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قراءة كتاب A Brief Account of the Educational Publishing Business in the United States

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A Brief Account of the Educational Publishing Business in the United States

A Brief Account of the Educational Publishing Business in the United States

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
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cannot be made to believe that a textbook of this day and generation is very much, if any, better than the textbook of a century or even a half century ago. To their minds one book is practically as good as another, no matter whether modern or old. This, of course, is like saying that the ugly chromos that adorned (?) the walls of the parlors of country and many city homes fifty years ago were as useful and beautiful as works of art as the artistic, oils, etchings, and water-colors that one may now see commonly in the city and country homes of cultured people.

The New York Sun said editorially, May 16, 1915, “Advance in the United States in its schools and improvement in the textbooks have been as great as in any other phase of American life.” The New England Journal of June 24, 1909, said substantially the same thing in slightly different language, but in addition this: “The modern sewer system is no greater improvement over that of 1840 than the examples and problems contained in modern arithmetics over those printed as of that date.”

In what respects does the modern schoolbook differ markedly from its forebears of the eighteenth and the first half of the nineteenth centuries? A careful examination and inspection of the new in comparison with the old convinces one that the new differs radically from the old in (1) content, including both text matter and illustrations; (2) typography and printing; (3) binding; (4) maps; (5) size; and altogether in its much greater attractiveness as an educational instrument.

Allow me to take a snapshot or two at some of the peculiar text matter printed in the American schoolbooks of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, in order that I may more clearly emphasize the contrast between the new and the old. I pass over the text of The New England Primer with its

In Adam’s fall
We sinned all.
Zaccheus he
Did climb a tree,
Our Lord to see.

and

A dog will bite
A thief at night,

reminding you only that the bulk of the book was composed of extracts from the Bible, of hymns, and of moral teachings; that the backbone of this book—misnamed a primer, for it was not a primer at all as we now understand the term—was the Westminster Assembly’s Shorter Catechism, which Cotton Mather called “a little watering-pot to shed good lessons”; and lastly, that this primer was the only reader that children had until they were able to read the Bible. As dreadful as many of the doctrines taught in the Westminster Assembly’s Shorter Catechism were, Cotton Mather urged writing masters to set sentences from it to be copied by their pupils.

Comparing itself with this earliest American schoolbook, the modern primer might, in the language of Chaucer, say without being guilty of immodesty:

“O little booke, thou art so onconning,
How darst thou put thyself in prees for drede?”

George Fox, founder of the Society of Friends, published in 1674 a Primer in England. This was republished in Philadelphia in 1701, in Boston in 1743, and in Newport in 1769. The book was not much used except by Friends.

The text matter of Jonathan Fisher’s A Youth’s Primer, printed in 1817, followed closely the text of The New England Primer. It contained a series of short

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