The Method of Teaching in Practice

§ 1. The Prelection or Explanation of the Authors

Paedagogica Index

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The typical form of Jesuit instruction is called praelectio. This word is largely the equivalent of "lecturing" in the higher faculties; [ 4 ] of "explanation" in the lower. In either case, however, it is something specific. [ 5 ] For this reason the word may be used in an English dress, as "prelection". We are here not concerned with the lecture in the higher faculties, but with the prelection or explanation in the literary or classical course. This prelection is two-fold: one is upon the authors, the other upon the precepts of rhetoric, poetry, and style in the higher classes, of grammar, prosody, etc., in the lower classes. The Ratio gives some useful hints as to teaching the principles of rhetoric in connection with the reading of the authors. Taking up a passage, let us say of Cicero, the professor will, in the first place, make clear the sense of the text; secondly, analyze the artistic structure; thirdly, explain the force and meaning of the rhetorical precept contained in the passage; fourthly, adduce other examples which are similar in thought or expression, especially famous and striking ones; cite other orators or poets, whether in the classics or the vernacular, in which the same principles are employed; lastly, weigh the words singly, comment upon the propriety of their use, their rhythm, variety, beauty. The comparison of Latin and Greek authors with those of the vernacular, that treat of similar subjects, was especially recommended by the Jesuits in Germany, in 1830. [ 6 ]




The method of explaining authors is sketched admirably in the 27th of the common rules. The first thing the professor is told to do is to read the whole passage through, unless it be too long. There is a very good reason for this. It makes an impression on the ear of the pupils, and accustoms them to the rhythm of the language. Again, the reading is calculated, better than the rules of prosody, to impress on them the correct quantity of Latin syllables. Remember that the boys are understood to be employing Latin words a year, two years, before they learn the prosody; they are surely, not supposed to be pronouncing incorrectly all that time. How, then, do they acquire accuracy in this important detail? Simply by imitating their professor. He reads every lesson for them before explaining; they read every lesson before translating, when they repeat next day. The rules of prosody afterwards only complete the work. Jouvancy observes that the teacher should accustom the pupils from the very beginning to distinct and articulate reading [ 7 ]; the same holds good of the recitations. From the first lesson in Latin and Greek the teachers should insist on the correct quantity, particularly of the final syllables (os, es, is, etc.). If in the lowest classes the students acquire a faulty pronunciation, they will never get rid of it in later years. Some modern teachers go to an extreme in insisting too much on quantity and other points. This is affectation. Years ago many colleges used the English pronunciation of Latin: pueri = pyueray, etc.; others follow more or less the (European) continental system; of late the high schools and most colleges have adopted the ancient or Roman pronunciation: Cicero = Kikero, etc. This is not the place to enter on a discussion about the relative value of the different systems. The opinions of leading educators differ considerably. [ 8 ] The reading of the text is not merely intended for correctness of pronunciation; the passage should be so read that the sense may fully appear, and that the sentiment may be rendered expressively. Inflection, tone, quality of voice, all the elements of elocution applicable to reading should be carefully attended to, and represented faithfully. A distinguished Jesuit professor even went so far as to employ gesture in this part of his prelection. What is easier in an oration than to put that spirit into the reading which shows the pupils that they are not examining a dead series of words, but a living organism with: life and feeling in it, that they are studying the actual expression of real human feelings? One would not be too venturesome in asserting that the reading of the passage well done is the very best introduction to the matter studied. Of course, the repetition of this excellent reading should be exacted immediately, as often: as possible the next day at all events. It will prove the easiest and surest means of teaching: elocution. The Rule does not say legat, nor recitet, but pronunciet; legat or recitet would be satisfied by any reading, monotonous or not; pronunciet necessarily implies delivery, the attempt at elocutionary finish.




The delivery of the passage well done — and, when possible, exacted immediately, — the professor proceeds to sketch the argumentum, or gist of the passage. This he does briefly. Father Jouvancy, in his Odes of Horace, gives us examples of argumenta which are all that could be desired; other instances, found in the Ratio Docendi, will be given below. Of course, the professor gives the argument mostly from his notes, and he usually, or often, dictates it, — a reason for his writing it out at home. It should be brief, pithy, striking, and clear, and given in Latin in the higher classes, in the vernacular in the lower classes.

Then, when the passage is connected with the preceding, the professor has to set forth the nature of the connection; this refers especially to points of history, and, in general, to such references as come under the head of eruditio. It will seldom be necessary when, as often occurs in the lower grades, the passage for prelection is the whole of a short story. In Freshman class and Sophomore, on the contrary, it may require some; time to explain this connection.

The professor next passes on to consider each sentence by itself. He explains each one, shows the grammatical or rhetorical connection or dependence of its successive members and phrases, and, in general, clears up any obscurities or difficulties which the words contain. If the explanation is in the vernacular, [ 9 ] he is careful to keep at first, as far as possible, the order of the Latin words, to accustom the ear to the numerus of that language. If this cannot be done, then he first translates nearly word for word, almost regardless of vernacular excellence, then afterwards returns and gives a version, with all attention to the elegancies of diction. This last translation must be a model of the vernacular, the very best the professor can do. Jouvancy says that all translations and dictations in the vernacular must be in strict accord with the most exact rules of the language, and free from any defect. [ 10 ] The Ratio of 1832, in the eighteenth rule for the teachers, insists on the same.




By all odds the better way for the teacher, as Jouvancy has said, is to elaborate his version for himself. It is a risky thing to rely on printed translations; many of them, especially the "Handy Library Translations" and the like, are frequently done in awkward and slovenly English. Further, as now-a-days the pupils have easy access to libraries, they will soon detect what sort of translation the teacher uses. In consequence the professor will lose a great part of his authority, the first element of which is esteem for the teacher's learning. Besides, as soon as the students have discovered the source of the teacher's translation, the careless and lazy ones will no longer pay any attention in class. Of course, the most conscientious and painstaking teacher has sometimes to have recourse to translations. But he should procure the most scholarly translations, and use them with discretion.

