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of LITERATURE

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The idea is prevalent that the best way to improve the written English of students is to compel them to write constantly and on all sorts of subjects. This is a fallacy. The inventor of the daily theme did an almost incalculable amount of damage when he started a movement that rapidly spread over the United States. The one best way in which to teach students to write good English is to teach them to read good English. The waste of time through excessive devotion to English composition is not likely to be patiently borne much longer. The daily writing is obnoxious to the student, and the inspection and correction of their work is drudgery for the teacher uncompensated by any adequate result. That those who write daily themes and whose written work is carefully corrected, make technical improvements in their written style goes without saying, but the fact remains that the method is a wasteful and inefficient one and that the path to good writing leads through good reading. Nicholas Murray Butler-Education After the War

(November 1918)

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