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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/122

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

an instrument for cultivating the memory, and has the additional advantage of strengthening the perceptive powers too, for in it the eye, the ear, and all the instruments of the senses are trained to observe facts accurately, as they are not trained to so great a degree in language study. It again takes the lead in the cultivation of the pure reason; for it gives grand laws and generalizations already deduced or in process of deduction. "The discovery of these natural laws may be counted among the greatest achievements of the human mind. To follow out the processes by which they were discovered gives the mind its most rigid training, and elevates the tone of thought in many other respects. The intellect becomes self-reliant and yet conscious of its own weak points." Also, in æsthetic development, scientific education is put foremost. "The true student of Nature and her phenomena ever sees order and symmetry coming out of chaos, and finds the rarest beauty hidden where to the unaided eye naught but ugliness exists. . . . Can any student, who looks upon the universe with vision thus unobscured, fail to find in his studies the truest aesthetic culture?" But it had been alleged that the scientific courses had been tried in many American colleges and found less fruitful than the classical. In answer to this the author considered the character of most American colleges, the qualifications of many professed teachers and the methods of study, and showed that these, as they actually were, were not competent for the conveyance of genuine scientific instruction.

By the multiplication of competing colleges putting sectarian interests in the foremost place, the means were divided up and frittered away, which, concentrated in one institution, would hardly be enough to enable it to do really effective work. "Each college acts as a drag on all the others. Libraries, cabinets, and faculties are uselessly duplicated. Naturally, one result of this state of affairs is a lowering of educational standards. . . . Since, on account of this foolish division of forces, most of these colleges are inadequately endowed, they are compelled to work short-handed. One professor has frequently several branches to teach. . . . In the majority of cases there is a chair of Latin, a chair of Greek, and then—a chair of 'Natural Science.' Each linguistic professor is to some degree a specialist; while the one who teaches science is perforce compelled to be a smatterer. He is expected to teach half a dozen dissimilar branches, each one being a life work by itself. He is to be omniscient on about a thousand dollars a year."

That the character of these institutions, as well as their poverty, was detrimental to the advancement of scientific education was more fully shown in another article on American Colleges vs. American Science, in the ninth volume of the Monthly. The colleges were