James Pyle Wickersham.

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own mind is a valuable auxiliary in the study of
Logic, and because concrete mental phenomena
are more easily understood than those which are

Logic has also deductions and demonstrations,


but their nature and tlie methods of teaching them
have been sufficiently characterized in. discussing
the "Formal Sciences in GeneraL"

In regard to teaching Logic as a whole, it may
be remarked further, that the method for beginners
should be synthetic. Thought must be presented
iirst in its elements, and afterwards in its connec-
tions. To analyze thought, requires a knowledge
of thought, and this is what the pupil does not
possess but seeks. Besides, a system of Logic i^ a
growth. It commences with a germ in the Reason
and develops all its parts into a compact system.
This order of growth should be the order of study.

Logic has its applications in all the departments
of science and art; and to attain skill in making
these applications is the chief end of the study. Chil-
dren begin to reason when very young. Through-
out their whole course of study, it is the duty of
parents and teachers to train them to reason well —
to train them by correcting their mistakes, by teach-
ing them to correct their own mistakes and the
mistakes of others, by setting them a good example
of logical reasoning. Thus taught they may be-
come practical Logicians without learning Logic.
All this training, however, is rather mechanical than
scientific in its character. Valuable for children,
with more mature minds it must give place to some-
thing higher. The science of Logic must be studied
by all who wish to make an intelligent application
of its principles.

The study of Logic in itself will not make a good
reasoner. A person may know all the kinds, and

LOGIC. 3-il

figures, and modes of the Syllogism and still be
unable to construct one that will answer the condi-
tions of practical life. The teacher who would make
his pupils good reasoners must not only show them
how reasoning is done or why it has certain forms,
but he must teach them to reason. The faculty of
reasoning itself mmst be exercised in order to grow.
The laws of thinkins: must be tauo:ht, and then
practiced until all thinking is governed by them —
ujitil they " become identified with the spontaneous
activity of the reason."

Logic as taught in the, schools is too formal.
More examples should be given ; more practical
applications should be required. Pupils should be
exercised in giving definitions, in making divisions,
in constructing syllogisms, in analyzing arguments
and demonstrations, and in building up systems of
science. Every lesson in science should be made a
lesson in Applied Logic, and thus the young would
be prepared for the great work of life.

29 *



Facts ai^e observed ; these facts are arranged into
classes; general laws are inferred from them, and
thus the Empirical Sciences are built up. The Em-
pirical sciences comprel^nd the systematic arrange-
ment of the generalizations of experience. They
embrace a large number of particular sciences : as
Astronomy, I^^atural Philosophy, Chemistry, Mete-
orology, Geology, Botany, Zoology, Mineralogy,
Geographj^, Physiology, Psychology, &c., &c. A
classification of them may be made as follows : The
Mechanical Sciences, as Astronomy, Mechanics,
Optics, &c. ; the Chemical Sciences, as Chemistry,
Galvanism, &c. ; the Classificatory Sciences, as
Botany, Zoology, &c. ; the Organic Sciences, as
Physiology, Anatomy, &c. ; and the Psychological
Sciences, as those sciences of mind which are
founded upon the facts revealed by consciousness.

It matters little here, however, what particular
branches of study are included in the Empirical
Sciences, or of what classification they are suscepti-
ble ; since all of them consist of facts which must
be observed, of classes which must be formed, and
of inferences which must be drawn, or laws which
must be applied ; and, hence, all of them must be
taught by the same methods.



It ought not to be necessary to say anything in
regard to the importance of the study of the Empi-
rical Sciences, nor would anything be said were it
not for the fact that such studies are much neglected
in our American schools. A large proportion of
the student's time, both in Common School and
College, is taken up with the study of Language
and Mathematics, and he has little left to devote
to acquiring a knowledge of the great science of

Few sciences can be more useful to man than the
Empirical Sciences. These sciences treat of the
light by which he sees, the heat by which he is
warmed, the air which he breathes, the earth
from which he draws his sustenance, the animals
and plants that minister to his wants, and his own
body and mind. There is not one single occupation
in which a person may not derive great advantage
from a knowledge of some of these sciences. They
relate to life in all its forms and circumstances.