There can be no objection to the teacher's reading the translation from his paper; by which means he will be ensured against slips and sins against idiom, such as otherwise can hardly be avoided. If he chooses, after his own version, he may read a printed translation, which is especially useful in the case of such works as Butcher and Lang's Homer.




Notes and remarks are now to be given. Many professors prefer the alternative suggested in the Rule, of putting these in here and there, where they belong, in the course of the explanation. This plan, and that of presenting all the remarks together at the end, have both their own advantages. The former is more in keeping with unity, the latter affords a good opportunity of going over the passage again, and gives the pupils an occasion to make a little review of what has been done so far. Repetition is always good: it impresses and enforces. It is for this reason that the second rule of the several classes orders that immediately after the prelection a short repetition be "exacted" of the students. While the matter is still fresh, this can be done more easily and will have a more lasting effect.

The notes given should be made brief and striking and should be carefully worded. Littera scripta manet. The Grammar classes are not to write unless bidden. This evidently supposes that the higher classes may write when they choose. They are considered to have acquired discretion enough to guide them in their choice of what to note down from the professor's explanation. The lower grades are not to do this for themselves, because, as Father Hughes [ 11 ] says, "it happens now and then that, with much labor, waste of time and to no good purpose whatever, the boys take down and preserve with diligence a set of notes which have not been thought out very judiciously nor been arranged very carefully, notes simply trivial, common, badly patched together, sometimes worse than worthless, and these notes they commit to paper in wretched handwriting, full of mistakes and errors. Therefore let the dictation be only of a few points and those extremely select."

The Trial Ratio of 1586 bids the professor and the Prefect look over the students' note books occasionally. [ 12 ] This examination ensures the notes being written neatly and in order. It must not be forgotten that one great advantage of notes in general is the habit of system which they tend to foster; hence they must be diligently seen to. The teacher leads the way, as in every other detail of class work, by being orderly himself; he exacts the same care of his pupils.




The Ratio strongly recommends careful preparation on the part of the professor. He is not to give the prelection ex tempore, but after careful thought and even writing. What a splendid thing it would be if every teacher could so thoroughly make himself ready as to go to class with nothing but the text of the author and give his prelection, reading, argument, explanation, version, notes, dictation and all without so much as looking on his book before the boys! This would be the perfection of preparation and has been attained in the Society, old and new, but would possibly require too much time of professors of but a few years' teaching. At any rate, the one who wishes to be successful in his work and do it faithfully, will not only have taken the pains to have studied carefully beforehand — the long vacation is the best time to do this — the book or oration which he is to explain, but will never come to class without having prepared, at the very least, some notes put in order as he designs to give them to the pupils.

These notes may be more or less in extenso: if the professor has sufficient fluency in expressing himself, they can be simple jottings, mere hints of what he is to say, and in what place. He will also have carefully fixed such points as he means to dictate. It will seldom be necessary for one to write out the entire prelection word for word. Such a practice would be good at times, no doubt, by way of exercising oneself in neatness and accuracy, and in style; but ordinarily mere notes will suffice. What will they consist of? That will depend largely on the passage under discussion. Now they will include a bit of history, the narration of which is called for by the passage for prelection; now geography; at other times archaeology; oftener grammatical or rhetorical precepts will enter, and similar passages from other authors, ancient and modern, may be quoted. When possible, these notes should embrace such moral hints as may be brought in naturally. The teacher will depend to a great extent on such occasional hints for his moral influence on his pupils.




A prelection written one year, even if the same author is read, will rarely do another if not modified. The circumstances of the class will have changed. A prelection has this in common with an oration, that it must suit the present audience. Contemporary events, to which reference is at times in order, will differ. These and other circumstances will naturally make the prelection matter different, even on the same passage. Each lesson should, therefore, be prepared for each class especially. This is the chief work which a teacher has to attend to during his free hours each day. It is rarely good to make this preparation a week ahead of time; unless the professor reviews and adapts his notes shortly before delivering them. It is evident that to prepare a prelection in this manner is a serious thing, a work by no means trifling; but easy or not, it must be gone through. It supposes that the professor spends his hours free from class in honest preparation.

Repetition has been called the mater studiorum, and in truth, few points are of more vital importance. The Ratio insists on repetition throughout the course, but particularly in the lowest classes. Without constant, steady, persistent drilling on the same matter in the beginning of the student's career, no solid foundation for the future literary edifice can be hoped for. Perhaps it is owing to inadvertence to this necessity that in some instances the fruit does not correspond to the labor of the professor. It has been well said that young teachers think mainly of stimulating their pupils' minds, and so neglect the repetition needed for accuracy. [ 13 ]




The 25th rule enjoins explicitly two distinct repetitions, one of yesterday's lesson, the other of the lesson just explained. A short repetition should immediately follow the prelection. This is of great importance; it shows the professor whether his meaning has been well grasped by the pupils, and, moreover, brings home to their yet untrained minds the salient points of the previous explanation. This particular repetition should not be omitted in the lower classes. It does not require much time, ordinarily a very few minutes will suffice. The chief result to be gained is that the pupils should really understand what has just been said. In this it differs from the repetition of the lesson which was explained on the preceding day; for the principal end of this exercise is so to fix the matter in the boys' minds that it may really become their own. The more advanced students may be called to give the short repetition at the end of the prelection, whereas the duller, or perhaps the more indolent ones should be asked especially for the fuller repetition of the lesson of the previous day. But never should the teacher follow the order in which the pupils are seated, or the alphabetical order of the names. Jouvancy thinks that the teacher, before going to school, should go over the names of the boys and reflect whom he is to call up for repetition. [ 14 ] Every one should have his turn, but duller and indolent ones should be called more frequently, as they need it most.

The 26th rule establishes an excellent principle, namely "to repeat on Saturday everything that was seen during the week." Monday or any other fixed day will do as well. By everything is understood a thorough and careful review of the more important parts of the matter taught, especially the rules of grammar, precepts of style and rhetoric.




