Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/830

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

painting of a picture. Every workman should have, to the largest possible degree, the fine feeling of the artist, while every artist should be recognized as a working-man.

Over all this knowledge and these powers a conscience should preside that can say "ought" and "ought not" so loudly and distinctly that its commands can not go unheeded. This work is all to be done in the schools, through the ordinary subjects, properly related and taught.

I do not believe in multiplying subjects in our school curriculum. I believe most thoroughly in reducing them. Even among the old Greeks the time came when complaint was made that the children were pestered with a multitude of subjects, all thought necessary to a proper education, and accordingly all imperfectly acquired.

The territory and the time from which the Greek drew thought were but the merest fragment of that from which thought and material come pouring in upon the modern child. All ages and all climes are pouring their accumulated treasure and filth upon him. Selfishness and ignorance, backed by the hoarded wealth of generations, combine to force into his unwilling and aching mental stomach the products alike of malicious, shallow, and noble brains. The multiplication of subjects of study in the schools of ancient Greece was accompanied by a decline of mental vigor and spontaneity.

The only hope for our future lies in a wise choice of subjects for our schools—in a wise conservation and expenditure of the energies of our children. This multiplication of subjects, it seems to us, has grown out of a lack of proper appreciation of the essentials of the great departments of knowledge and their proper relations. What God has joined together, man, partly through ignorance and partly through desire of gain, has violently put asunder. Closely connected lines of study have been isolated. Great departments of thought have been cut up into petty fields, and then each little quarter-lot so covered by rubbish that teacher and pupil alike have been starved and enslaved when they ought to have been made vigorous and free through a knowledge of the truth. Industrial knowledge consists in acquaintance with industrial materials, processes, and relations.

Industrial materials are the various natural forces together with certain substances from the mineral, vegetable, and animal worlds. Industrial processes are those operations by which crude materials are converted into forms adapted to man's deeds. Industrial relations imply the mechanism of exchange, and all those considerations dealt with in political science. Let us consider briefly the possibilities of arithmetical teaching as a means of imparting solid industrial knowledge.

It was, doubtless, a great gain in teaching the elements of arithmetic when beans, corn, blocks, etc., were substituted for abstract statement. The principles stated and illustrated by Grübe, Horace