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ARCHBISHOP. WHATELY, in his Rhetoric, makes the following observations on the Art of Reading: "Impress but the mind fully with the statements and sentiments to be uttered; withdraw the attention from the sound, and fix it on the sense; and nature, or habit, will spontaneously suggest the proper delivery.
The Reader's attention being fixed on his own voice, the inevitable consequence would be, that he would betray more or less his studied and artificial delivery; and would, in the same degree, manifest an offensive affectation.
The practical rule, then, to be adopted, is, not only to pay no studied attention to the voice, but studiously to withdraw the thoughts from it, and to dwell as intently as possible on the sense, trusting to nature to suggest spontaneously the proper emphasis and tones.
“He who not only understands fully what he is reading, but is earnestly occupying his mind with the matter of it, will be likely to read as if he understood it, and thus to make others understand.
" To impart to the delivery of printed statements something of the vivacity and interesting effect of real, earnest speaking, the plan to be pursued, conformably with the principles I have been maintaining, is, for the reader to draw off his mind as much as possible from the thought that he is reading, as well as from all thoughts respecting his own utterance; to fix his mind as earnestly as possible on the matter, and to strive to adopt as his own, and as his own at the moment of utterance, every sentiment he delivers; and to say it to the audience in the manner which the occasion and subject spon
taneously suggest to him who has abstracted his mind both from all consideration of himself, and from the consideration that he is reading."
Thus far Dr. Whately.
(1) The problem involved in Reading aloud, is to put every listener, so far as his ears are concerned, in the same advantageous position as the reader, so far as his eyes are concerned. The reader glances rapidly at each sentence; and, by the help of the small type, the capitals, the stops, and his knowledge of grammar, at once comes at the meaning of that sentence. The listener, on the other hand, bas none of these advantages; he has to trust to an organ of sense
-the ear-which is very much slower and less accurate than that quickest and most unerring of all our senses—the eye. The reader has to convey to the listener, by means of sound, what he himself takes into his mind by means of clear black marks upon white paper. It is evident, then, that the voice must do all for the listener that the eye does for the reader. The voice must therefore have a clear articulation; a certain flexibility, or power of modulation; and a power of pausing where a pause is necessary. Speaking roughly, there is a certain correspondence between the two powers of
and voice. Clear articulation corresponds to clear type; and modulation and pause to the punctuation. But this carries us only a very little way.
(2) The question: What are the best means of solving the problem of Reading ? is not so easy to answer.
The primary condition is, evidently, perfect understanding on the part of the reader of what he is going to read. The second condition is clear and distant articulation. The third is the right raising and lowering, or modulation, of the voice to express the feelings of the writer. And the fourth condition is the proper employment of pauses, to indicate the weight or value of words or clauses—to separate the emphatic from the unemphatic parts of a sentence.
These conditions depend on three powers in the reader-one physical, another mental, and the third emotional. Articulation depends upon the flexibility and power of the physical organs' of speech; the use of pauses at the right time depends on the understanding; and the modulation of a sentence depends on the feelings or emotional powers of the reader.
The teacher has, therefore, a threefold task before him :
1. To train the articulating powers, and to produce habits of clear and distinct articulation;
2. To train his pupils, first, to take in, and secondly, to give out, the full meaning of each sentence; and,
3. To train his pupils to feel the beauty, or strength, or appropriate, ness, of a sentence or paragraph; and to convey that beauty to those who are listening
These three correspond broadly to Speech, Mind, and Soul.
The earlier the teacher begins this task, the easier it will prove to be, and the more thoroughly will it be done. From the very first, a child ought not to be allowed to read as if he were merely reading off the words; he should try to read and be trained to read as he would speak, if he were fully possessed by the sense and by the feeling of the
passage he is reading. This of course pre-supposes the condition that the matter he is reading should be, not only intelligible to him, but such as he can sympathize with. It will be found, I think, that most of the passages given in this little book are quite intelligi, ble to most children of nine or ten years of age.