Page images




MARKET HALL, ST. PAUL, MINN., July 10, 1890. The Department of Elementary Instruction was called to order at 3 P. M., by the President, Bettie A. Dutton.

Prayer was offered by Dr. Richardson.
Mrs. Yahony and Miss Faher, of St. Paul, rendered a vocal duet.

Alexander Winchell, of Michigan, read a paper on “Geology in Early Education.”

“Science Training in Primary and Grammar Grades” was the subject of a paper by Gustave Guttenberg, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania,

Mr. Guttenberg was followed by Viss J. S. Tutwiler, of Alabama, whose subject was “Our Brother in Stripes in the School-Room.”

The President appointed the following Committee on Nomination of Officers : (. (. Rounds, of New Hampshire; F. L. Soldan, of Missouri; and Miss Abbie Low, of Pennsylvania.

The Department then adjourned.

SECOND SESSION.-JULY 11. The Department met in Market Hall, at 3 P. M.; President Dutton in the chair.

The exercises opened with a song by the children; after which the minutes of Thursday's meeting were read and approved.

The first paper of the session was by William T. Harris, Washington, D.C., on “Fairy Tales and Folk-lore.”

The Committee on Nomination of Officers made the following report, which was adopted:

President H. S. Jones, Erie, Pennsylvania.
Vice-President -- Miss J. S. Tutwiler, Livingston, Alabama.
Secretary - Miss Ellen F. Wheaton. St. Paul, Minnesota.
Another song was given by the children.

“The Teacher and the Child” was the subject treated by C. B. Gilbert, of Minnesota, and Mrs. D. L. Williams, of Ohio.

After a piano solo, Mrs. J. S. McLauchlan, of Illinois, and C. C. Rounds, of New Hampshire, spoke on "The Teacher and the Parent."

H. S. Jones, of Pennsylvania, read a paper on “The Teacher and his Fellow-Workers."

Mr. Jones was followed by N. A. Calkins, of New York, on “The Teacher and the Superintendent." After a few closing remarks by the President, the meeting adjourned.






I can only hope to outline the discussion of this theme. Some features of an adequate treatment would embrace: The present condition of geology in elementary schools; the influences which oppose its wider introduction, and its pursuit in the higher schools; the diversity of the subject matter of the science of geology; the range of intellectual powers which it calls into exercise; its peculiar adaptation in its observational phase, to the needs of the student in the observational stage of his education; the completeness of the intellectual discipline derived from its pursuit; the peculiar sources of enthusiastic interest in the early stages of the study; the direct and the reflexive ethical influence of the study; the place held by geology in the development of American industries and civilization; the rightful demand of pupils not preparing for college to be permitted to make at least an outline acquaintance with the science offering such means of culture and knowledge.

Most of these topics have been elsewhere discussed by me;* and I can only express the hope here that American educators will make themselves acquainted with the reasons for the positions which I have taken; because the ulterior and collateral benefits of geological study constitute indirect reasons for the early study of geology. But the direct reasons are the thesis here for consideration; and I shall have to restrict myself to these, with bare reference to other points.

First, I desire to elucidate the broad and just conception of the nature of the science. It is necessary to state squarely that the widely-current conception among educators is both inadequate and erroneous. Geology is not chiefly a professional study. Some of our pedagogical thinkers, with attention strongly arrested by the splendid results of geology applied to economic development, have concluded that the chief function of the science is utility; and that consequently it is not an appropriate study in general education; that it is suited only to persons with professional aims, and should find place in the later stages of the educational career. Geology is set down by Chancellor Payne as having a low culture value; and in respect to practical value, affords knowledge which it is better to “hire” than to possess. “Geology as an independent study,” he says, “has still less culture value than geography; it has no independent unit that is imposing, though when superadded to geography

*Shall We Teach Geology? A discussion of the proper place of geology in modern education,


it raises the culture value of the latter."* Such a conception of plot is so inadequate as to become ridiculous.

At the opposite extreme of misconception are those who pronounce le but a “bundle of theories.” The attention of such persons has been din tel specially to the speculutionx to which it leads. They overlook the fact that a large volume of principles bas been established, as valid truths of nature, and that these are constantly fruitful in the industries promoted hy applied geology. They forget that all these truths are revelations of the wars and thoughts of the Maker of the world. They ignore the splendid opportuniti lying at our doors for intellectual inspiration and educational activity. That speculations find place, results from the fact that the field of geology stretchen from the present, the accessible and the known, in all directions into the unknown -the inaccessible, the past and the future. A science without op portunity for speculation - without provocations to speculation, is a completed science, like Euclidian geometry. The possibility of speculation implies opin, unexplored territory; stimuli to inquiry; incitements to intellectual enterprise. Vor are even the pure theories of geology without value. All theory is based on deductive considerations; and the processes of deductive rea-oning possess the same disciplinary value, whether the basal principles are geological, physical or mathematical.

Another misapprehension is the belief that the abundance of technical terms in the science, and the assumed abstruseness of the conceptions, with the remoteness of the times and places at which the truths were present realities, render geology a difficult study, as well as an unimportant one, and therefore better suited for advanced stages of the educational career. Suche impressions result both from ignorance and from the positive influence of many of the text-books. That these are false impressions, will be understoon? from what I intend presently to state.

These are mentioned as misapprehensions current among educators particularly educators occupying positions of control - as principals, superintendents, and presidents; and they are the misapprehensions of this class of educators, because, for positions of control, persons of literary and classical educations are usually sought. Such misconceptions of the scope and value of geology cannot be charged generally upon the intelligent public; because however the subject of geology may be slighted in the schools, or actually excluded, a very large number of persons acquaint themselves with the subject, either through private instruction, or “ Agassiz Clubs,” or “Chautauqia Circles," or general reading. The evidence of this is statistical, and cannot be gainsaid.

C'nder a more adequate conception of geology, it is presented as a badoo facts, a body of principlex, and a body of theories. The facts are: first, the phenomena of the terrestrial surface; second, the phenomena of other world

[ocr errors]

* ('ontributions to the Science of Education, p. 59.

« PreviousContinue »