Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 6.djvu/496

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to the young. The university system, which involves an enormous expense of time and money, is no longer in harmony with our civilization. It disregards the diversity of talents, the specialty of individuals, and casts all minds in the same mould. It conforms neither to the laws of Nature nor the needs of modern society; it calls in play neither spontaneity, nor curiosity, nor imitation; it surcharges the memory to the prejudice of the judgment, and aims at verbal acquisition rather than mental culture.

It does not embrace any of the great classics. It reverses the order of reason in passing from words to phrases, from theory to practice, from the art of writing to the art of speaking. Finally, it sacrifices the great majority of students to a few privileged ones, and all are too much occupied in things of the past to the exclusion of that knowledge which the progress of civilization has made indispensable.

It is to be wished that the Minister of Public Instruction may, in the interest of our country and society at large, honor with his attention the preceding observations, and use his powerful influence in favor of the substitution of reason for sterile routine in our schools! To appeal to the past, as is done at the university to justify its proceedings, is to hold intelligence in tutelage, and to condemn France to immobility. The world, in growing old, adds to the experience of man. Enlightened as we are by what we have received from our fathers, we commence life in the most favorable conditions. We ought to know more than they, and be more able to distinguish truth from error. Let us go forward with our century. It is time to leave the rut of tradition.

Let the fathers of families unite in appealing to the minister not to permit our lyceums to perpetuate a system of teaching that favors the ignorance of the people as a means of government. But let him take in hand the great work of the regeneration of linguistic study. We must apply to mind, as to matter, new powers and new processes. France will awake to intellectual life, and rise to a level with the most enlightened nations, only when its university teaching is completely conformed to the laws of Nature and the demands of reason.

1. We follow in nothing the precepts of Nature. 1. We follow step by step the indications of Nature.
2. Curiosity and imitation are the source of progress. 2. We are not aided by these two powerful instincts.
3. We go straight to the object by example and practice. 3. We start from rules and preparatory studies.
4. Grammar becomes the consequence of language. 4. Language is made the consequence of grammar.
5. We understand the foreign text before we translate it. 5. We translate the foreign language before we understand it.
6. The art of writing is the last in the order of study. 6. The art of writing is the first in which the pupil is exercised.|-