Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 61.djvu/98

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social and other arrangements made in Philadelphia could scarcely be equalled in any other city. Philadelphia must share with Washington, New York, Boston, Chicago and other cities the honor of being one of our chief scientific centers, but its Philosophical Society still retains a certain preeminence.



The backwardness of education as a science is borne witness to by the lack of professional societies such as exist for other sciences. It is a sign of progress, therefore, that at the last meeting of the British Association an educational section was established and that the first meeting of an 'American Society for the Scientific Study of Education 'met recently in connection with the meeting of the Department of Superintendence of the National Educational Association. At the same time and place there was held a conference of teachers of education in American colleges who considered steps toward formal organization and elected as chairman, Professor John Dewey, of Chicago University, and as secretary, Professor M. V. O'Shea, of the University of Wisconsin. Both these organizations seem likely to become more and more societies of experts in the scientific treatment of educational problems rather than of men of practical influence in the management of school systems, and may seek affiliation with other scientific societies in the American Association. Next year, however, the Society for the Scientific Study of Education, and probably also the conference of college instructors, will meet with the Department of Superintendence of the National Educational Association. One of the functions of such societies is to judge as a jury of peers the value of the discoveries and hypotheses made by its members. To the lack of any association of sufficient weight to perform this service is due in part the sufferance of educational fads and the paucity of serious investigations of the facts of school life. The impulse to research is dependent upon emulation, pride and practical wants, and the direction it takes depends still more upon social considerations. Publicity and esteem for intellectual work are among the agencies that assist progress in any field of thought. Organizations composed of experts in the study of education might also cooperate with other learned and scientific societies in important ways. The men now engaged in the promotion of knowledge through research and through the training of advanced students exert but slight influence in improving the teaching of the millions of children in the schools, and they will rarely be fit to do so directly. But a society formed of students of education who were their university associates might make use of both the knowledge and the reputation of these experts, and at the same time amend their recommendations to suit the actual conditions of school work. The recommendation of the British Association for the Advancement of Science has been thus used to support measures of reform in the teaching of geometry in Great Britain. In our own country such a formal organization of expert students of education might have led the National Educational Association to insist that the teaching of physiology be put beyond the reach of politics and one-sided enthusiasts.



In our notice of the biography of the Swiss chemist Schönbein, in the Popular Science Monthly for April, we followed custom in giving him credit for discovering the passivity of iron, but the peculiar behavior of this metal induced by nitric acid had actually been observed forty-five years before by the English chemical manufacturer, James Keir. In his paper on the 'Dissolution of Metals in Acids,'