Jouvancy has drawn up several schemata or specimens of a prelection on Cicero, Virgil and Phaedrus as adapted to different classes. [ 15 ] We give the substance of two. Be it remarked, however, that the same order need not and cannot be followed strictly in all details in every prelection. They are specimens exhibiting a general rule, which is to be applied with discretion. Professor Willmann has well observed: "As all similar schemata also Jouvancy's canon explanationis is useful if applied properly, whereas if it is carried through pedantically in all subjects and with stereotyped regularity, it makes instructions mechanical." [ 16 ]

A. Explanation of a Passage from Cicero in Rhetoric (Sophomore). Take the exordium of Cicero's second Philippic from Quonam meo fato to Cui priusquam. We distinguish five parts in the explanation.

I. Argumentum. (Willmann: "In this part Jouvancy recommends a paraphrase of the contents, whose place is now, taken by the translation.") — When Cicero had delivered his first Philippic, Mark Anthony attacked him vehemently. To this attack Cicero replied in this oration, the second Philippic, showing that Anthony's invectives were groundless, and that Anthony himself, because of his crimes, deserved the severest reproaches.

We explain the exordium of the oration in which Cicero declares that he has incurred the enmity of many; but that Anthony's animosity was unfair and less called for, than that of his other adversaries, as he had never offended him as much as by a single word. But Anthony believes he could demonstrate his enmity to the Republic by being an opponent of Cicero.




II. Explanatio. (Willmann: "Linguistic and logical.") Quonam meo fato. This may have a double meaning; either: to what misfortune shall I say that I have been born; to what destiny of mine is it owing, by what fate of mine does it come to pass, that on me alone light all the arrows with which our enemies try to harm the country; or: what a happy and enviable lot that all who attack the Republic believe they must become my enemies. Either meaning is apt to gain the good will of the audience. — His annis viginti, i.e. from the beginning of his consulship, the year 690 A.U.C. — Nec vero etc. Cicero points to men like Catiline, Clodius, Piso, etc..... Tuam a me alienationem commendationem tibi ad impios cives fore putavisti. Construe: Putavisti alienationem tuam a me fore tibi commendationem [gloriae] ad impios; literally: You thought your alienation from me would be a recommendation for you to the wicked, i.e.: You thought to gain in the estimation of the destructionists, if you turned away from me and became my enemy.




III. Rhetorica. Attention is called to all that pertains to rhetoric in the highest class, to poetry in the next, to grammar, syntax in the other classes. For the class of Rhetoric this explanation may run as follows: This is the exordium of an excellent oration. The exordium or introduction has to prepare the audience for the coming speech. It has to gain their good will, and to make them attentive and docile. Let us see how Cicero complies with these three requirements of the exordium.

Good will may be gained in three ways. First, by showing that the speaker is possessed of a respectable character. Secondly, by manifesting interest for his hearers' welfare. Thirdly, by cleverly predisposing them against his adversaries. The first Cicero effects by pointing to his character to which all feeling of revenge is alien, to his previous career, and to the flattering testimony of the senate with regard to his consulship. — The second he effects by stating that all enemies of the Republic had ever become his personal enemies. — The third, by imputing to Anthony a passionate character, hatred against his country, and intimate friendship with the very dregs of the population.

The orator gains attention by telling how important the point at issue is: how the enemies of the country have become his enemies, etc.

He makes his hearers docile by briefly stating what he is going to speak about: little in his own defense, much against Anthony.

Fine exordiums of other orations may be mentioned, and also the faults which are easily made in the introduction. The rhetorical figure of subjectio : Quid putem, its force and use, may be explained.




IV. Eruditio ("General learning;" Willmann translates it appropriately by "antiquarian and subject-explanation, antiquarische, also Sacherklärung.") In the beginning occurs the word fato. Explain what the pagans understood by this and what we Christians have to think of it. — His viginti annis. Say (or better: ask) in what year Cicero was born, when he was made consul, when he died. — Bellum indixerit. Explain how the Romans used to declare war. (The solemnities of the Fetiales ). — The word maledictum affords an opportunity to show the difference between maledictum, convicium and contumelia. — Mihi poenarum plus etc. A few words may be said on revenge, how little it becomes a noble character. For this end copious material may be taken from the 13th Satire of Juvenal and from the Adagia of Erasmus. Illustrations may also be taken from the treasure of Christian doctrine and Church History.




V. Latinitas. (Willmann: "The gain for vocabulary and phraseology, in short the proper technics of the pupils.").

Bellum mihi indixerit, add a few other meanings of this verb. Mention the indictiva funera, i.e. funerals which were publicly announced. — Perhorrescere, give a few examples illustrating the force and meaning of compound words.

Verbo violatus, similarly: corpus violare vulnere, ebur ostro; fidem, foedus, jura sacra violare.




The second specimen is on Virgil's Aeneid XII, 425-440 At its close Jouvancy adds: "In the second highest class, called Poetry or Humanities (Freshman), the same order is observed except that here more attention is paid to poetics. The strictly rhetorical part should be sparingly dealt with. In the highest Grammar class, grammar and beauty of expression claim more attention. In the two lowest classes the difference is still more striking. Here the teacher has to sail along the coast and only seldom may he venture out into the sea (of longer explanations). He must beware of the reefs along the shore, i.e. he must not become disgusted at, nor neglect, what they call trifles. To explain even one little fable will require great skill and is a sign of considerable talent."




The third specimen is the explanation of a little fable of Phaedrus in the lowest Grammar class. The fable is: " Personam tragicam forte vulpes viderat: O quanta species, inquit, cerebrum non habet. " The teacher explains in the vernacular.

I. Contents of the Fable.

II. Explanation: Vulpes, a fox; viderat (translate), forte (translate); personam. Persona now means "person," but originally meant a "mask," as used in carnival masquerades, and at mask-balls. (per — through; sonare, sound, speak; speak through); tragicam, as it was used by the players in Greek and Roman tragedies. Similarly explain all the other words, and not once only, but twice or three times, if necessary.

