Billeder på siden




School of Education, University of Chicago

The relative merits of teaching geography from books alone or from the earth itself is no longer a debatable question in any body of intelligent teachers. "Things before words" has become axiomatic. But in education we are prone to accept a principle in theory long before we put it into practice.

If any teacher cares to test the principle for himself, let him take a class into the field for several weeks of study. The teacher as well as the pupil will meet with many surprises. The teacher will detect even his best students gazing with unintelligent eyes upon a rich and interesting landscape, while the student will find that many subjects with which he had an intimate friendship in textbooks are indifferent strangers when met in nature.

Training in the ability to image from another's expression, to think through another's thoughts, to reason from premises established by someone else, does not develop initiative nor give power in action. It does not insure that a student can recognize even the things which he has described with satisfaction to the instructor, nor give him power to discover and organize a problem in the field-forming his own working hypotheses, discovering relevant data. But after a few weeks in the field the students seize upon a problem and follow it up day after day with increasing interest and enjoyment.

In reply to the question, "What of that called geography do the students learn on a field trip of a month or six weeks?" I submit the following superficial description of the region visited and the work done by a class of college students, School of Education, University of Chicago, during the second term of the last summer quarter.

The class was composed of fourteen teachers. Of the num

ber, seven teach in normal schools, "teachers of teachers;" one is principal of a public school in one of the largest cities of the country; three are special instructors in geography in elementary schools; two are grade teachers; one is a graduate student.


The party left Chicago at nine o'clock, the morning of July 30, over the Big Four Railroad for Louisville, Ky. The day was spent, as all others on the train, in making and recording observations on the topography, soil, rocks, vegetation, crops and other cultural features of the region passed through.

The special problem for the first day was to determine the limit and characteristics of the glacial drift along the route.

The first stop was made at Louisville to study the Ohio River valley, the falls, and sink holes which are finely illustrated here.

At Charleston, W. Va., the class made observations on the form and terraces of the valley of the Kanawha River; studied the sedimentary rocks of the Carboniferous period, the exposures of which along the bluffs of the river show excellent examples of the interbedding of coal; visited Malden, eight miles east of Charleston, to see the salt-works which have been so potent a factor in the history of this part of West Virginia; and studied the region of Coon Skin Creek, which occupies a part of the abandoned valley of the Elk River, a tributary of the Kanawha.

The next stop was made at Kanawha Falls for a study of the falls, the foundry of an aluminum company, and the great potholes in siliceous conglomerate exposed in the rock terrace at Gauley Junction. The night was spent at Thurmond, which boasts the only good hotel between Charleston and Clifton Forge. At Thurmond a coal-mine was visited, after which the party proceeded to Clifton Forge, Va.

On this journey the point of special interest, aside from the study of the New River cañon, was the discovery of the beginning of the folding and crumpling of the rock, which had appeared horizontally bedded throughout the region previously traversed.

A stop was made at Clifton Forge to study the great fold in the rocks called Rainbow Arch, which is exposed in the cañon of the Jackson River where it cuts through the Rich Patch Mountains. Just below the cañon, known as the Iron Gate, the Jackson River joins the Cow Pasture River to form the historic James.

South Glasgow was selected as the next stopping-place. It is a tiny village in the "Great Valley" just west of the Blue Ridge, at the beginning of the cañon which the James River has chiseled in its tortuous course through the mountains. From this village the Natural Bridge Region was visited. Mount Salling was climbed for a view of the "Great Valley." The contact between the sedimentary rocks to the west and the igneous rocks of the Piedmont was found about a mile below the village, exposed in the cañon of the James.

For a study of the Piedmont country and the tobacco industry, Lynchburg seemed the most desirable spot. From Lynchburg the James River was followed "on to Richmond." Here the Coastal Plain formations were seen lying just over the igneous rocks of the Piedmont; the contact was found in Shockoe Creek back of the Old Medical College; and visits were made to places of historic interest. On leaving Richmond, a part of the class went down the James River by boat to see the famous old homesteads Shirley, Berkeley, Westover, Upper and Lower Brandon-and landed at the deserted spot where Jamestown once stood. The remainder of the party reached Williamsburg by rail, and drove the seven miles to Jamestown. After visits to some of the historic places in Williamsburg, and a boat trip to Yorktown by way of the wide tidal Queen's Creek and the York River, we journeyed to Hampton, where we were entertained at Hampton Institute, that excellent and interesting school for the training of Indians and negroes.

