Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/572

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

in the external working of the system, shows how completely the State machine has superseded the older method by which the teachers had some liberty to adapt themselves to the fundamental though ever-varying requirements of individual pupils. It is the characteristic of machine education that in its working the individual disappears.

No doubt we are talking treason against the State, and blasphemy against a popular idol; nevertheless, there are many who hold that in education, as in politics, the sooner the machine is "smashed" the better. If practice in chess and whist would give a better education than the machine, it is time to protest. Our most thoughtful educators are revolting against the predominant method, which, having been adopted by the State as best suited for official management, is extending throughout the nation. But many, as we said, are striking out, and demanding a good deal more liberty in school management. They condemn the pernicious mechanics of the schools just in proportion to its perfection. Colonel Parker, for example, is one of those who demand more freedom in the play of educational agencies, and more attention to the kind of work that is least available for display. lie is recently represented as saying that "uniformity in schools is death"; he does not believe in "per cents," he would not have them in schools under any circumstances: "Here is a child who is not so quick mentally as another; he studies as hard and labors as faithfully as the others, but, not being able to advance so rapidly, he is marked fifty per cent, while others walk off waving their ninety-five per cent in triumph. It is discouraging to the moderately dull child, and wrong. If a child is examined and asked the name of a river, and can not answer, off goes five per cent."

The difficulty of machine education is, that under it pupils are not taught to think for themselves. It can not educate the judgment, or prepare the mind to meet emergencies through the practice of self-reliance. As remarked by a teacher, "The public-school scholars are excellent in the line of their drill, but, take them one inch outside of it, and they are lost."

 

 

BICYCLES AND CIVILIZATION.

We give space to a long communication on the bicycle controversy at Stockbridge, replying to our article upon the subject two months ago. The writer makes many explanations, and indulges freely in sarcastic personalities; but the reader who cares to compare his letter with what we said will probably observe that the facts of the case remain substantially as we stated them, while everybody can judge as to the correctness of the conclusions drawn from them. To the local particulars of the Stockbridge war we can give no more attention, but will say a few further words on the general aspect of the subject.

We assumed in our former article that large bicycles run upon the sidewalks are objectionable. The sidewalks are a portion of the highway reserved for pedestrians, made smooth and hard to facilitate walking, and protected from exposure to accidents by street vehicles. A new wheeled vehicle is introduced of a peculiar character, but which belongs, if anywhere, to that part of the street which is usually devoted to vehicles. Thus far these new vehicles are only in a very small degree subservient to any use or necessity, public or private, but are run mainly for the pleasure of their riders. These are mostly boys seeking their amusement, and, as the machine is somewhat expensive, only a comparatively few boys are able to possess them. Probably there were not more than half a dozen boys with large bicycles in Stockbridge. They take to the sidewalk because they are ob-