III. Grammar. Give declension, gender of nouns and adjectives; conjugation, tense, mood etc. of every verb. This should be done as much as possible by putting questions to the pupils. Vulpes is a noun of the third declension; like...? — Proles, clades, etc. mention such as are known already to the pupils. Then give the rules of declension, gender. Viderat is a verb. What form? Third person singular Pluperfect Active. Present tense? video. — Like? doceo... Perfect: Vidi. Conjugate: Vidi, vidisti, etc. — Why third person? — Forte: is an adverb. Adverbs are words which... — Personam. What case? — Why accusative? Because it is the direct object of viderat. [ 17 ]Tragicam, why not tragicum, or tragica? Explain the rule...

IV. General Erudition. Could not a short description of the cunning fox be given? Or could not a little story be told? Or the adage: cum vulpe vulpinandum, be explained? Tragicam. A short easy explanation of tragedy might be given. — Cerebrum. The Latin words for other parts of the head should be added.

V. Latinity. Show the order of words and let the pupils imitate it in other sentences, e. g. Fratrem tuum nuper videram, which is better than Fratrem tuum videram nuper.

A short theme may be written in Latin: Fratrem tuum nuper videram. O quanta eruditio, dixi, mercedem non habet.

VI. Morals. The teacher may show that prudence and common sense are preferable to other natural possessions. A short story illustrating this may be told, which could be translated into Latin and repeated by one of the better pupils.




For the sake of comparison we add a schema drawn mostly from the writings of Nägelsbach and Willmann. A careful examination will prove that it is not so different from that of Jouvancy, as might appear at first sight.

I. Preparation. — I. The passage which is to be prepared by the pupils for the following day, is assigned in class. The teacher gives extensive hints on difficult points, on which the pupils otherwise might lose too much time. (In the lower and middle classes the whole text should be translated. See p. 478.)

2. At home the pupil tries to find out the meaning of the whole text. Dots on the margin should mark the passages which he could not make out.

3. In class the text is read by a student.




II. Translation. — 1. The boy who has read the text translates, the teacher and the other pupils correct the translation.

2. Explanations, linguistic and logical, are given to understand the text fully.

3. A correct and fluent translation is repeated by a boy with the help of the teacher and other boys. — The translation has to be different according to the authors: plain in Caesar and Xenophon; simple and direct in Homer; elaborate and dignified in Virgil and Cicero, etc.

III. Handling of the Text.

1. Explanation of contents. (Realerklärung. Explanatio and eruditio of Jouvancy.)

2. Pointing out of ethical momenta (quae ad mores spectant. Jouvancy).

3. Technics of rhetoric, poetry and style. (Rhetorica of Jouvancy.)

4. Latinity etc.: vocabulary, phrases, grammatical rules. (Latinitas. Jouvancy.)




IV. Repetition. — 1. Let the student translate and explain the text.

2. Frequently let the pupil, instead of a strict translation, give the contents in Latin, in a simple clear style.

3. Always see whether everything is understood.

4. Put questions of such a kind as force the boys to group and view things in a new manner. Thus they are led to reflect on the subject at home. This advice is also given by the Jesuit Kropf in his Ratio et Via (ch. V, art. 9): "The repetition ought to be conducted partly in the form of an examination etc."




A few remarks about the prelection must be added:

1. After the whole work has been studied, a retrospective view is to be taken; the work is to be estimated as a whole, with its leading ideas; as a masterpiece of art; as a product of a certain age or school, from the aesthetical, philosophical, and historical point of view. This should be done especially in higher classes; — but ne quid nimis, and everything, in the words of the Ratio: "sparingly and according to the capacity of the pupils."

2. Longer explanations should not interrupt the translation, but should be put off to the end; occasionally, however, they might be given earlier in the prelection, if the text without the explanation would be hardly understood.

3. The first preparation done by the pupils at home ought not to be the principal part of the work; the principal part consists in the handling of, the text in class.




This principle of the prelection of the Ratio Studiorum is also advocated by an able English schoolman. Sir Joshua Fitch says in his Lectures on Teaching, that home work should be "supplementary rather than preparatory." It should have a bearing on the school teaching of the previous day, "the best part of it is supplementary," and the chief value of home lessons, also of written exercises, is to give definiteness to lessons already learned (in class), and to thrust them home into the memory rather than to break new grounds." [ 18 ] And Professor Bain of Aberdeen University writes: "I hold to this principle, in a still severer view of it — namely, that the teacher should not ask the pupil to do anything that he himself has not led up to, has not clearly paved the way for. The pupils should not be called upon for any species of work that may not have been fully explained beforehand — that their own faculties, co-operating with each one's known attainments, are not perfectly competent to execute. A learner should not be asked even to show off what he can do, outside the teaching of the class." [ 19 ] Dr. Stanley Hall said recently [ 20 ] : "As to the dead languages, if they are to be taught, Latin should be begun not later than ten or eleven, and Greek never later than twelve or thirteen. Here both object and method are very different. These languages are taught through English, and the one-hand circuit should have much more prominence. Word matching and translation are the goal. The chief reason why the German boy of fifteen or sixteen in Unter-Secunda does so easily here what seems to us prodigious, is because he is taught to study; and the teacher's chief business in class is not to hear recitations, but to study with the boys. One of the best of these teachers told me that the boy should never see a dictionary or even a vocabulary, but the teacher must be a 'pony'. The pupil should never be brought face to face with an unknown sentence, but everything must be carefully translated for him; he must note all the unknown, words from the teacher's lips, and all the special grammatical points, so that home study and the first part of the next lesson will be merely repetitions of what the teacher has told and done."




The statement that this is the practice of the German schools, needs considerable modification. It may be partly so at present, but it certainly was not common before 1890. On the contrary, in German higher schools; throughout the greater part of the nineteenth century, it was generally insisted on that the students should prepare the translations without any or much help from the teacher. In fact, most professors [ 21 ] assigned some chapters in the author which were to be prepared for the next lesson without giving as much as a hint about a difficult passage. The next day a fairly good translation was expected, and by many teachers exacted rather rigorously. It was said that this system stimulated self-activity and independent thought; and more than once the opposite system, as followed by the Jesuits, was condemned, because, as it was asserted, it did not develop independence and the spirit of research. But did the results of the German system come up to expectations? The less diligent pupils had recourse to all sorts of "ponies", — in fact, the less talented were often practically forced to use other helps, as it was impossible for them to give a translation of many passages. In this way a spirit of dishonesty was fostered. The more scrupulous and eager students lost much time on difficult passages, often without finding a satisfactory translation. All this time might have been spared by a few remarks of the teacher, pointing to the solution of the difficulty. Above all, too much time was wasted unprofitably by thumbing the dictionary. No wonder that at length serious complaints were made. Besides the six hours spent in class, the average student had to devote at least four hours to hard home work, if he wanted to do all his tasks conscientiously.




