Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 36.djvu/741

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.


THE

POPULAR SCIENCE

MONTHLY.

 

APRIL, 1890.


 

SCIENCE IN THE HIGH SCHOOL.[1]
By Prof. DAVID STARR JORDAN,

PRESIDENT OF THE UNIVERSITY OF INDIANA.

THE purpose of science-teaching as a part of general education is this to train the judgment through its exercise on first-hand knowledge. The student of science is taught to know what he knows and to distinguish it from what he merely remembers or imagines. Our contact with the universe is expressed in what we call science. Throughout the ages, the growth of the human mind has been in direct proportion to the breadth of this contact. To the man without knowledge of science, the universe seems small. Science is our perception of realities; and as the realities come year by year to occupy a larger and larger place in our life, so the demand for more and better training in science will long be an urgent and growing one. But science should hold its place in the schools by virtue of its power as an agent in mental training, not because of the special usefulness of scientific facts, nor because knowledge of things has a higher market value than the knowledge of words.

The time will come when the study of the objects and forces of nature will be as much a matter of course in all our schools as the study of numbers, but the science-work of the next century will not be the work we are doing now. The science in our schools is too often a make-believe, and the schools will lose nothing when every make-believe slips out of the curriculum. Deeply as I am interested in the progress of science, both in school and out, with Prof. Huxley "I would not turn my hand over" to have biology taught in every school in the land, if the subject is taught through books only. To pretend to do, without doing, is worse

  1. Read before the Indiana State Teachers' Association, December 26, 1889.