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(7) To repel the other great magnet, the earth, and to prevent the ship (because of the iron) being attracted to the earth.
Of course it will be said that the examples here given are all extreme cases, and that a majority of the papers show a considerable amount of knowledge. But this is altogether beside the question. I never had time or inclination to interrupt my work in order to copy all the very ignorant answers, but only a few here and there which specially struck me. For each one thus copied there were at least a dozen equally bad, but often so wordy and involved as to take too much time to preserve, while a far greater number exhibited a little knowledge so intermingled with gross ignorance, as for any useful purpose would be equally bad.
But the point I wish to insist upon is, the utter failure of a system which, at the end of twenty years, allows of any such candidates as these taking part in an examination. The failure is twofold. First, in the notion that any good can result from the teaching of such a large and complex subject to youths who come to it without any preliminary training whatever, and who are crammed with it by means of a lesson a week for perhaps one year; and, in the second place, the attempting to teach such a subject at all before a sufficiently capable body of teachers have been found who know the whole range of subjects included in it, both theoretically and practically, and who also know how to communicate to others the knowledge they themselves possess.
In these examinations scores and sometimes hundreds of papers come from single large schools, and it is a familiar thing to examiners to find the same absurd error, often stated in the very same words, running through a whole school, except, perhaps, in the case of one or two exceptionally clever lads who have, by reading or experiment, educated themselves upon the point in question. Now, the absurdity of the system is, that the ignorant teacher never has his ignorance pointed out to him, and imputes the failure of a number of his pupils to their stupidity or carelessness, whereas it is really all due to his own ignorance.
Another evil result of these examinations under a Government department is, that in order to justify their existence, it is necessary to show a certain considerable amount of success. Hence the “passes" are brought up to good general average, however bad the bulk of the papers may be ; and people are deluded by the idea that because a person has passed in Physiography he has a good general knowledge of the whole subject, whereas many pass who are quite unfit to teach any portion of it to the smallest child. My own conclusion is that all these examinations are an enormous waste of public money, with no useful result whatever. Nature-knowledge of the kind referred to is the most important, the most interesting, and therefore the most useful of all knowledge. But to be thus useful it must be taught properly throughout the whole period of instruction from the kinder-garten onwards, always by means of facts, experiments, and outdoor observation, supplemented, where necessary, by fuller exposition of difficult points in the classroom.
The whole status of the teacher is degraded by the present system, which assumes that any fairly educated person can, by means of a few courses of lectures and a short period of cramming, be qualified to teach these subjects to the young. The real fact is that none can teach them properly who have not a natural taste for them, and have largely taught themselves by personal observation and study. They alone know the difficulties felt by beginners; they alone are able to go to the fundamental principles that underlie the most familiar phenomena, and are thus able to make everything clear to their pupils. Such men are comparatively rare, but they should be carefully sought for and given the highest rank in the teacher's profession. When that is done, no examinations will be advisable or necessary.
Before quitting the examination question, I wish to say a word in favour of the late Professor Ansted as an Examiner in Physical Geography. On looking over many of the papers set by him from 1871 to 1877, I am greatly impressed by his broad grasp of the whole subject, and the admirable manner in which he dealt in turn with all the natural phenomena VOL. II.
embraced in it, from the simplest to the most complex. He usually set fifteen to sixteen questions, in both the Elementary and Advanced stages, only eight of which were to be answered; and they always comprised a considerable portion of the whole field embraced in the study. I feel sure that the questions set by him during any four or five years of the period named, would serve as an admirable guide to a student who wished to make himself master of the fascinating study of earth-knowledge or "physiography.”
Aksakoff, Hon. Alexander, visits at
Grays, ii. 93
Mr. and Mrs. Sims at, i. 263
Albury, St. George Mivart builds a
house near, ii. 44
d'Alembert, quoted, ii. 284
George Silk, i. 332-335
Encyclopædia Britannica," by A. ii. 188
Ali, Malay servant, described, i. 382
Allen, Mr. Charles, his search for
birds of paradise, i. 387-394
Allen, Grant, on “ Colour Sense,” ii.
71; “In Magdalen Tower," by, ii.
for, ii. 187; A. R. Wallace on, ii.
Aleshine, The," read by A. R. Wal on English rule in India, ii, 262,
263; A. R. Wallace urges him to
write socialistic novel, i, 272, 273
friendship with, ii. 121 ; visit to the
125; A. R. Wallace stays with, ii.
Allen, William, shareholder in the
Allingham, William, introduces A. R.
Wallace to Tennyson, ii. 298
asthma, ii. 229
“Alteriora," by Professor Stuart mediate Future," by A. R. Wallace,
quoted, ii. 221-223
Charles Lyell, i. 426, 430
Apparitions,” articles by A. R. Wal-
lace, published in The Arena, ii. 210
lace and H, W. Bates undertake by A. R. Wallace, in The Morning
Leader, ii, 220
Arctic Plants in the Southern Hemi-
within the Tropics, differences of
to, i. 357, 369; butterflies of, i. Wallace on, ii. 20, 387
Arena, The, A. R. Wallace writes an
i. 422 ; trees with aromatic leaves writes two articles on “Apparitions,”
by, ii. 8; on the flight of birds, ii. 25
Arjuna, mount, i. 376
Armstrong, Mr. and Mrs., A. R.
G. J. Romanes; reviewed by A. R. Aru Islands, successful expedition to
the, i. 356, 357, 369
lectures on colours and mimicry of, tures in, ii. 35
interest in, i. 191
the Glen Tilt case, ii. 259
Atlantic Monthly, The, paper on “The
tory, The, A. R. Wallace's article, Australia, birds of, i. 396-398 ; mam-
mals of, i. 420
studies in the, ii. 100
examiner-in-chief in Physical Geo Backhouse Mr., alpine gardens of, ii. 50
Herbert Spencer on, ii. 31 ; criticisms
Bagshot, ii. 60