Elia Peattie, an Uncommon Woman


Omaha World-Herald | Short Stories of the West | Ghost Stories | Short Novels | Children's Stories | Miscellaneous


The children of the village of Laurel, Neb., have a little society which they call "the Telling Club. Their plan is very simple and charming. They meet with their teacher and, under her control and guidance, each child tells something that has recently come to his or her knowledge. He comments also upon the applicability of the knowledge expressed in his statement. When he has finished, questions are asked him, discussion is indulged in and any additional knowledge which anyone may have upon the subject is supplied. The teacher is president and director, but only enough formality is observed to insure order. No check is put upon the spontaneity of the children. On the contrary, they are encouraged to be as natural and spirited as possible. They are not permitted, however, to be slovenly or diffuse, but are asked to prepare for the club by selecting some subjects which come under their observation and in studying how to present clearly and briefly their thoughts upon these questions.

Another feature of the club is the reading by the teacher from some books suited to the understanding of the children, the desire being especially to arouse enough interest in the children's minds to impel them to read the whole of these books by themselves. Yet another plan is to secure personal communications from men and women of success in any commendable direction.

Mr. P. F. Pannabaker, the principal of the Laurel school, in commenting upon these personal letters from successful men and women says: "I scarcely need mention the power of such communications to catch and hold the attention of the young. Many of the persons from whom we expcect to obtain letters have attained success in their respective walks which gives them prestige—often endearment with the youthful minds as with maturer heads."

It is expected not only that these letters will contain suggestions intended to direct the children in their work, but also the delineation of such qualities and practices as the writers have themselves found helpful for the promotion of their own happiness and the happiness of others. In short the whole plan is to broaden the scope of the children and by decorating their minds beautify their conversation. Since there is no greater drawback to American society than the inability to converse elegantly and naturally, it must be felt that the Laurel Telling club aims to remedy a defect. It might, of course, turn the children into prigs with an over punctiliousness on points of grammar and stilted and set form of expression, but one hopes for better things. If in the teacher the spirit is stronger than the letter regarding things intellectual and literary, the result may be best that could be imagined. Great men and great women are shaped in humble and conscientious ways like this.

Omaha World-Herald, 17 March 1896, 8

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