« ForrigeFortsett »
membered any considerable length of time--and even when remembered, of what use is that species of knowledge to a general student? In most of our schools, our children are required to learn the exact location of every pretentious “hub of the universe," to describe every cape and headland, almost every indentation of the coast line, to commit to memory the length of every large river, and the height of every mountain, the name and location of every average-sized island. We need not wonder that geography is so much disliked by both teachers and pupils, when such a herculean task as that is imposed, under the impression that it is a necessity.
We would not be understood as underrating the value or importance of statistical geography. We object to the method of teaching it, which is usually employed, and to the little use made of it when learned. A few facts, well-considered and thoroughly comprehended, will furnish standards of comparison sufficient for an intelligent acquaintance with any particular series of factsand the interesting and instructive process of making these comparisons will enable the student to form much clearer conceptions of size and number than any other method. Suppose we desire to teach the areas and comparative size of the states of our Union. We commit to memory the areas of the following states : Rhode Island,
1,300 sq. miles. New Jersey,
189,000 Using these as standards of comparison, we find that Delaware is nearly twice as large as Rhode Island, Massachusetts six times as large, New Hampshire containing 1,000 more square miles than New Jersey, New York 7,100 and Iowa 11,000 more than Ohio. Mississippi being nearly as large as New York, and so on. The pupil makes these comparisons, using an atlas only, before referring to statistical tables—the teacher accepting or correcting his estimates.
The populations of countries and cities, the lengths of rivers and heights of mountains may be learned in a similar manner. It will be found convenient to form groups of those countries and cities whose populations range within certain limits, the population to be used as the standard of comparison occupying the centre—those preceding it being larger and those following smaller than the standard. The number of rivers and mountains, whose length or height need be learned, being small, it is best to form
not more than three groups of either, the standard lengths or heights being the extremes. As any teacher of ordinary intelligence can easily arrange these groups, we give no illustrations. Any one who will make trial of this method will be surprised to learn how rapidly these facts will be memorized, and how firmly they will be fixed in the memory.
There is very little attention paid, in any of our schools, to the latitude and longitude of important places. In many institutes, composed of teachers of average or more than average intelligence, a half dozen will rarely be found who can give even the latitude of the county-seat of their own counties. We have known a difference of more than ten degrees in "guesses” at the latitude of the capital of our state. The reason for this almost inexcusable ignorance is, that as usually attempted to be learned, the acquisition of this kind of knowledge is an impossibility with most minds. Still it is of so much practical importance that it can not be ignored in any thorough teaching of geography. Many important facts can not be explained, nor their significance comprehended, unless the exact relative location of places widely separated be known. In connection with map drawing, the latitude and longitude of a sufficient number of important points may be learned, in a short time, to enable the student to.“guess" the location of other points with surprising exactness. For illustration, suppose one to have committed the following tables to memory, and noted the position of each place named, on a map of the United States :
New Orleans, St. Augustine.
67° 30' W., Eastport, Me.
Frankfort, Ky., Ft. Wayne, Ind.
Galveston, Texas, Leavenworth, Kansas.
Denver. '112°, Salt Lake City. 1220'30, Salem, Oregon, San Francisco.
Using these as points of comparison, drawing parallels and meridians through them while projecting a map on slate or blackboard, or critically studying those drawn in an atlas, and learning, as he soon must, how large a portion of the map is occupied by a single degree, he can not err widely in any estimates he may make of the latitude and longitude of any important locality in our country.
It will be seen that the latitude and longitude of some of the places above-named are not given with the exactness extreme accuracy requires-neither is it necessary that they should be. A difference of a single degree is of no special importance to the general student. With this fact in mind, numberless coincidences may be noticed in the relative position of places, which will make the study of maps an interesting and profitable exercise. For example, the parallel of 30° N., marks the general trend of the northern shore of the Gulf of Mexico; the capitals of Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia, are on nearly the same parallel as Vicksburg; the parallel of 35° marks the northern boundary of these states as well as of South Carolina; the mouth of the Ohio river is nearly due west from Richmond, Va.; the parallel of 40° is the northern boundary of Kansas, divides Illinois and Indiana into two nearly equal portions, and is but a little north of the southern boundary of Pennsylvania; the mouth of the Columbia river is about a degree and a half north of the parallel of 45°, which parallel forms the southern boundary of Montana, divides Dakota into two nearly equal portions, and strikes Lake Huron at Thunder Bay. Similar facts may be noticed by a careful study of the meridians.
