Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 13.djvu/205

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SCIENTIFIC COURSES OF STUDY.

physical geography over and above the amount of science taught in the classical department; and, in the main, substitutes for Greek some sort of theological instruction. Perhaps a portion of the latter might be put under the head of Paley ontology, and in that sense be regarded as essentially scientific. But, to speak seriously, the course, as a whole, however respectable it may be from some points of view, has certainly no right to the scientific title. It is an easy, trivial course, fitted to accommodate inferior students, and ought, in common honesty, to be called by some definite and appropriate name. To call such a course "scientific" is simply dishonest. This case, I am sorry to say, is by no means an exceptional one. Scientific courses of this type are exceedingly common; and, because of their existence, scientific studies often fall into disrepute. There are in Ohio, fortunately, quite a number of colleges which give scientific instruction of a very much higher order than is here indicated, where faithful efforts are made to put the scientific and classical courses upon an equal footing, and which fall short only because of the lower standard for admission to the former. There are still others, and some of our best colleges among them, which refuse point-blank to establish special courses in science at all, on the ground that they have neither the means nor the appliances to make such work as effective as it ought to be. These institutions deserve the highest credit. Although I am fully convinced that the new education is far superior to the old, I also recognize the fact that any genuine work is better than any sham; and that a good drill in the classics is immeasurably better than a mere trifling with science. The former is scholarly; the latter is not. It is a truism to say that a college had better do one thing well than two things badly; but this truism is too often forgotten or overlooked. It would be a decided gain if some of our colleges could make the scientific course the one thing well done, but, in default of that, it is cheering to know that the other is properly attended to.

Now, having seen what the scientific courses often are, we find ourselves in a position to discuss what they ought to be. As the name indicates, science should predominate in them, but not necessarily to the exclusion of other things. French, German, mathematics, English literature, logic, and possibly some drawing, ought to be included; the relative proportions of these branches varying with circumstances. A certain range of election should be allowed the student, since different students have very different needs. No prescribed course of study can be devised which shall be universally acceptable and invariably productive of beneficial results. If every student attempts to study everything, no thorough work can be done in any department. A college certainly ought not to be an institution for the encouragement of diffuseness. Scholarship and the character formed by scholarship are its true aims. A student does not gain breadth of mind by dabbling a little in a dozen different things—superficiality and the consequent nar-