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Vol. III. No. 1.)
LOUIS AGASSIZ, EDITOR OF THIS NUMBER.
IMPORTANCE OF THE STUDY OF NATURAL HISTORY
AS A BRANCH OF ELEMENTARY EDUCATION.
It is a strange feature in the education of mankind, which we may trace back to all ages of our history, that the study of Nature has never been made an essential part in the early education of children. The cause of this neglect appears the more surprising when we reflect that man lives in Nature, everywhere surrounded by so many interesting phenomena, which should at all times call his attention. However, the difficulty of understanding the complicated appearances and the extraordinary diversity of things which present themselves naturally to our attention, have, no doubt, been the chief causes of this neglect, and perhaps also the circumstance, that constantly surrounded by these phenomena, they become familiar to us, and lose, in a measure, their attraction before we have been led into an investigation of them; and those who afterward were led to devote their attention to this study, finding it as intricate as it is attractive, must have considered the study of Nature beyond the reach of early years.
Again, there are in human nature so many calls for a more direct education of the faculties with which man is endowed, that the attention of parents is early and constantly called to this object, rather than to a development in other directions. The necessity of teaching the children to speak, and to speak correctly, leads early rather to the use of books as records of the thoughts, expressed in the form of speech, than to the study of natural phenomena. There are, however, sufficient reasons why the study of Nature should not be neglected, and indeed enough why in the present state of knowledge, the study of Natural science may be made the real foundation of all education. It