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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 40.djvu/393

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AN EXPERIMENT IN EDUCATION.

ber of inhabitants living in a drier atmosphere was at each census comparatively trifling, numbering in 1870 less than half a million, and in 1890 less than two millions. In the moister atmosphere were found larger numbers scattered along the Gulf coast and the shores of Washington and Oregon. The most rapid increase has been found at the top and bottom of the scale, and particularly in the more arid region, where the population has nearly doubled during each of the last two periods,[1] showing that great areas that are not particularly favored by the elements are gradually being redeemed through the enterprise that marks our modern industrial era.

 

AN EXPERIMENT IN EDUCATION.
By MARY ALLING ABER.

FIRST PAPER.

IN October, 1881, a primary department was added to a private school in Boston, Mass., and the control of it given to me, for the purpose of making an experiment in education. While it was hoped the primary would sustain the usual relation to the higher departments, the proprietor[2] guaranteed freedom of action for three years, and generously furnished the means required. Gratitude is due to others also, especially to the teachers who assisted in some part of the work.

The aim of the experiment was to see if the child may not be introduced at once to the foundations of all learning—the natural and physical sciences, mathematics, literature including language, and history—and at the same time be given a mastery of such elements of reading, writing, and number as usually constitute primary education.

The experiment began with nine children between the ages of five and a half and seven years. With scales and measuring rod each child was weighed and measured, while such questions were asked as—"Have you been weighed before? When? What did you weigh then? How does your weight to-day compare with that?" The shyest children forgot they were at school, and chatted freely while watching and comparing results. By questions as to why a present weight or measure was greater than a former one, the statement "Children grow" was obtained. Questions about the causes of growth led to the statements "Children eat," "Children sleep," "Children play." A question as to whether any-


  1. See Census Bulletin No. 44.
  2. The name of the proprietor is withheld, in deference to a request made while the experiment was in progress.