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Mediterranean ports, packed usually in square bales covered with cloth, made of horse-hair, or partly wool and horse-hair. We also receive great quantities of a less valuable description from Holland, which is generally, if not always, in pow der, under the name of ground madder, packed in very large casks.
“ The dyeing qualities of the madder plant were known both to the Greeks and Romans. Dioscorides [who wrote a famous treatise on medicinal plants some time in the first or second century of our era] says that it was found both wild and cultivated in Italy and Asia Minor, and besides being used in dyeing, was also used in medicine under the name of Erythrodanon. Pliny mentions it under the same name, and also calls it Rubia, which is now used for its generic appellation. The Romans called it Værantia, whence the French have derived their name Garance. [This is powdered madder acted upon by sulphuric acid, which carbonizes the woody fibre without injuring the coloring matter, which is thus extracted more easily.] It gives the much admired Turkey-red color; also madder-brown and madder-yellow, but it requires nice manipulation to produce bright colors with this material. Formerly. the Turks understood the use of madder better than any other people, but lately the art in England (and America] has attained equal if not superior excellence.
“The cultivation of madder, which occupies a large portion of the agricultural class in Turkey and the Levant, and also in Holland and France, requires much caro and labor; the soil requires to be well and deeply worked. The plant is propagated by sets or suckers from the crown of the root, those taken above ground succeeding best; they are planted in May or June, nine or ten inches apart. The roots are not fit for digging until the third autumn after they are planted. They are usually dried in kilns.
“ The quantity of madder imported into England in 1851, was 13,093 tons. -Popular Economic Botany.
Leguminosa, Palmaceæ, Cinchonaceæ, Anacardiaceæ, Galiaceæ, - these sound very formidable to the unlearned. Suppose then that we say that Catechu comes from plants of the Bean or Pulse, the Palm and the Peruvian Bark Famiilies; that Sumach belongs to the Cashew Family, and that madder belongs, as it certainly has a right to do, to the Madder Family, and the subject will not appear so dreadful to youthful eyes; and it will perhaps prove even attractive if we proceed to point out that though we cannot gather plants producing these very substances on the way to school, yet we can gather plants of exactly the same families in the shape of weeds by the roadside, and flowers in the woods. We cannot indeed find any representative of the Palms of the Tropics in our cold New England; but we shall not have to look far for beans; and if the children will examine the locust or false acacia, or the true acacia, so often planted as an ornamental tree, they will have a representative of the tree out of which the poor Hindoo woman was making Cutch when the alligator devoured her child in the jungle. So almost every country cbild knows our common sumach, and has tasted the sour acrid taste of its red berries; and perhaps, has been poisoned, as we were many a time in our heedless rambles in the woods, by handling the leaves of the poison ivy, or making a fire with sticks from the poison dogwood. These all belong to
the Cashew Family. So, though we cannot find Jesuit's Bark in our woods, (we might get rich if we could,) we can find Cleavers, and Wild Licquorice, and Button-bush; and we have all picked the pretty Houstonia, and eaten PartridgeBerries, all of which belong to the Madder Family, and the last three even to the Peruvian Bark suborder. (See Gray's manual.)
We are not a naturalist, the more's the pity. We have cribbed all this information, as our readers can easily see, from books and cyclopædias; for our own education was strictly “classical.” When we might have been learning this and so much more under the open sky from God's great book of nature, we were getting dyspeptic and impairing our health for life by wearily plodding through Cæsar's campaigns and spelling out Cicero's orations. We were not even taught Cæsar's campaigns to any purpose, and we were quite incapable of appreciating Cicero's eloquence. Our school education was a sham, because everything in it came wrong end foremost. The time has come, we think, when school studies should be arranged differently.—[Ed.
MEETING AT THE EDUCATIONAL ROOM. [The following debate, one of two which should have been printed earlier, will not, we think, have lost any of its value by keeping. We are the more ready to print it, as much interest has been expressed by teachers at a distance in these records of the discussions of teachers in this neighborhood. We hope the meetings will be continued this winter. We regretted to see last winter the formation of a female Teachers' Association. We believe much will be lost while nothing is gained by the separation of teachers of different grades of schools. Our school system should be harmonized by the meeting together and free interchange of opinion of teachers of both sexes, and of all kinds of schools, from the oldest to the youngest.] Mr. Hale, of Boston (Lawrence School), in the chair.
