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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/102

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

practical exemplifications of this branch of the subject; though, even there, observation of the flow of water will reveal differences of level, and determine the highest and lowest ground.

A knowledge of the great movements of the air we breathe, and of the general laws that govern these movements, ought obviously to form an elementary part of any liberal education. The subject has attractions for old and young, since it includes a consideration of many of the most familiar occurrences of every-day life. Variations of weather, changes of temperature and moisture, the gathering of clouds, the rise of winds and storms—these and many other phenomena, which have fixed our attention from infancy, ought not to be the objects of mere gaping wonder. They should be intelligently appreciated, and the due comprehension of them should be begun during the early years of school-life.

From the rainfall, the transition is natural and easy to the flow of water over the land. The part of the rain that runs off in runnels and brooks can readily be followed. Where a stream exists in the school locality it should be made the text for the lessons on the flow of rivers, and the action of running water upon the surface of the land. The portion of the rain that sinks underneath the surface is less easily followed. But if there are any springs in the neighborhood of the school, they may be made an effective means of explaining the underground circulation of water. They should be revisited at different seasons, more particularly after drought and after heavy rains, when any appreciable variation in the volume of water may be detected, and the relation of the outflow to the rainfall may be enforced. Should the school be situated near the sea, an inexhaustible field of illustrations may be found along the shore. The phenomenon of the tides, which elsewhere can only be more or less intelligently followed from diagram and description, can here be actually seen every day. Besides the tides, the formation of waves may be observed at the coast; also their action in wearing away the edge of the land in one part, and heaping up shingle and sand at another.

In our methods of geographical instruction it has been too much the practice to ignore the biological side of geography. Yet, if we think of it, the forms of the land, the nature and distribution of the soils, the variations of climate, the system's of drainage, and the other features of the surface of the earth, derive, after all, their chief interest for us from the way in which they determine the conditions under which the living plants and animals of a country exist and flourish. The flora and fauna include so much of what makes the earth habitable and pleasant to man, that the description of them may be regarded as the highest subdivision of geographical narrative which finds its goal or crown in the characteristics and operations of man himself. No description of a region, therefore, and no mode of geographical instruction can be looked upon as complete, which do not