Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/103
GEIKIE ON THE TEACHING OF GEOGRAPHY.
��bring before us at least the more striking features in the general as- semblage of plants and animals.
For the effective instruction of the young in that wide and impor- tant department of knowledge commonly but not very happily called political geography, the school locality forms an admirable center and starting-point. Such matters as the partitioning of the earth's surface into countries and parts of countries, the local names assigned to these subdivisions and to the natural features that diversify them, the posi- tion and growth of cities, towns, and villages, the distribution of popu- lation, the opening of communications by roads, canals, and railways, the distribution and increase of trades, manufactures, and commerce — these and other topics embraced within the same extensive subject can obviously be made at once intelligible and interesting if they are first considered with reference to the illustrations of them which the sur- roundings of school may supply.
The subjects treated of continuously and in logical sequence in the foregoing chapters need not, of course, be presented in such formal and methodical order to the pupils. As I have already insisted, they should be taught in a natural and spontaneous way. It is not, in the first instance, of such moment that any definite order should be fol- lowed, as that the subjects should be made attractive, and the interest of the pupils in them should be awakened and sustained. Whether the instruction has been given in a methodical or more desultory fash- ion, much varied information about the home locality will have been brought together. Before proceeding further, and enlarging the circle of vision by entering upon a wider geographical area beyond the per- sonal acquaintance of the pupils, it will be found of great advantage to arrange and summarize this information. By so doing the teacher connects the scattered data, and illustrates in a memorable way the value of a principle of classification in helping us to deal intelligently with a multiplicity of facts. He, as it were, takes stock of the prog- ress of his scholars at the end of the first stage of their geographical education, and makes an important forward step in the direction of more advanced teaching.
If I have succeeded in making clear ray conception of the plan of education, it will be seen that the same practical method of instruc- tion, so advantageous with regard to the home environment, should be continued when the horizon of vision widens. Already, before the lessons are begun that deal with the geography of the fathel-land, al- lusions and suggestions have been made that have prepared the way for the fuller treatment of that subject, which, therefore, when at last reached, is not by any means unfamiliar. Though actual journeys be- yond the limits of the parish or immediately suiTounding district may not be possible, much advantage will be found in making imaginary ones, the teacher acting as leader, and guiding the scholars in traverses across the map. In the course of a series of traverses in various di-