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The Story-Teller's Art

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An excerpt from the beginning of the first chapter - TO THE TEACHER:

IN determining the place and time for the study of fiction in the curriculum of the secondary school, the place of the story in the whole educational system commands attention; and what applies to the use of the story throughout applies in a much larger way to the serious study of fiction in the secondary school. How can the story be made a more potent factor in education? How shall it be used? What shall be the basis for the selection of stories for use? Must utility be always in view? Shall a story never be selected in and for itself independent of a lesson in ethics, geography, history, science, or composition? Must a reading of "Tom, the Water Baby," be followed by a discourse upon cleanliness, or left to teach its own lesson? When the aesthetic features of a story bring response from a student and when the content enkindles his soul, is not the use of the story for its own sake justified, even though it illustrate no single point in the curriculum? These are serious questions and ought to be seriously met in the consideration of the story as an educative factor.

The nature of the story should determine whether it be used independently or in connection with other subjects. While one story must be given by itself as a work of art, another may best be used in correlation with the subject which it illustrates. Story has always formed the borderland to the study of the world of nature and the world of institutions. What better introduction to the study of history than story? It gives the thread of fact in its setting as in life; it gives it in its atmosphere, in its perspective, in its picturesqueness. How much more is added to a child's N knowledge of the bravery of the Puritan heart if, instead of hearing in plain language that not one went back on the "Mayflower," he is told this in the story form, and is thereby made to enter into the feelings of the lonely Priscilla watching from the shore the receding sail of the "Mayflower" as it goes without her to all that she loves and holds dear.

Cooper, Helen Hunt, and Longfellow have made the Indian a reality. The story of Washington's trip to Governor Dinwiddie, his winter at Valley Forge, and selections from Lowell's Washington Elm show us the most august figure in American history. The simple story of Lincoln's life, "Uncle Tom's Cabin," and stories from Whittier's war poems fix the meaning of the triumph of freedom. Then for the distinctive local features of the various sections: New England can be found for the young in " Stories from Grandfather's Chair" by Hawthorne and in Mary E. Wilkins's stories. Thomas Nelson Page has shown the Old Dominion; Mrs. McEnery Stuart, the lower South; Bret Harte, the Pacific slope; Hamlin Garland and Octave Thanet, the central West; Charles Egbert Craddock, Tennessee; James Lane Allen, Kentucky; Cable, the Gulf region; Davis, New York; and Riley, Indiana....

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