Yesterday afternoon Professor Davis gave the first of a course of three lectures on the methods of teaching geography. Other lectures on the teaching of botany will be given later by Professor Goodale. These lectures promise to be very interesting and instructive for all those who intend to be teachers, more especially as they deal with general methods of teaching as well as with particular branches.
Professor Davis spoke first of the equipment necessary for a good teacher, and then of the physical basis of geography. He said: "The first requisite for a good teacher is a broad knowledge of his subject. In teaching elementary subjects his knowledge should go far beyond the pupils' while in teaching an advanced course every instructor desires that his students shall investigate matters and go beyond him. A teacher of geography must therefore have a knowledge of the basis on which geography rests, that is the physical development of the country. An intelligent and lively class is naturally full of questions and to answer these the teacher must understand the causes of every change and peculiarity on the country's surface. Better to illustrate this point, Professor Davis took the case of waterfalls and explained, with stereopticon views, the different kinds of waterfalls classified according to a physical basis. The first case is where a stream comes to a cliff in its natural course and plunges over; second, where a stream falls over a bluff and gradually cuts its way through a layer of earth in certain places and thus causes a water fall. Every water power in New England is of the last class. This is the kind of knowledge that a teacher needs before he studies how to teach his subject. He should have a solid foundation and should not stop with his text-book but go on and illustrate and explain every point, and this physical basis is equally important for descriptive, political, or economic geography.
To interest children in geography they should be shown good illustrations, models, and the make up of the country round their home. Just as in Chemistry or Physics experiments are necessary to a good knowledge of the subject, so in geography children should be taught that all these things of which they study are more than mere names.
Many of the Cambridge school teachers were present at the lecture. The next one will be given March 3 on "What Should be Omitted in Geographical Teaching."