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First Stage Botany, as Illustrated by Flowering Plants

Nature volume 63, page 439 (07 March 1901) | Download Citation



THE author sets forth in the preface that his primary object in writing this book was that of satisfying the requirements of students preparing for the elementary stage of the Science and Art Examinations. A glance through its pages suffices to prove that this end is everywhere kept to the fore. Even the figures, which are very numerous, are labelled all over in large type so as to enable the student, with the minimum expenditure of time and trouble, to get up the maximum amount of facts. In the text the treatment is on analogous lines, and probably the student possessed of a good memory might, with this book as his mentor, succeed in passing a fair examination. Beyond this we have failed to discover why the book was written; and when its author goes on to state that it is also intended to serve as an “efficient introduction to Botany,” we simply cannot agree with him. The character of the book is too dogmatic, and too little is left to the student. Indeed, a sentence contained in the preface, advising the student to obtain specimens and “verify upon them the statements made in the text,” gives the key to the entire book. Not merely verification, but the fostering of a spirit of inquiry ought to be the chief aim of a teacher, and it is this aspect of the matter which we miss in the volume before us. In the paragraph on geotropism (p. 211) this phenomenon is defined as the “tendency of the radicle or main root to grow towards the centre of the earth”; a very inadequate definition both from the point of view of fact and theory, and one of little or no scientific value to the student.

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