Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/425

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411
LITERARY NOTICES.

irresistible interest to a purely scientific discussion.

Professor Lyman has made an excellent compend of what is known upon the subject of anæsthetics and their use. The book covers the history, theory, and practice of the topics discussed; and not the least merit of the treatment is its attractive style. Dr. Lyman has not availed himself of the ancient prerogative of medical science, to be dull. The work of a learned physiologist and practitioner, it is properly classed by its publishers among their standard medical authors.

A Report on the Teaching of Chemistry and Physics in the United States. By Frank Wigglesworth Clarke, S. B., Professor of Chemistry and Physics in the University of Cincinnati. Washington: Government Printing-Office. Pp. 219.

This is No. 6 of the "Circulars of Information" of the Bureau of Education for 1880. It embraces the substance of the replies to a schedule of questions which the Commissioner of Education sent out in 1878 to the schools of the country relative to the teaching of physics and chemistry, and covering the items of the courses of study, the text-books used, the value of apparatus, the library facilities and policy, the character of examinations, and the cultivation of original research. These replies were referred to Professor Clarke to digest and collate. His report, the purpose of which, in accordance with the design of the Commissioner of Education is, first, to state the facts, and second, to point out defects and remedies, includes a specific account of the instruction given in all those schools, public or private, of whatever grade, from which sufficient information to form the basis of such an account was received. In the prefatory parts of the descriptive chapters assigned to the several classes of schools, the author offers free general criticisms of the methods, and his own views of their defects, and the improvements of which they are susceptible, in observations which are of much value and interest. Passing the question of the desirability of teaching the sciences in primary and intermediate schools as an open one, the expediency of teaching chemistry and physics in secondary schools is regarded as generally admitted. Not less than half a year should be given to each, and "a year can usually be given without difficulty." Instruction should be general rather than special, and the textbook should be supplemented by the knowledge of the teacher, which ought to be enough "to render him in a measure independent of text-books." Normal schools by the theory of their existence ought to recognize the fact that their students may be called upon to teach chemistry and physics, and endeavor to train them intelligently in methods of instruction, and a few of them do so. As to the colleges, in most cases they teach chemistry and physics to the same extent as the preparatory schools, and in essentially the same way. "The conclusion is obvious that the colleges ought to do higher work. . . . The present repetition or duplication of studies is clearly wasteful, and ought to be abolished." With a few honorable exceptions, the colleges which are doing the best work in chemistry and physics are those which have adopted the elective system. The system of instruction in medical and related schools needs, as a rule, much improvement, but, "fortunately, a healthier state of affairs is rapidly developing." Insufficient attention to laboratory work or the neglect of it is a chief defect in a large proportion of the schools. Laboratory practice in physics is necessarily limited in preparatory schools, but a greater variety is attainable in chemistry, in numerous simple and ordinary experiments, which are cheap, and ought to be sought out and used. In the normal schools the future teacher may be taught the art of getting along with make-shifts, and to construct simple apparatus out of the commonest materials.

Illustrations of the Earth's Surface. Glaciers. By Nathaniel Southgate Shaler, Professor of Paleontology, and William Morris Davis, Instructor in Geology, in Harvard University. Boston: James R. Osgood & Co. Pp. 196, with 25 Plates and Descriptive Texts. Price, $10.

This work is designed to be one of a series of volumes of "Illustrations of the Earth's Surface," to be entitled severally "Glaciers," "Mountains," "Volcanoes and