Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/832

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

ference is radical and momentous for true education. In questioning lies the germ of original research; all inventions, discoveries, and progress have come out of it. Only the questioner becomes a discoverer. And since it is obvious—often disagreeably so out of school—that the questioning, investigating habit is the child's most marked characteristic, and the most direct manifestation of a constitutional current of mental action that can not be repressed long any way, and seldom without danger, it seems inexcusable that any educational agency worthy of the name should fail to develop so important a habit by every means possible. Its careful cultivation would be sure to result in such a success in original research as schools have never yet won.

Prof. C. S. Minot says, "To train men to originality in every field of production is the proper function of a true university." Prof. N. S. Shaler made essentially the same statement in the Atlantic Monthly. It is not likely that originality will be called out easily in the university when all through the primary, secondary, and collegiate education, fifteen years or more, it has been permitted to lie dormant. Men do not begin to train trees and vines of mature growth. If originality is to be brought to full fruition in life, its obvious beginnings as seen in children's questions and curiosity must be cherished most carefully, not only in the university, but in every school that leads to the university. Originality, like playing the violin, must be encouraged early, if proper development is to be attained.

Children like better to work or play in company with one another than with adults; and when so working or playing they do not lack for questions and answers. At their parties they play various mental games with much zest. There is no satisfactory reason why this play faculty should not be brought into the schoolroom everywhere as it has been in a few places, by means of pupils' questioning guided by the teacher.

Their questioning has been found especially valuable in all review work, in history, geography, language work, civil government, physics, mineralogy, botany, and mental arithmetic. In the last four studies the questions are nearly always new and impromptu.

In this work they find the required variety in questions and voices, they measure their strength with one another, their wit and fancy find expression in amusing and unexpected turns, and their diligent attention and mental alertness are constant. The freedom, pleasure, and exhilaration that are essential elements of the work lead pupils to do their best. Their exuberant spirits, energy, individuality, and originality find proper outlets, and, in consequence, their tempers are improved. They have time to frame and answer questions based on their own data, and a place for