According to the prefatory note of the author this is a guide by which first year students of the high school can make independent observations on wild plants during the fall months. In connection with this study "Coulter's Plant Relations" is to be used as a reading book; conclusions are to be brought out in recitations.
In the hands of the author himself or any skilled teacher this scheme would be successfully carried out; but directions that could be used by any teacher or with no teacher, would be more valuable. The outlines consisting of twelve main topics which include the leaf, stem, fruit, seed and a general study of trees develop nearly all phases of the life history of a common plant. Some subjects, such as "leaf arrangement" and " light relation," are treated very much in detail, while other topics, as pollination, are merely mentioned. After the complete study of the leaf arrangement to obtain light, there is no experiment to show what the reason for it all is. The facts are not well connected; there is no definite aim and unity is lacking. As the author states, he has left the conclusions to be developed in class. But would it not be better to have the pupil develop his own conclusions first, and then discuss them in class with the teacher?
Though several plants are mentioned under each head, a beginner would probably be unfamiliar with nearly all of them. There are also terms that would be unfamiliar to the amateur. The study of the flower is placed almost at the close, an unfavorable arrangement if the work is done in autumn.
In the primary essential of science training-to require independent observation and thought-with few exceptions, the outlines are excellent. The questions are clearly and simply framed; the student has no doubt as to what he is to do, and at the same time no clue to the answer desired. In addition to the training the student would gain a considerable knowledge of the plants, their habits, and many interesting facts concerning their structure. Besides this the outlines are stimulating to future work in the same line.
-School Science, Volume 2 show more