Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 79.djvu/393

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
389
AGRICULTURE IN THE HIGH SCHOOL

attempting to popularize the subject by writing all of the science out of it. If it is not based upon the fundamental sciences it is not secondary but elementary, and, as such ignores the genetic stages of development usually represented by the high school adolescent.[1] Therefore, if agriculture is to be made a secondary school subject it must be put on a secondary plane—that is, it must be made scientific by the utilization of the fundamental sciences.[2] It should not be divorced from the high school sciences in order to precede them.

The deferring of the agricultural work in the high school until after the underlying sciences have been mastered will be at the very imminent risk of starving the peculiar vocational interest upon which its success depends. Investigations as well as experience show that the interest in vocation is born in adolescence and that the manual vocations normally precede the others.[3] It is a maxim of education that to develop a useful instinct it should be exercised and directed during its nascent period.[4] However judicious and far-sighted the plans of the teacher may be regarding the student's high school course, neither the student nor his parents may be safely left indefinitely in the dark regarding them. The average student in the high school should see a generous amount of purpose in all of his work and have the benefit of such experiences as are to be gained only by applying it to its purpose, even though it mean, from the viewpoint of the teacher, a compromise of his science.

Prescribing high school science work to precede the agriculture

  1. "When he (the pupil) has completed his eighth year, he should have a well-developed sympathy with agricultural affairs and he should have a broad general view of them. Entering the high school he will then be able to take up some of the subjects in their distinctly scientific phases."—N. E. A. Committee on Industrial Education in Rural Schools, pp. 44-45.
  2. "It is the business of secondary education to raise all subjects which it touches to the plane of science, by bringing all into the point of view of organizing principles."—Brown," The Making of Our Middle Schools," p. 4.
  3. "In almost all great men the leading idea of life is caught early."—Eliot, "Education for Efficiency," p. 28.

    "Until the instincts of construction and production are systematically laid hold of in the years of childhood and youth, until they are trained in social directions, enriched by historical interpretation, controlled and illuminated by scientific methods, we certainly are in no position to locate the source of our economic evils, much less to deal with them effectively."—Dewey, "The School and Society," p. 39.

  4. "If a nerve center is not exercised properly during its nascent period, it will be arrested in its development, for it loses its plasticity when the wave of ripening moves past it to other centers. . . . The absence of appropriate stimulus during the growing period is for the most part irremediable; and this results, as I have already intimated, not only in the arrest of this particular function, but it influences other functions by interfering with the readiness of association between centers that can become connected only through the undeveloped one. . . ."—O'Shea, "Dynamic Factors in Education," p. 151.