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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 46.djvu/632

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN BOARD SCHOOLS.[1]
By Prof. H. E. ARMSTRONG, F. R. S.

AT the request of my friend and former pupil, Mr. W. M. Heller, I have undertaken to say a few words by way of introduction to the course which he is about to give here to assist a number of you who are teachers in schools in the Tower Hamlets and Hackney district under the School Board for London a course of lessons expressly intended to direct your attention to the educational value of instruction given solely with the object of inculcating scientific habits of mind and scientific ways of working; and expressly and primarily intended to assist you in giving such teaching in your schools.

Nothing could afford me greater pleasure, as I regard the introduction of such teaching into schools generally—not board schools merely, but all schools as of the utmost importance; indeed, I may say, as of national importance; and I now confidently look forward to the time, at no distant date, when this will be everywhere acknowledged and acted on. Personally I regard the work that I have been able to do in this direction as of far greater value than any purely scientific work that I have accomplished. At the very outset of my career as a teacher I was led to see how illogical, unsatisfactory, and artificial were the prevailing methods of teaching, and became interested in their improvement. My appointment as one of the first professors at the Finsbury Technical College forced me to pay particular attention to the subject and gave me abundant opportunity of practically working out a scheme of my own. I was the more anxious to do this, as I soon became convinced that if any real progress were to be made in our system of technical education, it was essential in the first place to introduce improved methods of teaching into schools generally, so that students of technical subjects might commence their studies properly prepared; and subsequent experience has only confirmed this view. Indeed, it is beyond question, in the opinion of many, that what we at present most want in this country are proper systems of primary and secondary education—the latter especially. Now, most students at our technical colleges, in consequence of their defective school training, not only waste much of their time in learning elementary principles with which they should have been made familiar at school, and much of our time by obliging us to give elementary lessons, but, what is far worse, they have acquired bad habits and convictions which are


  1. From a revised address delivered at the Berners Street Board School, Commercial Road, London, on October 9, 1894, and published in Nature.