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only as an illustration, not as though it were the thing of which he is speaking, else the child will never transfer his conceptions from the globe to the earth. In the course of thirteen years' service upon a school committee we have never found a teacher who gave to the scholars a clear conception of the physical boundaries between the five zones, and but few who even attempted it. The differences of climate and the number of degrees of extent are taught, but the child does not know what appearances of the heavenly bodies decide the position of the tropics and polar circles. Nor do we find that scholars in general gain any clear conception of the actual direction of places. Their views, being derived from maps, are necessarily errroneous. From one of the Holbrook Co.'s globes a child can readily be made to see that a straight line from one point on the globe to another, would always go through a portion of the earth, so that to point directly towards any distant place he must always point more or less downward.
The following extract from the instructions of the school committe in Waltham to the teachers of the sub-primary schools will serve as an example of the mode of teaching geography: "Begin with the globe; set it where the sun may shine upon it; bring Waltham to the top, and make the north pole point to the north. Lay a marble on the top of the globe, and show them that the light and shadow on the marble and on the globe are similarly situated. Explain the roundness of the ear:h; that it is only a bigger globe, under the little globe, as that is under the marble; and that the light and shade fall on it as they do on the globe and marble, making night in the shadow, day in the sunshine. Give them vivid conceptions of the size of the earth, by showing them how small upon the globe would be the landscape visible from Prospect Hill; how near to the point which represents Waltham would be the point representing the distant Monadnoc. Show them in what countries the sun is then rising, and in what setting, and where it is vertical, by simple reference to the light and shadow on the globe; and, after an hour's attention to other studies or amusements, return to the globe, and show them how tae light has traveled round. Show them, according to the season of the year, whether the north or south pole remains in light or shadow all the day. Repeat this lesson at all seasons of the year, but especially do not forget it at the equinoxes and solstices. Explain how reflection from the globe diminishes the intensity of the shadow on the marble, and the reflection from the window-seat partially enlightens the under side of the globe, while there is no window seat under the earth to reflect light upon China and New Holland. Make the amount of reflection from the windowseat more apparent to them by covering it alternately with a black veil and a white handkerchief. In like manner, although the globe will, after sunset, be in the shadow of the earth, is no larger body below the earth to cast a shadow on our antipodes.
“ Take your children occasionally to walk; go on the hills; show them
how the presence of a brook or river can be foretold from the extent of the valley, the nature of the soil, and the kind of vegetations, whether forests or grass ; show them the roundness of the earth from the in. creasing dip of the horizon, as you ascend; make them perceive how beautiful the illusion by which we always exaggerate vertical heights, and under-estimate horizontal distances; call their attention to the differences in soils, and in the rocks, and point out the effects of soil and of location upon vegetation."
The earliest lessons in astronomy may be given at a very tender age. As by the globe in the sunshine the best illustration of day and night can be given, so the idea of the moon and her motions is best communicated by procuring a ball a little over one quarter the diameter of the globe, and holding it about one hundred and ten times its own diameter from the globe. If now the moon is visible when the sun is shining, let the pupil lay the side of his head upon the globe, while the teacher holds the ball at the proper distance, in such a position that, to the child, it shall appear to be just over the moon. The sunshine upon the ball will appear to him to be of the same size and shape as the visible part of the moon. The endeavor in astronomy, as in geography, should be to lead the child's mind away from the illustration to the thing illustrated. for this reason it will be with difficulty that the school-teacher can go in astronomy to any advantage beyond the relations of the sun, earth, and moon. In order to give clear conceptions concerning the planets, stars, and nebulæ, the teacher must meet the pupils in the evening, when those bodies are visible. But it is of so much importance that the child should have early a distinct conception of the relations of the solar systems that few teachers would be unwilling to perform this extra labor. Astronomy and geography are to be used as the most powerful of all studies to develop the imagination; that is, the ability to conceive clearly and distinctly unseen phenom
