The London Science Class-Books


    THE editors of this series of Elementary Science Class-Books intend that the works shall all be composed with special reference to school teaching; that they shall be suited to the capabilities and comprehension of boys and girls during their school course, while they shall at the same time afford trustworthy and accurate information presented in such a way that it may serve as a basis for more advanced study. In thus announcing their scheme the editors would seem to indicate that they have learned to appreciate the very great want that exists in all our public schools of just such a series of class-books as they undertake to supply; and though the standard at which they aim cannot be regarded as a high one, still most judges will agree that it is both a suitable and a proper one, and it is one that we wish the editors every success in their carrying of it out. If the natural sciences are to be taught in our schools the scholars must have class-books of these sciences, and we take it as a good sign that the demand for such class-books is in this new series being supplied. The information in the present series is to be accurate and trustworthy, and the names of the authors of the four books already published of the biological series is a sufficient guarantee that this is so. The information is to be suited to the capabilities of girls and boys during their school-days, and still it is to be presented in such a way as to form the basis of a higher study. The authors’ names, however distinguished, will be no necessary guarantee of this. It is not given to every one to be able to write an elementary book that may serve as the basis for a more advanced study. In the first two class-books on our list the author indeed does not even make the attempt. In his preface Prof. McNab declares that it has been thought advisable to make his class-books on Botany such as would serve as a basis for the teaching in the higher classes of schools, and such as would supply the wants of medical students and others wishing to acquire a knowledge of the subject. We think this a pity, for we certainly at once miss that strictly elementary treatment of the subject, that full statement and discussion of the fundamental facts thereof, which we were led to expect, not by the author, but by his editors; and however useful and instructive these two class-books may be, the aim that we fancy they should have kept in view is lost in the endeavour, to quote their authors’ own words, that they should “serve as an introduction to the celebrated textbook of the distinguished German botanist, whose “Lehrbuch der Botanik”has been lately translated by Professors Bennett and Thiselton Dyer, and which has been published in the Clarendon Press Series. After the class-book is mastered the manual is to be studied.”

    The London Science Class-Books.

    G. Carey Foster Philip Magnus Biological Series. 1. Botany—Outlines of Morphology and Physiology. 2. Botany—Outlines of Classification of Plants. By W. Ramsay McNab, M.D. 3. Zoology of the Vertebrate Animals. 4. Zoology of the Invertebrate Animals. By Prof. A. Macalister. (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1878.)

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