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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 72.djvu/278

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

includes much more. It grows until it embraces the universe, and the relation to others widens until, from a simple physical relation, it involves the action of men on the highest plane of consciousness. Education in man is to fit his offspring for all this—for the most perfect attainable life in this complicated and ever-growing physical and psychical environment. We have to educate for an essentially new universe and the demand for studies that will be directly useful in life, now becoming so energetic, while one strong expression of the growing consciousness of this need is yet an utterly inadequate expression of it.

Clearly, education through instinct, nature's way, becomes then wholly insufficient for man. Its method of adaptation is too slow when physical and psychical conditions change so rapidly. Besides, it costs enormously. The herring lays twenty thousand eggs, the oyster upwards of sixteen million, while the conger-eel requires the enormous number of fifteen million annually to save itself from annihilation.[1] Marshall and Brooks estimate that if you start with one oyster producing sixteen million eggs, half of which are females, and let them go on increasing at the same rate for five years, there would be oysters enough, if we estimate them as shells, to make a mass more than eight times the size of the earth.[2] As we descend the animal series these facts become still more startling." Certain bacteria multiply so rapidly that the descendants of a single individual, if allowed to multiply unhindered for three days, would be represented by the figures 47,000,000,000,000."[3]

Among lower animals the individual is of little importance because infinite numbers can be produced, and the cost does not matter much, but in the human world the individual has become of supreme importance. It is costly to vitality to bring even one to maturity and expensive in every way to train him. Besides, the worth of a human being is recognized as permanent. A fine individual is of the highest value to the whole. The best are pioneers to a higher level. Fine individuals create a good society, and a superior society, in turn, is a prime factor in the production of the finest individuals.

With the lower animals the purpose is adaptation to environment, a strictly biological end, but the growth of knowledge and culture has introduced a higher element into human society which adaptation can not fully satisfy. This is that man must always improve his environment. Character is not merely a matter of heredity, but of heredity acted upon by environment. This is illustrated, on the one side, by the Juke family, and on the other by the transformation wrought in boys of


  1. C. J. Marshall, "Lectures on the Darwinian Theory," New York, 1900, p. 39.
  2. Loc. cit., pp. 39-40; W. K. Brooks, "The Oyster," p. 50.
  3. H. W. Conn, "The Method of Evolution," p. 53.