The subject for discussion was — Thoroughness in Teaching. The debate was opened by the Chairman, who remarked that all agree that we should teach thoroughly. There is however, a difference of opinion as to what true thoroughness really is. Perfect thoroughness is, of course, unattainable. How we can best approach it is the question. We can always detect some lack of thoroughness in others. In fractions, for instance, a great deal passes for thorough teaching which is not really so. Scholars are too often taught to remember things by their sequence. He would have each principle as much a part of the child's mind as was the alphabet. He thought it an excellent plan to give scholars examples, and when they have performed them, ask them what principle they illustrate. We should often find scholars deficient in this exercise, whom we supposed to be very thorough. We should be constantly contriving ways of finding out what they do not know. There was, he thought, a great dulness among teachers in this matter. They would often be astonished at the results of such an investigation. He had often himself been surprised to find how ignorant his pupils really were upon subjects of which he supposed them to possess a thorough knowledge.
Mr. JONES, of Roxbury, believed that there was such a thing as too much thoroughness in teaching. He thought it a very pernicious tendency of the present time to spend too much time in drilling upon the rudiments. Perfect thoroughness cannot be attained. We should therefore attempt to secure only that degree of it which is necessary to make our knowledge available. We should not go too far into principles, but should confine ourselves mainly to what is practical. Scholars often attend school till they are thirteen or fourteen years old, and then are hardly able to do a sum in long division. This is all owing to too much thoroughness. It were far better that they should know how to perform all the operations which will be of use to them in after life, than that they should understand the principles of a few of them. It will be of little service to a man who is to spend his life in wheeling a wheelbarrow to understand thoroughly all the methods of numeration, if he knows nothing of those operations which he will be called upon to perform in the necessary transactions of his daily life; and yet the prevailing mania for “ thoroughness” often produces precisely this result, by consuming all his school-time in drilling upon principles. Scholars are often kept several years conning over and over the principles of Grammar without making the slightest progress in the knowledge of writing or speaking. Of what earthly use, he would ask, is such “thoroughness” as this? Much time is wasted in a similar manner upon History, and particularly upon Spelling. He undertook to say that in the time commonly spent in the study of the latter, a pupil might acquire the orthography of all words in common use, and the French language besides.
The CHAIRMAN remarked, that by the word “thoroughness” he did not understand that everything was to be learned, but that we should learn thoroughly what ever we learned at all.,
Mr. JAMESON, of Boston (Boylston School), thought that the idea that everything was to be sacrificed to thoroughness was a very false one. He often thought of the familiar saying, “ It is not worth while to plane the under side of a barn floor,” as applicable in this case. We should bave some regard to the use that a scholar is to make of what he learns. Suppose a young man should emigrate to a new country, with three hundred dollars, and should pay such regard to thoroughness in the construction of a habitation as to spend the whole on the cellar; and yet a very similar, though infinitely greater mistake is made, when, as is not unfrequently the case, the whole of a scholar's school-days are taken up in drilling him upon first principles. We should consider how much time a scholar has to spend in acquiring knowledge, and also what his after career is likely to be. In his own school he spent but little time upon the rudiments of Arithmetic, because he thought it of far more importance to the class of boys which he taught that they should be able to perform, than that they should be able to explain. It is of the first importance to such boys that they should be able to work simple examples. This they could not acquire in the short time that most of them spend in school, if they were required to be thorough in every principle before taking the next. To boys of this class it is worse than useless to spend as much time as is often spent in learning the reasons for every operation.
We should do the best we can in what time we are allowed. He warmly endorsed the remarks of Mr. Jones in regard to the study of Grammar. It had been clearly demonstrated in this room by an experienced teacher (Mr. Chase, of Watertown, that a knowledge of Grammar, sufficient for all practical purposes might be acquired without the protracted and wearisome labor which is so often thought netessary.
