Page:Democracy and Education.djvu/265

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Philosophy of Education

It involves the structure of the limbs and the nervous system; the principles of mechanics. To cook is to utilize heat and moisture to change the chemical relations of food materials; it has a bearing upon the assimilation of food and the growth of the body. The utmost that the most learned men of science know in physics, chemistry, physiology is not enough to make all these consequences and connections perceptible. The task of education, once more, is to see to it that such activities are performed in such ways and under such conditions as render these connections as perceptible as possible. To 'learn geography' is to gain in power to perceive the spatial, the natural, connections of an ordinary act; to 'learn history' is essentially to gain in power to recognize its human connections. For what is called geography as a formulated study is simply the body of facts and principles which have been discovered in other men's experience about the natural medium in which we live, and in connection with which the particular acts of our life have an explanation. So history as a formulated study is but the body of known facts about the activities and sufferings of the social groups with which our own lives are continuous, and through reference to which our own customs and institutions are illuminated.

2. The Complementary Nature of History and Geography.—History and geography—including in the latter, for reasons about to be mentioned, nature study—are the information studies par excellence of the schools. Examination of the materials and the method of their use will make clear that the difference between penetration of this information into living experience and its mere piling up in isolated heaps depends upon whether these studies are faithful to the interdependence of man and nature which affords these studies their justification. Nowhere, however, is there greater danger that subject matter will be accepted as appropriate educational material simply because it has become customary to teach and learn it. The idea of a philosophic reason for it, because