES (1840-1880)
We noted, in the previous period, that the birth of our nation was followed by an emotional outburst of patriotism. Educators were gravely concerned with the task of bringing about unity and harmony in the various states and with instilling a strong love for, and a deep loyalty to, the new nation. During the first half of the new century, the effort to inculcate this intense type of patriotism had subsided to a saner program, that of preparing the great masses to discharge their duties of citizenship. Educators came to realize that the success of the new democracy depended not so largely upon instilling patriotic sentiment as upon developing the intelligence of the great mass of common people whose ballots were to choose its leaders and determine its policies. The speeches and writings of the times are saturated with this underlying motive of education.
While this goal of promoting intelligent citizenship was the chief motive for improving the educational methods and materials of the period, it was not sufficiently specialized in its application to be influential in bringing about the new features of classroom instruction. One must seek a deeper current of influence if he would locate the real factor responsible for the marked difference in reading methods and in materials which began to come from the press about 1849. The GermanPestalozzian principles seem to constitute this undercurrent which most largely accounts for the new reforms. Many Americans visited Prussia at this time. When they returned they brought enthusiastic reports of the work which they had seen. This information was diffused through the addresses and articles which one finds so generously distributed in the literature of the time. Among the contributors to this literature Horace Mann was perhaps more active than anyone else in criticizing reading practices in America and in contrasting them unfavorably with German practices which he strongly advocated.
There is a line of evidence in regard to Prussian influence other than that embodied in American literature. This evidence is found in readers published in Germany between 1840 and 1885. An examination of several of these readers reveals the same innovations as those which also appeared in American readers during this period for the first time.
Now let us consider the more direct application of Pestalozzian theories to reading methods and materials. Pestalozzi's essential aim was that of elevating the lower classes. In order to achieve this aim, he believed that schools should teach a wide range of informational subject matter drawn from all the different fields of human endeavor. He placed particular stress upon science and nature study. Other important principles of the great educator were: bringing real objects into the classroom and using them as a basis for instruction; selecting subject matter for young children from fields with which they were familiar, and in which they would be interested; and utilizing all the child's senses and faculties in classroom procedure. These aims of Pestalozzi influenced our reading instruction in various ways.
With the new Pestalozzian emphasis upon the use of reading as a means of obtaining general information, we find the upper grade readers increasingly given over to a wide range of informational subjects having to do with science, history, art, philosophy, economics, and politics. Primers and first readers came more generally to contain realistic materials. Nature stories occupied a large proportion of these texts, probably as a result of the Pestalozzian system of combined emphasis upon science and other teachings which caused nature materials to assume such an important place in the primary curriculum. Another reflection of object teaching is seen in the increased numbers of pictures in readers, and in the selection of those which were directly representative of objects familiar to children, and experiences representative of child life.
One of the most outstanding features of the new materials was the appearance of a carefully graded series of readers. It was during this period that our graded school was evolving, as a result largely of the reports concerning GermanPestalozzian schools in which the children were "divided according to age and attainments, and a single teacher had charge only of a single class." Graded series of readers were but a natural corollary of the new graded school system.
The introduction of the wordmethod was the most drastic change in American reading instruction for which Pestalozzian principles were responsible. Until the beginning of this period, the alphabet method had been universally used as a means of inducting children into the process of reading. Pestalozzi's emphasis upon having children learn the names of objects or pictures which were before them, and were, therefore, meaningful to them, lent a strong impetus to our new development in the word method of teaching reading.
PERIOD OF EMPHASIS UPON READING AS A CULTURAL ASSET (1880-1918)
Some time around the eighteeneighties a new movement began in the field of reading instruction. This movement was the result of an emphasis upon the use of reading as a medium for awakening permanent interest in literary materials which would be a cultural asset to the individual in adult life. It is true that some literature had been included in upper grade readers previous to this time, but it was designed to serve as a vehicle for elocutionary or drill exercises and not for promoting literary appreciation and interest. It is not until the beginning of the period under discussion that one finds welldefined aims, methods, and materials all directed toward the goal of developing permanent interest in literature.
There is abundant evidence that this new emphasis was a reflection of the Herbartian principles which were so active in Germany at the time and which undoubtedly affected American practices somewhat before our prominent protagonists directed their efforts toward bringing Herbartian pedagogy to a focus in America.
