We may next consider the equipment of land. A good part of all our laboratories should be out of doors. In the argument for separated rural schools, one is struck with the plea that good laboratories may be secured. A good part of this argument comes from college men. It does not at all follow that our four-wall laboratory methods are as useful for the elementary schools as for colleges and high schools. In fact, it is a question whether much of our college laboratory work is really worth the while as compared with good natural field work under the conditions that are everywhere at hand. The school land may be used for plantations of trees and shrubs, for school gardens, for experimental plats, and utilized as an arena of the natural wild life of the neighborhood. Equipment of land should go far toward developing a really effective nature teaching, redirecting some of our present laboratory methods. Laboratory teaching may be pedagogically just as incorrect as book teaching. If the school is fairly well equipped outside and inside, a good part of the difficulty of securing teachers will subside; for the good places naturally attract the good teachers.

It is well to consider briefly what may be taught in the elementary school, whether a town school or a country ungraded school. In some cases separate classes in agriculture may be organized, but in most cases the work for the present must be incidental to other teaching. In any event, the content of the agricultural work must be carefully considered, for this will have direct relation to the training of the teacher. The main effort of primary and elementary teaching, so far as the agricultural phase is concerned, should be to put the pupil in touch with himself and his environment. Before the sixth grade, or its equivalent, there should probably be no agriculture as such. Generalized nature study should here control the work. This will underlie and prepare for all future work. It will be a mistake to try to force formal technical agricultural work in any grade below the high school.

Every teacher should understand that the term “ nature study is a misnomer. It does not stand for a “ study.” It is not a subject. It is not a “ method,” as this term is understood by teachers. It is an attitude, a purpose, a point of view, a mode of education. It is spirit. It is a fundamental educational intention, inasmuch as nature is the condition of our existence and as it is our duty to live in effective harmony with our conditions. Its underlying principle is one to teach the things that are near at hand and that are naturally a part of the child's environment and activities, and to teach these things for the sake of the child, rather than to promulgate a subject. It will be seen, therefore, that no good subsequent teaching of agriculture is possible without the nature-study training,

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The nature-study process and point of view should be a part of the work of all schools, because schools train persons to live. Particularly should it be a part of rural schools, because the nature environment is the controlling condition for all persons who live on the land. There is no effective living in the open country unless the mind is sensitive to the objects and phenomena of the open country; and no thoroughly good farming is possible without this same knowledge and outlook. Good farmers are good naturalists. It would be incorrect to begin first with the specific agricultural phases of the environment, for the agricultural phase (as any other special phase) needs a foundation and a base; it is only one part of a point of view. Moreover, to begin with a discussion of the so-called “ useful ” or " practical” objects, as many advise, would be to teach falsely, for, as these objects are only part of the environment, to single them out and neglect the other subjects would result in a partial and untrue outlook to nature; in fact, it is just this partial and prejudiced outlook that we need to correct.

We must have it in mind that the common elementary schools do not teach trades and professions. We do not approach the subject primarily from an oecupational point of view, but from the educational and spiritual; that is, the man should know his work and his environment. The mere giving of information about agricultural objects and practices can have very little good result with children. The spirit is worth more than the letter. Some of the hard and dry tracts on farming would only add one more task to the teacher and the pupil if they were introduced into the school, making the new subject in time as distasteful as physiology and grammar often are. In this new agricultural work we need to be exceedingly careful that we do not go too far, and that we do not lose our sense of relationships and values. Introducing the word agriculture into the scheme of studies means very little; what is taught, and particularly how it is taught, are of the greatest moment. It is to be hoped that no country-life teaching will be so narrow as to put only technical farin subjects before the pupil.

We need also to be careful not to introduce subjects merely because practical grown-up farmers think that the subjects are useful and therefore should be taught. Farming is one thing and teaching is another. What appeals to the man may not appeal to the child. What is most useful to the man may or may not be most useful in training the mind of a pupil in school. The teacher, as well as the farmer, must always be consulted in respect both to the content and the method of agricultural teaching. We must always be alert to see that the work has living interest to the pupil rather than to grown ups, and to be on guard that it does not become lifeless.


Probably the greatest mistake that any teacher makes is in supposing that what is interesting to him is therefore interesting to his pupils.

In a rural community all the surroundings and customary activities should find expression in the school, as a means of putting the pupil into touch and sympathy with his environment: (1) The natural objects in the region and the character of the country; (2) the means by which people in the community live; (3) the household, or domestic affairs; (4) civic affairs, or the way in which human activities are organized and governed. All this is nature study in its best and broadest sense. These subjects may be taught in separate periods or classes; but the fundamental means is a complete redirection of the school activities so that vital and experience work will be a very part of the school life and dominate it. This redirecting of schoolteaching, in both country and city, is taking place at the present time, although silently and unobtrusively.

