Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 86.djvu/175
their "scientific training" has not made them any more open-minded or progressive. The science teachers of my acquaintance are not more open-minded or more free from prejudice than other teachers, or than other people in various occupational groups. The small number of science teachers who are open to new ideas are probably open-minded not because of their scientific training. The words foreigner, Jew and socialist, for example, produce in the minds of some four-score science teachers that I know the same kinds of reactions as they do in the minds of just ordinary chauvinists, hooligans and philistines, respectively.
In short, I have found no indication that these science teachers are more deliberate and analytical and systematic in forming judgments upon new problems than teachers of other subjects; nor that they are more progressive in adjusting themselves to new ideas—to say nothing of being on the look-out for new ideas; nor that they are freer from prejudices and conventions of thought.
However, notwithstanding the rather discouraging results of a canvass of my colleagues, I still believe that science teaching offers better opportunities for cultivating certain intellectual virtues than the teaching of other subjects,
A person temperamentally or habitually dishonest can not be expected to teach honesty, if indeed honesty can be taught at all. But even if honesty can not be taught at all, as some maintain, the laboratory presents the opportunity for learning to discriminate between certain truths and certain superficial resemblances to truth—which is in itself a great gain. That is, if a person is to be dishonest, it is desirable that he at least know that he is dishonest, so that he deceive not himself, however he may treat others.
The laboratory presents opportunities for testing objectively the accuracy and coherence of the pupil's language; it devolves upon the teacher to establish an ideal of accuracy. A number of pupils will come to a more or less conscious generalization of the idea, and a more or less deliberate acceptance of the ideal, without any assistance whatever; for most children, however, the teacher's help is needed or the experience in the laboratory will have no "training" value. In the laboratory, too, we may test the logic of a classification, for the inclusion of incompatibles or for the faulty distribution of coordinates, etc. Going through such an exercise a number of times will perhaps develop a certain skill that will show itself in the reduced time of the nth performance, but it will not establish a mental habit unless somehow the teacher makes the practise in such discrimination a part of the conscious purpose of the child.
The teachings of language are arbitrary; they exercise the memory (not in the gymnastic sense, of course) and cultivate faith in authorities. The teachings of mathematics are formal and deductive, and, as