Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/544

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troduction of science into even elementary schools do so at their proper peril and that of the commonwealth.

Having discussed briefly the positions which science has held, is holding, and should hold in general education, I shall now consider what I conceive to be the proper way of introducing the child to a knowledge of the material world. In a little book which I published some years ago, called The First Book of Knowledge, I drew up a systematic course of object lessons of the kind which I should like to see generally adopted, because I think that, however defective it may be in many respects, it is perhaps the first attempt to direct this kind of education; and I insist that, on this account, it or its method will have to be considered by educationalists. For, after all, it must be conceded that matter, and the properties of matter, play a not unimportant part in the universe in which we happen—at the present moment at least—to be living. And so my task will consist mainly in considering the purpose and use of such a book.

In the first place, it should not be a book of reference; it should not be written and used on the principle of a directory or of a dictionary, or even of a manual of household recipes, which we consult to-day to find out how to make egg sauce; and to-morrow, how to remove ink stains from the fingers.

It must be progressive in order to be educational; it must deal with familiar stuffs and things in such a fashion, and after such an order, that the understanding of one may help in the understanding of those afterward to be considered.

On the table before you is a series of familiar "stuffs and things." The total cost, including the packing box and bottles, may be three or four pounds. This collection was made to illustrate the book of which I have spoken, and it contains, I believe, all the stuffs and things required in the building of a house and used by its indweller.

Now let us build the house. The first stuff is concrete. This is made of lime and pebbles or gravel. To make lime, again, limestone or chalk is required. And to quicken or burn either, fuel is necessary. I find it therefore convenient to describe the formation of coal, and to defer the description of the formation of wood and the growth of plants, and also of the process of combustion, to a later chapter.

After coal, the description of the formation of coke, ashes, cinders, and breeze follows at once; but the complete description of the manufacture of coke is deferred until that of gas is considered.

The pupil is now prepared to understand the action of fire on limestone—the quenching or slacking of quicklime, and the formation of concrete and mortar. A description of the natural forma-