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The amount of capital now invested in the publication of works on this subject, is enormous. Within a few months nearly half a dozen "new series," and as many non-serial works have appeared, and the cry is, still they come !
This avalanche of new works-as one has expressed it-evinces a great dissatisfaction with the results attained by their predecessors. From some defect, either in matter or method, the great amount of time spent in the study of Geography has proved on the whole too poor an investment.
Nor do I think the difficulty has yet been wholly removed. In many important particulars, some of the recent works are great improvements on the old; yet they alike partake of the nature of dictionaries or limited cyclopedias. This we believe to be the radical defect. In no elementary work, with which we are acquainted, is Geography treated as a science. On the contrary, their classification is meagre, their principles undeveloped, and in some instances, their facts almost infinite!
The lower works of some of the more recent series contain, it is true, very much less matter than similar works previously published, but with no more claim to scientific arrangement. The High School Geographies, as they are termed, are still burdened with a multiplicity of facts. Nowhere in the seriesPhysical Geographies excepted-are the climate, productions, &c., of different countries presented in the light of fixed principles. Nearly two hundred political divisions or states, are treated as isolated and independent. The scholar passes from one state or country to another, committing-only to forget at close of recitation hour-the same endlessly varied repetition of “the soil is generally fertile "_"the principal products are wheat, corn, oats and barley,” or “rye, oats, wheat and barley.”
The above remarks refer more specially to the descriptive than local matter of these works, for upon this point rests the difficulty. The great defect in the old works was in descriptive matter. Scholars examined a few weeks after laying aside the study, were found to possess only general and often indistinct notions, which they had gathered from the theory of zones, &c. Beyond this their knowledge extended only to local Geography, or a knowledge of maps; and this too as a result of “going through the book half a dozen times.”
The question naturally arises, if, as a matter of fact, scholars retain little of the descriptive matter of our Geographies, should much time be spent upon it?
Our position is, that a knowledge of Maps, and a familiar acquaintance with the names and location of important places, should be the first and principal object of primary training. Ideal Maps with prominent features in bold relief should hang upon the walls of the scholar's mind. Such knowledge forms a basis for the successful study or descriptive Geography and for intelligent reading. In a country, the keels of whose ships part every navigable water, and whose trade is enriched with the products of every clime, the practical nature of such knowledge cannot be questioned. The intelligent reading of the daily paper even depends upon it. It is indispensable and the schools must furnish it.
Of course some knowledge of descriptive Geography should be thrown in, to tix and interest the mind. Indeed we do not object to the descriptive matter of our introductory books. This matter should doubtless be read and used by the scholar. We only object to the committing of page on page of this descriptive text. Some portions of the descriptive matter of the primary book should doubtless be recited.
When, however, the scholar is prepared to enter upon the great field of descriptive Geography, we contend the work should be a scientific one. He should be taught the laws of climate, the distribution of animals and plants, climatal zones, the continental systems of relief, &c. The scholar will thus be prepared to describe particular artificial divisions of the earth's surface in the light of scien. tific principles. Geography thus taught, becomes a noble science, and one of the most interesting and important of the sisterhood.
E. E. WHITE. PORTSMOUTH, MARCH, 1857.
No. 1. Find the difference between 1 fúr. 2 inch., and 39 rds. 5 yds. 1 ft. 9 inch., by Compound Subtraction.
A. A. K.
No. 2. FOR MENTAL SOLUTION.—A and B purchase a melon, paying 5 and 3 cents, respectively. C joins them in eating it, and pays 8 cents for his share. On the supposition that each eats a third of the melon, how shall the 8 cents be divided between d and B?
No. 3. What is the length of the longest straight, inflexible rod, that can be put up a chimney, whose height from floor to mantel = 4 feet, and whose depth from front to back = 2 feet ?
E. M. S.
REMARKS.—No. 1 is not inserted as a difficult problem, but as presenting some obstacles in subtracting not usually found in our arithmetics. All communications for this department should be addressed to the Editor, “Ohio University, Athens, O.,” and, to be in time, should be mailed by the 1st of the month preceding that in which they are expected to appear.
