Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 45.djvu/650

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
630
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

canal-boat propulsion. What else may be in store for the closing years of the century in still further applications of transmitted electrical power, notably in the displacement of steam in railroad operation, can only be foreshadowed. Suffice it to say that the Niagara Falls Power Company will probably soon find their initial fifteen thousand horse-power equipment entirely insufficient to meet the demands upon it.

 

SCIENTIFIC EDUCATION.[1]
By Dr. H. E. ARMSTRONG, F. R. S.

ENGLISH boys and girls at the present day are the victims of excessive lesson learning, and are also falling a prey, in increasing numbers year by year, to the examination-demon, which threatens to become by far the most ruthless monster the world has ever known either in fact or in fable. Ask any teacher who has to do with students fresh from school his opinion of them: he will say that in the great majority of cases they have little if any power of helping themselves, little desire to learn about things, little if any observing power, little desire to reason on what they see or are called on to witness; that they are destitute of the sense of accuracy, and satisfied with any performance, however slovenly; that, in short, they are neither inquisitive nor acquisitive, and as they too often are idle as well, the opportunities offered to them are blindly sacrificed. A considerable proportion undoubtedly are by nature mentally very feeble; but the larger number are by no means without ability, and are, in fact, victims of an acquired disease. We must find a remedy for this state of things, or perish in the face of the terrific competition now setting in. Boys and girls at school must be taught from the very earliest moment to do and to appreciate. It is of no use our teaching them merely about things, however interesting—no facts must be taught without their use being taught simultaneously; and, as far as possible, they must be led to discover the facts for themselves. Instead of our placing condensed summaries in their hands, we must lead them to use works of reference and acquire the habit of finding out; they must always be at work applying their knowledge and solving problems. It is a libel on the human race to say, as many do, that children can not think and reason, and that they can only be taught facts; early childhood is the time at which these faculties are most apparent, and it is probably


  1. From the Presidential Address delivered at the Chemical Society (Great Britain), on March 22, 1894.