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consequents, but must find the antecedents. This
process is called inductive reasoning ; and the ques-
tion now is, how shall pupils be taught to reason in
that Avay.

A child reasons inductively when he learns that
the hot stove burns his hand, that snow makes it
cold, that a lump of sugar dissolves when placed in
a cup of tea. In all these instances, the antecedent
and consequent appear close together ; a child has
no difficulty in making the connection. With young
children, the teacher must imitate this method ; and,
when nature conceals the consequent or places it
at a distance from the antecedent, he must show
their relation by carefully planned experiments and
judiciously chosen illustrations. More advanced
pupils, of course, need less help.

Text-books on certain of the Empirical Sciences
sometimes present facts and afterwards state the
principle involved, and sometimes announce the
principle and then explain it by reference to the
facts from which it was deduced. In building up a
new science, the former method is the only safe one;
but in teaching, either maybe legitimately followed.
The statement of a proposition, in treating of an
Empirical Science before the facts which prove it


have been presented, is merely a matter of conveni-
ence, and does not essentially change the method of
reasoning which is from the particular to the general.
Teachers will find it an interesting exercise to en-
gage their pupils in deducing principles from given
facts, and in accounting for certain facts by known

It is proper to add that inductions should be made
with much caution. Both teacher and pupil must
be actuated by a sincere, desire to obtain the truth
— to interpret nature correctly. Hypotheses may
be assumed, but they must be considered only as
hypotheses until carefully tested by facts. The
moment a teacher makes prominent some facts
while he conceals others or distorts them through
prejudice or preconceived opinions, the moment he
adopts an hypothesis and begins to enforce it dog-
matically, he becomes a false teacher and does his
pupils a great wrong. Hasty generalizations have
been the bane of science. The progress of the race
has been greatly retarded by the resistance new
truth has met from old opinions. A teacher had
better communicate his fxcts and then tell his pupils
to doubt in regard to their explanation, than to lead
them into errors. Intelligent skepticism in matters
of science is better than blind faith. He best
studies nature who does it* with a sincere desire to
find the truth, and is willing to accept what he finds.
Let no one be misled by " idols of the tribe," " idols
of the den," "idols of the market," or "idols of the
theatre." In searching for causes be sure that no
active element lurks in the antecedent for which
allowance is not made, and that which seems to be


the consequent is not wholly or in part a mere con-
tingency. The prominent elements in the character
of a successful student of the Empirical Sciences are
an enthusiastic love of nature and the most careful
circumspection in its investigation.

The process which, after Mill, may be called the
"Concrete Deductive Method," forms the fifth step
in learning an Empirical Science. This method
consists in bringing new facts or new phenomena
under laws already ascertained inductively, or in
determining the effect of such laws in new circum-
stances. Comparatively few new^ laws have of late
been discovered in the Empirical Sciences, but the
laws already discovered have received a much more
extended application. The tendency of science now
is to simplify laws, and to multiply facts, i^ew
effects are being constantly deduced from laws long
since known. In this, indeed, consist mainly the
triumphs of modern science. Such a standpoint
has been reached by some of our best J^aturalists
that certain facts have been anticipated long before
their actual discovery.

When pupils reach this stage of progress in their
course of study, they will need little prompting to
push forward. Knowing laws and the facts from
which these laws were .inferred, they will naturally
feel an interest in testing their validity in new cir-
cumstances. Our text-books which treat of the
Empirical Sciences should contain many facts and
phenomena arranged miscellaneously, in order that
pupils might have exercise in accounting for them ;
or nature herself misrht be used as the text-book.
A pupil has but to go forth with his eyes open, and


nature everywhere, above, around, beneath, will ask
him to apply the scientific principles he may have
learned. Hardly anywhere as yet do teachers
estimate as highly as they should the value of
scientific experiments. First made acquainted with
laws by such experiments, pupils should be allowed
to witness their effects in other circumstances — to
repeat them, and to plan others for themselves.

