Page:Democracy and Education.djvu/286

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267
Science in the Course of Study

scientific theory falls within practice as the agency of its expansion and its direction to new possibilities.

3. Naturalism and Humanism in Education.—There exists an educational tradition which opposes science to literature and history in the curriculum. The quarrel between the representatives of the two interests is easily explicable historically. Literature and language and a literary philosophy were intrenched in all higher institutions of learning before experimental science came into being. The latter had naturally to win its way. No fortified and protected interest readily surrenders any monopoly it may possess. But the assumption, from whichever side, that language and literary products are exclusively humanistic in quality, and that science is purely physical in import, is a false notion which tends to cripple the educational use of both studies. Human life does not occur in a vacuum, nor is nature a mere stage setting for the enactment of its drama {Ante, p. 247). Man's life is bound up in the processes of nature; his career, for success or defeat, depends upon the way in which nature enters it. Man's power of deliberate control of his own affairs depends upon ability to direct natural energies to use: an ability which is in turn dependent upon insight into nature's processes. Whatever natural science may be for the specialist, for educational purposes it is knowledge of the conditions of human action. To be aware of the medium in which social intercourse goes on, and of the means and obstacles to its progressive development is to be in command of a knowledge which is thoroughly humanistic in quality. One who is ignorant of the history of science is ignorant of the struggles by which mankind has passed from routine and caprice, from superstitious subjection to nature, from efforts to use it magically, to intellectual self-possession. That science may be taught as a set of formal and technical exercises is only too true. This happens whenever information about the world is made an end in itself. The failure of such instruction to