As the child matures, nature-study work may become more concrete. In grades 6 to 8, it may be nature-study agriculture, perhaps following the suggested outline of the Report of the Committee on Industrial Education in Schools for Rural Communities to the National Council of Education, July, 1905 (pp. 44-45):

After the explicit nature study ceases with the fifth grade, the pupil in the rural school may then be taken through the elements of agriculture in the sixth, seventh, and eighth grades. The work in these three grades should really be nature study, but 'agricultural subjects are the means. Some will prefer to call it nature study rather than agriculture. Its purpose is not so much to teach definite science as to bring the pupil into relation with the objects and affairs that are concerned with the agriculture of his region. When the pupil has completed his nature study in the fifth grade, he should have a good knowledge of the physiography of his region, and of the common animals and plants. He will then be able to carry his inquiries into the more specific field of the agricultural practice and operations. When he has completed his eighth year, he should have a well-developed sympathy with agricultural affairs and he should have a broad, general view of them. Entering the high school, he will then be able to take up some of the subjects in their distinctly scientific phases.

The general plan recommended by the committee is as follows: Sixth year, first half, the affairs of agriculture; second half, the soil; seventh year, farming schemes and crops; eighth year, animals.

If the agricultural work in the grammar grades is to be of the nature-study kind and not of the science kind, it can then cover a somewhat wide range. In these grades, the pupil should not be put into “agronomy,” “economics," and other technical subjects, but he should be brought into relation with his agricultural environment.

A statement is now given of what is actually accomplished in a one-teacher district school in New York, where special classes can not be organized. The teacher has been successful in interesting his pupils in various experiments and tests that have relation to farming. He gives all the pupils nature-study work, including the younger ones. Suggestions are had from books, from the State syl

labus, and perhaps quite as frequently from something that happens
for the time to be interesting the school or the community. He is
introducing practical local problems into the arithmetic work. He
suggests that if ten or twenty-five schools could work together in
harmony in arithmetic, geography, and other subjects, thereby mak-
ing it worth while for examination questions to be asked on these
new lines of work, the results would be very marked. Some of the
problems that have been more or less used are as follows (as expressed
by the teacher himself, Mr. H. H. Lyon):

Test for moisture.
Test for carbonic acid gas. (Limewater, etc.)

Tests for ammonia. (In schoolroom and in cow stables.)

Germination. (Find per cent, etc.)

Manner of growth. (Monocotyledons, dicotyledons.)

Water taken from soil. (Use scales.)
Transpiration. (Collect H,0.)
Examination of nodules on leguminous plants.

Effect of nodules on luxuriance of growth.
Soils :

Search for water-table-lifferent places and times.
Test with litmus pa per.
Effect of lime or ashes on clay soil.
Effect of lime on clear and on muddy water.
('orrect acidity with lime or ashes. (Result observed in growth of clover.)

('apillarity under different conditions,
Babcock test.

Drill in making measurements, reading bottles, computations.

Test acid with acidometer.
Acid test.

Correct measurements, computations of acid.
Milk at different ages.

Under different conditions of cleanliness and temperature.
Bottle and cork tight; keep warm; observe odor; use different samples to

Test for organic matter.

Bottle with a little sugar; keep warm; observe color, etc.

L'se potassium permanganate. Osmosis:

Using egg.

Using bladder.

Formaldehyde for oats smut.
Hot water for oats smut.
Bordeaux for potato blight. (Use ferrocyanide test.)

Computations in each case.
31388—Bull. 1-08- -2

Chemical action:
Caustic soda solution plus muriatic acid.

Evaporate; find the salt.

(Can teach chemical formula of this even at 10 or 12 years.) Commercial fertilizers:

Handling and mixing-Nitrate of soda, muriate of potash, and dissolved

rock. (Computations.) Cows:

Dairy type. (Examine forn, milk veins, liide, etc.)

Beef type. Weather map:

Receive daily maps and determine location of storm center. Physical experiments of various kinds taken from books ou plıysics. Make

suction pump with lamp chimney, etc. Garden: .

A grass plot has been substituted for the school garden, where farm grasses,

fertilizers, and seeding may be studied. It will be seen from a careful consideration of the foregoing discussions that much very good agricultural work can be introduced into the ordinary elementary school that is teaching the usual State syllabus. It can be taught as a part of geography and arithmetic and manual training and reading, as well as in the regular naturestudy intervals; and it is not difficult to send a pupil home with a desire to attack some of the problems at the house, on the farm, and in the garden. The Report of the Committee on Industrial Education in Schools for Rural Communities denies the charge that the poor teaching in the common branches is attributable to lack of time, for the poor results are “not due to lack of time on the part of pupils so much as to poor teaching and lack of proper organization; " and also asserts that the poor results attributed to the overcrowding of the course of study are “not due to the number of subjects, but to the attempt to teach too many things in these subjects which are not worth teaching."


The question of the teaching of agriculture in the high school is much simpler than the problem in the elementary school. The pupil now arrives at an age when he may begin in some slight degree to choose and to specialize. The school is organized and supervised. Teachers are provided for special subjects. Apparatus is more likely to be supplied.

On the other hand, the high school is more rigid and crystallized. It is usually in town and has no immediate contact with land. It is further removed from direct agricultural influence.

The content of agricultural work in the high school is not yet determined with any definiteness, although very explicit courses of study have been recommended and even adopted. It will require

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