I am a lover of antiquarian books, and some of them, although gems, just sit on my shelves. I recently opened one that I have had so long that I don't know where I got it from. It is entitled Manual of Natural History Studies, Pupil's Manual, and it was published in 1898 by Franklin Publishing Company.
Since it's copyright has long since expired, it is something I can post here to share with you all. I was thinking it might be fun to do that. I found that my lovely little tome is actually available on books.google.com - and I linked it above - but most people won't go there, stay there, and puruse the book, so maybe posting sections of it here on Thursdays will be welcome to my readers. Let me know.
So, to start, I thought that today I would share with you the Introduction, and see if anyone is interested in seeing more. Here we go:
At the present day nature study is finding a place in the most elementary courses of instruction, and nothing could be wiser or more reasonable, since it is in childhood that interest is most readily aroused and the observing faculties are most easily trained.
If it were possible to have a menagerie and an aquarium connected with every school, the natural history of animals might be studied with the original objects always at hand, and the ideal method of instruction could be pursued. This, however, is not practicable; and the nearest approach that can be made in the great majority of schools is by the use of pictures which represent with more or less fullness and accuracy the objects that are to be studied.
The Natural History Studies, for which this manual has been prepared, seek by the use of large and carefully colored pictures to introduce the pupil to a large number of representative animals. Over one hundred of these are shown in the series, accompanied by a descriptive text, presenting in popular form the most interesting features of the animal described. The text referred to is reproduced in the manual, and it is here accompanied by very carefully prepared class studies in the form of questions and suggestions, which must prove of the greatest help to both teacher and pupil.
The Readings accompanying the text will lighten the labor of the study, and will further impress on the child's mind the lessons conveyed by the text and the pictures. They consist of poetical and prose selections from the works of the foremost authors, and are valuable as a study in themselves, irrespective of their application to the subject matter.
A combination of the chart and text-book methods, which is made possible by placing this manual in the hands of pupils, is the ideal of many teachers, and it is believed that the best results will follow its adoption in this study.
The class exercise in this subject should be as frequent as once a week, and it would be better if it could be had two or three times each week. The study is not confined to any particular grade. Any class that uses a text-book in geography or arithmetic can take up this study, and even the younger pupils in an ungraded school will derive a great amount of information from the general class exercise. The ground should be gone over carefully and slowly, several lessons being given to each chart; and many interesting matters in the way of anecdote and side readings may be brought in to give additional interest to the study.
The selections from Longfellow, Emerson, Holmes and Whittier are printed by permission of, and arrangement with, their publishers, Messrs. Houghton, Mifflin & Company.