Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 25.djvu/570

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

the nervous constituents and the nervous mechanism. What is taught will not be science, which must explain things, only sham science; will not be real knowledge or anything understood, but only the words of a lesson.

No doubt something will be gained by calling attention to the subject, but the question is, if the method proposed is the best that could be adopted. We doubt if the appeal to science through such teachers as we have, and such books as most of those that are now appearing, to meet the new emergency, is the best way of securing the end desired. What is wanted is to make the deepest and most indelible impression upon the minds of youth in regard to the bad effects of indulgence in alcoholic beverages. But the attempt to expound the physiology of the subject is not the best way to accomplish this object. The evils of intemperance are evils which openly appear in conduct. The incontestable facts of the injurious influence of drinking are direct, palpable, conspicuous, observed by everybody, and open to no question. Science can not make them more clear, or add vividness to the painful facts which are seen by all. Good may come, as we have said, but it is a question if more good would not come from the dogmatic statement of facts, that are free from doubt and obscurity, and that are based upon unquestionable and established experience. The subject in its scientific aspects is beyond the grasp of pupils in common schools, but maxims and rules can be stamped upon their minds in a way that will exert a salutary and permanent influence. And if it is desired to teach the young to think upon the subject, then let the victims of alcoholic indulgence be taken as object-lessons in which what the pupil sees himself becomes the basis of the opinions he forms. Every community is full of examples of the effects of drinking, and these effects are seen in all possible degrees. Let the scholars be directed to observe for themselves, and see how much truth they can find out on all sides of the subject; the exercise will at any rate be an excellent means of mental improvement and practical education.

 


LITERARY NOTICES.

Geological Excursions, or the Rudiments of Geology for Young Learners. By Alexander Winchell, LL.D. Chicago: S. C. Griggs & Co. Pp. 234. Price, $1.50.

In his experience as a teacher of geology, and interested in extending a knowledge of this interesting and important subject in the common schools and among the people, the author of this work found himself confronted with this formidable difficulty, that "in most of our colleges, no knowledge whatever of the subject is required for entrance, and there is no course where geology is a prerequisite; and since geology is not required for entrance into college, it has ceased to be taught in the schools—as if geology had no uses, if not demanded as a preparation for college." As our higher educational system, therefore, virtually works against the recognition of this science, the difficulty must be met by preparing the necessary rudimentary books for introduction into the schools, on the ground of the importance of this kind of knowledge, and with no reference to the influence of the colleges. Dr. Winchell says: "As geology is not taught in the schools, and as nineteen twentieths of our teachers have not studied it in college, there is almost no preparation among teachers of primary or secondary grades to induct a pupil into an elementary knowledge of the subject. The only hope of early reform seems to lie in furnishing teachers with a text-book so framed as to be capable of successful use by a teacher without previous acquaintance with the subject. Certainly, no such text-books exist; for though there are several which might be employed by teachers thoroughly disciplined by previous study, the large majority of our teachers are not so disciplined. These text-books, moreover, arc too much conformed to the dogmatic