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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/564

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

taneously. It is, however, absurd to use the word "work" of the productive energy of a man who does everything with the unconscious ease of a child at play. The only thing that really worries him is a full-dress dinner, with its dissipating accompaniments of smoking, drinking, and speech-making. He is so thoroughly imbued with the conviction that a straight line is the shortest distance between two points that he is incapable of the circuitous treatment of a subject essential to the after-dinner speech. Like all penetrating minds, he is intolerant of verbiage, and has never been known to be guilty of a lapse into "fine writing."

Jordan is still in his prime, his vigor of mind and body unimpaired, and it is reasonable to hope that his main life work is still before him. But even should his career be cut short at any time, its influence would survive. The nature of this influence may be partially inferred from his published utterances on educational subjects; but only those who have been associated with him, either as fellow-teachers or as students, can be aware of its pervasive power. To scores of teachers and to hundreds of earnest students, Jordan has been something like a spiritual emancipator. It was delightful to see him, at the University of Weissnichtwo, confronting hide-bound pedants with the simple nature of things. He went quietly about his business; he did not strive nor cry, much less scold; but somehow tradition, system, dialectic, curriculum—everything in short that had hitherto passed unquestioned in that place—softly faded like the ghost when it begins to scent the morning air. Cautiously, after much debate, some changes were made; the timid hied to cover; but the sky did not fall. Once it became understood that change was possible in matters academic without greater harm than that of converting impotent philippics into whining jeremiads, things moved very rapidly. The great discovery was made that the laws of Nature operate in college as well as elsewhere. It was suggested that the way to educate a man is to set him at work; that the way to get him to work is to interest him; that the way to interest him is to vitalize his task by relating it to some sort of reality. Teachers were amazed to find that students work better when they are led than when they are driven. The abounding ingenuity of American youth, which had hitherto been exhausted in cheating at examinations, victimizing professors and freshmen, evading duty, eluding detection, and framing perennial excuses, found ample scope in fascinating experiments leading up to some scientific result. Without losing their natural vivacity boys became men, bringing to the serious work proper to men the spring and hopefulness of youth. College pranks ceased, but by no means college sports. Academic rules and regulations became dead-letter, not because of their frequent infringement, but because no need