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which act as a kind of intermediary and translate the ever changing impressions of sight into the simple language of geometric facts. In view of these facts it is not at all surprising that in the graphic expression of form the drawing of beginners is invariably flat and geometric. In this respect their efforts are perfectly paralleled by the drawing of all early races of mankind.
The Egyptians, Assyrians and the early Greeks all represented form in two dimensions with no conception of perspective. In their pictures we see little more than knowledge drawings, with only an occasional suggestion of foreshortening. With the later Greeks the grandeur of their art attests to the success with which they emancipated themselves from the error of geometric repre sentation, and founded their inimitable art on the critical study of the object by the eye in its purely visual function.
The child's first drawing of the cylinder is simply a knowledge drawing of it, not a reproduction of the visual image. He expresses in the drawing his knowledge of the geometric facts of form — the circular top and the flat bottom – learned through long association of the visual and tactual ideas of it. With the cube his attempt to draw what he "sees" is no more successful. He represents the facts known to his mind, that the cube possesses a square front face and a square top face.
In order that the beginner may draw objects as the eye actually sees them, or, to state it with no ambiguity of meaning in regard to the psychological functions of the brain, as the image is received on the retina, he must be brought to dissociate as far as is possible by studied effort the intimately associated ideas of visual impressions and the ideas of true geometric form. These latter ideas while correct for the thing in itself are wholly wrong as an interpretation of the retinal picture of the thing. In pictorial representation the real facts should be suppressed and the visual sense impression should be expressed exactly as it is received without any modification, just as the eye of the babe receives it, in the innocence of the eye,* without knowing its significance.
*“The whole technical power of painting depends on our recovery of what may be called the innocence of the eye; that is to say, a sort of childish perception of these flat stains of color, merely as such, without consciousness of what they signify, as a blind man would see them if suddenly gifted with sight.”- Ruskin.
To develop this faculty in the child, the ability to reflect upon the integrity of his visual perceptions — and to promote facility in expressing by drawing the apparent shapes of objects as seen by his eye in contradistinction to their true shapes, is a most valuable exercise in the training of the faculty of observation. It trains his eye to perceive the subtleties of proportion in three magnitudes, to study the details of the surfaces of fruits, vegetables and other natural or artificial objects, and to observe and render by shading the delicacy of the light, shade and shadow on these objects. The fact that this method is the method of the artist and if carried out in the higher schools may lead ultimately to painting, the highest order of pictorial representation, gives a romantic interest to the work. But this desirable result, much as it may be hoped for as the goal of undoubted talent, should by no means be considered to be more than an incident of the instruction. Object drawing should be a constant auxiliary of all branches of study in our public schools. In the first year in school, pupils might be taught to draw simple leaves directly from nature, thereby familiarizing them with their specific shapes as well as gaining power in graphic expression. In the second year, they are none too young to begin the representation of simple fruits and vegetables, as the apple, potato, etc. It is truly surprising to those who have not observed the drawing of very young children to see how soon they learn to observe for themselves and to express intelligently as well as intelligibly such facts as the impossibility of seeing the top end of the stem of an apple when it is turned away from the eye, or of being able to see both the stem and blossom ends in the same drawing of the apple. These are
to them actual facts of knowledge which they are at first prone to believe are visual facts, and they so record them both. Another simple fact is learned, and the child's capacity for the reception of knowledge gained through his perceptive faculties is correspondingly increased when he discovers in drawing the potato that the curved edges which partly surround the buds on their inferior margins always bulge toward the root end. Once they perceive this, or any other scientific fact acquired through their own self-activity, they are not soon likely to forget it; and they will look with great eagerness to find the root end of their potatoes that they may draw the curved axils in the proper direction.
In object drawing, as suggested above and followed out in the higher grades with more thorough drawing of all the forms of nature studied in the schools, the child is stimulated to observe after a critical, scientific method, marking down with his pencil the simple discoveries which he makes. With some few of the pupils who enjoy the endowment of native talent, this work will lay the foundation for future art work, making the production of a single clever artist worth all the cost.
But the direct gain which this kind of drawing gives in general perceptive acumen will make for the education of the practical, scientific scholar. There is constant need throughout the study of all the natural sciences of close, critical observation of the organic and inorganic forces of nature and of their varied phenomena. These manifestations of the activities of nature are best studied and observed when the eye and the hand are mutually employed.