Of late years there is a decided (change of opinion among educators, and this change is, to a great extent, a return to principles which were always followed in the Jesuit system. Thus writes Professor Schiller, Director of the Pedagogical Seminary in Giessen, one of the most celebrated German educators: "In the middle classes the preparation of the new translation is to be done in class, and even in the higher grades this can be done usefully." Further, "the more difficult passages, and those which contain many unknown words, should be explained beforehand." [ 22 ] In general "new material is added only in class; the object of home work is to strengthen, practise and apply, what has been given by the class instruction." [ 23 ] The new Prussian School Order of 1901 has laid down the general rule, that "directions for the preparation of new and difficult passages are to be given in all classes; even in the higher grades the preparation of a new author is, for some time, to be done entirely in class." [ 24 ] Is not this a striking justification of the wise conservatism of the Jesuit system? After a century of severe criticism and condemnation, it is thought necessary to return to what is essentially the Jesuit method of preparing the authors. And this return has been made in the country that prides itself on its school system.

According to the Jesuit method the teacher studies with the pupils, and thus shows them how to study. We need now no longer defend the Ratio against the charge frequently raised in former years, that it does too much, in fact everything for the pupil. It does not do everything; neither does it overtax the pupil's abilities. It follows the wise middle course, which will effect a solid training without giving reasonable cause to complaints of overwork.

However, some preparation of the new text, on the part of the pupil, is useful and stimulates self-activity, especially in the upper grades. It is prescribed for the higher studies by the Ratio which enjoins the students of the Society "to be diligent in praevidendis lectionibus," i.e. in preparing the new lesson of the day. [ 25 ]




Before concluding the discussion on the prelection, I quote a passage from the Woodstock Letters (1898). The question had been put: Has the method of prelection advocated by the Ratio, especially the plan of translating the author for the student, been used in any of our American Colleges not belonging to the Society? If so, with what success? — On October 31, 1898, the Editor of the Letters, the Reverend Samuel Hanna Frisbee, S. J., a graduate of Yale (1861), and a pupil of the matchless scholar, Professor Hadley, answered as follows

"The professor who used the method of the Ratio, and especially the prelection, was Arthur Hadley, well known as the author of Hadley's Greek Grammar. He was professor of Greek for many years at Yale and was known-as a fine Greek scholar. Though he was the professor of Greek — there were several tutors in Greek — and far the best Greek scholar in the university, he was appointed to teach the Freshmen during the first term, from the middle of September to Christmas. It was thought best they should have an experienced teacher, one who would train them thoroughly and thus give them a good start. During the rest of the scholastic year he taught Greek to the junior class. What concerns us at present is the method he adopted for training these Freshmen. It was as follows, and from its description you can easily judge how much it resembled the method of the Ratio.

The author to be read was Homer's Iliad, and in our year, 1857, the fourteenth book of the Iliad was the book assigned. The students used to say that some book after the first six was chosen, because Anthon's copious notes to these six books amounted to a translation. The real reason which was given to us at the time I have forgotten, but it was doubtless because this book is one of the most characteristic of the Iliad. Whatever was the reason, the Freshmen of our year were told that the fourteenth book was to be read. The class — numbering 120 — was divided into three divisions. The first division went into Greek for the first hour, 7 A. M., the second division at 11, and the third at 5 P. M. Professor Hadley had thus three hours of class daily, but to each division he explained the same matter.




We came to class, then, with the fourteenth book of Homer, and to our amazement, Prof. Hadley asked no recitation — for we had been already told to prepare some lines of this 14th book but, after giving a short history of Homer, and of the places which claimed him as their son, he carefully read through the first five lines, reading according to the accent, and then scanning them. Then he gave a literal translation of these five lines, and coming back to the first word he parsed it, gave the different dialectic forms of it and, if it was a geographical word, he explained where it was to be found on the map, and if the name of a person, he gave a short account of his life. This occupied a half hour and then the class was dismissed. The next day a half hour was spent in recitation. One was called up to scan, another to translate, and several to parse the different words, nothing being asked which had not been explained the preceding day. Then the second half hour was taken up by the professor who translated five more lines, parsing and explaining each word. It is an old Yale custom to repeat each day the lesson of the preceding day, so that we really had ten lines to translate and parse, five which some students had already recited in class. This second translation was recommended to be more elegant than the first which was literal, and only the important words were asked for parsing, etc. This manner of teaching was continued all the term — three months — only five lines of new matter being translated and explained each day. Besides we were made to review thoroughly the important parts of the grammar. A small book of a few pages containing the declensions, conjugations and a few rules, was given to each student, and it was repeated till it was known by heart. The students used to call it 'Hadley's Primer.'

As the results of this method, those who studied — for you know only about ten per cent of the students are really studying in earnest, the honor men — acquired such a facility in reading Homer that they could read the rest of the Iliad with comparative ease, while the moderate students had no difficulty in preparing the lesson assigned during the second term, which was fifty lines daily in another book of the Iliad, the eighteenth, if I mistake not. Then we took up Herodotus, at the rate of two pages a day, after an introduction about the author and his book. This was also accompanied on some days of the week by recitations from an excellent book on Greek History — Wheeler's if I mistake not.

Professor Hadley was the only one in the University to follow the method of the prelection of the Ratio, but he followed it most thoroughly. He was. regarded in his time as one of the very best professors in the University, and he merited this reputation."




It remains for us to investigate how much is to be read. The first question which presents itself is: Should the reading of the classics be slow or quick, stationary or cursory ? It has been said that in stationary reading the boys read little, in cursory they learn little or nothing. What, then, is to be done?

