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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/522

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

attack any form of religious belief. Happily, the scientific method equally forbids doing either of these things, and, if strictly adhered to, will prevent all possibility of such quarrels between religious sects as have recently agitated Boston, and have from time to time interrupted the work of many schools in this country.

Our position on this question occasioned wide-spread comment, and, among the clergy of the more ignorant and bigoted sects, there arose an opposition, instinctive rather than outspoken.

The Missionary Society voted us a Bible, and I received a formal note from the secretary announcing the fact, and requesting me to appoint a time for the presentation to take place. I had been informed privately that, as soon as I fixed the time, a public meeting was to be called, and an address made denouncing our neglect of religious observances. In answer to the secretary, I informed him that our library was richly supplied with Bibles, but that, as a token of confidence and good-will, their gift would be highly prized, and we would gratefully receive the promised Bible at the president's office in the normal-school building, at such time as was most convenient to the secretary. The Bible never came.

Prof. Campbell, of our faculty, gave testimony of considerable significance concerning the moral atmosphere of our school. He had been educated in a sectarian college, and had been graduated at a theological seminary. All his prejudices were enlisted in favor of a daily religious service. He said: "I am at a loss to account for the uniform good feeling existing between teachers and pupils here. No student seems disposed to annoy or vex a teacher, and the moral tone of the school is much higher than I have before known." At first, he had thought that the good-will prevailing was in spite of the omission of religious services, but a more careful study had convinced him that the system, in its integrity, had created the moral atmosphere that pervaded the school.

Examinations, as usually conducted, had proved fruitful of serious evils. They gave opportunity for cram, and were often an occasion for cheating. When formal and stated examinations are held, on which class promotion depends, there is a strong inducement to make spasmodic efforts of memory serve in place of sound learning. We avoided these evils by a simple device. Examinations were held at irregular intervals, and were of such a nature that no miraculous feat of memorizing could meet our requirements. Repetitions of text-book formulas were habitually in disfavor, and necessarily there grew up habits of genuine study. These reviews were found sufficient aids in. testing progress, and we dispensed with all other examinations.