There is a sixth step that must be taken before a
course of study in the Empirical Sciences can be con-
sidered as completed. The observation of facts, the
generalizations of experience, and the extension of
known laws do not constitute the whole of science.
Eternal, universal, and necessary principles control
all facts and all inductions from facts. It is thus
with mathematical, logical, and metaphysical prin-
ciples. Aristotle says: "The general principles
necessary to knowledge are axioms.'' An Empirical
Science is like a ladder, it needs support at both
ends — it, cannot account either for the existence of
facts, or for the genesis of the ideas which embrace
them. Take an example : heat expands iron ; heat
expands gold, silver, copper, lead, &c. These are
facts, and we infer from them that " Heat expands
all metals." So far inductive science will take us;
but mark the queries concerning the matter which
remain unanswered: Are we sure that all metals
are expanded by heat ? In concluding affirmatively,
what is the nature of the principle we take for
granted? How do we become cognizant of such
things as metals? How do we know one metal
from another? Why do metals exist? Empirical
Science is powerless in dealing with such questioua


as these, and 3^et similar problems lie about every
inductive syllogism. The Inductive Philosophy in
its own field has blessed mankind with rich fruit ;
but unaccompanied by the recognition of a higher
philosophy, it would leave us without a personal
Deity, without a united plan in creation, and would
lead us finally into the dry Skepticism of Hume,
the soulless Positivism of Comte, the philosophical
Pantheism of Spinoza, the cold Logic of Mill, or
the weak faith of Buckle.

The teacher who develops the Empirical Sciences
in their higher departments, will be false to his
trust if he does not exhibit to his pupils their limita-
tions — if he does not show them what these sciences
can accomplish, and where they must fail. The
creation is the expression of an idea — is a thought
embodied in matter. The great end of Empirical
Science is, through facts and inferences, to reach
this idea, and use it in the further interpretation of
nature. The idea is not derived by any induction ;
but it is produced in the reason upon the occasion
of some experience. Says Ilickok, " Till we attain
this eternal principle, which, as a living law, the
Maker of the universe has difl:used all through it
from centre to circumference, we may stand outside
and measure and weigh, and overwhelm the un-
derstanding with the summations of arithmetical
reckonings, but we shall know nothing of that cen-
tral working which makes and holds all in one
concrete cosmos of perpetual beauty and harmony."
No greater harm could be done to the human spirit
than to teach it that all sure knowledge must be
based on facts patent to the senses. It would be to


dethrone God and cast the human intellect ont upon
a sea that has no shore, and from which no hope
could lift the soul to Heaven.

Faithful to the study of nature, a few men of
genius have mounted like Moses to the top of
Mount Pisgah, up through facts and inferences,
until, as a reward for their devotion, glimpses of
the divine plan in creation were flashed into their
minds, and praising God, they gave the heaven-horn
truth to men, by whom the revelation will he
cherished until the end of their generations. I
hardly dare to name — but among those that must
be named, are Pythagoras, Plato, Kepler, I^ewton,
and our own Agassiz, These, and such as these,
hear the " Music of the Spheres ;" discern the " Soul
of the world ;" " Think God's thoughts after him ;"
'' Count themselves little children — standing on the
shore playing with the pebbles, while the great ocean
of truth lies spread out before them;" and recog-
nize the "Facts of the world as the words of God.".

This view of the steps necessary in a course of
study in the Empirical Sciences is strongly confirmed
by the history of their progress. A careful student
may mark this progress by several distinct stages
of growth.

