Leaving aside, then, the question as to the power of geography, let us see what the aims of geographical education are, and what they should be. Hitherto the aim has been to give a knowledge of the world in its relation to man, and in some cases a knowledge of the world with very little thought of man. Now, we recognize that the teacher has not accomplished his task or fulfilled his duty thoroughly until he has trained his pupils in the ability to gain more education after they have left him than they have gained with him. They must leave school with the ability to study, to interpret, and to apply; with the power of gaining knowledge for themselves from maps, textbooks, encyclopedias, books of travel, and all other sources of geographical information. If the end to be sought by geography teaching is the power of knowing and applying oneself, then surely this power is more important than mere information. Broadly, geography should train the pupils in an understanding of the features of the Earth, of their origin and structure, of their life-histories and ends; it should develop in the pupils a love for nature and outdoors, a desire to study geography firsthand and to come in contact with the Earth; it should leave them in a questioning spirit and with the power of thought. All these points have been more or less dwelt upon by our teachers and geographers, but there is another point we hear less about, and it is this: that the training in geography should be along scientific lines, and should lay the basis for scientific thought which the pupils may use in later years. If the three steps which any scientist must follow before he comes to a decision are those of observation, inference and proof, then our training is unscientific if we stop with mere observation and the study of relationships. We should develop in our children the power of prophecy, and the power of proving the prophecy. By prophecy I do not mean guessing, but I mean the power of foretelling the relationship of man to any part of the world from the study of a good map or other representation of that region. From my experience in teaching I know that this power of prophecy can be developed early in the child's life, and that it is vastly helpful in future training. The prophesying, however, must be founded on familiar conditions, and must start in a simple way. We all know that the German custom of making home geography [Heimatkunde] the center for future study of the world is coming to be recognized as the true beginning of geographical work. If home geography is so taught in the early years that the children get an understanding of causal conditions, it becomes a basis for the study of prophetic geography later. From the home geography we should go to a map representation of the facts, and from the home maps to maps of other regions drawn in a similar way. From these latter maps the pupils should be able to read the physical conditions, and to prophesy from these conditions certain great lines of geographical development. Climatic conditions, the lines of drainage, the character of the topography, the altitude, the occupations of the people, the places of residence, the manner of life, the lines of communication by water or rail (or lack thereof); the probable position of the great centers of population, and many other points, should at once be suggested to the child as the only results possible under such conditions.Dodge's 1903 textbook on Home Geography is here. Continued in next entry.
Polistra was named after the original townsite of Manhattan (the one in Kansas). When I was growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time exploring by foot, bike, and car. I discovered the ruins of an old mill along Wildcat Creek, and decided (inaccurately) that it was the remains of the original site of Polistra. Accurate or not, I've always liked the name, with its echoes of Poland (an under-appreciated friend of freedom) and stars. ==== The title icon is explained here. ==== Switchover: This 2007 entry marks a sharp change in worldview from neocon to pure populist. ===== The long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is a time-travel fable, attempting to answer the dangerous revision of New Deal history propagated by Amity Shlaes. The Dream has 8 episodes, linked in a chain from the first. This entry explains the Shlaes connection.