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RICHARD WORMELL, M.A., B.Sc. (LOND.)
32, BOUVERIE STREET, FLEET STREET, E. C.
Two questions bearing directly on the teaching of Geometry have lately occupied the attention of men. interested in English education. One of these presents for consideration the imperfections of "Euclid's Elements" as a text-book, and the other the subject of so-called "technical education." The discussions on the former show that many, perhaps the majority, of our ablest and most successful teachers of mathematics consider the time to have come for a complete reformation in our methods of instruction in Geometry; and those on the latter that, in the opinion of many, education in England should have a more direct reference to the development of the arts.
So long as "Euclid's Elements continue to be regarded as a work to which no man can add and from which none ought to take away,—as a text-book alike suitable for the beginner and the advanced student,-it will be next to impossible to teach properly the practical bearings of the science of Geometry. The book itself comes to us from an age in which all philosophy was thought to be degraded by connection with the practical operations of life. Its author and his contemporaries looked upon mechanical illustra
tions and applications of Geometry as a lowering of the dignity of the science. Something of this feeling has been associated with the subject from the days of Euclid almost to the present time.
Experience and reflection alike show that Geometry ought not to be introduced to the student in a purely abstract form. The inductive process by which generalizations and abstractions are first acquired, is usually the best for communicating them
"The ancient philosophy disdained to be useful, and was content to be stationary. It could not condescend to the humble office of ministering to the comfort of human beings. Once, indeed, Posidonius, a distinguished writer of the age of Cicero and Cæsar, so far forgot himself as to enumerate, among the humbler blessings which mankind owed to philosophy, the discovery of the principle of the arch and the introduction of metals. This eulogy was considered as an affront, and was taken up with proper spirit. Seneca vehemently disclaims these insulting compliments. Philosophy, according to him, has nothing to do with teaching men to rear arched roofs over their heads. The true philosopher does not care whether he has an arched roof or any roof. Philosophy has nothing to do with teaching men the uses of metals; she teaches us to be independent of all material substances, of all mechanical contrivances. The wise man lives according to nature. Instead of attempting to add to the physical comforts of his species, he regrets that his lot was not cast in that golden age when the human race had no protection against the cold but a cavern. To impute to such a man any share in the invention or improvement of a plough, a ship, or a mill, is an insult. In my own time,' says Seneca, 'there have been inventions of this sort, transparent windows, tubes for diffusing warmth equally through all parts of a building. But the inventing of such things is drudgery for the lowest slaves; philosophy lies deeper. It is not her office to teach men how to use their hands. We shall next be told that the first shoemaker was a philosopher.""-Macaulay's Essay on Lord Bacon.
to the young and uninitiated. The mingling together of theoretical deductions and practical applications, not only makes the subject more interesting, but also assists the student in grasping the doctrines of pure Geometry. Neither is it advantageous to teach Practical Geometry and Mensuration by prescribing bare constructions in geometrical drawing, and rules for the measurement of lines and surfaces, without demonstration or discussion. Consequently, in this text-book fundamental notions are deduced from concrete illustrations; the demonstrations are of the simplest character, and are followed by explanations of the use of the propositions in the ornamental and industrial arts. At the end of each chapter are given questions on the text, and on the application of Arithmetic to Geometry, with theorems and problems for solution. By means of this plan the study of Geometry may be commenced at a much earlier age than has hitherto been possible. The conception of moving points and lines, which gives to many proofs simplicity and clearness, is frequently employed, as also the method of superposition, which in a number of cases affords a concise and elegant demonstration. The constructions are such only as are practically useful, and thus a great impediment to progress is removed from the path of the pupil. The doctrine of proportion, one of the most important in Geometry, is very early expounded; and by its simplification of the course of Plane Geometry, access to the Solid is afforded to many who otherwise would never obtain any useful knowledge of it. The logical relations of the propositions to one another, and the more diffi