« PreviousContinue »
5. A. A. A. S.:
PROFESSOR CHARLES E. Bessey, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Neb. (See
6. National Educational Association :
PROFESSOR John M. Coulter, University of Chicago, Chicago, III., chairman.
DISSENTING COMMENTS OF CHARLES E. BESSEY
While cordially agreeing with the majority of the committee in the general spirit of the foregoing report, and in many of its propositions and recommendations, I cannot subscribe to it in its present forin. The essential points in which I dissent are as follows:
I cannot agree to say, with the majority of the committee, that the compound microscope “is a difficult piece of apparatus for the young student to use intelligently,” since I have known of its very successful use in the fourth, fifth, and sixth grades of certain public schools in Nebraska. For pupils in the eleventh and twelfth grades (third and fourth years of the high school, where alone botany should be first taken up) the compound microscope is not as difficult to handle as the chemical and physical apparatus necessarily handled in a good high-school course in chemistry and physics. We are not called upon to make botany a simpler science than chemistry and physics in the secondary schools.
I must dissent emphatically from the proposition that “the first contact [of the pupil) should be with plants in their general relations, forming the natural covering of the earth's surface, and holding definite relations to their environment." This refers to the newest department of modern botany, viz., ecology, which is just now, for the first time, finding its way into the botanical courses of our foremost universities. We who have to deal with advanced students, well prepared in general and systematic botany, find it hard enough work to study the general relations of plants referred to above, and I hold it to be impossible to take up
this work successfully in the secondary schools without a much better preparathan than suggested in the report of the committee.
I must dissent from much of the detail in the suggested course for the first half-year. Instead of attempting the impossible task of teaching the pupil in a few exercises “ to recognize, in a general way, algæ, fungi, liverworts, mosses, ferns, equisetums, club-mosses, gymnosperms, monocotyledons, and dicotyledons," it will be far better to devote the halfyear to this work, giving the pupil the opportunity of becoming personally acquainted with enough kinds under each head given above to enable him to recognize them in something more than “a general way."
As to the “life-relations and -processes” I dissent from the prominence which the report gives them thus early in the course in botany. Many
of the suggestions are useful, e. g., those pertaining to the position, form, and mutual relations of leaves; the stems bearing foliage leaves; prostrate, climbing, and erect stems; relations of roots to soil, water, air, etc.; and some of the experiments and demonstrations are suggestive; but others, again, are impossible of performance in any but the loosest way by secondary-school pupils, e. g., the demonstration of photosynthesis, respiration, and movements of water and elaborated material.
The inclusion by the committee of the study of “plant societies" in the suggested work of the secondary school pupils is, to say the least, untimely. The pupils with no further preparation than that allowed by the committee are not able to designate the members of the plant socied ties, and, on account of the newness of this department of botany in America, there are practically no teachers in the secondary schools who are able to give any instruction in it.
I recommend that the committee's “second course” be more fully elaborated, and suggested to the secondary schools as the outline of work to be followed.
CHARLES E. BESSEY.
REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON ZOOLOGY
The committee takes it for granted that, in accordance with the general report of the Committee of Ten, published some time ago, the subject will be awarded a place in the curriculum, and hence the present report covers its position, the character of the course, and extent of the same.
POSITION IN CURRICULUM Studies on living things appeal more strongly to students of fifteen than to those of seventeen years of age, whereas the reverse is true of precise formal argument. The power of exact reasoning cannot be said to develop early, and the less formal methods of biological science are also transitional to those of both physics and chemistry. Furthermore, the mathematical training necessary for physics particularly is not obtained by the pupil, under present programs in secondary schools, early enough to allow the introduction of work in physics before the third year of the secondary course; hence your subcommittee is all but unanimous in recommending that, since work in zoölogy does not require the rigid training necessary for more formal work in physics and chemistry, it should precede work in these branches. It should, however, be preceded, in its opinion, by a year in general science and physiography.
Whether illustrated by the study of plants or animals, the phenomena of life are so similar and so clearly complementary that a rational arrangement of courses calls for a study of botany and zoology in successive terms or years. Various circumstances may determine in the individual case the order to be followed, yet neither should be studied at the expense of the other, but both receive a due share of attention.
CHARACTER OF THE COURSE
1. Probably the most general method of teaching zoölogy in secondary schools at present is the text-book method. A large amount of information about animals is acquired thereby in a limited time, and the minimum of attainment and preparation is demanded of the teacher. Your Subcommittee on Zoology is unanimously opposed to this method, for not only is undue emphasis laid on the larger forms of animal life, but also no course has any right to be regarded as a course in science unless it include laboratory work.
2. The systematic method involves the detailed study of a group or groups in the most careful manner from a taxonomic standpoint. This plan has the advantage of bringing the pupils in contact with the objects studied, and trains powers of discrimination and analysis, but it gives the student an exaggerated idea of the importance of certain structural parts and of limited animal groups, and fails to develop general biologi. cal ideas.
