Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/377

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363
INFLUENCE OF EDUCATION ON OBSERVATION.

phy is distinctly not a necessity, how is it possible but that geography must go to the wall? There is, indeed, another class subject recognized by the Education Department in their New Code which would cultivate observation even more, perhaps, than geography does—namely, elementary science. But we presume it is the opinion of the Department itself (as it certainly is our own) that this subject will not be largely used; for, in the recently issued "Instructions to Inspectors" it is passed over very cursorily, without the least indication as to the parts of natural science to be preferred, or any more than the vaguest as to methods. Elementary science will have a very uphill battle to fight if it is to win any real recognition, where the recognition of it involves the discarding of the more familiar geography, which by the terms of the Code it does. But our fear is that geography and elementary science will alike play but a poor part, in view of the superior importance and extended meaning given to grammar in the New Code. And, while some of the "specific subjects" of the Code are such as would encourage the observant faculties, these subjects are taken up by so small a number of children as hardly to affect the broad question we are discussing.

A suggestion, however, has been made which, if it could be carried out, would undoubtedly bring popular education into more direct relations with the external world, and therefore encourage the observant faculties more than is the case at present. This is that, just as girls are taught needle-work, so boys should in the course of their education be taught some elements of their future practical work in life. This has especially been urged in the interests of agriculture, and it has been thought that boys might be taught, while still at school, so much of the rudiments of farming as would greatly improve their future capacity. Of this proposal we can only say that we should be glad if it could be found practicable, but we are afraid the difficulties of connecting practical farming with school-work would be found very great. It might be easier to bring gardening into the school routine. But all that can here be said is that this suggestion, like all others that tend to relieve popular education from mere formalizing, deserves attention; and that, if the difficulties which it appears to present could be got over, it would certainly be a great benefit to the country.—Saturday Review.