Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/319

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THE STUDY AND TEACHING OF BIOLOGY.

place clear that, in justice both to the student and his teachers, a certain preliminary training must be insisted upon as a preparation for his admission to a biological laboratory; at least the student must have a fair knowledge of physics and chemistry before he comes there; and, when he gets there, the thing next to insist upon is, that his teaching be as largely demonstrative and practical as possible, lectures being made of secondary and laboratory-work of primary importance.

It matters not to me where the student gets this preparatory knowledge: whether here or at some other institution. I believe he ought to acquire it largely at school, as a part of general education; but, as that seems in the present condition of primary education almost impossible, I shall perhaps best make clear my ideas on the matter if I endeavor to sketch out what I think should be the course gone through by a youth fresh from some high-school or college, where he has got an otherwise sound general education, but without anything more than a sham knowledge of physics, and who enters this university with the intention of qualifying himself for biological research or teaching hereafter; and you will, I hope, forgive me if, with the same object of obtaining clearness, I put what I have to say into a somewhat dogmatic form.

Such a person ought to enter at once upon courses of instruction in experimental physics and chemistry, and devote almost wholly his first year to them; but during the latter part of that year, say between the spring vacation and the end of the session, he would, in addition, go through a course of instruction in what we may call general biology. By that I mean a course of instruction in which he would acquire some knowledge of how to use his microscope and how to dissect, and thus gain a certain amount of that special manipulative dexterity which he will require afterward. He would also gain a general acquaintance with biological ideas, and with the meaning of the more important technical terms: he would gain, for example, a real, because a practical, knowledge of what we mean by classification, and of the principles on which classifications are founded; he would learn similarly, with his eyes as well as his ears, what we mean by morphology, and homology, and a host of similar terms; and he would, in addition, acquire a special acquaintance with the structure and actions of certain selected typical animal and vegetable forms. This, then, would finish the first year's work, unless our student should be ignorant of French and German. If so, he ought also to acquire, what is really very easily got, at least a fair reading knowledge of those languages.

At the commencement of his second year the student should enter for two elementary practical courses, one on comparative anatomy and zoölogy, the other on animal physiology. These courses would, I imagine, last about six months each, and they should be taken pari