Chemical relations are more abstruse than mechanical. It requires some maturity of mind in order to distinguish chemical compounds from mechanical mixtures; and yet, at the age of nine or ten years, the simplest phenomena of chemical change begin to excite the child's curiosity; and it will be greatly to his advantage if that curiosity is gratified with correct explanations and sound 'principles, instead of being lulled by a plausible pretence of explanation. Oxidation, especially in the forms of combustion and rust, is the most prominent instance of chemical metamorphosis, and will afford to the skillful teacher the opportunity of giving, in what we have called an incidental way, many of the fundamental principles of chemical affinity, atomic proportion, atomic combinations, the stability or instability of chemical equilibrium, and so on. We acknowledge that this implies a large amount of intellectual life in the teacher; but one who is intrusted with the direction of these earliest movements of the expanding mind should be a person not only of some acquirements,
but of some intellectual vivacity. Nothing more surely characterises a skillful teacher than the ability to seize upon the right moment and the right occasion for illustrating the principles which he wishes to impart. One perpetual danger, it must not be forgotten, attends these essays to give the first instruction to a child-the danger of extinguishing its natural thirst for knowledge. This may be done by diverting the attention to other themes, by discouraging or disgusting the mind with difficulties, or by communicating knowledge in such a way as to puff the child with the conceit that he now understands the whole science of which you have given him some of the simplest rudiments. The art of giving instruction may be compared to that of letter-writing, of which it is humorously said that the great secret is to make the recipient “wish there was more of it."
Inasmuch as botany, while it depends in its physiology upon chemistry, classifies plants solely by xture and form, a knowledge of the common weeds and flowers, trees, mosses and lichens, of the neighborhood, may be given to a child as soon as it is old enough to distinguish them. In the tabular view there is an accidental error, making the incidental instruction in biology commence at a later period than we should advise. From the day that the child enters the sub-primary school we should have it receive oral instruction, illustrated by living plants, if possible, or by dried specimens, or even by drawings, in systematic botany. At first the child may simply be taught to recognize the plants as individuals ; so that he may be able to say, “This is a twig of sugar-maple, and this a sprig of white-birch; here is a bird-foot violet, and there a dandelion.” But the plants must be recognized out of doors, as well as in the house, that the child may early learn to notice and enjoy the differences of form and color in the general appearance of the growing tree or plant.
In the first volume of Agassiz' Contributions to the Natural History of the United States, he shows that of the six divisions of animals (branches, ciasses, orders, families, genera, and species), the family is characterized by a resemblance of general form. There is, doubtless a close analogy in the principles of classification that must be adopted in botany, to those which Agassiz develops for zoology. As a general rule, the plants which belong to one family are recognized by a general resemblance of form in the flower, fruit, and seed; while, to distinguish a genus, attention must be paid to detail; and, in the formation of a class, attention must be paid to organization. Hence the family, both in botany and zoology, is the most apparent of the higher groups in classification, and the best adapted, by its obvious dependance upon form, to be the starting point for a child's comparisons, It is not to be brought, as an exception to this remark, that some of the great families contain tribes bearing no obvious resemblance to each other, but rather should this analogy to zoology be taken as an evidence of the necessity of elevating some of the sub-families in botany to the rank of families.
The second step, therefore, in botanical instruction should be to add to the name of the plant the name of its family, and a perception of the family likeness; so that the child can say, “ This is a hazel; it belongs to the oak family, and shows its likeness to the oak in its catkins of staminate flowers, and in the involucre surrounding the nut; this is an alder, which belongs to the birch family, and shows its relation by having both its staminate and pistillate flowers in scaly catkins, having two or three blossoms under each scale.” Of course, the teacher must remember the caution which we uttered, in speaking of chemistry, and not allow the child to think that a few words, such as those here given, can embody all the points of resemblance which characterize a family. Much less should the child be permitted to learn any truth of this kind by rote. Verbal memory has an important place in a true scheme of education, as we shall endeavor to show in our next article. But the very object of introducing geometry, botany, and zoology, into our course of studies is defeated, when the pupil is required to commit the words of the text-book, or formulas given by the teacher, to memory. Yet, so accustomed are some teachers to this mode of instruction, so incapable, apparently, of conceiving of any better plan, that we have known a teacher require her pupils to repeat the words of Dr. Oray's “How Plants Grow;' evidently thinking that she was using, while she was abusing, that excellent little book.
