Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 78.djvu/243

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DISCIPLINARY VALUE OF GEOGRAPHY

advanced of all methods, and its proper accomplishment demands training in all the simpler ones. Evidently, systematic studies, whether empirical or explanatory, are the essential precursors of well-planned regional studies, for it is by means of systematic studies that a student determines how competent is his treatment and how complete is his equipment; and furthermore it must be in terms already established that the features of any selected region are to be described. Let no one, therefore, undertake regional description until he has decided for himself upon the kind of description and of classification that he proposes to employ in describing the forms of his selected region, or indeed of any other region: and nothing is so helpful in making and justifying such a decision, as the experience of presenting orally a systematic scheme of classification to a sympathetic but critical audience.

The Regional Method.—Regional presentation of geographical problems may be regarded as the climax towards which all other methods advance: for regional description is the goal of geographical effort. The results of a brief excursion in the field or a rapid journey of exploration may be fittingly presented in narrative form, in which the observed facts, along with personal incidents, are told in the order in which they were noted. Results following from the study of problems which involve the selection of related forms from various fields may be presented inductively, if they are relatively simple, and analytically, if they are complex. Many kinds of things, wherever found, may be shown to have orderly relations by systematic presentation, and the classes of things thus established may be filled with graded examples by deduction, thus greatly extending the equipment of the geographer for further work. But after all this, there still remains the description of various land forms in the peculiar associations that they assume in nature, when they are found together in a given region: and the method of presenting such a description may therefore be called regional.

Regional presentation may be treated empirically, if so desired; or partly empirically, partly in terms of accidental, unintentional, traditional explanation; but for serious scientific work no method is so helpful or so accordant with the evolutionary philosophy which in the last half century has come to dominate so many fields of scientific study, as intentional, thoroughgoing, correlated, explanatory treatment. Evidently, no comprehensive treatment of this kind can be applied to best advantage in regional presentation, until the student has had practical experience with the various simpler methods of presentation already considered; hence the importance of orderly practise in various methods of presentation, as here repeatedly advised.

Both the empirical and the explanatory presentation of a regional problem should be attempted, in order to give the student a proper basis for choice between the more antiquated and the more modern