Mr. Smith, of Dorchester, remarked that it was very common for teachers to be misled by this word thoroughness, and related one or two amusing instances of the length to which the idea is sometimes carried. Prof. Chase, he said, required his pupils to learn the numbers of their problems backwards as well as forwards. The remarks that have been made do not give the right meaning to the word thoroughness. He did not like to see so good a word abused. All that had been said merely proved that some teachers were inclined to make a hobby of the principle of thoroughness. He thought with previous speakers, that it was often possible to be too thorough. In studying Milton, for instance, the idea might easily be carried to a useless length. More of the real beauty of Milton was often given by a skilful intonation, than by the most elaborate explanation. The Prussians are celebrated as thorough teachers. They do not, however, bring about any great results. Their extreme thoroughness actually impedes the development of their scholars. The mind becomes vitiated by too constant attention to small matters. He had lately been shown one of the celebrated needle guns, and was astonished to find what a poor contrivance it really was. One man armed with our Henry rifle would, he supposed, be fully equal to twelve men armed with the needle gun. The difference between the two well illustrates that between Prussian thoroughness and Yankee practicality. He had known a man of immense learning who was actually hindered, by his knowledge, from accomplishing the good that he might otherwise have done. He would never attempt to write upon any subject till he had learned all about it — till he had been perfectly thorough. Tbe result was that he spent his whole life in investigations which amounted practically to nothing.
Mr. MARBLE, of Boston (Chapman School), said that thoroughness consisted in knowing principles and not facts. The chief reason why people were so often • troubled to remember in after life what they learned in youth is, that they were
taught facts instead of principles. A short time since, a man came to him to know how to ascertain the capacity of a cart. He had forgotten, he said, the rule for measuring it. If this man had been made to understand the principle involved in the rule, he could not have forgotten it. In his opinion, the great difference in men consisted more in their different degrees of thoroughness than in anything else. He had heard it remarked of a noted surgeon, that his greatness consisted, not so much in the amount of his knowledge, or the superiority of his skill, as in the fact that what he knew he was perfect master of, and could instantly make available. He was, consequently, very reliable, and never made mistakes. Mr. Marble then referred to what had been said about the Prussians. It was true, he said, that they were thorough teachers. The difficulty was, that they were not independent thinkers, but were the slaves of routine. He agreed
with Mr. Jameson that there were schools in which it was necessary to be superficial, and where the communication of knowledge was all that could be profitably attempted. This, however, was not thorough teaching. The development of the individual is the only true end of education.
Mr. BABCOCK, of Somerville, recommended frequent private written examinations by the teacher as a means of attaining thoroughness. He examined all the scholars in his own school in this way once every month. He gave to each class five written questions, such as he thought would test their knowledge. One fact which these examinations elicited was, that too much attention was paid to the acquisition of mere words. This was plainly shown in such answers as the following, which he once received: “Two quantities which are equal to onethird, are equal to each other.” There can be no real thoroughness unless principles are understood.
Mr. Brown, of Boston, thought that thoroughness should be confined mostly to practical points. The scholars should be taught things, and not merely words. Take for example Compound Numbers. They should not merely be told that twelve inches make a foot, but care should be taken to make them comprehend what an inch is. He thought that comparatively few scholars had any correct idea of real distances or real weights, however perfectly they might recite the tables. They know how many miles make a degree, but have no practical conception of the meaning of either term. They should be taught this by measuring the distance between familiar objects, as from the school-house to the depot, etc. In his own school he had a set of weights and measures, with which he illustrated the subject. He would often send a boy to the well with a pail, telling him to bring up a pint of water. By such means the scholars soon learn the real sig. nificance of the terms which they so often use.
Mr. DANIELL, of Milton, said that the different ideas of the proper degree of thoroughness to be attempted in school which are beld by teachers present, might perhaps be accounted for by the difference in the class of scholars which they taught. The question, he thought, should always be — What course will result in the most practical benefit to the scholar? He once taught in one of our State institutions where boys often came, knowing scarcely anything of books, who could remain only a year or two. In such cases he thought that to attempt what is commonly termed thoroughness, was folly. The object should be to give the boy as much information as possible which will be of use to him in after life. Such a one should know the fundamental rules in arithmetic, that he may be able to reckon his wages. He should know how to cast interest, and, if possible, should have some knowledge of mensuration. Now every teacher knows that if we took time to teach with perfect thoroughness, drilling him upon every principle involved till he comprehended the subject in all its bearings, we should hardly reach long division in the time mentioned, and the boy would go into the world ignorant of what it is most important that he should know. This was emphatically a case where it was far more important that he should know than that he should be able to explain. With such scholars, be considered that a teacher's duty required him to be superficial. In the short time that boys of a