It all depends first, on the text, whether difficult or easy; secondly, on the character of the book. Epics and historical works, as a rule, should be read more rapidly, because they are in themselves slowly progressing, whereas lyrics and drama should be dwelled upon. — The Ratio Studiorum of 1599 expresses quite clearly the principle enunciated by schoolmen of the nineteenth century. The 28th rule says: "The historical books [and epic poetry is of a historical character] should be read more rapidly (celerius excurrendus )." Thirdly, in every case it depends on the pupils' knowledge, capacity, practice and age. But above all these two principles should not be forgotten: in medio est virtus, and non multa, sed multum.




How much, then, is to be read in one prelection? [ 26 ] In many modern institutions, in fact in most of them, the students are to read and translate whole pages of the classics for a single lesson. The Ratio calls for a thorough study of a few lines. In the 6th rule for the lowest class, the old Ratio says four lines should be explained in one lesson, for the next class seven lines — of course the teacher should not stop in the middle of the phrase. In the Revised Ratio no number of lines is mentioned. If we keep in mind that in these classes the pupils are gradually to be initiated into the reading of authors there is nothing surprising about this small number of lines. They are to be explained to perfection, learned by heart for the following day and to be employed for an imitation theme. For the higher grades the old Ratio did not state the exact number of lines, neither does the Revised Ratio. Still, on reading the rules for the prelection it becomes evident that fifty or sixty lines cannot be studied so thoroughly in one hour. But are ten lines all that must be read in class? Is this to be understood as the full demand of the Ratio? "At the rate of ten lines a day it would require fourteen months to translate Cicero's oration Pro Milone, so that to finish even the single speech within a year many parts of it must be run over more or less rapidly. At this rate of ten lines a day, it would require more than five years to translate the Aeneid, and twelve years to translate the Iliad, or two years longer than the siege of Troy lasted. The Ratio cannot, therefore, wish to bind the student and professor down to these few lines." [ 27 ] It wishes merely to show the student how to read and study the classics, how to do thorough work. Many more lines are to be read in a lesson, but the few should serve as the model. The schemata of Father Jouvancy do not want more. Nor is it to be inferred that all the lines are to be explained with the same thoroughness and at the same length. This would be impossible.




Moreover, we are led to the same conclusion from the programmes of some of the celebrated colleges of the old Society. They prove with certainty that the thorough study of a limited number of lines was not considered sufficient to make a student a classical scholar. In the history of the college of La Flèche, [ 28 ] we find programmes of the astounding work done by the students. Perhaps the plan of the Ratio has never been carried out more thoroughly than it was at this college, which for a long time was a rival of the great University of Paris. Here, too, one of the best commentators of the Ratio, Father Jouvancy, taught and wrote. When, therefore, we see the students of this college, studying, hundreds of pages of the classics in one year, we must grant that such a method comes within the scope of the Ratio. [ 29 ] For the rest, it remains unintelligible how any real benefit can be derived from the reading of hundreds of lines in one hour. Jouvancy well observes, the teacher should remember that the minds of young pupils are like vessels with a narrow orifice. If you pour water in great quantity upon them, it quickly runs off; if you pour it upon them slowly, they will be filled in a shorter time. Recently German schoolmen speak to the same effect: "We must limit the amount of reading matter and work on less material, but must try to make capital out of it by a thorough and exhaustive treatment. Only in this way can the 'intellectual growth' be expected. Limitation is the first principle of our art. A clear understanding of the classical s authors must be obtained by labor (das Verständniss ist zu erarbeiten ). For this reason the modern tendency of increasing the amount of reading excessively must be combated." [ 30 ] This holds good of English reading as well as of Latin and Greek.

One part of the prelection is called "eruditio". We heard that Professor Willmann translated it, and rightly so, by "antiquarian explanation." For some time past there was a tendency, particularly in German schools, to devote too much time to the explanation of antiquarian allusions, a method which was detrimental to the linguistic and literary study of the authors. Last year a writer [ 31 ] said that it was about time to recover again the real authors, Virgil, Horace, etc., who were almost lost in a mass of archaeological, historical, and critical details. In fact, the "Homeric Question" absorbed the interests of some teachers to such a degree that the grand poems themselves were nearly lost sight of. Antiquities should not be taught in high schools and colleges ex professo, for this belongs to the university, but incidentally, as some antiquarian subject occurs in the reading. Thus, while reading Caesar, Roman military antiquities are explained: the legion, weapons, military roads, etc. Xenophon's Anabasis affords an opportunity for giving details on Greek and Persian warfare. Cicero's various works will call for explanations of the Roman constitution, courts, elections, of the different offices of Consul, Praetor, Tribune, Aedile, Pontifex; for descriptions of the forum, villas, family life, etc. Plato's Dialogues demand a fair knowledge of Athenian life and manners; Homer's epics can be made interesting by details of the life and customs of the heroic age of the Greeks, which may be compared with similar traits found in the epics of other nations the Anglo-Saxon Beowulf and the German Nibelungenlied (a good translation should be read).




The practical method of teaching antiquities in Jesuit schools we learn from Jouvancy. Thus speaking of the word fatum, which occurs in a sentence, he says: explain the meaning which this word had with the ancients, and what we Christians have to think of it. Bellum indixerit. Explain the manner in which the Romans declared war. This is described in Rosinus, [ 32 ] Abram, [ 33 ] and Cantel, [ 34 ] etc. — Speaking of an explanation of Virgil's Aeneid XII, 425-440, Jouvancy says: "In the fourth place, as to erudition: Major egit Deus : Explain which gods were called Dii majores or majorum gentium, which minorum gentium. — When you come to the word clypeus, describe the different kinds of shield, show the difference between parma, pelta, scutum, etc., and explain how the soldiers formed the testudo, etc. — Speaking of the ninth chapter of Cicero's De Senectute, he wants some explanation of the Roman warship and navy, descriptions of how the votes were taken in the senate, etc.




