Slike strani

form, and through the election of athletic association officers, which involves all holding associate tickets, and is conducted on the strict Australian system. The cadet regiments include nearly three fourths of the boys; track athletics, baseball and football put in training a majority of the boys as candidates for first or "scrub" teams; while tennis and basket ball organize a lesser number of the girls. The "first-year" and the "fourthyear" Christmas plays afford some small opportunity for dramatic skill, which with better facilities could be immensely extended. Finally the yearly school "lunch" held for moneymaking purposes, while it virtually sacrifices two hours of a school day and a week's recreation time, includes the entire school and yields innumerable lessons of economic, domestic and social import.

In deciding that true adjustment to present complex social conditions demands the qualities of alertness and initiative, need we feel that we are sacrificing such other essentials as thoroughness, grace and finish of method (so dear to the old Greeks), and those far-reaching spiritual ideals not so obviously vital to the scramble for existence? Some of these are certainly suffering for the moment. Teacher and pupil in too many cases are conceiving of existence as a scramble. But is it not possible that this is all due to lack of recognition of these activities as an integral part of the plan, and that study and wise regulation would do away with the evils while preserving the good? We need not have the boy or girl of eleven different fraternities or clubs, the athletic "flunk," the snob, the superficial student, the dreadful "get-there" type; teachers need not suffer, as they undoubtedly do at present, if authorities will lay hold and devise means to regulate participation in these outside interests, demanding wise election of clubs as of major studies with definite restrictions as to number and kind, creating a sentiment of primary moral responsibility for the vocation as represented by the majors, and making these others distinctly avocational, and, finally, educating teachers to the broad outlook and unselfish co-operation necessary to make minor adjustments.

Where Shall We Lay the Emphasis in Teaching Geography?



IXTY years ago, it was not an uncommon thing in schools to make a singing exercise of the geography lesson. I have recently seen a textbook in which facts of geography were written in verse and fitted to the air of familiar songs. This did not then seem absurd. Twenty-five years ago I studied a text-book which called

upon the pupil to describe some four or five hundred rivers and creeks, to locate scores of capes, islands, bays, straits, mountain peaks, etc., and well toward two thousand cities and towns scattered over the earth. Nor did this seem absurd at the time. But gradually its absurdity dawned upon men, and a reform was started. Then the reform movement had to be reformed. Now we are in that process. We are seeking to be sane and practical in deciding what to teach and what to emphasize. From the great mass of available geographical material, we must make a selection. What shall be our test in deciding what to teach and what to omit?

It is my conviction that we ought to lay the emphasis upon those facts which are likely to prove most useful to the average

man or woman.

Every educated person is supposed to possess a certain fund of information about the countries, cities, peoples and industries of the world: about its great rivers, its mountains and plains and deserts. The treatment of such topics is the province of geography. It is true that a good many fundamental notions of geography may be gained by observation, under the direction of a good teacher. And the value of field and observational lessons, the first hand study of the home region, is to be encouraged. But the practical difficulties-and they are

[ocr errors]

numerous in the way of taking classes into the country or out into the city or anywhere away from the school, are so great that we cannot expect much of it to be done in large cities. That teacher who does as much as she can is to be commended. But in the last analysis it will be found that a valuable, yet very small, part of the pupil's knowledge of geography is gained or can be gained by observation.

Some people have emphasized the wisdom of making geography more largely a rational study; of leading pupils to reason out the facts which they acquire. This, too, is an ideal worth striving for. The older geography came into disrepute because it ignored the value of reasoning. The mild revolution ushered in by the report of the Committee of Ten was a protest against the old method and the old subject-matter of geography. It was too largely a memory study, too largely a book study, too largely an unthinking study.

With the zeal characteristic of Americans, as soon as we saw our error we began to correct it with a vengeance. We recognized the faults which the Committee of Ten pointed out. We recognized the calibre of the men who made the report, and some of us-not all-hastened to bathe the effulgence of the socalled new or rational geography.

