Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/34

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24
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

and school hours. The pupil should he encouraged to observe on his own account and without guidance, and report the results. It is wonderful how much enthusiasm may be aroused in this way. The spirit spreads to the home circle, and the school becomes a quickening leaven to the whole community.

Every class and every school should have its museum. Of all kinds of mere hoarding, museum hoarding is the least objectionable. But the class museum especially should be the receptacle for objects that the pupils bring, thinking them especially suitable to illustrate certain points that have arisen. Sometimes the students prove so enterprising that the teacher's knowledge is severely taxed. But no teacher should be ashamed to admit ignorance. He may assume the attitude of an investigator with his pupils; indeed, that is the safest and healthiest way to put the matter. He is then an example of what he would have his pupils become.

It would be well that every school should have a library of books of reference on the subjects of science taught, and indeed on all subjects. The Encyclopædia Britannica is invaluable. Such a use of books as a last resort to aid in settling doubtful points is perfectly legitimate.

If any subject can not be taught by the natural method, that is sufficient to render it unsuitable for any particular class or school.

Physiology and hygiene are of great importance for medicine. All liberally educated people should understand these subjects. No graduate of a college should, in my opinion, obtain his degree without giving evidence of a practical knowledge of the general structure and functions of his own body. No doubt it would be well for the great masses to know the laws of life, and the dangers that beset them from mistakes and excesses. But physiology is perhaps the most difficult of all sciences, certainly the most difficult to teach well in schools. If it be not practical, based on actual observation, it may prove worse than useless. Book physiology is rubbish, utter rubbish. No doubt much useful hygiene may be taught in a practical way, by example rather than by precept; but the attempt to teach scientific physiology to very young pupils can, with few exceptions, end only in failure, and probably in much confusion and misconception. Physiology has been largely introduced into our schools. It would be interesting to know how many of the teachers have themselves a practical knowledge of the subject, and how many of the pupils really understand what they commit to memory. But all teachers, whether required to give instruction on this subject or not, should have a sound, practical knowledge of it, because of its great importance in school life.