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Quintillian on syllables and learning letters


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30. As regards syllables, no short cut is possible: they must all be learnt, and there is no good in putting off learning the most difficult; this is the general practice, but the sole result is bad spelling. Further we must beware of placing blind confidence in a child's memory. It is better to repeat syllables and impress them on the memory and, when he is reading, not to press him to read continuously or with greater speed, unless indeed the clear and obvious sequence of letters can suggest itself without its being necessary for the child to stop to think.


p. 53 http://www.scribd.com/doc/36252247/Institutio-Oratoria-I-III'>http://www.scribd.com/doc/36252247/Institutio-Oratoria-I-III'>http://www.scribd.com/doc/36252247/Institutio-Oratoria-I-III'>http://www.scribd.com/doc/36252247/Institutio-Oratoria-I-III


At any rate I am not satisfied with the course (which I note is usually adopted) of teaching small children the names and order of the letters before their shapes. 25. This method hinders their recognition of them, as, while they follow their memory that takes the lead, they do not fix their attention on the forms of the letters. This is the reason why teachers, even when they appear to have fixed them sufficiently in the minds of children, in the straight order in which they are usually first written, make them go over them again the contrary way, and confuse them by variously changing the arrangement, until their pupils know them by their shape, not by their place. It will be best for children therefore, to be taught the appearances and names of the letters at once, as they are taught those of men. 26. But that which is hurtful with regard to letters, will be no impediment with regard to syllables. I do not disapprove, however, the practice, which is well known, of giving children, for the sake of stimulating them to learn, ivory figures of letters to play with, or whatever else can be invented, in which that infantine age may take delight, and which may be pleasing to handle, look at, or name.



p. 51 http://www.scribd.com/doc/36252247/Institutio-Oratoria-I-III

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