Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 46.djvu/146

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successively disappear. This period is often limited only by the beginning of growth the next spring. Most leaves fall in consequence of the formation of a distinct joint, usually at the base of the leaf stalk. In very many of our trees the weakened twigs also are annually cast off by a similar process. This is especially observable in the willows, which are often spoken of as having brittle branches, although their wood is tough except where the joints referred to occur. The cottonwood and white elm show the same peculiarity well, the joints being formed at the beginning of the year's growth, so that the growth of from one to seven or eight years is often pruned off by a gale in autumn; and it is observable on oaks and many other trees. There seem to be two reasons for this provision: The fallen twigs of species that grow in wet places have been observed to strike root, thus serving as natural cuttings for the propagation of the species; on the other hand, it is clearly an advantage to the tree to lose weak branches that would make at best but a poor growth, while shedding and otherwise interfering with the development of the stronger shoots.


Standards for Professional Schools.—President Eliot, of Harvard University, in a recent address before the New England Association of College and Preparatory Schools, pointed out as one of the evils of the present system of management the fact that the requirements for admission to the scientific, technological, and agricultural schools of the country are, as they always have been, much lower than are exacted by the classical colleges. It is another evil that the schools of law and medicine have been, as a rule, "wide open to anybody walking into them from the street, without passing any admission examination whatever, or submitting to any inquiry into previous academic training. . . . This is the condition we have to confront; Three grades of attainment are required for the three different classes of institutions for the higher education—the colleges have the best grade, the scientific schools the next best, and the schools of law and medicine the lowest." The feasibility of finding a remedy for these conditions is held to be largely dependent on the colleges, scientific schools, and secondary schools co-operating. "Imagine the nine principal subjects, represented in these nine conferences" (which are held within the association), "actually put on an equality with each other in seriousness, dignity, and disciplinary value; and imagine a great variety of four-years' courses, all made up from the schedule of the combined conference recommendations, and carried out in hundreds of high schools and academies. Should it make any difference to a college whether a given candidate for admission to the college had studied this set of four or five subjects recommended by the conferences for a four-years' course, or-that set of four or five subjects, both sets being taught in the manner recommended by the conferences? Should it make any difference whether the candidate for admission presented to state the case in an extreme way—Latin, Greek, English, French, and German, or mathematics, physics, natural history, and history? Clearly, if the recommendations of the conferences had been effectively carried out, the education received by the youth who had taken the first group should be just as good as that of the youth who had taken the second group. . . . I need not say that we are not in sight of such a condition of things now. Most of you are perfectly familiar with the kind of substitute which is now offered to a boy in a high school for the classical course, which consists of Latin, Greek, mathematics, with a little history, and possibly the elements of a modern language. The substitute now offered ordinarily consists of English, mathematics, history, geography, botany, zoölogy, astronomy, geology, mineralogy, political economy, ethics, and perhaps the elements of one or two modern languages—an extraordinary number of scraps of miscellaneous subjects, instead of a limited number of substantial subjects, each treated with some thoroughness. Our adverse opinion concerning the possibility of making subjects equal for training value is really founded on our own convictions of the great superiority of the old-fashioned, solid classical programme in the academy and the high school, to the scrappy, ineffective programmes which are substituted for the classical programme in the inferior courses of our high schools and academies. . . . We shall never attain to an equality of subjects until the English or