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The learner must understand something of the language of the subject, of the teacher or of the book, if he would be benefited by either. This actual study of nature is necessary to an understanding of the language of nature, of the language of those who write or talk about nature. The writer says " that 10% of the geographical knowledge possessed by the average man is gained by description, not by observation." It is said that a child learns more during its first year, than it learns afterward. This may be an over-statement, but doubtless a child does learn more during the first five or six years of its life, before it can learn from books, than it does afterward—at least it does learn a great multitude of things.
It has gained ideas of geometrical forms, mathematical processes, ideas of direction, of time, of night and day, of the properties of matter, of the forces of attraction and heat, of solids, liquids and gases, of winds and clouds and rain and snow, of the seasons, of soils, and plants and animals and of their relation to each other-every sense has been actively gathering ideas, and there has been much of comparison, analyzing, judging, classifying and generalizing going on along with this inflow of ideas. At the age of five years the child 'as the data for all the fundamental ideas of geography; the mind is stored with those ideas which enable it to understand the language of the book or of the teacher. When we realize how much the child learns before it can learn from books, and how much it learns without books after it is old enough to learn from books, the writer's assertion seems a little too strong, to say the least.
The writer says “that the activity of the mind in sense perception is the lowest of all its activities." True, if he means that the products of this activity are the foundation of the whole superstructure of education and culture, but not true if he means that this activity is lowest in any other sense.
Noah Porter says “that sense perception is the essential condition and attendant of man's higher knowledge and beliefs, it excites passions which take the strongest hold on man's nature, and sense perceptions are present in his loftiest speculations and most refined reasonings."
“The highest type of thinking deals with types or generals.' True, but “types or generals” have grown up from the observation and correlation of particulars. The ordinary student of geography must spend most of his time gathering particulars, from which to form his types or generals. He may, parrot like, learn the statement of a type or general, but he must verify it by facts or he will not recognize it when he meets it face to face.
“Objects of sense as materials of thought are heavy to handle, and the mental processes performed on such materials are necessarily hindered, nor do they result in that degree of discipline which the study of the same objects by means of books would bring.” What a wonderful discovery? Agassiz and Tyndall studied the glacier, its work and its remains, gathered up all the ideas they could through their senses, compared, classified and arranged these ideas, formed their conclusions, and wrote out the facts and their generalizations in books. These objects of sense were heavy for these men to handle, their mental processes were hindered, were slow and feeble, and the discipline gained was of a low order. But put their books into the hands of a teacher who knows nothing about the subject from actual observation, and into the hands of a class equally ignorant, and they create for themselves objects of thought, which are light to handle, and dealing with these objects their mental processes are stimulated, not hindered, are active and vigorous, and the discipline gained is higher and much superior to that gained by the authors of the books. Poor Agassiz-poor Tyndall-how sad that there were no books for them to study, Perhaps the reputations they achieved, were gained from studying their own books. The writer's assertion seems absurd when we look at a practical illustration.
When an object is carefully examined under competent direction more ideas are gained of it than can be obtained in any other way, and ideas so gained are more accurate and vivid. One would think that the person who had the greatest number of accurate ideas about objects could best compare and classify them, and could make the most valuable generalizations from them. But the writer says no, the best generalizations, etc., are
made from objects of thought created in the mind from the study of books, not from nature.
As a thinker and generalizer, Charles Darwin made a more profound impression on the whole intellectual world than any other man ever made, and no man ever dealt more directly with nature, with objects of sense. In fact the men who have moved the world have not done second-hand work. They went to the fountain head.
The writer dwells on the value of geography as a disciplinary study. The idea may be good in theory, but as geography is taught, it has not impressed the educational world as especially valuable as a means of discipline.
Geography is a scientific subject. It has a department in the English and American Associations for the Advancement of Science. It can be taught as other branches of science are taught. The low grade of work done in geography, the ignorance of geography manifest everywhere, are largely accounted for by the fact that geography is still taught from books, while other branches of science are taught largely from nature. If taught as other sciences are taught, geography might be a valuable introduction to the other sciences, but as taught from books it is comparatively useless in this direction. It does seem a misfortune that mankind learns so little of geography, and that so much of that little is learned from books.
The writer seems to be trying to apologize for those persons who, ignorant of science and scientific methods, attempt to teach a scientific subject in an unscientific way.
TERRE HAUTE, IND.
THE INDIANA LIBRARY SYSTEM.
HAMILTON S. MCRAE.
THERE was a time after the abolition of the township library tax when there was no law for the levy of a tax, to establish or maintain a public library. Now a school town or a school city may assess one-third of a mill on a dollar for library purposes. This will yield an average, probably, of $500 for each 5000 inhabitants. If the board of school trustees will, as it may, provide a reference department, supplementary reading for schools, and the expense of administration, from the special school fund, a library with a reading-room, that will double the value of the schools may soon
secured. It is not creditable to the school authorities that so few corporations have availed themselves of the wise legislation. Superintendents, teachers and others specially charged with the educational interests should acquaint themselves with the facts tending to show the immense value of a circulating library. The wonderful literary activity in Indianapolis is a fact in point. What
1S true there will be true everywhere if the people are provided with free reading matter, judiciously selected.
It is not too late, if the county auditor will place the levy on the duplicate, to begin this year. Those places which have so far failed to move in this important matter, if not too far behind to be conscious of their comparative ignorance, must feel the humiliation of a contrast with the communities that are truly alive to the interests of all, whether young or old.
As to the management, seek information from the established libraries. The Library Bureau, 30 Hawley St., Boston, Mass., will cheerfully respond to inquiries. The Bureau is under the able management of H. E. Davidson. Melvil Dewey, chief librarian of Columbia College, and secretary of the American Library Association, will gladly make suggestions. So would Mr. Hooper, of the Indianapolis Library.
In a place where the inhabitants number from five to ten thousand, one hundred dollars a year at least should be expended in periodical literature, including newspapers. The magazines, after the appearance of the latest number, may issue the older numbers with safety in the smaller places. A school township has no authority to levy a tax unless there be a donation of one thousand dollars. Then one mill on the dollar may be levied by the township trustee. The township in which the city of Richmond is situated has a library on this basis.
There yet remains for all neighborhoods a law for the organiz ition of voluntary library associations. The Grant County Educational Library is under this law.
THE MODERN SCHOOL TEACHER.
Alone her task pursuing ;
Of all that her class was doing;
And so many girls all counted ;
And to what all the absence amounted.
Over many columns and pages;
And averaged all their ages.
And cases of flagellation;
For the county examination.
And her weary heart still lower ;
And she could not furnish more.
And her spirit went to Hades,
“State what the percent of your grade is!" Ages had slowly rolled away,
Leaving but partial traces;
In the old familiar places.
Attracted her observation,
As Boston since annexation.
She came to the spot where they buried her bones,
And the ground was well built over; But laborers digging threw a skull,
Once planted beneath the clover. A disciple of Galen, wandering by,
Paused to look at the diggers; And, picking the skull up, looked through the eye,
And saw it was lined with figures.