From here we visited the shipyards at Newport News, and went to Norfolk, Virginia Beach, and Cape Henry. At Cape Henry the fine examples of san-dunes were studied. The Jamestown Exposition Grounds are in plain view in crossing the Bay from Old Point Comfort to Norfolk, being just south of

Sewall Point, about five miles north of Norfolk. The trip from Hampton to Washington was made by boat, and while in Washington visits were made to the United States departments of geology, agriculture, soils, ethnology, entomology, and forestry. We were cordially received by the men in charge, who generously gave their time in instructing us as to the purposes of each of the departments and the character of its work. Through the special kindness of Dr. Hayes, of the Department of Geology, we were introduced to some of the interesting geological formations about Washington. After visiting Mount Vernon, Arlington, the Capitol, the Congressional Library, and other points of interest, we left Washington1 for Luray, Va., over the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad to Shenandoah Junction, and the Norfolk & Western to Luray. A stop was made at Washington Junction,2 about three-fourths of a mile east of "Point of Rocks," where the Potomac breaks through the Catoctin Mountains, twelve miles east of Harper's Ferry and forty-two miles from Washington.

On leaving Luray we continued up the Shenandoah valley to Basic City. After securing a magnificent view of the Shenandoah valley from the top of a hill, we crossed the valley to Clifton Forge, returning home over the line traversed in the onward journey, reaching Chicago, August 31.


General division.-The reason for selecting the special area from Chicago to the Atlantic Ocean was to give the students a view, although necessarily superficial, of the type land forms which constitute the eastern half of this continent, and which have played so great a rôle in the history of our people. These divisions are known as the Alleghany Plateau, which extends from the Alleghany Front to the Mississippi River; the Appalachian Mountain region, including the region from the Alleghanies to Blue Ridge; the Piedmont, from the Blue Ridge to the "Fall Line," which passes through Washington, RichA part of the class was obliged to return home from Washington. "Within the distance of two miles along the railroad are excellent exposures of Juratrias, Cambrian, and Algonkian formations.

mond, Columbia, Augusta, and Macon; and the Coastal Plain, which extends from the "Fall Line" to the Atlantic Ocean. An attempt was made to trace the limit of each of these divisions along the route of travel. The rocks of the Alleghany Plateau are sedimentary, that is, made from materials deposited in water, which formed the sandstones, limestones, shales, and conglomerates of this region. The rocks are nearly horizontally bedded, looking like layers of a cake, as they are exposed in the bluffs of the numerous rivers which have dissected the plain.

The horizontal stratification of the rocks continues to a point near Hinton, W. Va., where slight tilting of the layers is first observed. Just east of Hinton, near Talcott, decided folding appears. The most perfect example of the Appalachian type form, however, on this route is the Rainbow Arch at Clifton Forge. Here the quartzite rocks have been forced up, forming a beautiful solid arch.

The sedimentary rocks, tilted, folded, and contorted, continue to a point just below a station known as Balcony Falls, Va. Here, in the Blue Ridge, the sedimentary rocks lie against the granite of "Appalachia," the old continent from which the sediments now made into the Appalachian Mountains were doubtless derived.

From Balcony Falls granites, schists, and gneisses are the dominant rocks to Richmond, Va., where the older rocks disappear under the Coastal Plain.

Besides making the acquaintance of these broader areas referred to above, opportunity was afforded for the study of certain of the earth-shaping forces, as the work of glaciers, surface streams, underground water, wind, waves, tides, ocean currents, and diastrophism. Stops were made where the most marked expression of any of these forces was exhibited. The vegetation, industries, and historic places were not overlooked.

Glaciated country. The glaciated region was crossed between Chicago and Greensburg, Ind., a distance of about 240 miles. It was studied from the car windows only, but from even so superficial a view some knowledge of the topography and of the materials which compose the drift can be obtained. We left

« ForrigeFortsæt »