Another very instructive document shows how much was comprised under the term "general erudition." In 1710, the text book of the third class (suprema grammatica ) of the College of Aix in France was Cicero's De Senectute. The pupils had to answer the following questions: Who and what was Cicero? What is the subject of his book on Old Age ? Why was Cato chosen as speaker on this topic? Which motives induced Cicero to compose this work? Who was Atticus, and how did he obtain this name? Who was Flaminius? What victory is recorded of him? Who were Titon and Ariston? What does the legend say of the former? What did the Stoics mean by saying that we must follow nature? What were the consuls, praetors, aediles, and quaestors among the Romans? What the tribunes of the people, and the augurs? What opinions were held about omens? What was the Lex Cincia ? By whom and on what occasion was it made? What do you know about the war to which Cato urged the Romans so persistently? What was the senate? What is the derivation of the word? Who was Naevius? Relate what you know about his poems, his exile, and his death. Who was Cyrus? Narrate the foundation of the Persian kingdom, etc. What was the Summus Pontifex, the dictator, the military tribune? Describe the legion. What did the Romans understand by clients? What were the sentiments of the Romans about patriotism? What do you know about Thermopylae, Tarentum, Capua, Mount Etna, Picenum, Cisalpine Gaul? What was the Rostra? What do you know about the Olympian games? etc., etc. [ 35 ]




It is clear, then, that the history of literature, the history of manners, customs, and political institutions, biography, mythology, and geography, found a place in the explanation of authors. This field was so wide and so attractive that there was a great danger lest the teachers, especially the younger, should spend too much time in antiquarian details, to the detriment of the less interesting, but more necessary linguistic and literary training of the pupils. It is for this reason that both the Ratio and Jouvancy exhort the teacher to give such explanations but "sparingly". By this it is not implied that the information should be meagre, but that it should be moderate, not excessive. The preceding testimonies prove also how unjustly Huber, Compayré, and others have asserted that the Jesuits aim at mere literary dilettantism, cleverness of speech; that they direct the pupil's attention not to the thought but to form. [ 36 ] This is what they call "Jesuitical formalism." However, it is not Jesuitical at all. The above-cited questions certainly were directed towards the understanding of the thoughts of the authors. This method of questioning the pupils about the contents, the ideas of a literary work, was also eminently fitted to stimulate in the pupils self-activity and independent thinking. For this reason Quick's judgment on the Jesuit system is not correct, when he says that it "suppressed originality and independence of mind, love of truth for its own sake, the power of reflecting and of forming correct judgments." [ 37 ] Should he, however, take independence of thought in the sense now usually attached to it, as unrestrained rationalism which places private judgment above the teaching of the Bible and the whole deposit of Divine Revelation, then we admit that the Jesuits are opposed to this independence of thought; for it is the proud spirit of rebellion against God. Yet this is no longer an educational, but rather a philosophical and theological question, and those authors have unwarrantably dragged this discussion into their books on the history of educational methods.




We stated before that the linguistic training must always remain a more prominent part of the prelection than the antiquarian and other information. Here, however, another mistake must be avoided, which easily creeps into the teaching of the classics, a mistake which was not uncommon in the German schools before the recent reforms, namely, to make the authors the means of studying, repeating, or "drilling" the rules of grammar, etymology, and syntax. This makes the reading unpleasant, as every now and then a grammatical rule is asked, paradigms are repeated, etc., so that the author merely becomes subservient to the grammar, whereas the very contrary ought to be. the case, especially in the higher classes. This faulty practice is altogether opposed to the Ratio, which assigns a special time every day for repeating, studying, and drilling grammar or the precepts of rhetoric and poetry. [ 38 ] The 27th rule of the teachers, which lays down the method of explaining authors, does not even mention among the various suggestions the asking of grammatical rules. Nor is this grammatical drill contained in the schemata of Jouvancy for the higher classes among the five or six points to be observed in the prelection of authors. There is one called Latinitas, but an examination of what is said there shows that it is not a repetition of grammar, but, as Professor Willmann says, it deals with the technique of language, phraseology, etc. Jouvancy remarks that in the lower classes more attention is to be paid to grammar, which at this stage is not yet mastered by the pupils. This is in perfect accordance with the Ratio. The teacher of the lowest class is told when repeating the lesson of the previous day, "often to have words declined, or conjugated, and to ask questions about grammar in various directions." [ 39 ] The teacher. of the next following class should sometimes do the same. [ 40 ] This is a wise prescription, as in the lowest classes the pupils are to be introduced slowly into the reading of the authors, and the grammatical part must be treated more extensively. But the corresponding rules of the third class no longer mention this point. Certainly in the higher classes, particularly Freshman and Sophomore, it is an abuse to make the classics the vehicle of teaching grammar. An occasional question is, of course, not excluded, on the contrary necessary, whenever it appears from the student's translation that he does not understand the etymology, or the syntax of a phrase. But this is by no means the abuse to which we referred.




This, then, is the prelection, the most important and most characteristic point in the practical application of the Ratio Studiorum. It is scarcely necessary to add that the Society needs no apology for this part, nor has she any reason to attempt any change of it. As this manner of explaining authors is so much in accord with sound reason, we cannot be surprised that the Ratio insists on following the same system — of course, mutatis mutandis — in the teaching of the mother-tongue. The authors in the mother-tongue should be explained in nearly the same manner as the ancient writers. [ 41 ] The very same principle is emphasized by some of the best teachers of English, as for instance by Professor Bain. This writer distinguishes two methods of teaching higher English. The one a systematic course, in which "an exemplary lesson would consist in the statement and illustration of some rhetorical point or rule of style — say, the figure of hyperbole, the quality of simplicity, or the art of expounding by example. This, however, I deem a superfluous lesson; it would be little better than making an extract from a rhetorical treatise. There is another kind of lesson which does not exclude the methodical teaching of rhetoric, but co-operates with that in the most effectual way. It is the criticism of authors, with a view to the exhibition of rhetorical merits and defects as they turn up casually. An outline of rhetoric is almost essential to the efficiency of this kind of lesson; yet with only an outline it may successfully be carried out. It suffices to raise the questions most proper to be considered in English teaching." [ 42 ]

The second method which this writer advocates is that of the Ratio. Professor Bain illustrates his principle by various examples from leading authors Macaulay, Samuel Bailey, Carlyle; and he develops these examples exactly as Jouvancy did in the case of Cicero and Virgil. The Scotch Professor finds fault with the "too much" of explanation on archaic forms, sources of the play, etc., in the modern editions of Shakespeare. [ 43 ] Is not this again the principle of the Ratio which insists on such details being given sparingly ? Naturally the treatment of passages varies according to the character of the book, that of a sketch from Irving must be quite different from that of a play of Shakespeare, just as a chapter from Caesar or Nepos is explained differently from an Ode of Horace, or a Chorus of Sophocles. We may add a schema for reading an English author. [ 44 ] The principles are the same as those in the preceding schemata.