Herbart emphasized the teaching of literature and history and recommended that the content of children's readers consist of literary selections. Like his predecessors, Herbart was primarily interested in character development, but he disapproved of the use of especially constructed moral tales for this purpose. Rather would he
. . . give to them an interesting story, rich in incidents, relationships, characters, strictly in accordance with the psychological truth, and not beyond the feelings and ideas of children; make no effort to depict the worst or the best, only let a faint, halfunconscious moral tact secure that the interest of the action tends away from the bad toward the good, . . . so that the boy who perhaps feels himself a step or two higher in moral judgment than the hero or author, will cling to his view with inner selfapprobation, and so guard himself from a coarseness he already feels beneath him.3
Another important aim of Herbart was that of developing permanent interests, interests which would remain with the pupil and would continue to function after his school days were over. The new trend in American reading instruction was a direct application of these combined aims of Herbartthe use of literature as valuable instructional material and the development of permanent interests as a worthy product of school training.
More could be written on the lesser influences back of the literary emphasis, but perhaps enough has been said at least to point out the chief factors which were instrumental in bringing it about. Let us now turn to its more specific effects upon reading instruction.
The advent of this new influence was responsible for a decided change in the content of readers. Elocutionary rules disappeared, moralistic materials lost their foothold, and informational selections in upper grade texts gave way to literary selections which now composed the bulk of all advanced readers. Mother Goose rhymes and folk tales for the first time were used in beginning readers.
There were three very important developments in method during this period. The first two applied particularly to the primary grades.
One group of educators became dissatisfied with the word method. They believed that it did not develop sufficient power in analyzing words, so they went to the opposite extreme of developing elaborate phonetic methods in which stress was laid upon teaching the sounds of letters and their various combinations. The other, and larger, group became so enthusiastic about the word method that they wished to expand it and utilize entire sentences or stories as units of introduction in teaching beginning reading. A method which made use of whole stories or sentences offered a happy opportunity to introduce into primary readers cumulative folk tales from literature. It is small wonder, then, that this method was so readily seized upon as a means of furthering the general goal of the period, that of developing interest in literature.
The third development in method, and the one which affected the upper grades particularly, was the use of new techniques to awaken interest in, and arouse appreciation of, literature. These techniques were of the definingdissecting type which we look upon with disapproval at the present time, but, even so, they marked a real step in advance of the emphasis upon elocutionary delivery which had long held sway in intermediate reading.
PERIOD OF UTILITARIAN EMPHASIS (1918-1925)
From the beginning of reading instruction, oral reading had maintained its supreme and undisputed claim over classroom methods. In marked contrast to this traditional practice we find a period of years, let us say approximately between 1918 and 1925, marked with an exaggerated, and, in some extreme cases, almost exclusive emphasis upon silent reading procedures. What brought about this sharp reversal of practice?
One factor which had a bearing upon the new silent reading emphasis was the everincreasing attention directed toward comprehension in all phases of education. This was a cumulative movement which gained momentum as each of the great leaders, Rousseau, Pestalozzi, Herbart, and Froebel, successively added his influence to a further application of the principle. It was left to one of our own educators, however, Colonel Francis Parker, to apply the principle in the most helpful way to reading instruction. Colonel Parker made a clear distinction between oral reading as a matter of expression and silent reading as a matter of interpretation, and pointed out the gross error of making oral reading "the principal and almost only means of teaching reading."
Colonel Parker and others came more and more to urge in their writings the teaching of silent reading. In 1908 Edmund Burke Huey published The Psychology and Pedagogy of Reading. In this book Dr. Huey made many statements regarding the advantages of silent reading and the need of giving it more emphasis in the classroom.
Such expressions as these by advanced thinkers paved the way for much active experimentation in reading during the great wave of scientific investigation which swept the country between the years 1910 and 1920. This scientific movement probably was more directly responsible than any other single factor for the sharp and farreaching turn in classroom methods. There were two phases of the movement which had a strong influence in promoting silent reading: one was the results of investigations, the other the results of formulating standardized tests.
The new spirit of investigation which evolved with the scientific movement led several interested educators to probe further into the differences between oral and silent reading. Between 1915 and 1918, Mead, Oberholtzer, Pintner and Gilliland, and Schmidt conducted investigations which revealed the superiority of silent reading over oral reading, in both speed and comprehension. The objective evidence which these men obtained was more convincing than all the talk about meanings in the past two hundred years.
