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CORRESPONDENCE.

force of German socialism as a consequence of the socialism of the state imposed by Herr Bismarck was foreseen and censured by the philosopher. The New Toryism and the Coming Slavery which he foresaw, already exist in Europe. The pernicious consequences of protectionism, which have occasioned great commercial crises in the old continent, but which the United States have escaped suffering only because the economical errors of the system are in great part balanced by the magnificent political organization they possess and the conditions of the environment and the ethnical relations that help you, were all pointed out in the sociological works of the philosopher. What authority can be seriously opposed in this day to the arguments of the socialistic party in its contentions against the present organization of society, except we invoke the sociological principles established by Herbert Spencer?

It remains, in concluding this letter, to point to a fact which relates particularly to my country, Spain. Before the doctrines of the philosopher had spread among the Spanish thinkers, radical partisans had no faith except in the processes of the French Revolution and in the Declaration of Rights written in the Constitution, the precepts of which, however, were not complied with in practice. But to-day, the radical Prof. Salmeron, as well as the conservative D. Antonio Canovas del Castillo, invoke only the principles of the laws of evolution. In no other principle has been founded the changed course of conduct pursued by the eminent tribune, Don Emilio Castelar, during the last fifteen years. I remain your obedient servant,

Gaston A. Cuadrados,
Pharmacist-major in the
Spanish Army in Cuba.
New York, July, 1890.
 

 

A DEFENSE OF MECHANICAL TEACHING.

Editor Popular Science Monthly:

Dear Sir: In the November Popular Science Monthly I notice a letter from Anna Chapin Ray in which some educational methods, so called, are severely criticised. While I acknowledge a certain justice in the criticism upon the particular points cited, I beg leave to suggest that possibly a closer observation of school work might show reasons for the line of action indicated in the different instances. To designate pupils by numbers instead of by their names does seem mechanical, to say the least; but when we remember that a teacher has perhaps eighty children, with a recitation period of not more than thirty or forty minutes, and when we also remember that it takes less time to count eighty than it does to pronounce eighty names, we can hardly wonder that the teacher resorts to that means which will secure her the most time for actual class work. The teacher is not responsible for being driven to this. School boards are responsible, and we should understand that it is impossible for any teacher to do natural educational work under such conditions.

I have not yet considered the subject of writing to the accompaniment of music sufficiently to give a decided opinion upon this question, but I think I can see that music may be a means of obtaining certain desirable ends in this connection. It may be the means of securing regularity, precision, uniformity, and rapidity of action, and so may be of value. It does not follow that, if music is used as a means in teaching writing, those pupils who may become accountants should do their work to the accompaniment of music. The music is only a means to an end, which in this case is skill in writing. If by means of music this end be attained with a less outlay of time and energy than it could otherwise be secured, it seems to me that the teacher shows wisdom in using it. As soon as the end is gained, the means, of course, can and will be dispensed with. Whether the use of music here be judicious or not, I think that no one will question the importance of securing uniformity of action upon the part of pupils. In a writing-lesson, as in other lessons, it is well that the pupils all observe a direction at the same time. If every child were allowed the privilege of being a few moments behind every other, your correspondent can see that very little work would really be done. Concerted action on the part of children is desirable; by means of it the more impetuous pupils of the class are restrained, while slower ones are brought forward more rapidly than they otherwise would advance.

Class interest, and indeed all social interest, is based either directly or indirectly upon concerted action. It does not render the pupil less capable of acting alone when occasion requires, and it does enable him to adapt his actions to those of another person when such adaptation is necessary, as we find it to be more or less in all the relations of life.

In regard to the book work, I can also understand that a teacher might very wisely take means to prevent the children from anticipating the work on hand. If original work on the part of the pupil were required, it would be well that he should not make use of the matter contained in his book, as the end in view would certainly thereby be defeated.

Again, I should like to suggest that the line of action pursued by the different teachers in the different instances stated can not possibly be considered as "methods" of instruction; they are at best but crude plans employed by the teachers for the purpose of securing certain ends. Method in instruction implies the uniform observation of educational principles; while those plans mentioned very often illustrate in the teachers an excess of that individuality which your correspondent claims for the pupils. If the