First, the Poetic Stage. — The attention of unculti-
vated men is first attracted to objects by some
quality which pleases their fancy or arouses their
feelings. The African savage may deck his person
with gaud}' ostrich-feathers, the Arab may pitch his
tent near some palm not only to enjoy protection
from its shade but pleasure from its beauty, the


Indians of our own country may linger on some
mountain summit to gaze at the river which winds
along far below them, the lake which nestles among
the hills, or the glories of the setting sun; and in
each, it is easy to see the awakening of that interest
in nature which in more highly civilized conditions
of society will lead to study and knowledge. The
Mythologies of the East are largely indebted for
what in them is beautiful to this poetic interest in
nature which characterizes peoples who have not
made much progress in scientific knowledge. The
most enlightened nations have had their ages of
Fable, in which they personified the objects and
powers of nature, and filled caves, and groves, and
air, and waters, with creations of their lively fancies.
It is not very difficult to see that the mental condi-
tion of men then was like that of children now.

Second, the Mystic Stage. — Wondering at the
marvels which nature was constantly forcing upon
their attention, men could not long withstand the
temptation of trying to account for them. They
could not but see that certain consequents followed
certain antecedents, and the inquiry would become
very natural as to whether this was always the case.
Curious, indeed, would be that history which re-
counted the efibrts made by the human intellect to
find causes for the facts it observed. It may easily
be supposed that the first inquirers would hurry to
their conclusions, and that these conclusions would
generally be mere guesses, contradictory and mys-
ticaL The ancient Hindoos, Persians, and Egyptians
had their fanciful Cosmogonies ; the speculative



Greeks found the principle of the universe in water,
air, fire, and they placed the Titan, Atlas, under the
earth to upbear it on his shoulders ; and the Middle
Age Mystics found a ready explanation for physical
phenomena in supernatural causes. Both good and
evil spirits play an important part in the affairs of
men and the ongoings of nature, while nations are
passing through the stage of progress now referred
to. It is to be expected that children will now
exhibit similar mental tendencies; but it is time
that full grown men in enlightened countries should
have passed beyond the stage of progress which we
have called the Mystic.

Third, the Ohservatmial Stage. — Dissatisfied with
the small return of fruit resulting from purely ideal
speculations, students of nature began slowly and
patiently to accumulate facts. Different observers
explore the whole field of the Empirical Sciences —
they experiment at home and travel abroad, and the
treasures of thousands of volumes attest their in-
dustry. All feel that they have now struck the right
path ; and the faithful teacher must follow^ in it.

Fourth, the Clas^ificatory Stage.— Yacts accumu-
late ; the memory is overburdened ; the reaping of
the rich harvests seems threatened to be stopped
for want of barns in which to store the products.
The necessity of classification is felt, and efforts are
soon made to arrange the abundant material into
classes. External resemblances or adventitious cir-
cumstances determine the first divisions into classes ;
but soon more hidden relationships are observed,


and, ill the light of these, better systems of classifi-
cation are adopted and the great mass of material
becomes moulded into manageable shape.

Fifth, the Inductive Stage. — Classification of facts
and phenomena could not well be made without
starting inquiries as to the causes which govern
them, and, when once the search for these began,
natural curiosity would prompt its vigorous prose-
cution. The fanciful guesses of the Mystic Stage
of progress proceed from the same mental powers
that give birth to the slow and careful generaliza-
tions of the Inductive Stage ; but during the former,
men leap to their conclusions without waiting to
test them by an appeal to facts. The spirit of in-
quiry since the time of Bacon has been inductive.
Guided by this method, earnest investigators have
searched the earth, the air, and the heavens, the
vegetable and animal kingdoms ; and rich indeed
has been their reward. Laws have been found, and
superstitious influences have been discarded. JSTot
only have busy hands revealed nature's curious
hieroglyphics ; but many a Champollion has decy-
phered them. The laws derived by induction may
be very simple and applicable only to special cases,
or they may be broad enough, like the law of gravi-
tation, to comprehend the whole universe ; but all
safe inferences must be founded upon systematically
arranged facts.

