« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
within the earth and see the riches there imbedded, we behold the ocean as the mighty storehouse of heat and moisture, we admire the sun as a source of life and happiness, and we are led to conclude that all things created by God for man may influence the ultimate end of the race. It is not possible in a city school to do more than make a child cursorily acquainted with nature. None the less, this demands thoroughness. Through pictures, visits to museums or to zoological gardens, and even the old-fashioned menagerie, children should become able at least to recognize the more familiar animals. An instance recurs to the writer where the catechism class was unable to understand "Lamb of God who takest away the sins of the world, etc.," because not one among them ever had seen a lamb. True, it is not always possible for the teacher personally to conduct pupils on such expeditions as have been mentioned, yet she can encourage them to profit by those commonly offered, which in a great city are not few.
The aim and end of nature study is to give the child a desire to know and love the works of God, so that should the future give opportunity he could not look upon the sowing and harvesting of food plants, the trees beautiful in blossom or rich in fruit, without realizing that the soul has similar seasons. His thoughts, desires and actions are perceived to be seeds which grow and mature, to be garnered by God's reapers or plucked by His command. Who could wander through the forest and listen to the chant of the leaves and let his own heart remain silent? Who could travel over mountain and vale and behold the stream spring from its source and become, in spite of hindrances, a noble river without in a manner learning to overcome the obstacles in his own path? But even apart from this higher result, one, who has learned to look on the outside world with an observant eye, has opened to him a source of recreation that will lighten his weary hours and healthfully relax mind as well as body.
If then in our Christ-like task we are teaching a charity which governs temper, controls passion, helps to one's own aggrandizement, prevents looking on the poor and lowly as on paving stones, that is not ashamed of the dear old parents who have worn out health and strength in life's struggle, that is ever ready to lend aid to Church or home or school, may we not hope
through our Divine Model to send out from our schools boys and girls who will be true to God, to themselves and to their Church; in a word, men and women who will let the world judge from their lives how beautiful must be the structure of which they are a part?
Yet an important part of our labor still remains. Our pupils, grown our friends, must be welcomed back when possible through visits or occasional letters. At least must they ever feel that the teacher who led their first steps in the path of knowledge will rejoice in any good they may encounter, will encourage in time of distress or trial, will make their joys and sorrows her
Meanwhile, as they recede from us, we from our quiet watchtowers must still send heavenward earnest prayers that not one whom the Master has given to our care shall fail to be accounted for in the day of final reckoning.
THE TEACHING OF GEOGRAPHY
A SISTER OF CHRISTIAN CHARITY.
Geography, as a study, may be narrow or broad, in accordance with the definition applied to the term. Literally it means a description of the earth. It includes, therefore, a narrative not only of the various changes which have been produced by man, but also of those which have been caused by nature. Geography considers not only the earth itself, but all that is connected with it, hence it involves numerous facts and principles relating to various sciences. When viewed as a collection of disconnected, unrelated facts, appealing to the memory alone, it leaves the mind in a state of hopeless and helpless confusion, but when regarded as a simple science, harmonious in all its parts and adapted to the gradual development of young minds, it becomes the nucleus of all school work.
The study of geography has a threefold value, namely: first, a practical value of affording information which every intelligent person must possess; second, a disciplinary value of offering
problems for the intellectual faculties; third, a general value as a means of culture. The fundamental question in geographical instruction is not what knowledge of the earth and its inhabitants will be helpful to an individual pupil, but what knowledge and training will be useful to pupils as a class, not only in their outer activities, but also in their inner life. The value of geography as a school study is not measured chiefly by its industrial and commercial utility, but rather by what it does to furnish a basis. for a knowledge of current world events, for the intelligent reading of history, and, above all, by what it does to train the imagination and to broaden and enrich subjective experience and enjoyment. Geographical knowledge presents three distinct phases of mental development, through which the pupils pass as they advance in the school course-the observational, the intermediate and the scientific phase. The adaptation of the subject matter and the method of instruction necessitate, therefore, three somewhat distinct courses, as follows: An oral course in home geography-primary ideas and facts taught objectively; an elementary course, calling into requisition the use of globes, maps and text-books; and, lastly, a scientific course in mathematical and physical geography.