The book just named may be taken up, as the third step in botanical study, at the age of ten or twelve years. If deferred to a later period the study becomes dis tasteful, as the habit of observation becomes weaker from the distraction of the mind by other cares. It is easy to give to the child, during the ten years between five and fifteen, a perfect familiarity with three or four hundred species of common plants, such as he meets in every walk. This labor spread over so long a series of years would be by no means onerous; and the names and facts impressed upon the mind in that tender period will never be forgotten. If it be objected that there is no text-book prepared for the use of children too young to use “How Plants Grow,” we reply that the plants themselves should be the textbook. The only artificial help in teaching botany to children in the subprimary school, which, we think, would prove really valuable, would be a series of thirty or forty charts, each containing the illustrations of some one important family,--magnified drawings of the peculiarities in the organs of fructification characterizing each family,—with perhaps a drawing of a few of the common species.
Zoology is not forced upon the child's attention so frequently as botany in the natural world. Yet, from the motion, and still more from the intelligence, of animals, they are even more interesting to the child than plants. Moreover, although physiology demands a knowledge of chemistry, yet the classification of animals, like that of plants, depends principally upon organic structure, and upon the relation of the creatures to the outward world. The child of five years old is, therefore interested to
notice the difference between animals, and to learn their names. country school-house, in the month of May or June, it may be that the songs of thirty or forty different species of birds are heard in the course of a single day. It would be no waste of time, but, on the contrary, a thing of inestimable value, should the teacher enable his pupils to distinguish these birds by their song, learn their appearance and habits, and the families into which they are grouped. The fear is sometimes expressed, by our poets, lest a scientific acquaintance with flowers should destroy their beauty; and lest the song of the bird might have less melody when the songster had had been burdened with a barbarous Latin name; but among our acquaintances we have not found these fears realized. On the contrary, a thorough scientific acquaintance with the beautiful objects of nature only increases the pleasure which we take in beholding them. The syntactical parsing and metrical analysis of an ode will not injure our appreciation of its melody and its sentiment, provided the composition has true lyric merit. The beautiful in nature will bear the closest criticism, and the longest investigation, without ever “palling upon the sense.” “Nature,” says the Concord seer, never became a toy to a wise spirit.” The wisdom and beauty, embodied in each organic work of nature, is "not only vast, but infinite," so that there is no possibility of exhaust
The insects in any given country are, at least, as numerous as its plants. The mysteries of insect transformation, the wonderful mechanical instincts that many of them display, the brilliancy of the colors of some, and the pertinacity with which others thrust themselves upon our notice, render insects peculiarly fitted to engage the childs attention, and to serve as a basis for incidental instruction in zoology. In this class of animals the orders are more conspicuously distinguished than the families; and it will, perhaps, be best to content one's self, at first, with teaching the child to refer insects to their orders. Insects are so easily preserved in their natural appearance, that we should suppose each school might have a small collection of the most common species to be seen in the neighborhood, grouped in their orders and families, to serve as a reference for any insect which the child might catch and bring in. We are aware of the vastness of the field of zoology, and of the impossibility of a child learning to regnize more than a very small proportion of the insects of his neighborhood. Yet, on account of this very magnitude, we would say, let his attention be early directed to this field; so that, if it should prove to be one in which he is peculiarly fitted to labor, he may have the advantage of an early beginning. We would also repeat the caution to be exact in the ideas which are given to tho pupil. The main object in these first scientific lessons must be to induce the spirit of exact, patient observation; calling the child's attention to differences as carefully as to likenesses, and to the fact that the likeness in one part does not necessarily imply a likeness in other parts. The foliage of two trees may be almost identi.