Lane Cooper - Louis Agassiz as a teacher - 00 The children took their own share in the instruction
Type of spiritual experience
A description of the experience
LOUIS AGASSIZ AS A TEACHER ILLUSTRATIVE EXTRACTS ON HIS METHOD OF INSTRUCTION WITH AN INTRODUCTORY NOTE BY LANE COOPER [PROFESSOR OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE IN CORNELL UNIVERSITY MARINE BIOLOGICAL LABORATORY LIBRARY WOODS HOLE, MASS. W. H. 0. I. 1917 ]
Beside his classes at the gymnasium, Agassiz collected about him, by invitation, a small audience of friends and neighbours, to whom he lectured during the winter on botany, on zoology, on the philosophy of nature. The instruction was of the most familiar and informal character, and was continued in later years for his own children and the children of his friends. In the latter case the subjects were chiefly geology and geography in connection with botany, and in favourable weather the lessons were usually given in the open air.
. . . From some high ground affording a wide panoramic view Agassiz would explain to them the formation of lakes, islands, rivers, springs, water-sheds, hills, and valleys. . . .
When it was impossible to give the lessons out of doors, the children were gathered around a large table, where each one had before him or her the specimens of the day, sometimes stones and fossils, sometimes flowers, fruits, or dried plants. To each child in succession was explained separately what had first been told to all collectively. . . . The children took their own share in the instruction, and were themselves made to point out and describe that which had just been explained to them. They took home their collections, and as a preparation for the next lesson were often called upon to classify and describe some unusual specimen by their own unaided efforts.