Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/542

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in the first half of the present. It was then that chemistry led us to understand the composition of matter. It was then that physics developed the co-ordination of the known forces and showed the existence of a new one. It has been during this time that biology has been changed from the chaos of natural history into a hopeful cosmic science.

In the matter of chemistry, the record of what we owe to these universities is shamefully short. While the intellectual world was ringing with the discoveries of Priestley, Black, and Lavoisier, the universities were concerned with the insignificant squabbles of philologists. While Faraday and Dumas, Liebig and Darwin were at work, what was, say, Oxford doing? Future generations will scarcely credit it. The leading lights in that university had nothing better to do apparently than to issue and discuss tracts on the difference between "tweedle-dum and tweedle-dee."

And even now, in spite of many vigorous efforts and encouraging successes, in spite of the notable men who have filled and are filling the posts of teachers, the universities under consideration can not be considered as centers of science. The very best men connected with the universities are the first to admit this. For such centers those who wish to become masters of the craft have had to look abroad, or to the metropolis, or to our provinces.

In regard to the teaching of science in the most widely known of our English public schools, we must regard it as being for the most part abortive. This has, without doubt, been brought about chiefly by the narrowness of culture of the head masters and their subordinates.

In such a school the unhappy science teacher is the worst off. If he be also a teacher of classics, who undertakes to teach science by reason of some smattering of it which he may have picked up in a desultory manner, his task is distasteful to him, and we may be sure he is not slow to contaminate his scholars with such distaste. He detests his duties partly because his ignorance is a disagreeable revelation to himself, but mainly because he feels that quick-witted lads soon discover his incompetence.

If, on the other hand, a highly qualified scientific man is employed, he finds himself out of sympathy, almost out of touch, with the rest of the school. The absolute necessities for teaching his science are denied to him or grudgingly dribbled out. His colleagues regard him without any feeling of comradeship, and so again the boys get to look on him as a sort of pariah, and on his occupation with contempt.

Observe the vicious circle. With ignorances and prejudices such as those I have mentioned the scholars from such schools go