Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 28.djvu/279

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269
EDITOR'S TABLE.

of the situation, and for his efforts as Secretary of the Baltimore and Ohio Employés Relief Association.

Speaking from a close association with the class of labor he seeks to benefit, it is my belief that both it and the spirit of our people resent a "paternal care and solicitude" while welcoming a "friendly interest," and perhaps even a "guardian's care."

Some of the members of his Association have characterized it as "too paternal," and though it has done and is doing great good, not only for the Baltimore and Ohio employés but among employés generally, as an example of what can be accomplished, it is well to remember that "compulsory provision for their future welfare" excites opposition, and does not educate his "wards" as would a more friendly help.

This is indicated by the Pullman experiment, of which the popular judgment is: that it is not approved by the employés, and is not so successful as to deserve imitation by employers.

G. C. Hewett.
Winifrede, West Virginia,
September 16, 1885.
 


EDITOR'S TABLE.

 

PRESIDENT LESLEY’S ADDRESS.

THOSE of our readers who carelessly pass by the recent discourse of Professor Lesley before the American Association for the Advancement of Science without reading it will make a bad mistake. There is not much danger of this, for the address is sufficiently attractive and brilliant to engage general attention. Professor Lesley enforces many wholesome truths upon the students and devotees of science, and maintains a high ideal of the great purpose that should govern scientific pursuits. On these points we can have nothing to add. But there is a bearing of the whole discourse on common education which should not be overlooked. His address, in one of its chief aspects, is a counterblast against "cram" in science—against the mere accumulation of scientific facts—and it is a ringing demand for more persistent and concentrated labor in small and unobtrusive fields of investigation. His plea for what is called "dead-work" in science, as contrasted with more showy performances, is especially effective. But his observations on "the over-accumulation of scientific information" have an application outside the limits of strict research. "The science of learning and the science of knowledge," ho says, "are not quite identical; and learning has too often in the case of individuals overwhelmed and smothered to death knowledge. The average human mind, when overstocked with information, acts like a general put in command of an army too large for him to handle. Many a vaulting scientific ambition has been thus disgraced. Nor is this the only danger that we run; for the accumulation of facts in the treasury of the human brain has a natural tendency to breed an intellectual avarice, a passion for the piling up of masses of facts, old and new, regardless of their uses." "Not only the avarice of facts, but of their explanations also, may end in a wealthy poverty of intellect for which there is no cure." "How much we know is not the best question, but how we got what we know." Professor Lesley touches upon the subject of general education from this point of view as follows:

I do not intend to discuss the subject, to define the quantity and quality of knowledge adequate for the various classes of human society, or to propose any plans for its distribution. All I wish to say about it is, I that it seems to mo Nature limits both the responsibilities of teachers and the rights of learners more narrowly than is commonly supposed. The parable of the sower is a good reference for explanation. Most of the surface of the globe is good for little else than cattle-ranches or sheep-farms, and the large majority of mankind must in all ages be satisfied with the mere rudiments of learning. What they want is unscholastic wisdom with which to fight the fight of life, and they must win it for themselves. Only a limited num-