The King's Highway Series embodies a graded system of elementary moral and religious training for the home and private school. It consists of eight books containing subject-matter relating to the virtues and vices peculiar to the age of children of the respective school grades. The method of training is the story method. Each book bears a particular title, as The Way of the Gate, The Way of the Green Pastures, The Way of the Hills, etc.
The scheme of virtues and vices was determined by means of a questionnaire circulated among the grade teachers of the public schools of ten cities, and by means of a careful study of the moral and religious unfolding of the child in the light of psychology.
The indirect or story method was adopted in preference to the more formal didactic method, because of the results of a questionnaire circulated among a thousand grade teachers, nearly 95 per cent of whom favored the indirect method. This almost unanimous verdict has the sanction, also, of child psychology. It has the advantage of securing the attention of the pupil, which is one of the essential conditions of successful instruction and, training, as well as the very important added advantage of teaching by example.
The formal, direct method in the moral and religious training of children should not be entirely ignored, and a modicum of precept has been introduced into the Series in the form of wise sayings of eminent writers, mottoes, and scriptural texts and selections.
The literature embodying the scheme was chosen with great care from the Old and New Testaments and from Christian and ethical literature. Much of the material has been rewritten. There are, also, a number of original contributions. The subject matter is graded according to vocabulary, interest, and moral and religious content. The biblical selections fully cover the essential Bible message. The Series contains not less than six hundred biblical stories and selections in the form of verses, proverbs, psalms, parables and scriptural classics, like the Ten Commandments, the Lord's Prayer, the Beatitudes and other portions of the Sermon on the Mount, the thirteenth chapter of I Corinthians and similar extracts from the Epistles, also the Life of Christ, the life of Paul and the life of Peter.
This volume contains the following biblical stories:
"The Story of Samuel," "The First Christmas Eve," "The First Christmas," "The Boy of the Carpenter's Shop," "The Lost Sheep," "Christ Blessing Little Children," "The Sermon on the Mount."
It also contains about fifty biblical verses following the stories and poems, giving the biblical sanction of the virtues contained in them, or the condemnation of the vices of which they treat.
Special attention has been given to the literary duality of the matter chosen and much of it has been illustrated by some of the finest examples in the field of art. The entire scheme has for its aim. the building up of the child and youth in Christian character.
A graded scheme of virtues peculiar to children in the period of life represented by each school grade is embodied in the selections of each book of the Series, and the biblical commands and sanctions given.
Each book contains more than enough material for at least one lesson in the home every week of the calendar year, and practically enough for two lessons a week in the private school for the academic year. In the home the lessons should be arranged to meet the convenience of both children and parents. Of course, in the school it will find its proper place in the curriculum. As the selections are of good literary quality, the teacher might use these books as literary readers in connection with courses in reading for the first six grades, and in the upper grades in connection with their courses in English. If there are specific courses in moral and religious instruction in the school, as there should be, these books will be found admirably adapted to meet the needs of such classes. Questions are appended to all of the chief selections, which not only bring out the salient features of each lesson, but the moral also. In bringing out the moral of the story, the parent and teacher should avoid exhortation. There is a tendency to exhort after reading a moral story to children. A little wise counsel tray be necessary and desirable, but this is provided for in the scriptural and other selections following each lesson. While it is important in questioning the pupil on the lesson to bring out the moral, it is well to allow the child, with the aid of these brief quotations, to do his own moralizing. He will do it, as a rule, with much more effectiveness than with the aid of parent or teacher.
It would be well to supplement the lesson of the reader with another story dealing with the same virtue. This story might be read by the pupil or related by the parent or teacher. A classified bibliography of such stories will be found in a book entitled "Moral Training in the Home and School" (The Macmillan Company. Stories corresponding to those contained in The King's Highway Series may be found in The Golden Rule Series, Sneath, Hodges, and Stevens (The Macmillan Company). This method has the merit of reenforcing the moral and religious lesson of the reader.
Provision is made for memory work in the scriptural and choice literary quotations appended to the chief selections. It would be well for the parent and teacher to require the pupil to memorize such passages. This is especially desirable, for they deal with the moral taught in the lesson. It also acquaints the pupil with some of the most important passages of scripture and with rare portions of literature.
The contents of The Way of the Gate are adapted to children of about six years of age. Naturally at this period of the child's development the personal, home, and school virtues with their corresponding moral and religious sanctions are specially emphasized rather than those belonging to the broader social life which comes later in the child's unfolding.
The following scheme of virtues and vices belonging peculiarly to boys and girls of this period is dealt with in this volume:
In conclusion, it may be added that neither this book nor the Series of which it is a member aims at teaching a Science of Ethics or a System of Theology. The years covered by the Series are not the time for teaching such Sciences, which call for a far greater maturity of mind. All that is aimed at is systematically to establish children and youth in habits of will and in right ideals and forms of conduct—in such character, conduct, and ideals as are genuinely Christian. In short, Christian Nurture is the aim of this Series.
We are indebted to Messrs. Houghton Mifflin Company for permission to use "Spring" by Celia Thaxter.