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accompanies the adult in every phase of his existence, and, far from becoming extinct with the last throb of the heart, revives before the unknown shadows of the grave. What, then, is there in the whole world of greater importance to follow and direct than the movements and impulses of this curiosity, of these uncertain pulsations of the soul? In this lies the secret of all education; and upon education depends the future of
Unfortunately, he continues, the methods hitherto employed have been absolutely insufficient. And the insufficiency is most notable as regards the imperfect and defective training given to the instinct of curiosity. Observe the child. Of everything which excites his attention, he never fails to ask you the reason why. It is thus that he enters into the connexion of cause ” and “ effect.” It is a sign. But instead of following up this natural indication, and developing the thought by the exercise of the reason, we proceed as if the being under our charge were incapable of reason; we overload the memory of the child with a multitude of words, whose value he cannot understand until later in life, and perhaps never. The true direction of the mind is to proceed from the thought to the word, and not from the word to the thought. It is for want of having recognised and applied this principle that our educational systems have failed so utterly.
Let us take, for example, the study of nature. No science, assuredly, ought to prove more attractive to the mind than natural history. Yet mark how repulsive zoology, botany, and mineralogy are made at the very outset, by the dryness of their nomenclatures and the dreariness of their classifications. Undoubtedly, it is necessary to lay down a course of study in the midst of the marvels which everywhere surround us ; undoubtedly names are required for the objects which attract our notice. But are not the methods we employ directly opposed to the end we set before ourselves ?
I address myself to parents and teachers; and I say to them, Do you wish to inculcate a love of science, and yet put into the hands of your children or pupils books which differ as widely from the book of nature as human brotherhood—(a fiction !)—differs from universal gravitation ? Instead of familiarising us at first with the animals and plants within our everyday reach, you collect, under the same irrevocable iron “form,” genera and species never intended to meet in any one particular zone, and many of which are so rare that few persons will ever be fortunate enough to see them except in collections and engravings. And, curious to state, the rarest species nearly always obtain your preferences; judging, at least, from the minute descriptions which you consecrate to them. Monstrous
absurdity! You seek at a distance that which lies close to your hands, as if the Everyday Objects above, beneath, and around, were unworthy of the science you profess.
But here we must pause. Upon the principles thus laid down by M. Hoefer, have been founded the two unpretending companion volumes, of which the second is now submitted to the lenient judgment of the public.
W. H. DAVENPORT ADAMS.