The value of this method will be best appreciated while teaching the latitude and longitude of localities widely separated, scattered over the whole earth. To do this in a satisfactory manner, a magnetic globe is extremely convenient. Select some parallel or meridian, and place an object on each place whose geographical position you wish to remember. Make lists of these places, and require your pupils to copy them. Remove the objects, and let your pupils, with these lists in hand, replace them. Do this until the lists can be dispensed with. Endeavor to learn the position of but few places each day; review, daily, all previous lessons, until each pupil can readily give the latitude and longitude of any place named, and without hesitation place an object upon it. Use these as points of comparison, and exercise the judgment and ingenuity of your pupils in estimating from them the position of other points.
T. W. H.
The question in the mind of every good teacher with regard to this as every other subject, is undoubtedly this: How shall I proceed so as to secure the best possible results? After theorizing and experimenting, many have, undoubtedly, arrived at practical conclusions. Many others—and, so far as my observation extends this latter class is largely in the majority-proceed as if they were feeling about in the dark. They seem to have formed no definite conception of the real object of teaching definitions.
All teaching is useless, or worse than useless, that does not give the pupil enlarged powers for good. Making the special application: all teaching of definitions is useless, or worse, that does not give the pupil greater command of language. This question should be constantly present to our minds : Can the pupil use the word defined? And to answer it practically, we have simply to teach the definition of the words as they are actually used in the daily lesson and in common conversation. How many
teachers are satisfied when the words printed at the head of the reading lesson, or in columns in the speller, are disposed of according to the original proposition, "Spell and define"? I fear that, with a very large number of our teachers, this not only constitutes the sum total of their teaching of definitions, but satisfies them also as to the kind and amount of preparation the pupil shall make in the study of his reading lesson. Is it to be wondered at, that such study-I had almost said mouthing—of words apart from thoughts, should render our work a dry and unprofitable task, or that pupils should conceive a strong and permanent distaste not to say disgust, for the study of language?
The remedy for this state of things seems to me very simple. Let the teacher keep constantly before the pupils the thought that they should know the meaning of all the words they use. Encourage them also to learn others as rapidly as possible. No matter in what lesson the word used may occur, or whether in any lesson at all, the meaning as it is employed should be clearly apprehended by the pupil. To secure this, a part of every recitation hour should be devoted to defining the words used in that recitation—not that a few minutes at the commencement, or even at the close of the exereise, should be set apart for this purpose, defining “in the lump," so to speak, nor that the pupil should be constantly interrupted in his recitation ; but at the close of the pupil's individual work, or, as in reading, before such work, let
him be held to a strict account for the meaning of the words he has used or read, and as they were used, and let him give that meaning in his own language and not according to any stereotyped form. If time will permit, much may be gained by comparing the meaning of the word as employed to-day with that of the same word employed yesterday, or in some other relation. Such work faithfully pursued, will give pupils an intelligent command of language; while the mouthing of words to give their synonyms without regard to use, will fail-signally fail to secure the end desired.
We have many of the higher institutions, colleges, or universities improperly so called, spread out or scattered over the state, and yet it is felt by many, and must be admitted by all who reflect, that no one of them separately, nor all of them collectively, meet the demands or the pressing educational wants of the state. We need concentration of effort and unity of purpose in providing for the higher education. Much is lost for the want of these. . Money is wasted in misdirected efforts, and the end desired is not secured.
Our system of state education is incomplete. Our noble system of common and high schools is headless. The university has been ignored or overlooked by the state. The interests of the higher institutions of learning in the state have been lost sight of. There is no living or vital connection recognized between the school and the college. Indeed, between the one and the other, there is an apparent, if not a real, antagonism. This should not and must not be. The college or university and the common school are essential and component parts of a complete system of education. The common school can not flourish without the college, nor the latter without the former. The one is necessary to the other. The more efficient and prosperous the school, the more efficient and prosperous the college. The elevation of the one is the elevation of the other. How may
the existing antagonism be removed? How may harmony be secured throughout the various parts of the whole system of education ? We answer: let the teachers of the state demand of its Legislature the establishment and ample endowment of a University, which shall be free from sectarianism or denominationalism, both