Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/83

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WHY WE SHOULD TEACH GEOLOGY.

WHY WE SHOULD TEACH GEOLOGY.
By Prof. ALPHEUS S. PACKARD.

APROPOS of a recent article in The Popular Science Monthly, entitled "Do we teach Geology?" it may be said that, while the science may be taught in some high schools and smaller colleges in the one-sided and perfunctory manner stated, the statements under this head seem somewhat sweeping, as is also the writer's condemnation of all of our text-books; those of Dana, of Le Conte, or Geikie, being comprehensive and excellent. The subject should be taught in our universities and larger colleges, so as to train good teachers in the best field and laboratory methods, who should follow such methods when called to teach in the high schools and smaller colleges. Undoubtedly the best way to teach geology is by lectures, supplemented by text-book study, and the collateral reading of monographs, but especially by required field work, and, when mineralogy and lithology are included, by laboratory work. The teacher should have traveled widely, and seen for himself volcanoes and geysers; should have climbed mountain-peaks, visited canons, and examined the effects of erosion, and the every-day work of streams, of waves, tides, and ocean currents. He should show his class by what agencies the scenery at home has been produced, how certain mountains have been carved out of blocks of sedimentary rocks, and, if he lives in a region of fossiliferous rocks, the student should be taught to collect and identify fossils.

All this is done with more or less thoroughness in our better equipped colleges, and where it is possible there are chairs of mineralogy and lithology, apart from geology proper, with well-appointed laboratories and collections, as well as special instruction in paleontology, given by experts; while trained assistants in dynamical geology take classes out for field observation.

But, however the work of instruction be performed, the grand outlines of the study should be impressed on the mind of the student, and the teacher should have a philosophic grasp of the subject; and it is on account of the philosophic and general bearings of geology that it should form a conspicuous element in any liberal curriculum.

Geology, then, in its broadest scope should be taught in our schools and colleges, and for at least twelve good reasons.

At the outset we would claim that it holds equal rank with astronomy or biology. The former science tells us of the existence of other worlds than ours, and gives us some conception of the immensity of space. The study of plants and animals car-