Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/66

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that the protest against the excessive and unnecessary time given to mathematical instruction in all our schools which has begun, will continue, none can doubt. As is well known, no primary or secondary school programme of this country can be scratched without revealing an omnipresent Tartar known as arithmetic. This mathematical Cossack is ever found firmly settled in his saddle, and foraging for subsistence hither and yon, upon friend and foe alike. The result is, that in the classical preparatory school the boy is hampered and handicapped by serious mathematical studies which absorb time that he could more profitably devote to his mother-tongue, to modern languages, and to science studies. On the other hand, in the scientific or English courses, the pupil fitting for the scientific school, or for business, is forced to take unwelcome draughts of Latin. These last are somewhat diluted, it is true, and are given perhaps on the general principle entering into the administration of certain family medicines, viz., that if not of any direct service to the patient, they can do him no possible harm. But in point of fact, while as a rule the Latin given in these brief courses can be of little or no value to a pupil fitting for the scientific school, time is taken from subjects having a direct personal bearing on his future career. It is interesting to note how, in France, this feature of instruction is managed.

A French boy having passed through the grades of the lycée classique, as exhibited in the preceding table, and intending to devote himself to a literary profession, proceeds without further ado to his examination for the baccalauréat ès lettres wherein mathematics plays but a subordinate part, as is indicated by the small percentage of time given it in the lycée course. But, for the benefit of graduates designed for the national schools, or for those who prefer to present themselves for examination for the baccalauréat ès science instead of ès lettres post-graduate lycée mathematical courses are instituted. The classe de mathématiques élémehtaires, for instance, has for its object the study of matters comprised in the programmes of the baccalauréat ès sciences, as well as those of the military (Saint-Cyr), the naval, and forestry schools and the central school. The curriculum of this class devotes seven and a half hours per week to mathematics, four and a half hours to science studies, two each to the mother tongue, Latin and modern languages, three hours to history and geography, one hour to philosophy, and four hours to drawing. This course is of but one year. It is usually taken by pupils from the classe de rhétorique, but may be taken by pupils from the classe de philosophie who wish to review and increase their mathematical attainments. A much stiffer and more comprehensive drill in mathematics is afforded by the classe de mathématiques spéciales. This course is also of but one year. The instruction