Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 53.djvu/262

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248 POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

natural knowledge by the existing custom of placing the instruction on these many and divergent subjects in the hands of one " general science teacher," for the subject has recently been ably treated in the Educational Review. There are two other considerations which are sufficient to occupy us at present: First, that if the time spent upon scientific training is to be divided among so many different branches, it is impossible that the real purpose of such training should be carried out. Second, that the attempt to take up all these subjects is actually detrimental to a scholar's mental growth; for it must be remembered that during the same space of time in which scientific instruction has made such rapid strides, the require- ments in all other branches of knowledge have been in no way dimin- ished ; on the contrary, their tale of bricks has been in some respects increased.

There seems to be a general agreement that the importance at present attached to scientific knowledge is but the fitting recognition of its value as an educational agent. If we analyze the matter, how- ever, we shall find that this agreement does not exist as to the exact nature of the value which is so universally admitted. There are, in fact, two distinctly different conceptions as to the use and purpose of scientific training, and it is very necessary to a right understanding of the questions we have just placed before ourselves for considera- tion that we should distinguish between these. One of the aforesaid theories is that of the physical scientists themselves, the " gifted leaders " who so earnestly advocated reform in their own line. Their views are best stated in the words of the man who led their advance guard, and whose just claim for the introduction of science into edu- cation we have already quoted. " The great peculiarity of scientific instruction, that in virtue of which it can not be replaced by any other discipline whatever, is this bringing of the mind directly into contact with fact, and practicing the intellect in the completest form of induction — that is to say, in drawing conclusions from particular facts made known by immediate observation. The other studies which enter into education do not discipline the mind in this way." This opinion, even though it is that of the highest authorities, is unfortunately held by a very small minority — in fact, only by the authorities themselves. The second theory as to the purpose of sci- entific instruction, to which the majority adhere, is that of the followers in the " crusade." These are the blind leaders of the blind; they are men and women whose actual knowledge of the natural sciences is almost nil, but they advocate the introduction of all of them into school training, because they consider that in a liberal education no educational stone should be left unturned.

Now, if the value of scientific knowledge lies, as Professor Hux-

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