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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/718

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

tributor, it is where he suggests governmental interference to check certain apparently unhappy results of private enterprise. We do not see how the Government is going to help us in the least; and, as it happens, the interference that our contributor invokes is actually for the purposes of restoring competition in cases where he supposes it to have been arbitrarily arrested. He thinks that all trusts whose object is simply to raise prices by restricting competition should come under a legislative or judicial ban. To us the idea of forcing people to compete by legislative authority, whether they wish to do so or not, is a trifle extravagant. To our apprehension the best thing the State can do is to let the whole business alone, and leave individuals to find out for themselves under what circumstances competition is the only possible régime, and under what circumstances co-operation will serve a better purpose. It is not in the least likely that mankind at large is going to pay tribute to any serious extent to great corporations. Even an increase in prices is not a sure sign that the public is suffering, since the consolidation that has rendered the increase possible may have liberated a vast amount of capital and thrown it into more productive channels. Extremely low prices are too often the concomitant of business disorganization and the destruction of capital. The régime of freedom is the one that will suit us best. Give us freedom, and we can take care even of the trusts. A community that has been taught to depend on private initiative, and where legal privilege is unknown, has nothing to fear from any quarter.

 

 

The article by Mr. J. M. Arms, on "Natural Science in Elementary Schools," in this number of the "Monthly," contains a notably clear and vigorous statement of the worth of real science lessons to young pupils, together with some practical aid for teachers in giving such lessons, and a sketch of the growth of the sentiment in favor of science teaching. This growth was undoubtedly aided by the attitude on the matter taken by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which, at its meeting in 1879, appointed a committee, of which the former editor of this magazine was chairman, to consider the subject of "Science-Teaching in the Public Schools."

The report of this committee was presented to the Association at the Boston meeting in the following year. It was drawn up by the chairman, and takes the ground that the quality of the science-teaching, where there was any in the public schools at that time, was generally so unsatisfactory that it ought to be entirely recast before any extension of it would be desirable. A point to which Prof. Youmans called special attention is, that science was being taught by the old methods devised for other subjects, which were entirely unsuitable for the new study. In the words of the report, "Through books and teachers the pupil is filled up with information with regard to science. Its facts and principles are explained as far as possible, and then left in the memory with his other school acquisitions. He learns the sciences much as he learns geography and history. Only in a few exceptional schools is he put to any direct mental work upon the subject matter of science, or taught to think for himself." The deceptive quality of oral lessons, alluded to by Mr. Arms, is thus pointed out in this report: "Instruction in elementary science is now," when the pupil enters the grammar school, "to be carried on by what is known as oral teaching. This method, as extensively practiced in the grammar grades of the public schools, is everywhere growing in favor, and we are once more told that it is a successful revolt against book-studies. It is chiefly applicable to the sciences, and its cardinal idea is in-