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Superintendent's Letters to his Teachers.
all, as it would seem. They must be impressed with the importance of having a first class graded school and be shown the part they are to act, to secure it. I am satisfied you are the man for the place and that your object will ere long be accomplised.
I have noticed with much interest your success in teach. in teaching Arithmetic and Reading. There is no branch of study unimportant, or that can be badly taught without injury. But these two are of paramount importance. Arithmetic, (mental especially,) is the foundation of all * mathematical study. If this branch be not properly taught all subsequent study in the department, will be a failure. Besides, a correct knowledge of Arithmetic is essential to success in business. You teach this branch practically and thoroughly. Your pupils acquire a facility in mental calculations seldom met with, and they evince a knowledge not only of facts but of principles. The dull and useless routine of book education is discarded from your school room, and the science with its practical applications is thoroughly taught.*
If we would understand the importance of Reading as a branch of study, we may recall the fact that not one in ten of all who pass through the different grades of schools is a good reader. This is true of the educated in every community. Now, the fault is undoubtedly in the Common School. Bad habits acquired here are seldom overcome in riper years. Hence, in our higher Institutions of learning and in public life, we find but few .accurate and effective readers. It is gratifying therefore, to witness your success in this difficult department of instruction. Your pupils are taught to read naturally; they gain a practical knowledge of accent, emphasis, tone and in. flection; they learn to enter into the spirit of the writer. and to give full expression and meaning to his sentences;: of course they read understandingly and effectively. We. can form no estimate of the good results of such instruction for a series of years, even in one school. And we
Method of Teaching Geography.
trust that the number will ere long be greatly increased throughout the State.
And finally, my dear sir, allow me to recognize the fact that you are a professional teacher; that you have trained yourself for the business and devoted to it your time; talents and life. Professional teachers are becoming so scarce in Vermont, that we almost need Diogenes' lantern in the day time, to find one. Let us be grateful there. fore, that any are willing to toil on in this laborious and thankless calling. We know that “to teach, whether by word or action, is the greatest function on earth." And if faithful to our charge, we shall not lose our reward."
METHOD OF TEACHING GEOGRAPHY,
Probably no branch of study in our common schools is 80 poorly taught, or so indefiinitely understood as Geog raphy. Scholars often commit to memory many detached facts, unimportant descriptions, and long lists of names ofi towns, capes, gulfs, rivers, &c, but gain no conception of the principles that underlie this important science.
Geography is a science, and should be taught as such, then the vast amount of details and extraneous matter: that encumber our text-books can be easily learned. Prof. Arnold .Guyot, professor of physical geography at Neu.. chatel, Switzerland, one of the best geographers the world has produced, came to this country some ten years ago, and by his many lectures before educational conventions, urged the importance of the study of physical geography as the foundation of all geographical knowledge.
By the request of many who were deeply interested in the subject, he projected a series of Wall Maps for the use of schools, based on his system. of instruction, viz.,
Method of Teaching Geography.
illustrating physical and political Geography. All teachers and friends of popular education will be pleased to learn that this series of large maps, so long promised, will be ready for the winter schools. A Teacher's Manual also will be ready in a few days, but one great merit of the maps is that they can be used with any text-book on political or physical geography now in use in our common schools or academies. Their real merit, however, is of a much higher order. For accuracy, beauty, freshness, clearness and harmony, they excel any before published in this country or in Europe. Probably no one is so well qualified to prepare works on Geography. Prof. Guyot 'has devoted his lifetime to the investigation of this. science, he came to this country in connection with Prof. Agassiz, and each stands at the head of his respective department. Prof. Guyot has obtained a wide reputation among teachers by his lectures on physical geography, and by his published volume entitled “Earth and Man.” This truly valuable book has passed through iany editions, both in this country and in Europe, and is still the very best manual on physical geography to be found in any language.
The complete works of Prof. Guyot are now being brought out on a munificent scale, corresponding with their merit, by the enterprising publisher, Mr. Chas. Scribner of New York. The publication of his complete series of maps and text-books is the largest and most extensive enterprise of the kind ever attempted-involving an expenditure of over $40,000. The smaller maps and text-books will be issued from the press as fast as possible. It is the intention of the author and publisher to cover the whole ground, and be able to furnish maps and text-books adapted to every educational institution, from the primary school to the highest university. The publication of these works will mark a new era in the method of teaching geography. Almost every teacher has been wearied by trying to impart a knowledge of the “ten
thousand useful facts," which constitute the basis of our geographical text-books. Innumerable names of towns, rivers, bays, &c., taxing the memory beyond endurance
-giving trivial descriptions of each section or prescribed boundaries, without reference to the physical features, and with no recognition of the principles of the science of geography.
With the publication of Prof. Guyot's maps and books, we hope for a new order of things, and that classes will not be left to wander without the guide of principle and law in the ancient wilderness of miscellaneous facts. Let them know and feel that the great creative hand can be traced in all the departments of geography; that the earth is an organic total, fitted by all its structure to be the home of man ; that there is a “life of the globe ;' that the world, as much as the human body, exhibits design in all its members ; that the air, ocean and land, act and react perpetually upon one another, fitting this " terraqueous sphere" for all the wants of the human race; that mountains, rivers, seas, &c., exercise an important influence on the products and industry of a people and the progress of nations; that nature provides for the growth of cities and towns; that the favoring winds and currents that aid the intelligent mariner, are governed by law; in fact, that geography is a science worthy of their closest study. Prof. Guyot, as an investigator of truth in this direction, stands out in bold relief above all others.
None of the numerous pupils of the renowned Humboldt and Ritter has entcred more into the spirit of investigation which was evinced by these acknowedged masters, than he, and none has developed in a more felicitous manner, or with more important additions, the views which they were foremost to announce. Having been their pupil in early life, he adopted their views with an enthusiasm which foreshadowed his late distinction. He early became an earnest investigator of the natural World; the mountains and glaziers of his native land were