Page:Makers of British botany.djvu/199

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BOTANY IN THE VILLAGE SCHOOL

often find it a difficult matter to puzzle one of the best pupils, not merely as to the name—a trivial matter—but as to the structure of the flower itself.

The Government Inspector in 1858, wrote as follows in his Report:—"Extra subjects, pretty fair, and among them Botany, excellent; this last being most thoroughly yet simply taught, and by such a system that there can be no cram. As far as a child goes, it must know what it does. The good moral effect of this study on the minds of the children is very apparent."

In those days, I am speaking of the "fifties," Darwin had not enlightened us as to the wonderful adaptations of flowers for fertilization by insects. This adds enormously to the interest of the study—as the present writer soon found with village children of the parishes in which he has lived, and taught them botany—but even without that attraction the Hitcham children were intensely enthusiastic.

The Professor also taught them how to dry plants. The village Herbarium, containing all the plants growing wild in Hitcham, was entirely made by them.

It may be asked by cynics, "What can be the use of teaching science to such children?" It is not the mere fact that a child knows the structure of a rose, but it is the training in accuracy of observation, mind and habit, which the minute and close observation demands, i.e. if it be properly taught, and to secure that, is all important in children, who are naturally inattentive and inaccurate in consequence. In teaching them botany as described above, the child is trained to avoid this bad habit in an interesting way, because inattention is solely due to want of interest.

The Ipswich Museum was a great source of pleasure to him. As President he carried out his plan of making it a "typical" museum, never letting it degenerate into a mere show, as so many country museums are, or at least used to be. The Ipswich Museum has been a model for all others in that typical series of fossils, etc., are exhibited in the visible cases, all others being relegated to drawers, for students to examine.

In allusion to the uses of Museums in his inaugural address referred to above, he remarked:—"Our collections should be