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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/779

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METHODS OF INSTRUCTION IN MINERALOGY.

lieve it had materially aided him both in mental discipline and in methods of study. I speak of this simply to fortify my claim that mineralogy when rightly taught affords in certain directions a most valuable means of intellectual training.

In most localities, especially in regions of crystalline rocks, the teacher, even with very limited means, can usually procure many specimens of at least a few species, which he can arrange for his students, and practice them upon in such a manner as to bring into play the required faculties. This method can even be pursued with large audiences, if specimens enough can be obtained.

Besides exercising the pupils on the selected collection, they should be encouraged to seek the specimens themselves in the field. Every means possible should be taken to develop in them methods of thought and work that will bear fruit in their future life. Far less should be thought of training mineralogists than of training men.

In giving advanced instruction, the secret seems to be to bring the student up to the level of the instructor; to see that he has a broad and thorough knowledge of the principles and necessary data of the science; to point out to him the untrodden fields; to strengthen and exercise him so that he may walk without the teacher's aid. The great aim should be to render the student independent in his thought and work, to free him from a slavish following after mere weight of authority, and to beget in him a desire to seek truth for its own sake. He should be so trained and strengthened that, when away from the instructor's aid, he can walk in the untried grounds with a firm and steady step.

The preceding has not been given as of necessity the most perfect way, but simply as a way for reaching certain results.

Far more, indeed, depends upon the teacher and his spirit than upon the method, however valuable the latter may be.

It may also not be amiss to call attention to certain requirements in the teacher. That an original investigator in any science may be a poor instructor in that science is too well known to be disputed, but I believe it to be equally true, that no man can teach any science in spirit and truth—can produce upon his pupils the effect that ought to be produced—unless he has the spirit and knowledge of an investigator himself. In truth, it is confidently believed that no man can be a teacher of the highest order who has not walked in the temple of mystery itself, and wrung from Mother Nature some of her closely-guarded secrets. As well ask one who has only read about disease to properly teach medical students the practice of medicine as to ask one who has only read about any science to give proper instruction to his students in it. Yet this is the thing which the majority of our colleges are doing, and they fill their chairs as if they thought a thorough training in any science disqualified a man for teaching it. And then we are told that science-teaching is a failure! Is not the failure more in the teachers chosen than in the subjects?