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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/808

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808
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

MOTHERS AND NATURAL SCIENCE.
By MARY ALLING ABER.

A ROBIN teaches its own young to fly; a human mother often leaves the training of her babies exclusively to others. The bond of nature between the mother and child puts a premium on all that the mother does, and her constant association is an opportunity for understanding the peculiarities and needs of the child such as no ordinary teacher ever obtains.

As one's finger may trace in the yielding soil a channel for the outflow of a tiny spring, and at its fountain-head determine the course of a river, so, in the earliest years, the mother may, with little effort, give direction to the energies of the child. The mother's capacities, education, and circumstances may not permit her to accompany the child far on its course, or to contribute much to the current of its intellectual life; but let her give the direction and all the powers of nature will conspire with the child's inborn force to increase the volume and strength of the on-rushing stream.

To claim for natural-science studies the mother's power of direction, to show why mothers should interest their children in these studies, and to suggest how they may do so, is the purpose of this paper.

What mothers may do to interest children in natural science is a question which has but one answer—they may do everything; what mothers can do has as many answers as there are mothers. Between the may and the can is but one barrier—difficult to destroy—the mother's own habits of thought. Not ignorance, not scarcity of materials, not want of books—not all of these combined need long block the way of any mother whose mind still has the suppleness and sincerity of childhood; for the door into this kingdom of nature, like that into the kingdom of righteousness, is the simplicity of childhood.

It would be well, in these days of the supremacy of the material life and of increasing demands for applied science, if young women who are pursuing courses at our colleges would more often elect science studies, that they may be ready, by power to teach and by assistance and appreciation given to others, to further the introduction and pursuit of science studies in all lower schools; and to do this in a manner which shall help to put science in its true place as the handmaid, and not the destroyer, of religion.

But it is to those who have passed their school and college days that this paper must be addressed. As no body gets so stiff that proper treatment can not restore some of its lost pliancy, so