Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 8.djvu/125
ceived from one hundred and twenty-eight endowed schools in all, and, out of this total, 'science is taught in only sixty-three, and of these only thirteen have a laboratory, and only eighteen apparatus, often very scanty.' Even these figures, however, give but a very imperfect notion of the neglect with which science is treated. It will hardly be believed that there are no more than eighteen of these schools which devote as much as four hours in the week to scientific instruction, that sixteen actually afford no longer time than two hours a week, and seven think an hour sufficient. These, however, are the good examples. There are thirty schools in which no definite time whatever is allotted to scientific study. Again, out of the one hundred and twenty-eight schools, only thirteen give any place at all to science in their examinations, and 'only two attach a weight to science in the examinations equal to that of classics or mathematics.'
"If, now, we attempt to account for this extraordinary neglect of science, in a country whose greatness, if not its very independence, depends upon the skill of its population in using the forces of Nature as their servants, we find the blame to rest in a very great measure on the universities. The older universities were founded and attained celebrity at a time when natural science did not exist, and they have never admitted science to an equality with classics and mathematics. The feeling of Oxford and Cambridge has naturally guided the public schools. The masters are, almost without exception, even to-day, Oxford and Cambridge men, and are penetrated with the Oxford and Cambridge spirit. Moreover, the parents of the boys, and the boys themselves, necessarily attach importance to the studies which will win honors and distinction at the universities, while they disregard studies that will in no way help them in their careers. Lastly, the neglect of science at the universities causes the schools to suffer from a want of competent teachers. Most of the head-masters in their evidence refer to this difficulty, but, at the same time, they are unwilling to look elsewhere for the kind of men they want. Thus the head-master of Rugby says: 'I would here observe that a mere chemist, geologist, or naturalist, however eminent in his own special department, would hardly be able to take his place in a body of masters composed of university men, without some injurious effect upon the position which science ought to occupy in the school. . . . In preferring the two older universities, I do so only by reason of their stronger general sympathies with public-school teaching. I am aware that if I merely wanted a highly-scientific man in any branch, I might find him equally in Dublin, London, or at a Scotch university,' In plain language, trades-unionism forbids an ugly competition."
It thus appears that the policy of one hundred and twenty-eight of the leading schools of England, in regard to the admission of scientific studies, is powerfully influenced, if not controlled, by the universities, so that, in the foremost nation in the world, there is a vast, compactly-organized educational system which ignores the universe, as disclosed by modern science, and employs as its means of mental cultivation a spurious universe of dead traditions, languages, methods, and opinions.