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has been the author's main incitement in the preparation of this rudimentary work.
It is needful here to state that the method of instruction developed in these pages is no mere educational novelty; it has been tested, and its fitness for the end proposed has been shown in practice. The schedule feature which is here fully brought out, and which is its leading peculiarity as a mode of study, was devised and successfully used by Prof. J. S. Henslow, of Cambridge, England. My attention was first drawn to it as I was looking about in the educational department of the South Kensington Museum, in London. In a show-case of botanical specimens, I noticed some slates covered with childish handwriting, which proved to be illustrations of a method of teaching Botany to the young. They were furnished by Prof. Henslow for the International Exhibition of 1851. He died without publishing his method, but not without having subjected it to thorough practical trial. He had gathered together a class of poor country children, in the parish where he officiated as clergyman, and taught them Botany by a plan similar to the present, though less simplified. The results of this experiment have been given to the public by Dr. J. D. Hooker, Superintendent of the Botanical Gardens at Kew, who was summoned to give evidence upon the subject before a Parliamentary Commission on Education.
The following interesting passages from his testimony will give an idea of Prof. Henslow's method of proceeding and its results:
Question. Have you ever turned your attention at all to the possibility of teaching Botany to boys in classes at school?
Answer. I have thought that it might be done very easily; that this deficiency might be easily remedied.
Q. What are your ideas on the subject?
A. My own ideas are chiefly drawn from the experience of my father-in-law, the late Prof. Henslow, Professor of Botany at Cambridge. He introduced Botany into one of the lowest possible class of schools—that of village laborers' children in a remote part of Suffolk.
Q. Perhaps you will have the goodness to tell us the system he pursued?
A. It was an entirely voluntary system. He offered to enroll the school children in a class to be taught Botany once a week. The number of children in the class was limited, I think, to forty-two. As his parish contained only one thousand inhabitants, there never were, I suppose, the full forty-two children in the class; their ages varied from about eight years old to about fourteen or fifteen. The class mostly consisted of girls. « . . He required that, before they were enrolled in the class, they should be able to spell a few elementary botanical terms, including some of the most difficult to spell, and those that were the most essential to begin with. Those who brought proof that they could do this were put into the third class; then they were taught once a week, by himself generally, for an hour or an hour and a half, sometimes for two hours (for they were exceedingly fond of it).
Q. Did he use to take them out in the country, or was it simply lessons in the school?
A He left them to collect for themselves; but he visited his parish daily, when the children used to come up to him, and bring the plants they had collected; so that the lessons went on all the week round. There was only one day in the week on which definite instruction was given to the class; hut on Sunday afternoon he used to allow the senior class, and those who got marks at the examinations, to attend at his house. . . .
Q. Did he find any difficulty in teaching this subject in class?
A. None whatever; less than he would have had in dealing with almost any other subject.
Q. Do you know in what way he taught it? did he illustrate it?
A. Invariably; he made it practical. He made it an objective study. The children were taught to know the plants, and to pull them to pieces; to give their proper names to the parts; to indicate the relations of the parts to one another; and to find out the relation of one plant to another by the knowledge thus obtained.
Q. They were children, you say, generally from eight to twelve?
A. Tes, and up to fourteen.
Q. And they learned it readily?
A. Keadily and voluntarily, entirely.
Q. And were interested in it?
A. Extremely interested in it. They were exceedingly fond of it.
Q. Do you happen to know whether Prof. Henslow thought that the study of Botany developed the faculties of the mind —that it taught these children to think? and do you know whether he perceived any improvement in their mental faculties from that?
A. Yes; he used to think it was the most important agent that could be employed for cultivating their faculties of observation, and for strengthening their reasoning powers.
Q. He really thought that he had arrived at a practical result!
A. Undoubtedly; and so did every one who visited the school or the parish?
Q. They were children of quite the lower class?
A. The laboring agricultural class.
Q. And in other branches receiving the most elementary instruction?
Q. And Prof. Henslow thought that their minds were more developed; that they were become more reasoning beings, from having this study superadded to the others?
A. Most decidedly. It was also the opinion of some of the inspectors of schools, who came to visit him, that such children were in general more intelligent than those of other parishes; and they attribute the difference to their observant and reasoning faculties being thus developed. . . .
Q. So that the intellectual success of this objective study was beyond question?
A. Beyond question. ... In conducting the examinations of medical men for the army, which I have now conducted for several years, and those for the East-India Company's Service, which I have conducted for, I think, seven years, the questions which I am in the habit of putting, and which are not answered by the majority of the candidates, are what would have been answered by the children in Prof. Henslow's villageschool. I believe the chief reason to be, that these students' observing faculties, as children, had never been trained—such faculties having lain dormant with those who naturally possessed them in a high degree; and having never been developed, by training, in those who possessed them in a low degree. In most medical schools, the whole sum and substance of botanical science is crammed into a few weeks of lectures, and the men leave the class without having acquired an accurate knowledge of the merest elements of the science. . . .
The printed form or schedule contrived by Prof. Henslow, and used in these classes, applied only to the flower, the most complex part of the plant, and the attention of children was directed by it chiefly to those features upon which orders depend in classification. But, instead of confining its use to the study of a special part of plant-structure, it seemed to me to apply equally to the whole course of descriptive Botany, and to be capable of becoming a most efficient instrument of regular observational training. I accordingly prepared a simplified series of exercises on this plan, and used them to guide some little children in studying the plants of the neighborhood; and, had this experiment not been regarded, by those who witnessed it, as a success, the book embodying these exercises would not now appear.
The successful experience here referred to, which led to the publication of this book, has now been decisively confirmed by the public after a year's trial with it. It has had an extensive sale, has been introduced into many schools of all grades, has been much used by private students, and has been approved with a unanimity and earnestness quite unprecedented in the history of school-books based upon new methods of teaching.
A new edition now appears, with several additional chapters treating of the seed, germination, buds, the aspects of woody plants, etc. The descriptions will here be more full and general, but the plan of describing only the results of actual observations is still adhered to. Questions are asked, but no answers are