Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 25.djvu/594

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578
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

and the German languages. These three languages, at least, are the necessary tools of the American scholar, whatever may be the special field of his scholarship, and his end is gained if he has acquired thorough command of these tools. But if he goes further, and studies the philology of these languages, their structure, their derivation, their literature, the study may occupy a lifetime, and be made the basis of severe intellectual training. More frequently, and as most scholars think more effectually, such linguistic training is obtained by the study of the ancient languages, especially the Latin and the Greek, and no one questions the value and efficiency of this form of mental discipline. But obviously such a preparation is not necessary for the use of the modern languages as tools, or in order to acquire a knowledge of ancient history, of the modes of ancient life, or the results of ancient thought. In recent discussions a great deal has been said about the value of classical learning, and it has been argued that no man could be regarded as thoroughly educated who had never heard of Homer or Virgil, of Marathon or Cannæ, of the Acropolis of Athens or the Forum of Rome. Certainly not. But all this knowledge can be acquired without spending six years in learning to read the Latin and Greek authors in the original, or in writing Latin hexameters or Greek iambics. The discipline acquired by this long study is undoubtedly of the highest value, but its value depends upon the intellectual training, which is the essential result, and not upon the knowledge of ancient life and thought, which is merely an incident.

Now, this same distinction, which I have endeavored to illustrate on familiar ground, must not be forgotten in considering the relations of physical science to education. Physical science may also be studied from two wholly different points of view: First, to acquire a knowledge of facts and principles, which are among the most important factors of modem life; secondly, as a means of developing and training some of the most important intellectual faculties of the mind—for example, the powers of observation, of conception, and of inductive reasoning.

The experimental sciences must often be studied chiefly from the first point of view. If no man can be regarded as thoroughly educated who is ignorant of the outlines of Roman and Greek history; one who knows nothing of the principles of the steam-engine, or of the electric telegraph, is certainly equally deficient. I do not question that in most of our high-schools the physical sciences must be taught, for the most part, as funds of useful knowledge, and in regard to such teaching I have only a few remarks to make. Assuming that information is the end to be attained, the best method of securing the desired result is to present the facts in such a way as will interest the scholar, and thus secure the retention of these facts by his memory. I think it a very serious mistake to attempt to teach such subjects by memoriter recitations from a text-