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CITIRAMIDEO Child

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In sonie states, teachers are subjected to a more or less rigid examination on the rudiments of zoology as a pre-requisite to their holding even the lowest grade teacher's certificate. Although such a requisition is not in force in Wisconsin, yet most teachers so fully realize the utility of a knowledge of this branch of science, as well as its availability in the direction of developing the perceptive faculty, that they are disposed, so far as possible, to encourage research in this direction. So fully does the author of the present paper believe that certain qualifications, often regarded as the results of the exercise of a special gift, are due wholly to the use of cultivated perceptions, that he ventures to assert that if to a class uninstructed in zoology, but of otherwise average attainment, the question be put: How many legs has a spider? the few pupils giving a correct answer, pitted against the remainder in a spelling match, will come off victorious in nearly every instance.

The principal difficulty in attempting to explore a portion of the domain of zoological science is to determine in what direction we can put forth our efforts with the fairest prospect of success. It is not necessary to explore regions with which every one is already perfectly familiar. It is by no means conducive to mental growth for a teacher to spend her time in interrogating her coming presidents as to the number of legs a cow has, or whether a cow has two or more horns. Object and oral lessons with regard to things about which one either already knows sufficient or justly cares to know nothing, have deservedly brought some modern methods into disrepute. If, however, the same time and strength be expended in some direction where new and useful facts to be acquired are continually met with, the curiosity is stimulated at the same time that the perceptive faculties are constantly strengthened, and their use in other directions rendered all the more effective.

1- Vol. IX.- No. 3

Let us, then, invite our pupils into a comparatively new world. Let us interest them in the forms and in the habits of the myriad insect inhabitants of the air, the earth, and the flood.

Our first opponents will be the conservative parents, who are always opposed to anything new, as though it must be of necessity wrong. For the father, who is either a farmer or necessarily interested in agricultural products, it will be sufficient to talk of the economical view of the case. We have both beneficial and injurious insects. It is as important that the first be carefully protected, as that the latter be ruthlessly destroyed. The Coccinellide, by preying upon plant lice, doubtless preserve various kinds of vegetation from entire extermination, and it is no hyperbole to say that the Ichneumonidae, by destroying the thousands of caterpillars which they infest, save as much to the horticulturist and to the farmer, as the potato beetle, and the cotton worm, and the army worm destroy. For the conservative mother there must be another line of thought. She will be sure that the children will be poisoned to death by the bites or stings of the "nasty insects." It will take patience to make her believe that most insects, most spiders, and most snakes are thoroughly innocuous. Spiders, short of the tarantula, are terrible only

, in appearance; there are, perhaps, not more than half a dozen species of venomous snakes in the United States; and wasps and bees rarely pick a quarrel. These facts should be encouraging. To the last statement, it may be added that the gentlemen of the family are entirely trustworthy, and may be handled with impunity, as the stings are invariably confined to the gentler (?) sex.

But she may object, that she doesn't want her children taught to catch and kill insects. Such instruction will make them heartless, bloodthirsty, inhumane. As a question of ethics, however, what could she say to this? Which is the better?. that the beautifully variegated butterfly, in his magnificence, shall be treated with a drop of chloroform or some other anesthetic, by means of which he shall sleep himself gently into oblivion, and afterwards be the object of admiration for children who should be taught to wonder at the works of creation, and honor and love their author, or that he shall be battered by the winds and the rains until the inclement season of winter freezes his

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life slowly away, if he has luckily escaped being torn in pieces while yet alive, in order to help fill the maw' of some insectivorous bird?

But, objections aside, are there any of the fraternity who would willingly do something in this particular direction? Assuming the answer to be yes, let us see what we can first do.* Let us secure a knowledge on the part of the pupils of what an animal is. It is perhaps needless to say that this definition must not be given to the pupils, but obtained from them. The words in which their thoughts are embodied may not always be the best, but they can be changed by judicious suggestions until the result embodies the three points of life, sensation, and voluntary motion, by which we provisionally segregate animals from other created things.

Object lessons must then follow, by means of which may be drawn from the pupils the various characteristics of the four main divisions of the animal kingdom. Tangible visible objects from which to educe these ideas are a necessity. A living snake whose vertebræ may be felt, or a few still connected vertebræ from the skeleton of any quadruped will answer the purpose--for the vertebrates; any myriapod (thousand-legged worm), easily found under stones, in damp places, or under the bark of decaying trees, is excellent for the illustration of the peculiarity which characterizes the articulates; snails, from the river or from the woods, supply material for developing the idea of mollusks, and we may even illustrate the radiates if we bethink ourselves of the crinoids which fill our lime-stone rocks, or of the hydra which may be easily obtained from almost any fresh water pool, in the summer, and which a pocket lens will render sufficiently large for purposes of illustration. Star fish from the salt water, if obtainable, are of course excellent, and preferable for this latter purpose. Having thus fixed the four grand ideas which underlie the Cuvierian classification of the animal kingdom, let us not linger among the verte

* The author of this paper is not striving here for a philosophical representation of the deductive or inductive system of instruction, but is only trying to indicate a method by which, in his experience, he has succeeded in accomplishing results. He might insist that a practical mode must be philosophical, even though to some the plan here marked out may appear to be an unwarrantable combination of the two modes of philosophical disquistion. Many teachers will find a preliminary lesson advantageous. This lesson should develop: 1. Definition of natural history, as distinguished from political or national history. 2. Some distinguishing characteristics of the three great kingdoms of nature: the mineral, the vegetable, the animal.

3. The convenience of a separate investigation of these kingdoms, and the names of the sci. ences hence resulting, to-wit: mineralogy, botany, zoology.

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