Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 61.djvu/408

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

superficially. This fact cannot be stated too emphatically and it should be forced upon the attention of those in control of college affairs. With the broadening in science teaching there has come a similar broadening in other studies. Full of the self-sufficiency encouraged by the older system of education, the college graduate who has reached middle life does not recognize that the ordinary man and woman are intelligent, well-informed and, in some respects, as well drilled intellectually as he. The proof is at hand. The lightest of our monthly magazines finds a demand for articles upon mining, sociology, electrical inventions, applied chemistry, bridge building, of a type which would have been about as intelligible as Choctaw to the community forty years ago; newspapers publish detailed descriptions of apparatus for wireless telegraphy, discuss problems in psychology, the mechanics of flying machines and pay generously for elaborate articles upon earthquakes and volcanoes; even the children talk glibly about ohms, volts and amperes as they play with electric toys. The high school is, so to speak, 'abroad in the land'; its bell tolls the knell for colleges which persist in the old method of specializing to the last degree in subjects which concern chiefly the intellectual side of man—an intellect regarded by most defenders of that method as debased by sin—while compressing within narrow limits those studies which concern the direct work of the Creator himself.

This advance adds to the burden of the science teacher. The 'elements' of a science in college often covers, or should cover, an area almost as extensive as that of the whole science thirty-five years ago. It has become difficult for science teachers to be investigators. The hours devoted by others to relaxation are required by them for study; their summer vacations are employed largely in the effort to catch up with the progress in their branch or branches. It is remarkable that so much work and so much good work is done by them in the way of original research, largely, it is true, in hours which should be given to rest. But, in too many instances, the opportunity for thorough work is lacking even where there may be time. Instead of scores, there are now hundreds of investigators in every branch of research, many belonging to government organizations, many employed by great corporations that their discoveries may be utilized, and some connected with universities which do not overwork them; publications are scattered through hundreds of journals and the literature on any subject has become appalling, so that the task of consulting it is of itself almost enough to deter any but a man of means and leisure from undertaking systematic investigation. Libraries, museums and costly apparatus are essential now, where, half a century ago, little was required aside from will and mental ability.

Especial emphasis has been laid upon the burden of the scientific