How to read English authors, e.g. a drama of Shakespeare?

1. Read first the whole piece, quickly, uncritically, to gain a knowledge of its contents; or induce the pupils to do it at home, but in this case examine whether they do so. — 2. Explain then part after part: all archaic words, difficult constructions, until everything is understood. — 3. Explain historical and literary allusions. — 4. Explain the plot, the tragic idea, the chief characters (in an oration, the proposition and the argumentation). — 5. Criticise the work as a whole. Show its excellences and shortcomings. — 6. Have choice passages learned by heart, and delivered well. Besides, for each lesson make the pupils write something on the lesson previously explained let them give the contents of a scene, write a synopsis, criticise a passage, or explain a beautiful sentence. Otherwise there is a danger that some will not even look at the author at home.

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[ 4 ] Its equivalent is used in German, Vorlesung, for the lectures in the universities.

[ 5 ] Hughes, Loyola, p. 232.

[ 6 ] See Pachtler, vol. IV, p. 439.

[ 7 ] Ratio Docendi, ch. 11, art. 3, 2. — The same is inculcated in other documents, e. g. in Mon. Paed., page 297: "Germanam pronunciationem iam tum ab ipso literarii aedificii vestibulo a discipulis suis praeceptorum quisque exigat."

[ 8 ] President Eliot says: "A second interesting result of effective leadership in a few American colleges and schools is to be seen in the adoption of the so-called Roman pronunciation of Latin, which being recommended by two or three Professors of Latin in leading institutions, spread rapidly over the whole United States, and is now the accepted pronunciation in most schools and colleges." Educational Reform, p. 298. — But Professor Bennett of Cornell University calls it a "fundamental blunder and its retention a serious mistake." The Teaching of Latin in the Secondary School, p. 66. — See Latin Pronunciation, a Brief Outline of the Roman, Continental and English Methods, by D. L. King, (Boston, Ginn and Company, 1889. — The Roman Pronunciation of Latin, by Francis Lord (Boston, Ginn, 1895).

[ 9 ]"In our times, besides the Latin interpretation, there is to be added the interpretation in the vernacular; also in the class of Rhetoric." Pachtler, vol. IV, p. 435.

[ 10 ] Ratio Discendi, ch. I, art. 3.

[ 11 ] Hughes, Loyola, p. 90.

[ 12 ] Pachtler, vol. II, p. 165.

[ 13 ] Quick, Educational Reformers, p. 506.

[ 14 ] Rat. Doc., c. II, art. III, § 1.

[ 15 ] Rat. Doc., c. II, art. IV.

[ 16 ] Didaktik, vol. 11, p. 387.

[ 17 ] English speaking students have at first great difficulties in grasping the rule of the object, because neither the article nor the noun shows any case ending. However, it can be explained easily with pronouns. Thus say: "Who is there? Who is subject. Whom did you see? Whom is object. — He is there. I saw him. It would be bad English to say: Who did you see, or I saw he. So it is bad Latin to say: Vulpes viderat persona." These examples of whom and him are especially fitted, as they show an ending similar to the Latin.

[ 18 ] American edition, pp. 147-149.

[ 19 ] On Teaching English, eh. 3, p. 27. (N. Y., Appleton, 1887.)

[ 20 ] In The Forum, September, 1901. Article: "The Ideal School as based on Child Study."

[ 21 ] These remarks are based on the writer's own experience. Of all his professors none ever called attention to a difficult passage, but the students had to do all by themselves at home. This was before the reform of 1890-1892. To judge from educational publications things have changed of late.

[ 22 ] Schiller, Handbuch der praktischen Pädagogik für höhere Lehranstallen, Leipzig, Reisland (3rd edition 1894), pp. 456 and 476.

[ 23 ] Ibid., pp. 42 and 152; see also Willmann, Didaktik Vol. II, p. 391.

[ 24 ] Lehrpläne and Lehraufgaben, pp. 24, 25, 32, 34.

[ 25 ] Reg. Scholasticorum 4.

[ 26 ] On this question we take some suggestions from an article in the Woodstock Letters, 1898, p.185 sq.

[ 27 ] Woodstock Letters, 1898, p. 186.

[ 28 ] Un college de Jésuites aux XVII et XVIII siècles. Le collège Henri Quatre de la Flèche, par le Père Camille de Rochemonteix. See vol. IV, pp. 165 and 388-403.

[ 29 ] Woodstock Letters, l.c., p. 190.

[ 30 ] See Neue Jahrbücher, 1898, vol. II, p. 82.

[ 31 ] Professor Plüss, in Neue Jahrbücher, 1901, vol. VII, page 74.

[ 32 ] Lutheran preacher, died at Naumburg, Germany, 1626, author of Antiquitates Romanae.

[ 33 ] Jesuit, died at Pont-à-Mousson, 1655.

[ 34 ] Jesuit, died at Paris 1684, wrote De Republica Romana ad explicandos Scriptores antiquos.

[ 35 ] Chossat, l.c., pp. 337-339.

[ 36 ] Compayré, Hist. of Ped., p. 144.

[ 37 ] Educ. Ref., p. 50.

[ 38 ] See the second rule of all the classes.

[ 39 ] Reg. 5.

[ 40 ] Reg. 5.

[ 41 ] Ratio Studiorum: Reg. com. 28, § 2.

[ 42 ] On Teaching English, ch. V, p. 48 foll.

[ 43 ] Ibid., ch. VI, page 85 foll.

[ 44 ] See Fitch, Lectures on Teaching.




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