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THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
ATLANTA • SAN FRANCISCO
MACMILLAN & CO., LIMITED
THE MACMILLAN CO. OF CANADA, LTD.
HENRY SEIDEL CANBY
SHEFFIELD SCIENTIFIC SCHOOL, YALE UNIVERSITY
JOHN BAKER OPDYCKE
HIGH SCHOOL OF COMMERCE, NEW YORK CITY
All rights reseroed
PREFACE FOR THE TEACHER
THE TEACHING OF COMPOSITION
ALTHOUGH Shakespeare's Prospero (one of the earliest teachers of composition) failed utterly in other branches of instruction, he was most successful in teaching Caliban expressiveness, as is proved by the exquisite passage in which the monster speaks of "sounds and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not.” And it is Prospero who best sums up the accomplishment of the successful teacher of composition, when he says to his unpromising student: “I endow'd thy purposes with words that made them known.” This, indeed, is the aim of the teacher of composition to endow the purposes with words that make them known.
Loud controversies have raged as to whether this is possible; as to whether composition can be taught. The rest may reason and welcome; the teacher of composition knows. He knows that literature and the makers of literature cannot be manufactured in the classroom. He knows that the power to write or speak simply and clearly (and his province extends no further) cannot be taught by the mere memorizing of rules. But the experience of the least successful is sufficient to prove that the ordering of thought for expression can be taught; that the technique of writing, like any other technique, can be taught; and that not to teach composition would be to lay aside one of the best weapons in the fight for better education.
It is much more profitable to discuss how composition can be taught most successfully; and in that controversy he who