Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/289

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277
LITERARY NOTICES.

plunged into so crude and futile an experiment as that at Brook Farm. Of course, it was a generous and noble, an heroic and a chivalric endeavor, and creditable to the hearts of those who turned their backs upon a selfish and sordid civilization to achieve a more harmonious and elevated life; but it was discreditable to their heads that they had not the intelligence to know that it must end just where it did end—in hopeless failure. Brook Farm collapsed because it was a project of impracticables whose education had been classical instead of scientific.

With the failure of Brook Farm Mr. Ripley took to the vocation of literature. Tired of making the world over, he resolved to accept it as it is, and make the most of it. His success was small at first, but he was an excellent critic, a fine writer, and an indefatigable worker, and these qualities were sure to win success. His career as a journalist and editor is fully and admirably described by Mr. Frothingham, and is very interesting; but it would be easy to show that the lack of the scientific element in his culture was as much a drawback in his later labors as in those that preceded them.

The New Botany. A Lecture on the Best Method of teaching the Science. By W. J. Beal, M. Sc, Ph. D. Second edition, revised. Philadelphia: C. H. Marot. 1882. Pp. 16. Price, 25 cents.

There is no class of persons who need teaching more than teachers. There are a few born educators whose native instinct, if not perverted by bad teaching, prompts them to pursue natural and rational methods for teaching others, but the average teacher teaches as he himself was taught, so that bad methods are propagated and spread indefinitely. The author of the pamphlet before us draws an interesting and life-like picture of the old way of teaching botany, in which the sole end and aim was to memorize the parts of the plant, and then learn its name by the aid of an artificial key, thus obtaining a most formal introduction to the stranger.

The new botany began to appear in this country in 1862, and includes a study of the subjects as set forth by Darwin, Sachs, Lubbock, Bessey, and others. It studies objects before books, and sets the pupil to thinking, investigating, and experimenting for himself. Teaching the new botany properly "is simply giving the thirsty a chance to drink." It also creates a thirst which the study gratifies, but never entirely satisfies. For young pupils object-lessons are very popular for a while, but in most cases the interest soon wears away; there is too much pouring in, and too little worked out by the pupil. They bring forth the combined information of all members of a class, but add little or nothing by way of research. To be really appreciated, a student should earn his facts in the study of biology. The author says: "In the whole course in botany I keep constantly in view how best to prepare students to acquire information for themselves with readiness and accuracy. This is a training for power, and is of far more value than the mere information acquired during a course of study in natural science."

The difficulty in the way of teaching the new botany is a serious, almost a fatal one, namely, it requires an actual knowledge of the subject on the part of the teacher; it can not be taught, like history and geography, by text-books; and, in addition, the teacher must have tact as well as knowledge. We have not yet reached the millennium of education, when each science shall be taught only by its true disciples and investigators.

Is Consumption contagious? And can it be transmitted by Means of Food? By Herbert C. Clapp, A. M., M. D. Second edition. Boston: Otis Clapp & Son. 1882. Pp. 187. Price, 15 cents.

That a second edition of such a book should be called for within two years after its first appearance is sufficient proof of the interest felt in the subject by the people as well as the profession. The author does not set out to prove that consumption is contagious, but presents the arguments advanced on both sides, with such an array of cases that the reader feels almost convinced that it must be either infectious or contagious. Koch's discovery, which has been made since the first edition, is referred to in the new preface and described in the appendix. That this discovery has an important bearing on the question propounded by Dr. Clapp is evident, and in general is