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Muir (Our National Parks), and Peabody (Mornings in the College Chapel). I wish to express my sense of appreciation and indebtedness to Dr. S. S. Curry, but for whose sound, keen, and stimulative instruction in my tentative years this book might not have been written; to Dr. Ellwood P. Cubberley for careful reading of the manuscript and assistance in preparing it for publication; to Dr. William Herbert Carruth for criticism of the text and help in reading the proof; and to Miss Elizabeth Lee Buckingham for many practical suggestions and for that encouragement which springs from unfailing faith in the value of the work.
LEE EMERSON BASSETT
STANFORD UNIVERSITY, CALIFORNIA
September 1, 1916
A HANDBOOK OF ORAL READING
In setting forth a book such as this it would hardly be deemed necessary to insist at the outset on reading aloud as an essential factor in education. The steadily increasing number of well-attended courses in oral composition and public speaking offered in secondary schools and colleges, and the recent lively interest in oral composition manifested by teachers of English throughout the country, give evidence of the recognition of the cultural value and practical usefulness of oral training. Special emphasis has been placed on oral composition, public speaking, and similar courses, in which the student is given opportunity for practice in expressing his own ideas in his own words. Indeed, so much attention has been given to this particular phase of oral expression that, at the present time, reading aloud holds a place of relatively minor importance.
The author does not wish to be understood as questioning the value of training in oral composition, public speaking, and the like
he does not; but to him there seems to be grave danger that these courses which, from their very nature, appear to afford most direct and immediate practical results, shall be permitted to claim our entire attention to the exclusion of a study, the practical benefits of which are perhaps less apparent but none the less real. Every student should have instruction and practice in standing before others and speaking what he knows and thinks about a subject. It is an eminently sensible, useful, and stimulating procedure. But with all its advantages, it cannot be considered the “ be-all and the end-all ” of oral ex. pression. As a special kind of mental and vocal training it merits a large place, no doubt, but that portion of the student's time which may be claimed for the study of oral expresșion cannot be devoted exclusively to this phase of the subject without serious loss.
Oral composition, — or formal conversation, as it may be called, - public speaking, and similar courses, as taught in the classroom, offer but a limited field of oral expression. Classroom conversations, narratives, discussions, and debates — whatever form the speaking exercise may take are confined principally to a statement of conditions, events, facts, and opinions addressed chiefly to the understanding, and seldom to the imagination or emotions. Even the spontaneity and spirit of everyday conversation, with its play of thought, fancy, and feeling, are seldom in evidence in a marked degree. True, spirit and freedom are urged and encouraged by the zealous teacher, but the average student finds it hard to forget the restraint of the subject and the occasion, and the conditions are not conducive to the exercise of the freedom of informal conversation. If he succeeds in saying what he has to say so that his classmates shall understand and follow him with a reasonable degree of ease and interest, he has accomplished about all that is expected of him. The effort has helped to clarify his thought and he has gained somewhat in skill in communi. cating his ideas to others. But the exercise has brought no great degree of training in vocal expression. No very serious demands are made on the voice in merely given out information, or uttering facts, narrating incidents, or stating beliefs, unless, as sometimes happens in public address, the speaker becomes aroused and throws all his powers
of mind, imagination, and emotion into his utterances. Then the resources of voice are brought to the test. But the