Few sciences can furnish more valuable mental
discipline than the Empirical sciences. They exer-
cise the senses, the perceptive powers, the judgment,
the imagination, and the reason. They present
facts that a child may comprehend, and problems
that men like Bacon, E'ewton, Franklin, and Hum-
boldt have not been able to solve. Minds devoted
exclusivel}^ to the study of the Abstract or Kational
sciences, are apt to be dogmatic. They would like to
control the universe with laws of their own makins^.
They form their notions of what ought to he, and grow
captious if these notions are not found to correspond
with what is. They dwell in an ideal world which


is sometimes quite different from the real. The
results of this mode of thinking appeared in the
dreamy speculations of the Scholastic Philosophy,
the bad effects of which it required all the strength
of the mighty mind of Bacon to neutralize. The
human intellect can engage in no nobler task than
the study of the Kational Sciences ; but the disci-
pline they furnish should be tempered by that which
comes only from the study of the Empirical Sciences.
With one hand we may clutch the ideal, if with the
other we hold fast to the real. The study of the
Empirical Sciences is calculated to make men
patient in investigation, slow in the expression of
their own opinions, and liberal toward the opinions
of others.

The Empirical Sciences are peculiarly adapted to
awaken love for the Creator. It is only the "fool"
that "hath said in his heart there is no God." The
wise find the footsteps of a God everywhere, and
nowhere are they more clearly discerned than in the
works He has made. These works teem with so
many proofs of wisdom, evidences of goodness, and
marks of beauty, that one who studies them must
have his heart warmed in love and adoration to the
Being who made them all. Truly, "An undevout
naturalist must be mad." The Psalmist fitly ex-
claims, "Whoso is wise, and will observe these
things, even they shall understand the loving kind-
ness of the Lord."

In addition to the strong reasons in favor of the
study of the Empirical Sciences, which have been
just stated, two others of a less general application
will be named.


A taste for the study of nature tends to lighten
labor. Labor is not toil to the man that thinks
while he works. All schemes tha,t contemplate
dignifying labor without educating the laborer will
prove abortive. The farmer who, while he works,
finds food for thought in animals, insects, plants,
and soils ; the mechanic who speculates upon the
properties of matter and the nature of force as he
deals with them ; the miner who studies strata, and
veins, and fossils, while he exhumes the treasures
deep-buried in the earth's bosom, do much to con-
vert the curse of labor into a blessing. Hugh
Miller may have cut out and chiseled down as many
stones as his companions in the quarries of Scotland;
but he found a pleasure in the task which they could
not, his head was kept as busy as his hands, he
worked like a man, not like a slave.

The study of nature gives pleasant employment
in leisure hours. Large numbers of persons in
every community are engaged in indoor occupations.
For these, linguistic, mathematical, or metaphysical
studies would be inappropriate. They want exercise
with study. This they can have by interesting them-
selves in studies like Botany, Mineralogy, Geology,
or Entomology. What rich rewards in health,
strength, and pure intellectual and moral enjoyment
would accrue to merchants, mechanics, lawyers,
teachers, and others who lead sedentary lives ; if
they would spend their leisure hours in the explora-
tion of the neighborhoods in which they live in
search of those objects that so much interest the
student of nature. A taste for IN'atural History, too,
may be gratified in travelling. Nature is so full of


objects worthy our study, that they present them-
selves to the attentive passenger even in the swift-
moving rail-car. If delays occur, and they will
occur in travelling, while others grow weary and
impatient, the naturalist gives himself employment,
and keeps himself in good humour by reading a
fresh page in the great book of nature. He needs
no artificial help "to kill time," for the hours pass
quickly when nature presents her truth and her
beauty to his contemplation.

It is my purpose to speak, first, of methods of
teaching the Empirical Sciences in General; and,
second, of methods of teaching Geography. The
reason I desire to discuss methods of teaching
Geography more particularly, is because it is one of
the branches almost universally taught in our Com-
mon Schools ; and because by it can be illustrated
the methods of teaching the other sciences of the
same class. \ Geography, as usually taught contains
matter which belongs to History, but this does not
necessitate any change in methods of teaching it.

