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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/492

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

backs to the development of independent investigating students at college. The case is still worse for the girls. When women begin to be really independent in thought, feeling, and action, I shall be much more hopeful of the progress of mankind; and happily the dawn of this better day has already begun.

It is scarcely necessary to point out that, in the nature of the ease, the parents are in the best position to learn the hereditary tendencies of their children; but inasmuch as in the large proportion of cases the subject has never been given any serious attention by them, it remains with the teacher to work it out by such means as he can. As with the physician, practice makes perfect in observation, interrogation and diagnosis. Often a little conversation with the children when at their ease at home will give more information as to their real tendencies than weeks of observation at school. Parents frequently judge of the natural fitness of their own children for the various callings in life very badly; and the assistance of the skilled teacher in deciding such matters would be of inestimable value. By the skilled teacher I now mean the one who is an expert diagnostician of powers and especially of natural leanings in which heredity plays so very prominent a part. How often is the college teacher, who regards the mistake in the choice of a profession or career as fatal, pained when dealing with certain of his students who plainly should be somewhere else! Yet it is hard for him to tell a young man that he is out of place. This should all have been settled long ago.

In the course of some lectures on education given at the Johns Hopkins University several years ago. Dr. Stanley Hall, the eminent psychologist, drew attention to what he called a "life-book." In this a record as impartial as possible of such sayings and doings of each child of a family from infancy to adolescence as may be a guide to real tendencies is recommended to be kept. Teachers may widen their sphere of influence by making this recommendation according to discretion to at least some of the parents with whom they come in contact. Dr. Hall lays stress on recording the exact words of the child and on stating everything with extreme accuracy and impartiality, as the fond mother is very apt to put a flattering interpretation on sayings and doings and fail to record the indications of weakness or evil. It is interesting to paste in also the first letter, first story, first rude sketch, etc., indeed anything that will give a clew to the real nature of the child.

But, as before indicated, the teacher may discover in a visit to the home what may have escaped even the parents. I know myself of a born artist having been discovered in the very depth of poverty by a physician who was making a professional call.