A new text-book came out, apparently modelled along the lines recommended by the report of the Committee. As nearly as I can compute it, not less than sixty-five per cent of the text of that book dealt with mathematical and physical geographyespecially physical. Man and his industries, his trade, his cities, his governments and his customs received but scanty attention. Highlands and lowlands, slopes, divides, young rivers and old rivers, young mountains, mature mountains and old mountains, relief maps and wind maps received the emphasis. Not a colored political map occurred in the first half of the book. The only really good maps were bunched in the back of the book after the tables and pronouncing vocabulary. They seemed to apologize for their presence in the book at all. Yet the book sold in fabulous numbers. Going into the hands of teachers trained in the older type of geography, the book and its new method of treatment created no little confusion. The plain fact is, the book and the type of geogra

phy which it presented was not adapted to elementary pupils. There was too much about cold, lifeless physical features, and too little about people. The inborn interest of children, old and young, is in people,-the people of China, of Japan, of Australia,-not in the configuration of the land, the drainage, or the details of climate. Suffice it to say that when the revised edition of this pioneer "new" geography came out, it was a changed creature. The amount of emphasis placed upon purely physical matters was greatly reduced. Political and commercial maps came back into the body of the book. Man and man's work claimed a greatly increased proportion of space. The schoolmen of the country, backed up by three or four million children, had decreed that in elementary geography at least, the emphasis does not belong on the physical side. And what is scarcely less remarkable, is the movement going on now, this very year, in the field of high school and college geography. It is in exactly the same direction,-away from the over-emphasis of the physical, and toward a greater emphasis on the human side. Read the recent report of the special committee on high school geography, presented at the N. E. A. at Denver in 1909, and the report of a similar committee of the Association of American Geographers, presented at Boston in December, 1909.

The basis of geography lies in physiography and climate, yet those are not the phases to be emphasized in the lower schools. In order to teach the larger effects of mountains, for example, upon human activities, we need not teach the genesis, classification or geological structure of mountains first.

My main contentions thus far are:

1. That however desirable it may be, unfortunately it is not practicable to teach very much geography by observation.

2. That reasoning on the part of pupils, as fully as they reasonably can do it, is surely desired but only moderately possible, because the little people have too small a basis of experience to do much real reasoning.

3. That, after all, most of the geography must be learned from books, maps and pictures; that the memory is the faculty most largely called into use; that memory is a perfectly respectable faculty, worthy of use and cultivation, despite the disre

pute into which it has fallen in some quarters. No one defends memorizing of mere words without thought. No one defends parrot work.

4. That, granting the fundamental importance of the physical side of geography, nevertheless, knowledge of it is rather more a means to an end than an end in itself in the lower schools.

5. That the human side of the study is the side that most appeals to children, is most useful in the affairs of after life, and is entitled to the greater emphasis.

Permit me now to be more specific. I would lay considerable emphasis upon the use and study of maps. To become able mentally to picture a map, and its main features, is a valuable acquisition, one of the most valuable legacies of the geography class. In this spasm of reform that we have been passing through, map studies have been a little neglected. The high schools, normal schools and colleges, while always scolding the elementary schools for their numerous shortcomings, are on better ground than usual when they complain of the poor knowledge of location manifested by the recent crops of grammar school graduates. I have no hesitation in saying, however, that the upper schools, and particularly the colleges, are guilty of worse mistakes, and that on the whole, the best teaching in America to-day is done in the elementary schools. Yet, I should like to plead with you to lay a little more emphasis on studies in location. Map drawing may be overdone, yet it is one of the very best ways to teach some phases of geography. It does tend to imprint those mental pictures of maps which I hold to be so useful to every educated person. Pupils like to make maps, especially with colors, and will often do much extra and voluntary work of this kind because it does appeal to them.

My second plea is for a thoughtful discrimination between geographical facts that are fundamental and those that are only incidental; a plea that teachers shall select a few points in connection with a country or region, points that her judgment tells her are consequential, and then emphasize those so that they will stick. The number of such facts is, after all, relatively small. But these few facts ought to stand out in our teaching like headlines in a newspaper. Did you ever think what skill

« PrejšnjaNaprej »