While the results of investigation were important in convincing school people of the desirability of emphasizing silent reading, the testing movement was, perhaps, even more influential in bringing silent reading procedures into the classroom. The years between 1910 and 1915 were the first productive ones in America in so far as the devising of standardized tests and scales was concerned. During these periods, tests were devised in all the tool subjects. Reading was the last of these subjects to yield itself to the testing movement. A few attempts had been made to test vocabulary recognition, but nothing was done toward producing a standardized reading test until 1915. One reason for this delay probably lay in the fact that oral reading procedure was the only one in general use, and oral reading proved to be an unwieldy and uneconomical product to measure by means of standardized group tests. Furthermore, the entire subject of reading was difficult to analyze into elements which seemed to be sufficiently significant to warrant testing. Nevertheless, this very complication challenged the test makers, who directed their attention to this subject and succeeded eventually in making rather clearcut analyses in which speed and comprehension in silent reading stood out as being highly important and at the same time testable features of the process of reading.
Once such analyses had been made, a series of silent reading tests issued from the press. The wide use of these tests was a powerful factor in bringing into the classroom the silent reading procedures. A common inference is that as soon as school officials begin to test some phase of instruction, teachers begin to emphasize that phase in their teaching. This undoubtedly was the case in regard to silent reading.
Another influence to which this new emphasis may be in part attributed is directly traceable to the reports bearing upon silent reading which appeared in the Yearbook of the National Society for the Study of Education between 1916 and 1920. The climax came with the appearance of the Twentieth Yearbook, Part II of which was devoted entirely to the "Report of the Society's Committee on Silent Reading."
At about the same time that the Twentieth Yearbook came from the press, textbook writers began to publish readers based on silent reading procedures; other authors prepared professional books treating some phase or phases of silent reading; teachers racked their brains to think of different exercises which would furnish a check of children's comprehension in reading; and publishers began to issue quantities of seat work consisting of silent reading exercises in which the children were to make some response to their reading. The entire school public seemed for a time to be obsessed with the idea of teaching silent reading of the type which would lend itself to an objective checking of comprehension and speed.
The discussion up to this point has given some evidence of the increasing attention to silent reading as a classroom technique. It is difficult to set a definite date at which it became sufficiently concentrated to be termed an emphasis. A careful examination of several courses of study reveals that it must have been about 1918 before school people rather generally set up the goal of definitely teaching children to become more effective silent readers; hence, the writer is using 1918 as the initial date, although one might place it two years earlier or two years later and find justification for either date.
The silent reading emphasis affected the materials of reading instruction in several different ways. First, the content of the new readers came to consist largely of factual and informational selections which would more closely approximate the type of material that one most frequently meets in practical life reading. Second, much of the space in the new readers was now given over to exercises requiring the child to make some reaction to his reading. These exercises took the form of thought questions on the story, directions for drawing, construction work, or dramatization, truefalse exercises, completion sentences, and so on. Fanciful stories continued to appear in some of the new readers, but the purpose of this material, as usually explained by the author, was to provide easy, interesting text, the reading of which would contribute to speed in silent reading. Such stories were generally accompanied by checks of comprehension.
The new emphasis wrought the most startling change in method which had occurred in the history of reading. The practice of reading to oneself without saying the words aloud is probably as old as the process of reading. The new method of teaching silent reading, however, involved activities far more directive and responsive than those generally involved in such casual silent reading, and decidedly different from those employed in the usual oral reading methods. Hence, the new silent reading emphasis was responsible for ushering in an entirely new pedagogy in regard to the teaching of reading.
PERIOD OF BROADENED OBJECTIVES IN READING (1925 )
In considering the last two emphases, it was found that between the approximate dates of 1880 and 1918 educators considered the supreme function of reading instruction to be that of developing appreciation for, and permanent interest in, literature. In the years immediately following, it was found that the school public had swung over to an entirely different emphasis, that of developing the utilitarian type of reading ability, or skill in rapid comprehension of silent reading designed to prepare children to cope with the great mass of practical materials with which they found themselves surrounded. At the present time we have emerged into another era, one in which the methods and materials are not strongly directed toward the development of any one or two types of reading instruction; rather they are designed to develop the several different abilities needed in the varied purposes for which reading is used in present wellrounded living. No one type of instruction is given an exaggerated emphasis which overshadows all the others, as has been the case in preceding periods; hence, it seems fitting to characterize this period as marked by an emphasis upon broadened objectives in reading.
