Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/477

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

attacked from the standpoint of the geologist or physical geographer, or both.

One of the most pronounced departures taking place in preparatory-school education at the present time is to be found in the prominence given to these subjects, not only in the schoolroom, but by practical experience in the laboratory of Nature, among the hills and mountains, as well. The object of this departure is twofold: the first and most imoprtant is to train the young early to observe phenomena and to interpret them; the second, in a narrower sense, is purely educational. The one inculcates a habit of thought that will be of inestimable advantage in pursuing future study; the other, without taking into consideration the element of mental training, constitutes instruction in concrete things that are matters of general education.

Before the student in the introductory schools is brought in contact with problems in the field, it is essential that he receive textbook or oral instruction in some of the geological processes giving rise to the phenomena to be studied later out of doors. In practical teaching the student is taken on excursions into the region not far removed from the school. At first some simple geological facts are shown him, often on a very small scale, but embodying principles which, when understood, lead to a ready interpretation of larger problems. Step by step the first principles are amplified by a larger and more varied class of examples, until the student is able logically to apply the reasoning in explanation of simple problems to the solution of the greater problems in physical geography and geology. In the absence of such excursions, I shall introduce a series of photographs carefully arranged to lead the reader along the same line of reasoning up to similar broad conclusions—a method which, if not so satisfactory and instructive, will at least have an educative value.

Our first excursion will be to a locality where an open cut has been made for the purpose of carrying on quarrying operations. The accompanying photograph has been so taken as to include both the top and the bottom of the quarry (Fig. 1). Let us first inspect the rock in the lower part of the quarry. The existence of planes of fracture, or joints, crossing the rock in various directions, dividing it into blocks, early attracts our attention. The stone appears dark-colored, tough, and is seen to be made up of two or three different minerals: one is black, cleaves readily into thin plates of a translucent nature, and we easily recognize it as an iron-bearing mica, or isinglass. Another is white, and cleaves or breaks in two directions, making angles of about ninety degrees; this we know as common feldspar. The third is less easily recognized as pyroxene, another of the many minerals containing iron. Having tested our knowledge of mineralogy, we will look about and see if all the rock ex-