Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 78.djvu/62

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been due to that general tendency to give up the study of particulars, and as Bacon puts it, "to view nature as from an eminence." It was this tendency which induced Kant, after having started in the right direction, to affirm that the development of man's moral and intellectual nature lies beyond the problems of natural science.

Sufficient has been said to emphasize the great importance of the study of the brain and nervous system as the only effective way of establishing a more rational system of education. The most important consideration in the whole field of education is not the discussion of methods for conferring the present opportunities indiscriminately, so that all may avail themselves of them, but rather to determine how the educational system may be modified to meet the needs of each individual. Gradually the public is beginning to awaken to the fact that a so-called higher education may not only fail to act as a panacea for all human ills, but may become a potent factor in increasing the mental and physical degeneration of the race. An overtaxed brain and nervous system may not only be followed by a nervous breakdown, but it may expose its possessor to temptations which seriously interfere with his morality. It will be a fortunate day for the community when it appreciates that a sound morality depends not so much upon an individual obeying the dictates of philosopher or priest as in following out the injunctions of the physician.

So far as I am aware. Dr. Adolf Meyer was the first to offer the suggestion that departments of mental hygiene should be established in all our universities where advice could be given to teacher and student upon questions relating to the training of the brain and nervous system to the limit of the individual capacity as estimated by competent persons, so that these limits should not be exceeded. In this way it would become possible to gradually train teachers who would be competent to form a correct judgment as to the quality of each student's mind and the futility of attempting to estimate the mental capacity by the amount of information acquired would be more generally recognized. The present system of tests generally represented by written examinations is an incentive to encourage memorizing, but is a serious obstacle to logical thinking. The mechanical memory is frequently an evidence not of intelligence, but of certain forms of imbecility. An examination conducted along the lines suggested leading to a qualitative estimate of a particular student's mental capacity would not be a difficult task for those who have had the proper training. Any intelligent physician skilled in the methods of modern psychiatry could in a comparatively short time form a relatively accurate conception of the qualitative character of the mental processes of an individual under observation. Frequently common sense alone, but more often when combined with a desire to profit by the financial aid given by life-insurance companies.