I. The Empirical Sciences in General.

The foundation of the Empirical Sciences is facts
and phenomena that are open to observation. Chil-
dren begin to acquire these facts and notice these
phenomena as soon as they can use their senses;
and by the time they are ^ve years of age, their
stock of knowledge of this kind may be made truly
wonderful. Elsewhere, under the head of Instruc-
tion in the Elements of Knowledge, an effort was


made to point out the metliod by which such infor-
mation could be pleasantly imparted to children,
here, therefore, on this point, no detailed discussion
will be necessary. I w^ill say, however, that I con-
sider it the main business of teachers in Primary
Schools to teach their pupils to observe, to make
them acquainted with the fiicts and phenomena of
nature. To do this, nature's own method must be
adopted. A child in a ramble over a mountain,
through a meadow, along a rivulet, about a grove,
w^ill notice objects and may observe phenomena that
belong technically to all the Empirical Sciences.
Nature scatters her treasures in rich profusion every-
where, and the child picks them up where he finds
them. His attention cannot be confined, without a
loss of interest, to one class of natural objects, much
less to the minute difierences which often distinguish
genera and species, or the scientific terms which are
applied to the peculiarities of individuals. Von
Raumer in his GescMchte der Pedagogik has some
excellent remarks on this subject. I quote from
Barnard's American Journal of Education w^hich
expresses the ideas of the author very correctly.
Von Eaumer says, " A child commencing the study
of ]!^atural Science should first examine, in all direc-
tions, the neighborhood of his residence, and should
make himself so thoroughly acquainted with it that
he can call it up before his mind whenever he chooses.
Such an acquaintance is the result of the unconscious
and fresh pleasure which youth, joyful and free from
scientific anxieties, will find for itself in such an
examination, obtaining in this artless way a simple
general impression of the vicinity, not forced upon


him artificially by a teacher. He is not teased, while
he is rejoicing in the bine heavens and the rapid
motions of the clouds, in the oak woods and flowery
meadows, where the butterflies play, by a professor
with a cyanometer, to measure the blue of the sky
with, nor by a recommendation not to stare into the
woods, but rather to ascertain whether the oaks are
Quercus Rohur or Quercus Peduiiculata; or, not to
look at the flowers in the meadow all at once, as if
they were a yellow carpet, but to take his Linn reus
and determine the species of this ranunculus. !N'o
entomologist is setting him to chase butterflies and
impale them. ^N'either is the youth, when inspired
to devotion by the snowy Alps, glittering in moon-
light, like so many spiritual, silvery forms of giants,
annoyed by a geologist talking to him of granite,
gneiss, and limestone, or of the junction and incli-
nation of strata. The young enjoy the heavens and
the earth as. a susceptible painter or an ingenious
poet does. In this first paradisaic pleasure is planted
the seed of the perception of an intellectual world,
whose secrets will not be fully ascertained and
understood even after the longest and most active
life of scientific effort. But most teachers, by the
dispersion of these simjDle impressions of nature,
forcibly destroy these earliest pleasures of children,
the brightness of the imaginary world which they
see. Even the great Pestalozzi falls into an error on
this point, when he says ' It is not in the woods or
meadows that the child should be put, to become
acquainted with trees and plants. They do not
there stand in the order best calculated to display
the characters of the dififerent families,' &c. That


