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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/397

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381
HISTORY OF SCIENTIFIC INSTRUCTION.

of Natural History. The professors were chosen from among the most celebrated men of France, the sciences being represented by Lagrange, Laplace, Haüry, Monge, Daubenton, and Berthollet.

While there was this enormous progress abroad, represented especially by the teaching of science in Germany and the teaching of the teachers in France, things slumbered and slept in Britain. We had our coal and our iron, our material capital, and no one troubled about our mental capital, least of all the universities, which had become, according to Matthew Arnold (who was not likely to overstate matters), mere hauts lyceés, and "had lost the very idea of a real university";[1] and since our political leaders generally came from the universities, little more was to be expected from them.

Many who have attempted to deal with the history of education have failed to give sufficient prominence to the tremendous difference there must necessarily have been in scientific requirements before and after the introduction of steam power.

It is to the discredit of our country that we, who gave the perfected steam engine, the iron ship, and the locomotive to the world, should have been the last to feel the next wave of intellectual progress.

All we did at the beginning of the century was to found mechanics' institutions. They knew better in Prussia, "a bleeding and lacerated mass";[2] after Jena (1806), King Frederick William III and his councilors, disciples of Kant, founded the University of Berlin, "to supply the loss of territory by intellectual effort." Among the universal poverty money was found for the Universities of Königsberg and Breslau, and Bonn was founded in 1818. As a result of this policy, carried on persistently and continuously by successive ministers, aided by wise councilors, many of them the products of this policy, such a state of things was brought about that not many years ago M. Ferdinand Lot, one of the most distinguished educationists of France, accorded to Germany "a supremacy in science comparable to the supremacy of England at sea."

But this position has not been obtained merely by founding new universities. To Germany we owe the perfecting of the methods of teaching science.

I have shown that it was in Germany that we find the first organized science teaching in schools. About the year 1825 that country made another tremendous stride. Liebig demonstrated that science teaching, to be of value, whether in the school or the university,


  1. Schools and Universities on the Continent, p. 291.
  2. University Education in England, France, and Germany, by Sir Rowland Bleunerhassett, p. 25.