Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/134

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
as we have already said on other occasions not by ceasing to teach the humanities, but by teaching them better.

The criticism of the London "Academy" still further illustrates the advance of rational ideas on this subject:

The address on "Science and Culture," which gives its name to the volume, is a discussion of the place of scientific and of literary training in education. T he form in which the question in debate between the advocates of "science" and of "culture" is presented is not which of these two things is the more valuable, but whether the idea of complete culture does not include within itself that of scientific discipline. This way of stating the question brings out clearly the fundamental agreement that there is—if we leave out of account the devotees of "useful knowledge"—between the advocates of the classics and of physical science. For it is seen that the advocates of science admit that every one ought to know something of literature, though they think it possible sufficiently to cultivate the sense of literary form by means of the modern languages alone; while the advocates of the classics, in maintaining that classical studies give the best possible intellectual training, admit that culture is not complete if nothing but the sense for literary form has been cultivated. The questions that are really in debate are, therefore, the subordinate ones—whether, though real intellectual as well as æsthetic education is given by the study of the classics, physical science is not the typical intellectual discipline, for which anything else is an imperfect subsitute; and whether, though some literary culture can be got out of modern books alone, a certain knowledge of the classics is not necessary as a preparation for the the full appreciation of European literature in general. Professor Huxley decides both these questions in favor of the advocates of scientific education. He suggests incidentally that modern men of science have more of the spirit of antiquity than "the modern humanists. . . . We falsely pretend," he says, speaking of the Greeks, "to be the inheritors of their culture, unless we are penetrated, as the best minds among them were, with an unhesitating faith that the free employment of reason, in accordance with scientific method, is the sole method of reaching truth."

He points out, near the end of the essay, that the higher sciences, those that deal with man and society, can only be constructed by the application of the methods of physical science. As regards the literary side of education, he expresses the opinion that "for those who mean to make science their serious occupation; or who intend to follow the profession of medicine; or who have to enter early upon the business of life; ... classical education is a mistake." It is possible to get sufficient culture out of modern literature—perhaps out of English literature alone.

Something might be said against this last opinion, even by those who agree with Professor Huxley entirely as to the necessity of scientific discipline as part of a complete education. But, granting that knowledge of classical literature is not an essential part of culture, there is still a difficulty about omitting Greek and Latin from education in some cases and not in others. For, if the classical languages are to be taught at all, it is desirable that the study of them should begin at an earlier age than that at which a decided preference either for literature or for science usually manifests itself.

This last remark is very important in its bearing upon the general issue between classical and scientific studies. It is a concession of what we have constantly maintained, that, if the study of Greek and Latin is to be worth anything at all, it must consume a portion of the time devoted to education that is out of all relation to the value of the acquisitions, compared with others that are necessarily excluded. If that time is not given to them, the acquisitions are so worthless that the effort is wasted; but, if the full time is taken by the classical tongues, there is no room left for any fullness or thoroughness of scientific study. Hence the need, as the "Academy" remarks, of beginning so early with the Greek and Latin that the pupil is unable to form an opinion of the uses and value of his studies. But this period of immature judgment is exactly the proper time for the training of the powers of observation and the acquisition of elementary science. These early years, therefore, belong rightfully, and by the laws of the mental constitution, to science and the rudimentary study of natural things. It is a sufficient outrage in itself to put children at the dead languages, whereby there is certain to be engendered a hatred of study; but it is no less an outrage upon