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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/318

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

equipped in regard to teachers and apparatus as an ordinary gymnasium, and with a simplified course of study, could give a liberal training equal to that afforded by the gymnasium, I should reply, I do not know, as the experiment has never been tried; but I am inclined to think it could."

The most advanced thinkers on pedagogics are coming to agree that the subject taught has much less to do with its value as a disciplinary and liberalizing study than the method of teaching it. Arithmetic may be so taught as to afford a much better training in language than half of our Latin and Greek teaching affords. There is a certain convertibility in the possible subjects in a curriculum with regard to liberalizing effects which is often lost sight of, but which our best thinkers on the science of education are more and more inclined to emphasize.

It has been already remarked that it is a dangerous procedure to apply concrete conclusions in one country to concrete conditions in another. The quoting of German authority in favor of a gymnasium course in order to bolster up the classical course of an average American college is a good instance in point. The German gymnasium gives nine hours a week for five years, and eight hours a week for four years more, to the study of Latin—i. e., seventy-seven hours a week for one year. It devotes to Greek seven hours a week for four years, and six hours a week for two years more—i. e., forty hours a week for one year, or to both languages the equivalent of one hundred and seventeen hours a week for one year. It will be stating it beyond the truth to put the time devoted to Latin in our average American college up to the close of the sophomore year at five hours a week for six years—i. e., thirty hours a week for one year, and to the Greek at five hours a week for five years—i. e., twenty-five hours a week for one year, or to both together the equivalent of fifty-five hours a week for one year. The German gymnasium thus gives more than twice as many hours to Latin and Greek as the average American college course. Now, the leading German authorities who favor a gymnasium course have repeatedly opposed lessening the amount of time devoted to these two subjects, and have expressed their opinion to the effect that any considerable reduction in the number of hours would be equivalent to depriving the course of all its value—i. e., so far from approving our classical curriculum, they unite in asserting that it is worth nothing whatever!

A part of President Porter's argument in the article already referred to proceeds on the assumption that the average college boy acquires enough Latin and Greek to be able to read it easily. Whatever may have been true in President Porter's college-days, the fact must appear evident to any one who has ever visited the sophomore classes in Greek in our American colleges, that the average boy does not acquire ability to translate even such an easy author as Xenophon