Sixth, the Demonstrative Stage. — Generalizations
are often made in the Empirical Sciences long be-
fore all the facts which are embraced by them have


been ascertained. Indeed, it is not possible to bring
all the facts embraced by a single generalization
within the limits of human experience, for that ex-
perience is finite and nature is infinite. But the
laws of nature are uniform in their operations ; and
we feel quite sure when we ascertain a law applica-
ble to several of the members of a class, it is true
of the whole class, or when the tendency of a cause
is to produce a certain efiiect in one set of circum-
stances its tendency will be to produce the same
efifect under other circumstances. It follows that in-
ductions may be made, and then used in the search for
additional facts or in the interpretation of diflferent
phenomena. "We may even anticipate the existence
of unknown facts. By a kind of demonstration we
can prove that newly discovered gases must be sub-
ject to the law of chemical affinity, that the fossil
plants or animals, just obtained from the strata of
an unknown formation must exhibit the same plan
of growth and structure as those to which we have
been accustomed, or that the law of gravitation
extends its influence to the remotest star just re-
vealed by the powerful aid of modern Telescopes ;
and the same method is applicable to all depart-
ments of science.

From its ver}^ nature it is clear that the Inductive
Stage of an Empirical Science must have preceded
the Demonstrative Stage, and the history of all
such sciences, is full of confirmatory evidence.
Even now the most able Physicists are laboring in
this stage, and the fruit gathered seems to show
that the harvest is but ripening.


Seventh, the Philosophic Stage. — By our senses we
observe facts, by means of the understanding we
classify them and make inductions from them ; but
these faculties can never give us the universal prin-
ciples which condition both the facts and the induc-
tions. The atoms of matter may unite in certain
definite proportions, the various organs of plants
may be metamorphosed leaves, bodies may attract
one another according to certain fixed law^s; but
there are reasons why all these things are so, and
just so far as these reasons can be attained have we
what may truly be called a Philosophy. He who
observes the most facts and makes the broadest
generalizations, will be best prepared to discern the
eternal principles according to which the universe
was made. Reaching a certain standpoint, these
principles appear to the sincere investigator of na-
ture, as the intuitions of the reason or as the per-
ceptions of the quick eye of faith.

Eighth, the Esthetic Stage. — Nature has beauties
which lie upon the surface. They serve to attract
attention. Nearly all persons, both young and old,
derive enjoyment from them. Even the savage stops
to gaze from some mountain summit upon the sleep-
ing lake or the setting sun, and the little child claps
its hands in delight when wandering about a garden
of flowers or gazing at the richly-colored rainbow.
But all this beauty bears little comparison to that
which ravishes his soul who has gazed upon na-
ture's teeming facts, who has constructed them
into orderly systems, who has formed comprehen-
sive generalizations, and who has at last caught
31* •


glimpses of the eternal principles that are the
archetypes after which things were made. It is a
great mistake to suppose that those who are most
icrnorant of nature's works exhibit the most admi-
ration for them. Study, indeed, sometimes curbs
the light play of fancy and banishes forever her
airy creations ; but at the same time it reveals ten
thousand real beauties of which the untutored poet
never dreamed. All true art presupposes the highest
conceptions of science ; and he alone can drink in
the full measure of nature's beauties who is able to
comprehend the divine plan in the creation.

JN'inth, the Religious Stage. — In the earliest states
of civilization, men must have felt that there is a
powder above nature. The mind of the poor Indian
"Sees God in clouds or hears him in the wind."
Much of the ancient INIythology had its origin in
the attempt to find God in some object of the visible
creation or in some power that is manifested through
it. Every event was regarded as a miracle. A
darkened understanding prevented the Heathen
world from discriminating between the Maker and
the thing made. The most enlightened of these
nations could do no more than erect an altar to the
" Unknown God." Individual instances there were,
of persons who seemed to apprehend a personal
Deity, but they were such as had closely studied
nature and themselves. All past history goes to
show that those who have numbered the great
variety of objects which nature contains, who have
witnessed the working of her grand machinery,
who have noticed the " foot-prints of the Creator"


in nicely adjusting means to ends, who have marked
the order that everywhere prevails and enjoyed the
beauty that adorns the whole, and who have care-
fully inspected the revelations of their own minds,
possess, other things being equal, the most adequate
ideas of the Great Being who created the heavens
and the earth and all that in them is, and pro-
nounced it very good. "The heavens declare the
glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his
handiwork." God has revealed himself in the
Bible ; but he has also left his name labeled upon
all his works and he who will may read it there,
" For the invisible things of him from the creation
of the world are clearly seen, being understood by
the things that are made, even his eternal power
and Godhead." The highest end of the study
of nature is to find God in his works. The true
philosopher finds Him, and his longing soul is