Errata.—At the foot of the first page of Mathematical Department, last Journal, the word "apply" should read supply; and on the next page, “teaching a chain of sequences,” should read tracing a chain, etc.
A nation's sorrow has been manifested by all the visible testimonials honorable to the distinguished dead. The Arctic Explorer, and scarcely less distinguished historian of his Expedition, Dr. Kane, is no more!
The funeral cortege, accompanying his mortal remains, from the balmy shores of Cuba, where declining health terminated in death, has just passed through the cities and towns of various States on the route from New Orleans, by Cincinnati to Philadelphia, where his ashes are urned, and was attended and escorted by the populace and civic authorities at all points, in great numbers, marking in a noted manner, the heartfelt homage paid by all classes to the moral hero.
Deeming that Teachers may desire to hold up this worthy exemplar of many noble virtues, to their pupils, we have availed ourselves of the proffer of the directors of the Cincinnati Gazette, who have afforded us the opportunity of presenting to the readers of the Journal, a likeness of Dr. Kane, engraved by Mr. Cocheu, Wood Engraver, Cincinnati.
Dr. Kane was born in Philadelphia, on the 3d of February, 1822, and died in Havana.
The history of the recent Arctic Expedition, which he commanded, is well known to every American. Tributes to his memory are coming from every city and hamlet in the land. The death of no man in the present century has been so deeply, so universally mourned. “ His career was a matter of national pride, and his death is a matter of national lamentation. His was a character singu. larly grand in its separate elements, and matchlessly beautiful in the harmony of their combinations. The powers of a naturally keen and comprehensive mind had been strengthened by earnest culture, and developed in the widest range of practical and scientific attainments—and these in all their fullness consecrated to the loftiest aims of beneficent usefulness.
"His intellect was at once strong and beautiful-keenly analytical with the severest philosophy--and exquisitely imaginative with the loftiest poetry. The combinations of his moral character were still more remarkable and wonderful. To the truest and tenderest sensibility were added the most iron will and the most indomitable decision ; and with a dauntless bravery that equaled the glorious chivalry of the old ideal and fabulous heroism, was blended a calm, practical judgment-a marvelous and majestic patience-a beautiful simplicity and mod. esty; all rarely equaled in human biography. Meanwhile, suffusing all that character as with a heavenly light, and blending all its rare qualities as with a Divine solvent into one exquisite amalgam-there was a living and controlling purity which made the whole man a living sacrifice to his fellows, and laid down all the spoils and trophies of his triumphs at his Master's feet. Qualities seldom combined, and indeed seemingly antagonistical, were found in his heart and life, each in fullest power, and all in loveliest harmony. He thought like a philoso. pher-he wrote like a poet-he acted like a hero-he felt like a child-he lived like a man-he prayed like a Christian.”
- The practice in Ohject Lessons, in primary grades, should not be confined to the school room. History and Geography should begin at home. If we want a boy to know some day the families of the Herods and the Cæsars, let him start by learning who were his grandfather, aunts, uncles, cousins, &c. So of places and current events. The things that touch us nearest should interest us most. Geography should begin from the school walls. Which side of the room does the sun rise on? Does Main St. extend east or north? Topography should precede Geography.
In attendance recently at a semi-monthly meeting of the Principals of the Cincinnati Public Schools we were pleased with the evidences that the simplest means were to be taken in each of their schools to develop the natural powers of the minds of their pupils, not to cram them with lessons learned by rote.
The Teachers of the several schools agreed that the exercise for the next two weeks shall be on objects, a knowledge of which is obtained by the sense of seeing. Pupils to give the names, spelling the words, also classifying, as to parts, colors, etc. Teachers writing legibly on the blackboard the various names to be copied by pupils on their slates.
Moral instruction is systematically given. A narrative is read, say from Cowdery's Lesson, and commented on. The last theme was, “Think, speak and act the truth.” The next subject for illustration is, “Do good to all as you have the opportunity."