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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/685

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NATURAL SCIENCE IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS.

These two elementary courses lay a strong foundation for the high-school course, and also pave the way to the intelligent study of vertebrate life, while the three courses—primary, grammar, and. high—furnish a valuable preparation for the advanced biological studies of our scientific schools and colleges. There has been much discussion in our leading journals of late in regard to the teaching of biology in the higher institutions of learning. What to teach and how to teach it have been pressing questions. Courses of study have been proposed which certainly have been ideal for ideal students, but which have almost wholly overlooked the important fact that the majority of the young men and women who are to take these courses have never learned the A, B, C of science work. Many professors, dissatisfied with the poor results obtained, have recognized the chief cause, and asserted that "the college instructor must still regard the student who studies under him as a school-boy whose capacity for observing and investigating natural objects has been blunted by a one-sided course of instruction at school."[1] In other words, the college is forced to do preparatory work. This the college ought never to do. Preparatory work belongs to preparatory schools. A young man or woman at eighteen ought to be fitted to enter upon an industrial career or upon a scientific or classical course of study, as individual taste or necessity dictates, with hands trained to do a little manual work well, with eyes keen-sighted enough to see things as they are, and with brains capable of thinking upon these things independently.

I have outlined in brief a primary and grammar-school course upon animals. I have been aided in the preparation of these courses by the "Guides for Science Teaching," Nos. Ill-VII, by Prof. Alpheus Hyatt. Prof. Crosby's "Science Guide," No. XII, and Mrs. Richards's "Guide," No. XIII, are admirable aids in preparing a course upon our common minerals and rocks. The "Science Guide," No. II, by Prof. Goodale, and the well-known works of Prof. Gray, help in adapting the subject of botany to young minds. The present paper is considering the natural rather than the physical sciences, as these "are now generally acknowledged to afford the best means of developing the powers of observation and comparison,"

It is impossible to discuss broadly and justly the questions why and how shall science lessons be given in elementary schools without some knowledge of the history of the movement which has given birth to these questions, and also some knowledge of the present status of our schools on the general subject of science teaching. The movement of which we speak the coming century will surely regard as one of the really great movements of our

  1. See "American Naturalist," June, 1887.