is, we ought to take tlie cliild into a botanic garden,
arranged on the Linnsean system, so that he may
stud}^ plants in the order of their species. To me
this seems like saying that the child ought not to
hear a symphony because that would be a mere
chaos of sounds to him; he should rather have
played to him, first, the first violin, part, then the
second, then the parts of the bass viols, the flutes,
clarionets, trumpets, &c. It is true that in this way
he would hear the separate parts, but not the bond
of thought which makes them a symphony. Jahn
was much more judicious in his gymnastic walks,
when he said, not ' we are going botanizing, geolo-
gizing, or entomologizing,' but merely 'we are
going to walk.' How much more naturally do our
youth, when the bird-of-passage instinct seizes them
at the university, wander through the father-land
and rejoice in its grandeur, and lay it deeply to heart,
without any idea of a premature, and painful, and
usually repulsive studjdng of a particular subject.
I hate this analyzing and lifeless elementarizing
of the first youthful impressions of nature — this
foolish, superficial, heartless, frivolous directing of
the understanding prematurely out of its natural
path — which is so sure to chill the youthful heart
and render it old before its time. The utmost
attainments of a mind thus trained must be — unless
aided by remarkable natural qualities — to observe
with the bodily eye ; to use the reason, but not with
pleasure ; to derive mere lifeless ideas from creation ;
and to represent the objects thus conceived in equally
lifeless descriptions, like the ghastly wax figures
which afford a repulsive imitation of living men."



The Slim of what has been said is that the first in-
struction of children in the Empirical Sciences
should mainly consist in exhibiting to them interest-
ing objects and phenomena; in allowing them to
look, handle, and ask questions ; and in- giving
opportunity for the free exercise of their youthful
imagination. A teacher may guide them in their
explorations of the neighborhood, direct their obser-
vations, make inquiries, give explanations, conduct
experiments, call things b}^ their right names ; but
he must be careful to do it in such a manner as not
to check their play of fancy or chill their flow of

When pupils have acquired a taste for the study
of nature, when they have learned to derive rich
pleasure from a communion with her rocks, her
hills, her valleys, her flowers, her trees, her insects,
and her animals; wdien they stand w-ith breathless
interest while Air Pump, Magic Lantern, or Gal-
vanic Battery reveals to them some astonishing
phenomena, it is time for them to take a second
step in the course of instruction of which we are
speaking — to commence the analysis of the objects
w^ith wdiich they have become acquainted and the
study of their several parts. This task is heavy
only to those who have no interest in it. Love here
as everywhere lightens labor. What then is the
best way of acquainting pupils with the particular
facts of the Empirical Sciences ? That is, how
shall they proceed to analyze the general impres-
sions which we noAV suppose them to possess ?

It is well to remark first, that the facts to which
the attention of pupils is called should be suited to


tlieir mental capacity. [Mature is a vast store-house
of facts ; some of which lie oiDeii upon the surface,
while others are so deeply hidden that it requires
much searching to find them ; some are so simple
that a child can understand them, while others are
still unaccounted, for by the ablest philosophers.
Among such an infinite variety of facts, the teacher
will point his class to those which are calculated
to interest and instruct them. As young children
are not able to observe closely or study much, they
cannot be confined to classes of facts belonging to
any particular science ; but must be permitted to
acquire knowledge in the same unsystematic order,
if such an expression is allowable, which nature
evinces, when she throws together rocks, trees,
flowers, birds, insects, running streams, and sporting
fishes. When older, the attention can be more
easily confined to facts belonging to the same science
or subject.

The teacher should not rely upon verbal descrip-
tions of facts or phenomena when a different course
is open to him. The most skilful and enlivening
word-painting makes a weak impression upon the
mind in comparison with the real thing. The
eye seems to be the most open inlet to the soul.
Hence, children delight in examining curiosities in
nature and art, in looking at pictures, and in wit-
nessing experiments. The exhibition of a fiower,
a mineral, a shell, a fossil, a bone, the picture of a
strange animal, or the falling of a feather and a
guinea in the exhausted receiver of an Air Pump,
will convey better ideas to a child at a glance than
the most elaborate description of the same things.


Chemistry and Natural Philosophy require full ex-
periments; Physiology can he illustrated hy pre-
senting the heart, stomach, bones, &c., of animals
whose organic structure is similar to that of man ;
Botany, Mineralogy, Geology, and Zoology, are
best learned where rich cabinets supply specimens,
or in the field ; and Psychology can only be appre-
ciated by those who closely observe the actions of
others, and that which passes within their own
minds. "Wherever possible, pupils should be re-
quired to repeat the experiments made by the
teacher, to draw objects, and give written and oral
descriptions of them. When specimens are want-
ing or facts cannot be tangibly presented, the un-
known may sometimes be brought vividly before
the mind by comparing it with the known which
resembles it.

