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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/723

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EDITOR'S TABLE.

jects is given in detail. Under the bead of miscellaneous are included such further subjects as the several institutions hold important for admission to college. The common element here is English grammar, but neither Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Brown, Dartmouth, Williams, Amherst, Trinity, Michigan University, Vassar, Smith, nor Johns Hopkins, requires a shred of scientific preparation of any kind, unless school-geography is allowed to pass for science. Harvard requires some acquaintance with physics and either chemistry or botany, and Cornell includes physiology among the preparatory studies. By all these leading and influential collegiate institutions, which arrogate to themselves the prerogative of conferring a "liberal education," the study of Nature is absolutely left out in the early period of study, and nothing worthy of the name of science is recognized or required, when the foundations of intellectual character are being laid. There is one everlasting grind in grammar—Greek grammar, Latin grammar, English grammar—until the mental habits are formed by verbal studies; and then when the student enters college he is offered some restricted liberty of taking up scientific subjects.

Undoubtedly, the great issue of science against the classics is made up and to be met here. The continuance of the system of discrimination against modern knowledge, and in favor of dead languages, is not to be tolerated. The college premiums on old studies condemned by the common sense of mankind, and doubly damaging in early youth, must be withdrawn. Those institutions can not too soon take measures to get out of the way of the improvement of the lower schools. It is becoming more and more obvious, as shown by the current discussion of the subject, that there is urgent necessity for a readjustment of the relations of the higher and lower systems of instruction, and in evidence of this we quote the following instructive passages from an excellent article by Mr. R. E. Bowker, in the "Princeton Review" for January, on "The College of Today":

This brings us face to face with the at present difficult problem of the relations of the college to the general education out of which its curriculum must proceed. It is noticeable that while there has been much activity in the improvement of the higher education, and much progress, following the suggestions of Froebel and Pestalozzi, in primary education, the immediate education remains much where it was, and blocks the road in the middle. Our common schools are still "grammar-schools," although, as has been noted, educators are in agreement that "grammar," as such, is the one thing that should not be taught until the very highest grades are reached. And the colleges can not do their proper work, nor can an approximately correct curriculum be put into practice, until many features of the middle schools are not only reformed but revolutionized. The scheme of the proper education, following the child from its first lessons, should be developed in view of two chief conditions: the order in which the natural development of the mind fits it for the reception of successive studies; and the practical fact that, since the number to be educated decreases each year beyond the early years, the essential subjects must be presented early in the course. Happily, these two conditions largely coincide. The present curriculum of the middle schools has developed from the practical recognition of this last condition, in ignorance of the first, but through much misconception as to which are essential subjects. It is, of course, important that every child should be taught to speak, to write, to read, to figure, correctly; but it is now known that the child learns correct speech, for instance, chiefly through its observing faculties, by imitation, and not through its reflective faculties, by study of grammar. The child develops through the what, the how, the why first the fact, next its relations, lastly its causes: and yet the lower schools will be teaching the laws of grammar, and leaving the facts of nature, as the elements of botany, for which the child-mind is hungering and thirsting, to the advanced student. The college professor of the natural sciences, for instance, should find the foundations laid for him when the student enters college, whereas now he must begin at elementary