Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 13.djvu/120

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110

THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

attempt to prevent it. Already it is taught in the test-books of geology, and it will be more and more seen in the manuals of zoölogy, botany, psychology, philology, and history, when these are revised, and adapted to the advanced condition of knowledge.

With such tendencies predominant, how grotesque is the spectacle of a man like Virchow planting himself at the doors of the German schools, and flourishing his test of what is to be admitted there! As the scientific men approach with their subjects, they are stopped by the question, "Can you make oath, gentlemen, to the truth of what you offer?" And so we have a scientific man ruling out science from the schools by a standard not recognized in education, and which, if rigidly applied, would shut up every schoolhouse in Germany. For what would become of history, philology, geography, political economy, and the whole round' of studies that are already pursued, if this swearing-test were to be applied to them? The question, as we have said, is whether something can be got that is better than what now exists, as this is the way all progress is secured. In an address of great power, by Prof. Du Bois-Reymond, of Berlin, on "Science and Civilization" (which we shall soon have the pleasure of publishing), the professor says of the religious instruction given in the German schools: "In the semi-official plan of studies, more than half a page of fine print is expended in setting forth the subject-matter of this instruction, while five lines suffice to dispatch the mathematical programme! On reading this half-page, and the corresponding half-page for the upper second class, one imagines he has before him the programme of a theological seminary." So there is a body of dogmatic divinity already in the schools, including, of course, a cosmogony, or theory of creation, and traditional hypotheses without number. To all this Prof. Virchow does not dream of applying his test; but, when the representatives of modern knowledge demand that the teaching shall better reflect the existing state of thought, the admonition comes: "No dogmatism! Winnow your work, gentlemen—nothing but facts are to be admitted here, with their certainties, up to the swearing-point."

Considered educationally, what else is this but the old, exploded policy of pouring facts into mental pitchers? What are facts good for if not interpreted, and what is science without explanation—that is, theory? Would Prof. Virchow swear the atomic theory out of chemistry, and the wave theory out of optics, and the nebular theory out of astronomy; and what would become of his own science of physiology if nothing could be taught of it but what he can make oath to? The highest object of education is to rouse mental activity, to set pupils to thinking, to encourage them to make their own observations and their own independent reflections; and this can in no way be done so effectually as by linking educational methods to the great movements of thought that are absorbing the world's attention, outside of the schools. To deal only in culture with demonstrated facts, and thus to reduce the process to one of bare acquisition, is a deadening and paralyzing process, not suited to prepare students to use their minds to the best advantage in the conduct of practical life.

Nothing can be clearer than that the liberty of science and the liberty of education, the progress of science and the progress of education, are indissolubly linked together. Whewell has shown us how, in the development of the human intellect, the great steps of culture have followed and resulted from the great steps of discovery that have successively enlarged the sphere of human knowledge. And it was not because certain new facts were poured in at each epoch of discovery, but because new ideas, new methods, new modes of