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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 62.djvu/544

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538
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

BIOGRAPHY IN THE SCHOOLS.
By Professor DAVID R. MAJOR and T. H. HAINES,

OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY.

THE study described in the following pages was suggested by Professor E. Ray Lankester's tribute to Huxley which, concludes, 'Ever since I was a little boy he (Huxley) has been my ideal and hero.'[1] An instance of a scientist in the rôle of 'ideal and hero' to the boyish imagination is rare enough to attract attention. How rare it is, and how low a rank the scientist takes in the scale of heroes, because of our faulty methods of education, will be indicated roughly by the figures which follow.

The study was planned originally to find out in a general way the relative degree of familiarity which a given number of students (high school and university) have with the names of military leaders, on the one hand, and the names of great scientists, on the other. Or rather, the aim was to get a quantitative statement of the degree to which familiarity with the names of the world's great military leaders surpasses familiarity with the names of its great scientists. For it is an every-day observation that the names of the former are on everybody's lips and that those of the latter class of men are not widely known.

When the tests reported here were actually given, the original plan, which included only the two classes just named, was extended so as to include eight other categories giving ten in all, as follows:

1. English and American poets.
2. Statesmen.
7. Occupations and industries fundamental to modern life.
3. Inventors. 8. Novelists.
4. Scientists.
5. Orators.
9. Artists, including painters, sculptors and musicians.
6. Military leaders. 10. Greek and Roman writers.

It will be noticed that with the exception of the first and last groups there is no limitation as to time or place.

The method followed was to ask the students to begin at a given signal, e. g., the tap of a pencil, and write in three minutes the names of all the English and American poets they could recall. At the end of the first three minutes the second group, statesmen, was given, and so on to the end of the list. In all, six hundred and fifty high school and university students were tested on the ten classes named above.

Table I. gives the number of students belonging to each high school and university class tested, and the average number of each of the ten


  1. L. Huxley, 'Life and Letters of Thomas Huxley,' II., p. 447.