II. Geography.

Geography treats generally of the aspects of na-
ture and the works of man, and the causes which
have produced or modified them. Its elementary
facts as they relate to nature have the same basis
as the Empirical sciences ; and its elementary facts
as they relate to man have the same basis as the
Historical Sciences; but, in its higher departments,
it may present the broadest generalizations of both.
The difference between it and any special JS'atural
or Political Science is that its object-matter com-
prehends a much greater variety of facts and prin-
ciples. Geography is not so much a science in


itself as it is a collection of matter belonging to a
number of sciences.

The word Geography means a description of the
earth ; and a description of the earth is understood
to include the changes man has wrought upon it.
This meaning defines sufficiently well the Geogra-
phical matter that appears in many of our text-
books on the subject; but Geography must now
be considered not merely as a narrative of facts but
as a system of principles controlling the facts.

Geography is easily divisible into two kinds ;
that which relates to Nature; and that which
relates to Man. The first is called Physical Ge-
ography; and the second, Political Geography.
The terms Mathematical, Historical, Descriptive,
Local, &c., as applied to Geography do not repre-
sent distinct divisions of the subject. If we follow
the order of cause and effect, w^e must first speak
of Physical Geography, and afterward of Political
Geography ; but the teacher will find that he can
best illustrate the subject and do more to create an
interest in it on the part of his class, if he combine
the two, and teach both together. Causes and
their effects will thus be brought before the mind
at one view and their relationship can be more
readily shown. If this were otherwise, no neces-
sity would arise for a corresponding division here,
inasmuch as the same pedagogical principles apply
to the one as to the other.

Many of our text-books on Geography adopt a
very imperfect method of presenting the subject.
They generally commence with some pages of defi-
nitions concerning the planetary relations of the


earth, the general divisions of land and water, lati-
tude and longitude, zones, government, races of
men, stages of civilization, kinds of religion, changes
of seasons, &c. ; all of which it is impossible for a
child to understand. Such lessons as these with
others upon maps which are to the learner " a mere
set of marks, without any equivalent conception in
the mind of the thing represented," make the whole
work a dull, dragging process ; or, at the best, can
only crowd the memory with forms of words, and
images of dots, and lines, and ridges, which have
little meaning. By and by, it is true, a healthy
mental organization asserts its right to acquire
knowledge in a rational way, and Geography may
then be learned, not in accordance with this method,
but in spite of it.

In teaching Geography, as in teaching all other
studies, the teacher must first ascertain what know-
ledge his pupils already possess concerning the sub-
ject, and then make them familiar in a natural way
with such new matter as may be most closely con-
nected with it. The mind makes progress in know-
ledge only by the process of assimilating .the un-
known to the known. A child will have attained
by the time he is eight years of age, a knowledge
of many Geographical facts relating to the neigh-
borhood about his home or his school. He will
have seen water bubbling up from the earth in'
springs, and running away in rivulets ; he will have
walked up hills, and wandered about valleys ; he
will have noticed villages, and may have visited the
market-town, the mill, shops, and manufactories —
watched cars move on a railroad, or ships sail on a


river; he will have become familiar with many
plants, animals, reptiles, and insects; and with the
general appearance of rain, hail, snow, ice, and
frost ; and possibly may have learned the names of
some of the rocks and soils. This and other know-
ledge like this is what the pupil knows when he
begins the study of Geography, and nothing can be

Online LibraryJames Pyle WickershamMethods of instruction .. → online text (page 23 of 31)