Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 16.djvu/696

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and secular; it popularized itself in the United States so directly with the people that the various State governments, recognizing that the beneficiaries—who at first were of the class that, uneducated, would have become a charge to the nation—grew self-helpful, were imbued with the desire to extend educational advantages. Under the sway of popular enthusiasm large sums of money were appropriated; schoolhouses were erected at public expense in all large cities, and in almost every village.

The primary thought of the founders of the new schools was lost: this consisted merely of giving a groundwork of education for pupils to build upon. Grammar and normal schools, as well as universities, arose throughout the land. College text-books were multiplied seemingly without end, and from them everything within the ken of human understanding was attempted to be taught. Instead of the original plan of three or four years being the average length of school-life for non-professionals, children were entered at five years of age and left as young men and women graduates.

This system of book-cramming, which was not only without science, but was founded upon neither experience nor observation, was followed by the most unsatisfactory results. The exclusively scholastic knowledge which was imparted unfitted the common people for the exigencies of actual working-life. This guidance of theocratic, feudalistic, and merely scholastic teaching did not result in any adequate social, moral, and intellectual improvement. Is it not time, then, that Science and Art shall assume control of the free schools of America, and convert them into halls of industrial and practical education?


FROM the southern and western slopes of the San Juan Mountains, in southwestern Colorado, stretches far to the south and west a strange country. It is a country of plateaus and cañons—of plateaus whose surfaces are flat and unbroken for miles on miles; as far as one can see, the country presents a monotonous level, but is cut here and there by deep, almost impassable, cañons. As we recede from the mountains, these plateaus, which are there covered with piñion pine and sage, become more sterile, and finally vegetation ceases, except in isolated spots, and the surface is bare rock or drifting sand—a very Sahara.

The Rio San Juan heads in the southern slopes of the San Juan Mountains, and, flowing at first south, at a distance of about fifty miles turns west and keeps this course generally to its mouth. It flows