Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 50.djvu/264

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250
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

The suggestions offered in this paper are in harmony with the conclusion that many of the phenomena accompanying volcanic eruptions are due to the escape of steam occluded in molten lava, but are opposed to the hypothesis that the rise of lavas from deeply seated sources is due to the same cause. The source of the heat and the source of the pressure manifest when a magma rises through a volcanic conduit are considered to be distinct, and in the main of different origin.

 

NATURAL HISTORY IN THE PRIMARY SCHOOLS OF FRANCE.
By FANNY BIGNON.

DURING the last few years instruction in our primary schools has been undergoing an interesting evolution. The authorities have broken away from superannuated traditions, and have arranged courses of a wholly new character. There are no more long analyses, endless conjugations, and dictations of catchwords. While language, according to the tyrant of words and syllables, may be a loser by this change, I wish to show that science, and especially natural history, is a gainer.

The natural sciences have indeed had a place in the primary schools, and, in order to get his certificate of graduation, a child of eleven years was obliged to make a compilation on some such subject as the following:

1. Breathing. What happens to the air in the lungs? A part of this air combines with the heat of the blood. Results. (This topic was given at Brest in 1893.)

2. Digestion. Absorption of foods. Stomachic digestion. Intestinal digestion. (Hérault, 1893.)

3. What is an insect? Transformations of insects. (Haute-Garonne, 1894.)

4. A flower. Its composition. The role of pollen. Describe the ovary. (Hérault, 1893.)

5. The characteristics of lime. Its function in the soil. Means used to furnish lime to soils which lack it. (Meuse, 1893.)

From these examples it will be seen that all branches of natural history are touched upon, but physiology is treated more fully. We will not stop to criticise the method of putting the questions, and possibly some of the inaccuracies of statement may be laid to typographical errors. They are taken from a work by Messrs. Barreau and Bouchet, the former a supervisor at Paris, the latter a college principal.

But let us consider the methods used to give to our children