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AGRICULTURE IN THE HIGH SCHOOL

with dissociated from the sciences to which they pertain.[1] So far as the two are related, the purposes of science can not be antagonistic to those of agriculture and it is better for the accomplishment of the reform toward vocational education to let the sciences bear their share of the burden of time and responsibility and have the same "charged to their account" while profiting as they will by the inclusion of the latter.

Should agricultural materials and principles be utilized for the purpose of teaching the sciences, and the student progressively pursue his science beyond the ability of agriculture to give any direct benefit, the operation of constantly rejecting the unessential and reconstructing with the (apparently) essential for the purpose of perfecting organization is a mental operation quite familiar to educators and is observed in daily practise by good teachers in all subjects. It is a characteristic merit of the "scientific method" and the "spiral plan," and is generally recognized as the natural order of mental growth. Thus most of the knowledge acquired in school is but transient in its value—a scaffolding for the erection of a more perfect structure.[2] It is not the agricultural work considered as knowledge so much as the right kind of training in science which its inclusion alone insures that makes it the best means of preparation in science for any collegiate course or for any general educational purpose.

But the fundamental sciences can not be depended upon to give a complete treatment of the subject of agriculture as it should be treated in the high school.[3] Where manual skills in technical processes are

  1. "In order to develop a subject well, . . . it is necessary to establish and maintain a favorable atmosphere for that particular field of mental activity, and this atmosphere is at its best only in the presence of students interested mainly in that subject; that is to say, there is no more favorable place in which the farmer may study chemistry than in company with others, not merely of his own kind, but of those who believe that chemistry is the greatest thing on earth."—Davenport, "Education for Efficiency," p. 103.

    "Learning a business really implies learning the science involved in it. . . . A grounding in science is of great importance, both because it prepares for this and because rational knowledge has an immense superiority over empirical knowledge."—Spencer, "Education," Chap. I.

  2. "Coarse, crude, rapid work must come before refined, delicate, painstaking work. . . . On the other hand, if we permit the child to take his own gait he will be likely to stop upon some low stage of development. . . . To keep him at coarse, crude work continually would be a serious mistake. We must set the pace for him."—O'Shea, "Dynamic Factors in Education," p. 168.

    "The most he knows at forty will be learned out of school, and. . . the business of the school is to give him a good start."—Davenport, "Education for Efficiency," p. 76.

    "All our industries would cease were it not for that information which men begin to acquire as best they may after their education is said to be finished."—Spencer, "Education," Chap. I.

  3. When I speak of teaching agriculture in our high schools, I mean agriculture. I do not mean nature study, nor do I mean that some sort of pedagogical