3. The laboratory study of a series of animals is the method now used with the greatest success. Two tendencies are observed here: (a) the rapid superficial examination of a large number of forms, and (6) the more accurate study of a limited series of types. Your subcommittee is of the opinion that the thoro, careful study of a few types, emphasizing the quality of the work rather than the amount of ground covered, should be recommended as yielding the best results, tho "the course should not be exhaustive to the extent of becoming exhausting.” In content some change in the prevalent character of zoological courses seems desirable. The systematic and morphologic work of colleges is not most profitable to the student; minute anatomy is clearly out of place, and exclusive dissecting is too time-consuming. External morphology, life-histories, habits, economic interests, are of far greater interest and value to the pupil, and all members of the subcommittee are united in emphasizing the necessity of paying greater attention to observations on the living animal and its activities.
A series of types can be selected on which it is possible to work without the use of a compound microscope, thus adapting the course to schools having a minimum equipment. The course may, however, be somewhat improved by the addition of a little work on lower forms by the aid of that instrument. The types may be selected with reference to the material available for use, but always with regard to preserving the balance of the course in getting some idea of the wide variation in animal structure, and should be so arranged that related forms come in succession.
It is essential that the student find individually the answers to questions from the objects before him, record independently his observations in the form of notes, and especially of drawings portraying the essential features with accuracy, and should himself conduct experiments of a harmless and simple character on the living animal. The definite information gained in this way and by comparison with other types should be broadened by reading and class instruction on allied topics outlined by the teacher. Of fundamental importance are field excursions for the study as far as practicable, of organisms in their natural environment, to collect and compare other forms, to observe and record their habits and activities. For the comparison of types not native to a given region a school museum is desirable, but it should be a small working collection and be put to constant use. The collateral reading of the course should be broad enough to include, not only work of immediate bearing on the topic in hand, but also the records of great naturalists and explorers, which will add to the interest as well as encourage love for nature.
EXTENT OF THE COURSE
Not less than one year of continuous work should be given to biological science, and half of the time should be devoted to zoölogy. Of the five hours per week spent in the study, two may be used for class-room work and three in the laboratory ; altho, by virtue of lack of outside preparation for laboratory work, some think that double time should be devoted to it for a given credit. The choice of type forms used in the laboratory is subject to individual variation, but should not exceed ten for a half year's work. The line of study to be followed for each form is indicated by the following analysis:
1. External anatomy: (a) general form and symmetry, regions, parts ; (6) comparison with other individuals of the same species, emphasizing points of variation and constancy ; (c) comparison with other types.
2. Observations on the living animal, simple physiological tests, emphasizing care with regard to the inferences drawn from the reactions.
3. Class topics, including talks by the teacher, selected readings, class work, analysis of results.
As a specific instance of the application to the individual form, the following instance is taken from the report of one member of the co mittee :
Any one of various species whose larvæ can be obtained alive near the end of September may be employed. The cabbage butterfly (Pieris), the milkweed butterfly (Danais), or the swallow-tail butterfly (Papilio) will meet these conditions.
1. Imago : dorsal view, wings expanded. X, 1 or 2.
2. Imago : left side, wings closed. (The bodies in 1 and 2 are to be drawn parallel to each other). X, 1 or 2.
3. Imago : front of head. X, 10.
QUESTIONS ON EXTERNAL ANATOMY
1. How many segments behind the head in (a) the imago; (6) the larva ; (c) the pupa?
2. What external organs of the imago can be identified in the pupa ? 3. Which feet of the larva correspond with those of the imago ?
OBSERVATIONS ON THE LIVING LARVA
Each student (or group of students) should be provided with a glass vessel covered with netting and containing food leaves, for keeping the larva during pupation.
1. How is locomotion effected ? Illustrate by diagrams.
2. How does the larva feed? Observe and record the movements of the mouthparts and of the head during feeding. Draw the outline of a partly eaten leaf.
3. (This observation must extend thru several days.) Make and record observations upon the act of pupation.
TOPICS FOR THE TEACHER
(1) The habits and food of butterflies. (2) The number of broods of butterflies during a single season and seasonal dimorphism. (3) Protective resemblance and mimicry. (4) The larger divisions and commoner native forms of lepidoptera. (Examples of lepidoptera illustrating the commoner native types should be shown, and students encouraged to collect and classify them.) (5) The hymenoptera ; their structure, classification, and habits.
ZOOLOGICAL SUBCOMMITTEE OF THE COMMITTEE OF SIXTY, NATIONAL
1. From the Northeastern Association of Colleges and Preparatory Schools:
Professor WILLIAM T. SEDGWICK, Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
MR. WILLIAM ORR, JR., High School, Springfield, Mass. 2. From the Association of Colleges and Preparatory Schools of the Middle States and Mary:
MR. OLIVER D. CLARK, Boys' High School, Brooklyn, N. Y.
Professor Henry BALDWIN Ward, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebo,
MR. J. W. MATTHEWs, principal of High School, Grand Rapids, Mich. 4. From the Southern Association of Colleges and High Schools:
PROFESSOR HENRY B. Orr, Tulane University, New Orleans, La.
MR. C. E. HARRIS, McDonough High School No. 1, New Orleans, La. 5. From the American Association for the Advancement of Science:
PROFESSOR Alpheus SPRING PACKARD, Brown University, Providence, R. I.
MR. FRANKLIN W. BARROWS, Central High School, Buffalo, N. Y. 6. From the Department of Natural Science Teaching, National Educational Asseciation :
DR. CHARLES_BENEDICT DAVENPORT, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.