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Hooker's “Primer of Botany”


IT is now almost universally admitted that the study of botany may be made an excellent training for children; but the extent of the subject is so great, and the phraseology has become so overwhelmed with technical terms that even those who have been the most anxious to see the science generally introduced into our schools as a branch of education, are much perplexed when called upon to determine in what way it can best be taught. Some think it most prudent to confine the attention of children to such points as may be observed with the unaided eye, or at any rate to such points as only require the help of an ordinary magnify ing-glass; hence they limit the teaching of botany to a study of the more conspicuous parts of the higher groups of vegetable life, and leave the study of physiology and histology to a more advanced age. There is, no doubt, much that can be said in favour of this view, for in order to become fully acquainted with these branches of botany a much greater experience and skill in manipulation and experiment are required, as well as the use of high magnifying powers, than, it is quite certain, a child can be expected to possess. At the same time this limitation to so small a portion of botanical science has the tendency to produce in the mind contracted ideas respecting the true scope of the subject; for to a large extent it only admits of facts being heaped upon facts, without their proper connection one with another being made manifest. It is owing to this want of concatenation in the teaching that has led many to think less highly of botany as a branch of education than they otherwise might have done, and that its introduction into schools has not met with so much success as its more sanguine advocates could have wished to see.

Science Primers.

Edited by Professors Huxley Roscoe Balfour Stewart Dr. J. D. Hooker (London: Macmillan and Co., 1876.)

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