Several influences were responsible for this new point of view. A few of them will be discussed. One strong factor probably was the reactionary attitude of teachers of literature who saw in the utilitarian emphasis a danger of losing sight of what they considered to be one of the most important services of reading instruction, that of developing appreciation of literature. Much discussion and writing on the part of teachers so concerned called the attention of the school public to the temporary neglect of this phase of reading instruction.
Another influence was exerted by those educators who were primarily concerned with general child development and who objected to having primary children spend so much time sitting in their seats carrying out prescribed silent reading exercises. These educators contended that an overabundance of this type of work tended to thwart the child's own creative impulses and crowded out other activities which would be more valuable to him.
Undoubtedly, the various investigations in regard to the reading interests, purposes, and habits of children and adults were more influential than any other single factor in bringing about an emphasis upon a broader reading program. The years between 1921 and 1932 have been very fruitful in studies of this type; a discussion of their respective influences would require an amount of space which is prohibitive in this article.
In brief summation of the investigations of children's interests, one might say that the striking fact revealed by all of them was that children's reading preferences vary widely at each age and grade level. This means, of course, that the interests of any one class of children cannot be met by having all children read the same set or sets of readers.
As for motives and purposes in reading, investigation shows that children have occasion to read for many different purposes in doing their class work, and that adults read for a wide variety of purposes in connection with their life activities. Furthermore, it has been found that both children and adults employ different processes when reading for these different purposes.
The cumulative effect of the appearance of such data regarding the diversity of interests and purposes in reading and the different abilities necessary to achieve these purposes and interests, was probably responsible, to a large extent, for calling attention to the need of more liberal provision of varied materials, and for the use of methods of instruction designed to develop many different reading habits and abilities.
The culminating force in bringing about the new emphasis was the Twenty-fourth Yearbook of the National Society for the Study of Education. Part I of this book was given over entirely to the subject of reading instruction. Evidently the authors of this section of the Yearbook carefully considered the various influences discussed above and others, and felt the need of advocating a broader program of reading instruction, for the book seems to be directed rather definitely toward this purpose. The second chapter is devoted entirely to reading objectives broader and more inclusive than any which had yet appeared. This set of objectives has undoubtedly been more powerful than any other single influence in shaping the reading instruction of our present period.
It is true that there was some little evidence of this broadened concept of reading instruction in a few courses of study and in at least two sets of readers which appeared in a period just previous to the publication of the Twentyfourth Yearbook. The movement did not become general, however, until sufficient time had elapsed to prepare and distribute new courses of study and textbooks which applied the objectives set forth in the Yearbook. For this reason, the writer is setting the initial date of this emphasis as 1925. But in this case, as in all others, no specific date can be designated as the exact time at which a change of emphasis took place. Undoubtedly, many schools in the country are still emphasizing the narrower program of instruction, but with the abundant supply; of new materials which authors are striving to provide in the interest of a broader program it seems that the situation is rapidly changing.
At the present time, many schools are approaching the reading problem in a new spirit which, perhaps, bears some of the earmarks of the coming emphasis in reading instruction. The protagonists of the new movement are actuated by a philosophy which they believe to be a combination and a culmination of the soundest principles advocated by each of the great educational leaders of the past. These educators are primarily concerned with general development, and teach reading largely as it enters into or flows out of children's interests, problems, and activities, although at the same time they are attentive to pupils' needs in regard to the development of the various reading abilities.
Teachers employing this type of reading instruction do not use any one set of basal readers or any one systematized method in the same grade or in consecutive grades. Their methods and materials vary with the interests and maturity of each group of children which they teach. The children and teacher prepare much of their own reading materials in connection with class and individual activities. They also make use of many different basal and supplementary readers as well as a wide variety of other books of the literary and informative types, all of which are drawn upon as they best serve the needs and interests of the group.
This type of instruction seems to hold much promise for the future, and its major characteristics will probably predominate in the coming era of reading instruction.
1 Cobb, Lyman. The North American Reader, p. v, Preface. B. S. Collins, New York, 1835.
2 Webster, Noah. The American Spelling Book, page x, Preface. Printed by Isaiah Thomas and Ebenezer Andrews, Boston, 1798.
3 "Herbart, J. F. The Science of Education, pp. 88-89. D- C. Heath and Company, 1895.