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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/646

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

to compensate the stagnation of a thousand years. Thus far, however, the speed of that progress has been sadly retarded by the very means which once constituted its only hope of revival. Instead of navigating the river of the new era in manageable boats, scholars persisted in clinging to the wreck of their classic observatory, to a cumbersome raft of old beams and planks which got stranded at every turn of the stream, and often became a serious obstacle in the channels of reform. The experience of the last three hundred years has as yet failed to disassociate the ideas of Latin and Greek from the scholastic notions of culture, and the time may come when practical educators will almost fail to realize the possibility of the fact that, in our own rapid age of discovery and invention, millions of our most gifted students had to waste from one-third to three-fifths of their time on the study of dead languages. Witness the following curriculum of the German Gymnasia, or high schools—the preparatory colleges of the best European universities, and the gates to every highway of liberal education:

Latin, ten hours per week; Greek, eight hours; Hebrew, three hours; German, four hours; mathematics, four hours; geography, two; history, two; drawing, two; French, two; physiology, two; religion, optional; English, optional (occasionally taught instead of French); gymnastics, four hours. In other words, twenty-one hours of graveyard studies to eighteen hours of all living sciences taken together, since gymnastics has ceased under certain circumstances to be a compulsory branch of education.

Those twenty-one hours devoted to the dead leave not a minute's time for the study of such problems of life as biology and rational hygiene; not a minute for anatomy, political economy, philosophy, rhetoric, or non-sectarian ethics. Such things, of course, are taught by the regular or special professors of the university; but a large percentage of students pass directly from the primer-class of the gymnasium to the duties of practical life, and in ninety-nine of a hundred cases may charge the long period given to the study of the ancient languages to the budget of total loss. Not one of a hundred non-philological students (graduates devoting themselves to the special study and the teaching of ancient languages) would ever dream of continuing his antiquarian pursuits or be able to look upon a Greek or Latin textbook without a shudder of disgust. It has been conclusively proved that all the etymological benefit derived from linguistic graveyards could be reaped in a single year by the study of root-words (most of them familiarized by their French and English derivatives). It has been demonstrated to the satisfaction of every impartial thinker that grammar-drill is not the superlative