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a fictitious, nor gratuitous, nor pedantic question. While it may be less vociferous at present than in those belligerent days now past, still the old combatants are yet in the field, and echoes of the fray are yet heard, though in decadent tones, perhaps.
There is an adage that "nothing succeeds like success," and on such basis one might hastily decide that these queries were sufficiently answered in existing conditions. Or, in other words, it might be urged that the dominant place of science in the various relations of life sufficiently attest its fitness in education. This is not, however, thoroughly conclusive. Conditions may not always justify themselves. That a thing is does not always warrant its rightness-Pope to the contrary, notwithstanding.
Apropos of this may be cited in this connection a very significant recent inquisition of most serious import. In an address of welcome to the American Association for the Advancement of Science at its late meeting in New York City, President Butler, of Columbia University, said, “I am one of those who now for nearly thirty years has observed at first hand the slow, and then rapid, advance of the sciences to their present place in the school and college programs of this country. . . . But now at the end of this period I cannot help feeling .... that we have not yet succeeded in so organizing the sciences as instruments of general education as to fulfill the high expectations which some of us formed for them nearly a quarter of a century ago. I say with great frankness that if we did not know that we were going through what is doubtless a period of transition, the movement in which we have all been participating has cost us something and gained not much. There can be little doubt that the sciences of nature and of man, properly organized and presented as educational instruments, are destined to be classified as true humanities. I cannot help feeling that in addition to their power to instruct and inform they have a power to refine, to uplift and to guide ; but I am quite confident that as yet we are very far short of having so organized this material as to attain these ends."
Coming from a source at once frank and friendly, admittedly eminent as collaborator and judge, these strictures and admo
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nitions are not to be passed over as of slight concern. It is quite time that as science teachers we pause in the midst of our work, restrain our optimistic enthusiasm a bit, and critically review the situation in the light of inside facts—" see ourselves as others see us”; make critical inventory of our educational assets and liabilities, and undertake to estimate the state of the balance sheets.
President Welch, of the American Association, in responding to the address of welcome extended by President Butler, quoted above, took occasion to briefly refer to these friendly criticisms; and while holding vigorously for the rightful value and efficiency of science as a desirable factor in general education, at the same time frankly admitted that in many cases the “ methods of teaching the natural sciences have often been unsatisfactory, and have therefore yielded unsatisfactory results. The subject is one for serious consideration ... and it is a satisfaction to announce that the council . . . recommended the formation of a new section of this association, to be called the section on education, which we may hope will contribute to the best methods of teaching the sciences. . . . Science should see to it that in its own field it becomes an instrument of education certainly not less powerful than the older humanities."
That this phase of science in education has not thus far been given the measure of attention which it rightly deserves, and which it must secure ere its claims to adequate educational fruition are secure, must be granted in larger measure than is creditable. Possibly science teachers, under the consciousness of the adequacy of the scientific method, have rested under the false security of its all-sufficiency under all circumstances. Perhaps also the all-absorbing fascination of the new and startling discoveries which have flooded our laboratories and absorbed our thought have diverted attention from this particular phase of the mission of science in education. In other words, there has been too little attention given to the essentially pedagogical problems of science. In our zeal for science for science sake-its methods, its vast importance as an end in itself—it is not so very strange that there should be some measure of failure in appreciating its equally fundamental function as a means to an end ; that end the broadening, refining and ennobling of human thought and life.
It must not be overlooked, however, that the foregoing aspects of our problem do not comprise the whole of the mission of science in education. Far from it. Fixing attention too closely upon these alone we should have to admit, in part,
functina ennobling of hurmooked, however;et the whole of
at least, a negative answer to the query which heads this paper. But when we further observe that among phases of the larger mission which science has to conserve in the field of general education are those already in part intimated, namely, the training in that mental attitude of openmindedness toward all problems which lies at the bottom of all education in its truest sense, and further, that training in methods of observation and experiment demanded by the genius of the age in which we live-or in the more common phrasing of it, the scientific spirit correlated with the scientific method, the one designating the scientific way of looking at things, the other the scientific way of doing things—these comprise no insignificant part of the real mission of science in education. That these ends have been secured in growing measure there is hardly ground for serious doubt. But that even in these particulars our science teaching has yet attained to its fullest ideals would hardly be claimed even by the most optimistic among us.