Nor will the time of the future artisan in any way suffer loss from these school exercises in object drawing. Any exercise which improves the discriminating power of the eye, and requires, and hence cultivates, the skill of the hand, cannot be other than a gain to the manual worker.
Indeed, the study of object drawing when correlated with other branches of study, or when made an exercise in pure representation, carries out fully the spirit of those objective methods of study which are the underlying principles of our Kindergartens, and which should form the basis of the methods of instruction in all the studies of the higher grades. Not only do they make all branches of study more interesting to every pupil, but they render them more intelligible to the average mind.
CORRECTING AN IMPORTANT DATE.
PRIN. WILMOT H. THOMPSON, ORANGE, N. J.
With great pleasure I read in the December number of Education Mr. Chas. R. Ballard's very interesting paper on “ The Dominical Letter," etc. I was the more pleased to see this matter so well presented there because of my firm belief in what the author says in the concluding paragraph of his article, — that “ a very large majority of teachers know nothing about it,” and further that knowledge on this subject is well worth acquiring as "a part of every live teacher's outfit for daily use.”
The question of time, the science of computing dates, - has not received the attention that should be given to it in our schools. I do not say that to school courses already overburdened, perhaps, another study should be added, but a better understanding of some things pertaining to chronology would enable many teachers to do more intelligent work in teaching history and biography. Surely every teacher should have accurate knowledge of all timerecording schemes that have a bearing upon, or that are likely to come to the surface in the study of modern history. Have teachers, as a rule, such knowledge now? Assuredly they have not. In one of our public grammar schools, the following questions were asked by different pupils at different times within a few years.
In each case the teacher to whom the question was put was unable to answer satisfactorily and the writer was called on to explain.
What is the meaning of old style and new style dates ?
If December 21 is the anniversary of the landing of the Pilgrims, December 11, 0. S., why is not February 21, the anniversary of Washington's birthday, February 11, O. S. ?
Why is Forefather's Day observed sometimes on the 21st and sometimes on the 22nd of December?
Why will the year 1900 not be leap year?
Just such questions as these are likely to arise in any bright pupil's mind, and the answer to any of them would be apt to call forth from a wide awake class many more kindred inquiries.
How many teachers are prepared to give, off-hand, clear and satisfactory answers to a train of queries thus started ?
The problem of a difference in time, between the old style and the new, has given rise to more perplexing questions and to more mistakes in historical, biographical and encyclopedic works than most people imagine. The carelessness of some writers and the manifest ignorance of others have caused the greatest confusion and uncertainty in regard to dates occurring between the latter part of the sixteenth and the middle of the eighteenth centuries. When the Julian Calendar was corrected and the new style or Gregorian reform was adopted, due care was not exercised by historians and other writers to follow a uniform style in entering dates, and few took the pains to indicate whether recorded dates were given according to the old or the new style.
The events of the past year or so show how widespread is the misunderstanding of the time question. As a nation we came ridiculously near to celebrating an important anniversary nine days ahead of time. The year 1892 was to be a grand jubilee year ; but that would not satisfy sentimental regard for an anniversary day, and October 12, 1892, was looked forward to as the day to be especially marked. By act of Congress, nearly two years before the time, that date was fixed as the time for dedicating with appropriate ceremonies” the grounds for the proposed World's Fair in Chicago. It was to be the great day in our season of rejoicing. The American people were reminded again and again of the fact that at two o'clock in the morning of October 12, 1492, a gun fired on board the Pinta made known to Columbus and his fellow voyagers that land had been sighted at last. October 12, 1892, mistakingly regarded as the 400th anniversary of this discovery of a new world, was to be duly observed as such and active preparations for the celebration were begun throughout the country. In the spring of '92 the New York Legislature enacted that the day should be a legal holiday in the State, and in New York City plans were formed for a celebration covering several days and culminating on the twelfth.
But the correctness of the time fixed upon as the anniversary was called in question, and efforts were being made to have the old style date, October 12, changed to the corresponding date in our calendar, October 21. Much was written to show why this change should be made, but little attention was paid to it until