National Geographic : 1900 Jan
GEOGRAPHIC LITERATURE "3 results of the wide experience of Professor Wm. M . Davis and Mr Ward in teach ing meteorology during the past fifteen years at Harvard University. It may even be described as the natural outcome of the methods of teaching this sub ject that the present writer inaugurated in 1881-'82 for the guidance of the pupils of the Normal School at Washington. Our ideas with regard to education, in meteorology as in every other branch of science, have now come to agree on one fundamental principle, viz., that personal experience, laboratory practice, and individual work are infinitely superior as methods of instruction to the old fashioned study of text-books. School boards and parents must demand and teachers must be able to give this higher sort of instruction before it can become common in the schools. To this end Mr Ward's " Practical Exercises" will powerfully contribute. Mr Ward begins by requiring the pupil (and why not also the teacher?) to keep his own personal record of the weather. At first no instruments are to be used, but afterward the thermometer, anemometer, rain-gauge, psychrometer, and barometer are successively introduced ; eventually the nephoscope, thermo graph, and barograph appear. The use of these instruments of course implies that the observer shall have a general understanding of their methods of action, the errors to which they are subject, and the application of the numerical cor rections that are given in the tables also published in Mr Ward's book. It is not designed or desired that the classes for which this book is written should go very deeply into the complex problems of meteorology. As Mr Ward says, complicated matters should be left to later years. "The teacher who has a fairly good knowledge of one comprehensive modern text book of meteorology will find himself sufficiently well equipped to answer the questions that will be put by the class." The first care of the teacher must be to stimulate good habits of observation and of careful generalization ; the search for hidden causes and true explanations must come later. " The interest of a class can easily be kept up throughout a school year by means of a progressive system of observations." The study of the weather should be begun in the lower, if not the lowest, grades of the ordinary grammar school. It is therefore necessary that teachers should have studied the subject previously in their normal schools, a fact that the em ployds of the Weather Bureau have for twenty years past been constantly em phasizing. Mr Ward believes that the higher instrumental observations, such as the barometer, psychrometer, and nephoscope, may be profitably undertaken in the high school years if not in the last year of the grammar school. Chapters IV-VII deal with the weather map, its construction and use; chap ter IX with the direction of the wind in its relation to the gradient of pressure, and chapter X with the velocity of the wind. After this follow the chapters on cyclones and anticyclones, methods of studying the winds, the weather se quences, the temperatures of the air at different heights, the diurnal variation of direction and velocity of wind. Finally, the observation and formation of dew, frost, and clouds completes the book, which is full of good suggestions to both teachers and scholars. Fortunately, meteorology may be studied in city schools quite as satisfactorily as in the country, as has been abundantly demonstrated by every-day experi ence in Brooklyn.