The incidental teaching of English composition in the high school
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At the present time, when the efficiency of every department of school work is being questioned, when real improvement is being made in the school as an adequate preparation for life, the question of the value of formal composition is very wisely being agitated. We wish to record here, after a brief general consideration of modern conditions, the observation of a school year's work in composition by the University High School. By incidental teaching, we mean teaching the fundamentals, rules, principles of all composition only as the need for teaching and direction arises. It will occur to some that this method is purely accidental, and that there is no way of telling just when the student needs certain instruction. As a matter of fact, the teaching is in no way accidental or haphazard. It is certain. The student shows by his written work, or by his recitation in class, that he does not know certain laws or standards, that he does not suspect their existence, or that he has them pretty well confused with other things. The teacher, then, looking for proficiency in expression, is not at a loss as to method of procedure; it is simply this: teach the child now what he has just shown he does not know.
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