Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/36

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

tions should under any circumstances be taken up by the candidates, either as an alternative or a positive branch of work.

Will the universities help or impede the spread of school scienceteaching? The universities adhere at present to their fatal principle that only one-sided knowledge shall find favor within their walls. A boy who knows nothing but classics, nothing but mathematics, nothing but science, may easily win a scholarship; a boy who knows all three must seek distinction elsewhere; and this rule shapes inevitably the teaching of the schools. The science scholarships at Oxford, of which we hear so much, fall mainly to three distinguished schools: two so large and wealthy that they can overpower most competitors by their expenditure on staff and apparatus; the third planted in Oxford, with access to the university museum and laboratory, and with a pick of teachers from the men of whom examiners are made; and these schools insure success in science by abandoning other subjects almost or altogether in the case of the candidates they send up. No school which should carry out the recommendations of the commissioners by giving six hours a week to science, and the rest of its time to literature and mathematics; no school which should realize its function as bound to develop young minds by strengthening in fair proportion all their faculties of imagination, reason, memory, and observation—could offer boys for any sort of scholarship under the present university system with the faintest chance of success.

What these institutions are powerless to avert or helpless to bring about is, we repeat, within the scope of the British Association to effect. All institutions, political or educational, will bow to a strongly-formed committee of scientific men, formally commissioned by the Association and speaking with authority, delegated as well as personal, on scientific subjects. Let such a committee be revived as died on paper in 1871, including the acknowledged leaders of pure science, and weighted with the names of such educationalists as have shown themselves zealous for science-teaching. Let their functions be—1. To communicate with the head-masters and governing bodies, calling attention to the recommendations of the Duke of Devonshire's commission, asking how far and how soon each school is prepared to carry these out, and tendering advice, should it be desired, on any details as to selection and sequence of subjects, teachers, textbooks, outlay. 2. Let them appeal to the universities, to which many of them belong, as to the bearing of science scholarships and fellowships upon school-teaching, and the extent to which such influence may be modified or ameliorated in that rearrangement of college funds which next session will probably be commenced. 3. Let them be instructed to watch the action of Government in any proposal made either in pursuance of Lord Salisbury's bill, or as giving effect to the Duke of Devonshire's commission, and let them be known to hold a brief for school science in reference to all such legislation. A