Little instruction that may properly be called teaching geography can profitably be imparted to children under nine years of age. In the primary grades the courses of nature study and object lessons are mainly given as an observation of plants, animals and the general physical environment of children; these lessons being merely the preliminaries and the introduction to the real study of geography. The work should begin by directing the pupil's attention to things around him. The simplest facts of everyday experience will supply abundant material for interesting and profitable study, and, while thus instructing, the teacher must enter into the child's life and endeavor to see objects as the child sees them. At the beginning the lessons should con sist of interesting and instructive conversations about common objects. The pupils should be asked only such questions as appeal to the understanding and stimulate thought. The objects in the schoolroom, on the playground, and on the way to and from school, furnish appropriate topics for such queries. These
exercises should aim at encouraging the child to express orally, knowledge gained through his own observations. The tendency of discovery in the child is one that should be stimulated, and the teacher who has taught his pupils the art of investigation has rendered them a service that not only adds to the pleasure and happiness of their childhood days, but also illuminates their entire future path of progress.
The knowledge which the child has acquired from his immediate surroundings will form a standard from which more remote objects may be comprehended and judged. There is a maxim which says: "Geography, like charity, begins at home," and this home geography of personal experience should advance gradually to the consideration of the continents and the world as a whole. The introductory work consists of mere conversations, and pictures of various kinds may be introduced to serve as lesson topics.
The primary geographic ideas and facts to be taught clearly in the lessons in home geography are embodied in the following seven topics:
First Food products and the occupations for which their cultivation calls. The spring and fall seasons are fitting times to discuss agriculture, seeing the farmers busy with the fresh turned soil, seeds, young plants, etc. In the fall they may again turn their attention to the products of the gardens, orchards and fields. The farmer's stock, as horses, cattle, sheep, etc., is an important part of his outfit. The relation of grain-raising to stock-raising, and the profit of the farmer in combining the two are of interest.
Second: Building materials and related trades. The second topic calls for an investigation of the materials used for building purposes, as brick, stone, sand, lime, lumber, and also the work and implements of the laborers. It seems advisable, in some cases, to reach beyond the horizon of home, to point out localities whence pine lumber is obtained, where the brick is made, or what quarries furnish the stone, etc.
Third: Clothing materials used, manufactured, etc. This topic will deal with cotton, wool, leather and other raw materials, as furs, that are produced in our neighborhood, and the mills and
factories and any other local industry bearing on this subject. It is also well to direct the children's attention to the special local industry of their city or town, such as flour and saw mills, car or railroad shops, factories for various products, coal mines, etc.
Fourth: Local commerce, roads, bridges, railroads, etc. The chief wagon roads by which the farmers, gardeners, dairymen bring their produce to market establishes the idea of a town as a trade center for receiving the raw products of the surrounding country and in turn distributing groceries, clothing, tools, etc., to the farmers. It is advisable to speak of the various railroad lines to the neighboring town, for they furnish ideas of commerce on a larger scale. If their city or town is situated on a navigable lake, river or canal, a knowledge of the boats and their cargo will be of great value.
Fifth: The local surface features. Under this head may be treated streams, hills and mountains, woods, springs and brooks, plains and valleys, islands and lakes, waterfalls and mill streams, difference in soil and consequent difference in products. The locality of the school determines in a great measure the time to be devoted to these several subjects, hence this must be left to the judgment of the teacher.
Sixth Home government is the next problem to be faced. The town hall, the court house, the officers such as the mayor, city council, police, etc., furnish the best starting point. However, the city government should be discussed in its simplest
A seventh topic of home geography is found in the observation of the sun, the moon and the stars, the seasons, the varying lengths of day and night. These grand and imposing object lessons belong directly to the child's home and form a basis of mathematical and physical geography. These instructions may be followed by a series of lessons on the state in which the pupils live, as well as by a few lessons on the United States.
The fifth school year should find the pupils ready to begin a systematic study of the earth as the habitat of man. This course should begin with a brief review of the preceding oral lessons, which may increasingly include exercises in which the pupils pass from known objects to a conception of like unknown objects.