Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 51.djvu/867

This page has been validated.

In this way they saw the imperial infant and passed through the throne room, where the crown jewels were displayed, on the day of the coronation. They were put out of this room with a courtesy that they found everywhere unfailing among Russian officials—an officer chatted with them a few moments, and then politely offered to send some one to show them the way to the diplomatic tribune. Mr. Logan tells also of the feast, the juggling shows, and other things suited to their tastes that were provided for the common people. He finds that the lower classes have many privileges and a great deal of liberty, and that they have as intense a loyalty as their heavy natures are capable of. The occurrence at the people's féte on the Khodynskoe Plain, which threw the only cloud over the joyousness of the coronation, was not an unmixed evil, for it gave Nicholas II an opportunity to show kindness to his people that justified them in calling him "the Little Father." There is much more in this book than we have space to enumerate. The illustrations deserve more than the word we can give them. There are nearly fifty pictures of buildings, interiors, distinguished personages, and types of the population, besides which there are colored portraits of the emperor and empress and views of the cathedrals of St. Basil and of the Assumption in Moscow.


An Experiment in Education[1] is a suggestive little volume setting forth, in about two hundred and fifty pages, the experiment of a thoughtful teacher in introducing young children at once into the elements of knowledge along novel lines of instruction; and it touches furthermore on the principles underlying the experiment. Readers of Appletons' Popular Science Monthly are already familiar with the main ideas of the book, two of the chapters dealing with the actual experiment in Boston and in Englewood, III, having appeared as separate papers in previous issues of the magazine. The author, after teaching for ten years in high and normal schools, found that from "one half to one third of the time allotted to a subject had been spent in teaching the student how to use his mind, to use books, specimens, etc.—in other words, how to study. This waste was irritating and pitiable in view of the short time allowed to subjects, and I could not be reconciled to the notion that an adult mind must so generally lack power to work economically, trustworthily, and discriminatingly." To overcome this deficiency, and to ingrain into the mind of the child from the very start habits of accurate observation and independence of judgment, became the object of the teacher; and natural-science studies, as lending themselves most readily to object lessons, where the child could be taught to observe facts and to verify his experience, were made the basis of instruction. Reading and writing were taught by means of the blackboard, and the children constructed their own primers and copy-books out of the material drawn from their science lessons. Thus, instead of wasting time over the mere tools of learning or trite facts of everyday life, they from the very start became familiar with the elements of knowledge. In place of text-books, the Socratic method was applied—drawing out of the children by skillful questioning the facts they were to observe. Instead of taxing the memory with useless lumber, the eye was trained to see and the mind to form independent judgments. The experiment in Boston was made with the children of the primary department in a private school, and was highly successful as far as it went. That the principles could be equally well applied to larger classes was proved in some of the public schools of Englewood, III., where they found enthusiastic adherents in many of the teachers.

The ideas underlying the experiment are explained in the second part of the book,

  1. An Experiment in Education. also the Ideas which Inspired it and were Inspired by it. By Mary R. Alling-Aber. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1897. Price, $1.25.