Page:The Cambridge History of American Literature, v3.djvu/436

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the men of this period. None of these writers, however, enter seriously enough into their earlier experiences to make the accounts of any value except that of personal testimony as to existing conditions. The best of these are from Edward Everett, Samuel G. Goodrich, and Noah Webster. Similar to these, though much fuller and of no great literary merit, was The District School As It Was by the Rev. Warren Burton, depicting conditions at the opening of the century.

No phase of informal education is more important than the moulding of the character of children by their choice of interests and activities out of school, particularly as determined through their reading. In another chapter[1] of this history will be found an account of American books for children; here it is sufficient to note the steady trend away from moralizing and religious disquisition to wholesome amusement and secular instruction.

The last three or four decades have witnessed a marked change in the character of the literature relating to education. As in other phases of thought and action, the dominating influence has been that of science. Educational literature characteristic of the period is scientific, either psychological, experimental, or statistical; consequently it has become far more technical.

Old types continue, perhaps still dominating in mere quantity; but they are no longer characteristic. School publications of advice and device yet flourish, but the scientific educational journal now receives the support of a definite and daily enlarging clientèle. Official reports multiply with an annual certainty which sets at naught any Malthusian law in the world of books. But accurate statistical method is making an impression on the content, providing these forbidding tomes with an enhanced value; while the school survey has furnished an entirely new type. Works on pedagogy, addressed to the profession, have become so numerous as to preclude even comparison with those of the preceding period; yet the nascent sciences of psychology and sociology have given to many of these a substantial character which justifies a large allotment of space in libraries and bibliographies.

While there has been much of note along scientific and philosophical lines, literature as an art has paid little heed to

  1. See Book III, Chap. VII.