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SKETCH OF AN ENGLISH SCHOOL :
FOR THE CONSIDERATION OF THE TRUSTEES OF THE PHILADELPHIA ACADEMY *.
IT is expected that every scholar to be admitted into this school, be at least able to pronounce and divide the fyllables in reading, and to write a legible hand. None to be received that are under years of age.
FIRST, OR LOWEST CLASS.
Let the first class learn the English Grammar rules, and at the fame time let particular care be taken to improve them in orthography. Perhaps the latter is beft done by pairing the fcholars; two of those nearest equal in their fpelling to be put together. Let thefe ftrive for victory; each propounding ten words every day to the other to be fpelled. He that fpells truly moft of the other's words, is victor for that day; he that is victor moft days in a month, to obtain a prize, a pretty neat book of some kind, useful in their future ftudies. This method fixes the attention of children extremely to the orthography of words, and makes them good fpellers very early. It is a fhame for a man to be fo ignorant of this little art, in his own language, as to be perpetually confounding words of like found and different fignifications; the confcioufnefs of which defect
*This piece did not come to hand till the volume had been fome time at the prefs. This was the cafe also with feveral other papers, and must be our apology for any defect that may appear in the arrangement.
makes fome men, otherwife of good learning and understanding, averse to writing even a common letter.
Let the pieces read by the scholars in this class be short; fuch as Croxal's fables and little ftories. In giving the leffon, let it be read to them; let the meaning of the difficult words in it be explained to them; and let them con over by themselves before they are called to read to the mafter or ufher; who is to take particular care that they do not read too fast, and that they duly observe the ftops and paufes. A vocabulary of the moft ufual difficult words might be formed for their use, with explanations; and they might daily get a few of those words and explanations by heart, which would a little exercise their memories; or at least they might write a number of them in a fmall book for the purpose, which would help to fix the meaning of those words in their minds, and at the fame time furnish every one with a little dictionary for his future use.
TO be taught reading with attention, and with proper modulations of the voice; according to the fentiment and the subject.
Some short pieces, not exceeding the length of a Spectator, to be given this clafs for leffons (and fome of the eafier Spectators would be very fuitable for the purpose). These leffons might be given every night as tasks; the scholars to study them against the morning. Let it then be required of them to give an account, first of the parts of fpeech, and conftruction of one or two fentences. This will oblige them to recur frequently to their grammar, and fix its principal rules in their memory. Next, of the intention of the writer, or the fcope of the piece, the meaning of each fentence, and of every uncommon word. This would early acquaint them with the meaning and force of words, and give them that most neceffary habit, of reading with attention.
The mafter then to read the piece with the proper modulations of voice, due emphafis, and fuitable action, where action is required; and put the youth on imitating his manner.
Where the author has used an expreffion ǹọt the best, let it be pointed out; and let his beauties be particularly remarked to the youth.
Let the leffons for reading be varied, that the youth may be made acquainted with good styles of all kinds in profe and verfe, and the proper manner of reading each kind-fometimes a welltold ftory, a piece of a fermon, a general's speech to his foldiers, a fpeech in a tragedy, fome part
of a comedy, an ode, a fatire, a letter, blank verfe, Hudibraftic, heroic, &c. But let fuch leffons be chofen for reading, as contain fome ufeful inftruction, whereby the understanding or morals of the youth may at the fame time be improved.
It is required that they fhould firft ftudy and understand the leffons, before they are put upon reading them properly to which end each boy fhould have an English dictionary, to help him over difficulties. When our boys read Englifh to us, we are apt to imagine they understand what they read, because we do, and because it is their mother tongue. But they often read, as parrots fpeak, knowing little or nothing of the meaning. And it is impoffible a reader should give the due modulation to his voice, and pronounce properly, unlefs his understanding goes before his tongue, and makes him mafter of the fentiment. Accuftoming boys to read aloud what they do not first understand, is the cause of those even fet tones fo common among readers, which, when they have once got a habit of ufing, they find fo difficult to correct; by which means, among fifty readers we fcarcely find a good one. For want of good reading, pieces published with a view to influence the minds of men, for their own of the public benefit, lofe half their force. Wer there but one good reader in a neighbourhood, a public orator might be heard throughout a nation with the fame advantages, and have the fame effect upon his audience, as if they stood within the reach of his voice.
THE THIRD CLASS
TO be taught fpeaking properly and gracefully; which is near a-kin to good reading, and naturally follows it in the ftudies of youth. Let the scholars of this clafs begin with learning the elements of rhetoric from fome fhort fyftem, fo as to be able to give an account of the moft ufeful tropes and figures, Let all their bad habits of fpeaking, all offences against good grammar, all corrupt or foreign accents, and all improper phrafes, be pointed out to them. Short fpeeches from the Roman or other hiftory, or from the parliamentary debates, might be got by heart, and delivered with the proper action, &c. Speeches and fcenes in our beft tragedies and comedies (avoiding every thing that could injure the morals of youth) might likewise be got by rote, and the boys exercfed in delivering or acting them; great care being taken to form their manner after the trueft models.*
For their farther improvement, and a little to vary their studies, let them now begin to read hiftory, after having got by heart a fhort table of the principal epochas in chronology. They may begin with Rollin's ancient and Roman hiftories, and proceed at proper hours, as they go through the fubfequent claffes, with the best hiftories of our own nation and colonies. Let emulation be excited among the boys, by giving, weekly, little prizes, or other fmall encouragements to those who are able to give the beft account of what they have read, as to times, places, names of perfons, &c. This will make them read with attention, and imprint the hiftory well in their memories.