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Modern Travel—A Scientific Education


    THE teaching of geography has come to rather a sad pass in this country, as was evident from the address of the President at the Anniversary of the Royal Geographical Society on Monday. The Society's examiner, Prof. Moseley, reports that it is entirely neglected in our public schools; and the Council of the Society have withdrawn the public schools medals which they have awarded for years, simply because there are so few candidates for them. In our great public schools geographical teaching has no recognised place; if taught at all it is only as a voluntary subject, which may or may not be taken at the caprice of the boys. Some attempt has been made to methodise the teaching of the subject in schools under Government inspection, but so far the result has not been very successful. No doubt the Science and Art Department and the University examiners have done much to improve the teaching of what is known as physical geography in our middle-class schools; but at the very best we are a long way from perfection in this important branch of education, which, were it not for unintelligent teachers and dry text-books, ought to abound with interest. One serious defect in our system of teaching the subject is the want of proper apparatus; maps are good enough in their way, but it is not easy to persuade the pupil that they represent anything more than a flat surface. They are a poor substitute for the models which we find in some Continental schools, supplemented as these are by large-scale, well-executed pictures of the leading natural and artificial features with which geography deals. If Miss North's gallery of pictures at Kew could be taken round the country at intervals for exhibition to our schools, it would do more for giving a real conception of what geography is than many text-books. Let us hope that the step taken by the Royal Geographical Society, in appointing an inspector to visit Continental schools and report on the whole subject, will lead to real reform.

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