Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/30

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

this address because it seems to me to be in the main so perfectly in harmony with our most recent knowledge in brain physiology and in psychology. Just as the child begins life by investigation with its senses and its muscles, so must this method be followed to the end. This is the scientific method—i. e., it is founded on science. The aimless movements of the infant must be gradually replaced by movements with a definite purpose, and its chance sensations by sensations gathered with a definite object. Rightly understood these objects constitute the raison d'être or purpose of manual training, laboratory work, and all kindred methods. It would appear that we can not follow Nature's method without combining muscular movements and the use of the senses. Naturally these develop together, as has already been shown.

What shall we say, then, of educational methods—a fearful abuse of the term—which, instead of permitting of this free and natural development, directly thwart it? In the past the whole development of the child has been sacrificed in no small degree to the three Rs. One might be led to suppose that life was made up of reading, writing, and arithmetic. As a matter of fact, they enter but little into it. Life is made up of feeling, thinking, and acting, which only incidentally involve the three Rs.

The germ or principle of manual training, like that of nearly everything else that is good in education, is found in the kindergarten. All that we have in our modern laboratories, colleges, workshops, etc., exists in that wonderful method.

For a beautiful and successful illustration of the natural method applied in a somewhat different way, I refer you to the January and February numbers of The Popular Science Monthly of the present year.

When once we grasp the true conception of education by realizing that the very object of existence is to attain, as nearly as possible, to a perfect development, which, of course, implies the discharge of all duties and obligations, many problems can be speedily solved in a general way. Much judgment and skill will always be required to accomplish the end in view with the means at hand; or, to put it in a more scientific way, to adapt the organism and the environment to the best advantage. It has been abundantly proved, by the history of education and human affairs as a whole, that with a theory utterly wrong people do not generally fall upon right methods of action; and they never do so when work is to be systematically performed, as in the case of our education in this country for the last thirty years at least. My own elementary education was conducted in what was at that period considered the best school in one of the most progressive cities educationally in this country, yet in the light in which I now see I would have been a great deal better without much of what was