The pupil himself should be taught to search for
facts. He should be appointed to conduct experi-
ments, to make explorations, to give descriptions
of natural objects. While the vast majority of men
have eyes that see, they do not see, and ears that
hear, they do not hear, much that takes place about
them. They are blind and deaf to the beauty and
truth of nature. It is the teacher's duty to awaken
the dull senses of his pupils from their torpor, and
send them out to gather fresh facts from the rich
fields of nature ripe for the harvest. He should
instruct them to make and handle simple articles
of philosophical apparatus ; to observe the phenom-
ena of rain, hail, snow, dew, frost, ice, &c. ; to
notice the habits of insects, the growth of vegeta-
tion, the peculiarities of animals, &c. ; to visit mu-


seums and menageries, kc. ; to make excursions
to quarries and mines, meadows and mountains,
springs, rivulets, and rivers, &c. The pupils thus
learn to depend upon themselves, and not to rely
wholly for help upon text-book and teacher. If
pupils can be taught to find pleasure in collecting-
facts, the work of teaching them is almost done ;
for to such, science is itself a pillar of cloud by day
and a pillar of fire by night to guide them onward.
The third step in a course of study in the Em-
pirical Sciences, is the classification of facts. Indi-
vidual facts are so numerous that it is impossible
to make much progress in the study of the Empii*-
ical Science without the use of classification. In
the infancy of science, classifications were founded
upon adventitious circumstances ; but as further
discoveries were made such classifications gave
way to others founded upon inherent relationships.
Guided by an intelligent teacher, pupils can be
taught to classify objects properly, commencing of
course with objects whose resemblances are obvious
and passing on gradually to others in which they
are more hidden. Many classes among plants,
minerals, insects, and animals can be determined
by the general appearance of the individuals compo-
sing them. I have succeeded best in imparting an
idea of classification by descending from the general
to the particular, from the class to the individual.
My pupils have not experienced much difliculty,
after having seen a few specimens of the Umbel-
liferse or Yiolacese and heard their characteristics
described, in finding the right place for other indi-
vidual plants belonging to these Orders ; and, so I



tliink it would be with the Quartz family among
Minerals, the Asteriadae among Radiates, the Ce-
phalopods among Mollusks, the Lepidoptera among
Insects, the Ophidians among Reptiles, the Gralla-
tores among Birds, the Rodentia among Mammals,
and hundreds of other orders, classes, genera, and
species equally well marked. The same method
of teaching is applicable to the classes of facts and
phenomena belonging to Astronomy, Chemistry,
^Natural Philosophy, Psychology, and other similar
sciences. The only difference is that the principle
of classification is not made so prominent in these
sciences as in those previously referred to.

These remarks are made in full view of the fact
that the lines separating the divisions which have
been made in the sciences are sometimes very ob-
scure. Men who have made certain sciences a life-
long study are not always agreed about them. But
the judicious teacher will confine his pupil in the
beginning to the study of those classes which are
most easily determined, and afterwards, when pre-
pared, he can enter into the '' debatable ground" of
the subject.

In making original classifications, it may be well
to remark that a sufficient number of facts should
be collected before it is safe to form classes ; that in
forming classes, permanent and inherent relation-
ships only should be regarded ; that artificial systems
should be wholly discarded ; and that genera and
species should be discriminated by never-failing

A fourth step in a course of study in the Empirical
Sciences is the inferring of laws or principles. The


collection and classification of facts constitute only
the introductory parts of the Empirical Sciences.
Connecting principles must be found to bind these
classes together into systems. Counting stamens,
marking spots, measuring scales, or observing
phenomena in general, is not science. Nothing
takes place without law. We can only notice
effects, their causes must be inferred. We have the

Online LibraryJames Pyle WickershamMethods of instruction .. → online text (page 22 of 31)