It may not be amiss to briefly point out certain danger signals which here and there appear along the way. One of these is that overconfidence and extravagant assumption which has shown itself in the various and conflicting schemes of “ nature study," which has of late come into such conspicuous educational notoriety. That there is a thoroughly sane and safe place for this in the work of the schools I have no reasonable doubt. But that it has yet been so organized and directed as to secure true educational ends must be as readily granted by any conservative student of education. At present its most conspicuous failure is in its artificial and superficial character.
A similar tendency is too evident in the science work of higher grades, and even in some cases in college courses. Our laboratories have much of the artificial about them at best. But when in some cases this is further intensified by having all the materials and specimens preserved in series, sections cut and labeled to hand, as so much fixed capital, how much better do they serve the real ends of education than “ cribs” and mimeographed copies of lectures handed down from class to class in history or philosophy, economics or literature ?
Is the mission of science in education failing? Yes and no. The answer must depend in large measure on the more fundamental problem of the “ men behind the guns”—the teachers themselves. Let it be understood that the latter verdict must turn largely upon the qualitative character of the personnel of science teachers. We are to be in no insignificant measure the makers of history as it shall relate to our problem in this and coming generations.
The Study of the English Masterpieces
MARGARET ASHMUN, HELENA, MONT.
36 7ATURALLY, the first thing to consider in the
study of a masterpiece is the choice of the masU terpiece itself. No amount of good teaching can
put any permanent value into class work dealing with literature beyond the comprehension of the students. What the high school pupil requires in the books he reads—what he craves and
demands—is human interest, action, or, as the slang phrase so aptly has it, “ something doing.” He wants real people, a story, a dramatic situation, a climax. As to contemplation, meditation, analysis and criticism, they are for older and wiser heads than his. Personally, I am of the opinion that if the well-intentioned souls who made for us that aweinspiring list of college entrance requirements had been able to remember the far off time when they were boys, a large number of crimes that are now committed in the name of education would be averted. I do not feel that the teacher was entirely to blame who gave his pupils Macaulay's Essay on Milton for the first classic they read in the first year in high school.
“How oft the sight of means to do ill deeds
Makes ill deeds done!”
The schedule of college entrance requirements was at hand; the teacher passed his finger down the list; the finger stopped at Macaulay on Milton, and the crime was wrought. I fear we have not so much excuse to offer for the teacher of whom I know, whose first-year class spent two and one half months on Emerson's Essay on Compensation, and who said regretfully at last that he feared he had not given enough time to the work, as the pupils did not seem to have a clear comprehension of it yet. If any valuable results are to be attained the student must give not forced, but eager attention, and to that end the teacher should choose those classics which have in them a real, vital, human interest for boys and girls.
The masterpiece selected, the next thing is to read it. It should be read through from beginning to end, as rapidly as is consistent, with a clear, general understanding, and preferably it should be read by the teacher. It is perhaps unnecessary to dwell at any length upon these two propositions, which are made with a desire to see justice done to both the author and the pupil. It is only fair to the author to let him make his strong, concentrated appeal to the imagination, which only a continuous reading allows. If the pupil is interested it is only humane to let him get to the end of the story while the zest and enjoyment of it endure; if he is not interested it is equally humane to shorten the length of time he is to be bored. The reasons for demanding that the teacher do the reading are evident. There is nothing that ruins the effect of a poem or story more fatally than hearing it mangled and murdered by - pupils reading it for the first time. There is nothing that makes the same selection more attractive, more comprehensible, more impressive, than hearing it read consecutively and unassumingly by one who knows and loves it. The teacher need not be an elocutionist; a quietly, sympathetic voice is all that he should find necessary, but he should make that count. As the reading proceeds, just so much explanation should be given as assures the satisfactory understanding of the general thought of the piece. All smaller points should be left for the second reading.
The selected classic having been read through once, and its main idea having made its appeal, a more detailed study may be accorded to those parts that seem to present special difficulty to the class. And right here is where our great dissensions as to the teaching of literature arise. There is much said nowadays about the “intensive" study of the masterpieces, but unfortunately it seems to be true, that the word “intensive" never means exactly the same thing to any two people. It is
therefore somewhat dangerous to use it without expecting to be · misunderstood. It is according. to his interpretation of this word, it seems to me, that the teacher succeeds or fails in his work, and his idea of what the intensive or analytic study of literature should be depends upon his idea of the nature of his pupils. If we should search for the most fundamental reason