Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 3.djvu/123

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113
EDITOR'S TABLE.

reverse position; they invariably hang in the web head downward.

Surely it is a little incongruous that a magazine which lectures The Popular Science Monthly for occupying too much space with such "pseudo-science" as that "most high-flown speculation," Evolution, should expend money as well as space for an engraving which is not only controverted by every accurate observation, but which might have been corrected by a glance into Webster's Unabridged.Burt G. Wilder.

 

 

EDITOR'S TABLE.

SCIENTIFIC NORMAL SCHOOLS.

THE idea suggested by this title has long been with many a matter of vague and distant anticipation; but there is promise that something of the kind may soon become a realized fact. Rather, perhaps, we are to have a high-class Teachers' Institute on a strictly scientific basis. Professor Agassiz is expected to open, next summer, a school of natural history for the benefit of teachers during their vacation. He has associated with him twenty professors of high character to carry out the plan, and the object is, to afford ample facilities for studying specimens and becoming familiar with the actual properties and relations of living things. In an address before a committee of the Massachusetts Legislature on the claims of the Cambridge Museum of Comparative Zoology, Prof. Agassiz explained the nature and purpose of the contemplated project, which is kindred to the object for which the museum itself was founded. Education must have its storehouses of implements. For philosophy, history, and literature, public libraries are established, because these subjects are to be studied by means of books. But, in science, books are not sufficient; specimens are indispensable. We want, said Prof. Agassiz, to educate men who shall be able to read Nature, and this can only be done by studious familiarity with natural objects. The school is to carry out this plan. Nantucket Island has been selected as the location, and provision is made for a very thorough and comprehensive course of instruction.

This idea is certainly capable of extension, and the time, we think, has come when it should be taken up and carried out in different parts of the country. The Nantucket scheme could not be copied in the interior, because one-half of its subjects pertain to the natural history of the sea. The scheme is constructed from Prof. Agassiz's point of view, and is devoted mainly to zoology. The botany of land-plants is not included; entomology gets but little attention, and physics none at all. This is not intimated as a deficiency of the programme, which is sufficiently broad, and lays out more work than there will be time to do it in. It is evidently designed for the advantage of professors and teachers of science in educational institutions who already know something of the subjects, and desire the opportunity of perfecting their knowledge of natural history under the ablest instructors.

But the time has come for entering upon similar arrangements in behalf of the multitude of teachers in our common schools. We have normal schools for their preparation, but they are fashioned upon the old academic and collegiate pattern, and furnish only a book-education. The little science they pretend to give is book-science, and not the knowledge of things. Throughout nearly all of the common schools of the country, physics, chemistry, botany, and zoology, are taught, if taught at all, by the same method as