The Chemical Primer below was written in 1884, and from its instructions to teachers, you can definitely see an old fashioned teaching approach.
Do not allow pupils lazily to pronounce the symbol or the formula instead of the name, i. e., wherever “H” occurs, see that it is called hydrogen Have the pupils copy the two Reference Tables (pp. 16, 29) upon cardboard, and allow them the free use of these for the entire term. Never compel them to memorize formulas, atomic weights, strength, etc. It is as important to know what not to remember, as to know what should be remembered, since the former comprises by far the larger portion of any text-book Let the pupils perform all experiments (except, perhaps, a few difficult ones, or for the sake of taking your turn with the class) in presence of the class, explaining each experiment as it proceeds. It takes time, but it is the only way to teach chemistry where a table for each student cannot be provided. If you haven’t time, omit half the experiments to accomplish this result. Assign to separate pupils one experiment each a few days beforehand.
The experiments may be performed upon a plank table (see FRONTISPIECE), costing not over four dollars Every experiment teaches something, and the sooner you can impress this fact the better. While you should make every experiment as impressive as it can be made, get the pupils through the babyhood which craves noisy or showy experiments, as early in the term as possible See that a number of larger works upon chemistry are at your desk for reference After you have passed the “Reactions,” encourage any pupils who may show a special liking for the science to work out after school hours a number of solutions (not too complex, and mixed by you) by the Analytical Charts.
Teach pupils to use small flasks (test-tubes answer well) and small quantities of chemicals. It isn’t necessary to burn a forest to prove that hydrocarbons are combustible, nor to blow up a continent to prove a substance explosive
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