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Physical Science in Schools

Naturevolume 13pages492493 (1876) | Download Citation



We teachers must keep clear in our minds the two sides of the question: the relative educational value of the subject to be taught, and the age or capacity of the pupil. We may roughly classify sciences into those which cultivate the observing, and those which benefit the reasoning powers, though of course all sciences do both to some extent. Of the former, the only one which should be adopted systematically, in my opinion, is botany. Zoology cannot be as practically taught, though the habits of all kinds of animals afford infinite opportunity: for training the observing powers of pupils in the country; which should be judiciously directed by the teacher so as to render the observations continuous and systematic as far as they go; they should be always duly recorded, dated, and correctly described. But the encouragement of making collections must be done cautiously, as boys are too prone to be thoughtlessly cruel. Of course information on animals may be given informally. With regard to botany nearly twenty years' experience of teaching boys and girls of all ages and of nearly all classes, has convinced me that it may be commenced as soon as one likes. The plan pursued by my father at Hitcham (of which an account will be found in the Leisure Hour for 1862, p. 676) clearly proved the advantage to be derived by village school children, and I can corroborate it by my own attempts in another village; for there was a marked increase in the general intelligence, to say nothing of botany giving the children an amusing and instructive employment in the fields instead of their idling in the street—a fact noticed and strongly approved of by their parents. This subject, whatever may be the objections to others, can be taught to almost infants.


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