Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/73

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

encouragement to the hope of more enlightened procedure as time rolls on—we find that modern languages enter into but three of the four years' course. Leaving the modern languages, and looking at the time devoted to science studies, the same desultory treatment is found. There is encouragement to be had in the assurances of laboratories erected and in course of erection, and in the information that in some fitting schools Harvard's requirements in experimental physics and chemistry can be fully met; but, so far as the curriculum itself of the scientific course is concerned, we have but the hope of something better in the future. If one glances at the time allotted to the education of the hand by means of drawing, or if one is curious in the matter of history and mother-tongue instruction, almost equally unsatisfactory work is encountered. Very properly, any intelligent parent, studying such courses with a view of submitting to one of them a boy whom he has decided to educate on modern methods, hesitates. It is not strange that in his extremity he finally concludes that a serious, well-defined course in the ancient languages is of more value than the olla podrida preparation presented him on the "scientific" side. As this is precisely what the makers of the programmes themselves believe, this conclusion is applauded—and there is rejoicing over the rescue of another boy from a "one-sided education"!

A comparative examination of French and American preparatory school programmes, therefore, at least yields this much; that our educational methods are in great need of thorough revision if we are to hope to stand well alongside the French in all that pertains to judicious preparation for college, for scientific school, or for the general demands of modern life. This examination further shows that we stand in pressing need not only of fitting schools that meet these demands as they exist to-day, but so untrammeled and free from all sort of sectarian or educational bias that they can freely expand and respond to the demands that will assuredly follow as years roll by, and colleges and universities still further yield to the influences that are slowly but surely liberating them from the traditions of the past. An honest home fitting school, firmly founded on the principle of responding to the demands as they exist to-day—not as they existed a century or two ago—sufficiently endowed to render it free to maintain firmly all the requirements of its different rational courses of instruction, seems to be the great educational need of the day. As the weakest link of our educational chain lies most undoubtedly in the earlier years of the preparatory course, this school should be prepared to take pupils at twelve years of age; it would be better if they could be taken at ten, and the course be made to embrace eight years instead of six. It should be a home school, for the reason that, with