Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/31

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21
NATURAL OR SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN EDUCATION.

then considered education. I have for a long period been trying to undo the harm wrought and make up for what was omitted at the most impressionable period of life, and I feel to this day that I have not wholly got rid of some of the evil effects. There was not only no science in the course, but the very methods used were radically opposed to science and to such knowledge of our organization as I am endeavoring to show is now well enough established. There was no freedom; the senses were utterly neglected; and human nature could not develop by such methods as were in vogue.

But many will no doubt think the case overdrawn, and point to the fact that development has actually gone on satisfactorily, and that our present standing in science and other subjects is a proof of it. Happily, it is not possible for Nature to be wholly repressed. We develop in spite of bad methods. The boy develops out of school if not in it. The great mass are educated by their work and other associations that make up their every-day life. Some of the best-educated people have never been inside of a school.

The great fertilizing ideas of our age, coming from the mint of genius and embodied in a way that appeals to all and in a measure educates all, have been at work. Who can estimate how great a part such a man as Edison, to mention a single instance, has played in the true education of our period? I purposely now select a practical man rather than a pure scientist. The great difficulty that most teachers would mention, I suppose, in the way of accomplishing their ends is in getting children interested, for children work when they are stimulated by interest. Yet this difficulty is not experienced with the kindergarten method at the beginning, nor in any serious degree with wisely devised laboratory work later at college. Why is a boy more interested in his sports than in his studies? Partly, at all events, because the former are better suited to his nature, to his development, than his studies as sometimes conducted.

Introduce scientific methods, and introduce science itself according to the laws that underlie our organization, and you will revolutionize our schools. To hope for this at once, even if the object were clearly perceived by all immediately concerned in education, would be Utopian; but success comes to those who strive persistently and wisely with a true ideal clearly in view.

I should like it well understood that the same methods that apply to what is usually termed science are also adapted for all other subjects. We use at least some of the same faculties, and it is the same mind that is engaged, whether with literature or science. I have already endeavored to show that one who pursues