THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY
|THE SCIENCE OF EDUCATION|
By Professor JOHN PERRY
IMPERIAL COLLEGE OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY, LONDON
I WANT you to understand that we have established some fundamental principles in our science: (1) A subject must interest a pupil. (2) A man who trains dogs or seals or bears or other animals makes a close study of their minds. In the same way we must recognize that one boy differs from another, and study the mind of each boy. (3) If a boy is not very receptive of an important subject we must do our best with him and try to settle what is the minimum with which we ought to be satisfied. Only a few subjects ought to be compulsory on all boys. (4) There are two classes of boys unequal as to numbers, (a) those fond of, and (b) those not capable of abstract reasoning. (5) Another two classes are (a) those fond of, and (b) those not fond of language study. (6) Every boy may be made to write and read in his own language and he may be made fond of reading. (7) The average boy's reasoning faculties are most surely developed by letting him do things. That is, for example, through his sports, or through wood or metal working, or gardening, or experiments involving weighing and measuring. Through the last of these he learns to compute. A boy of eight learns decimals in an hour if he weighs and measures, whereas by the usual method of teaching he is ignorant of decimals at the age of fourteen. A boy learns whist very quickly if you seat him with three other people at a table with a pack of cards; he would not learn in a month if he had no cards. Would you teach a boy to swim by mere talk? (8) Every boy must get a good deal of personal attention. (9) However good a system may be there can be no good results if the teachers are cheap; cheap teachers are usually stupid and over-worked. Men in charge of schools and colleges never seem to learn this. The market price must be paid for a capable man. (10) Fairly good results may be expected from a good teacher, even when he is compelled to work on a bad system, but really good results can be obtainable only from a good teacher with a good system.
I need not go into details about all these principles, but I should like to dwell presently upon a few of them. At the beginning of this address I spoke of the obstruction to great necessary reform—too much antiquated machinery to "scrap." Most schoolmasters will admit the necessity for reform in the case of the average boy, but they say that parents
- From the address of the president of the Educational Science Section of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, Australia, 1914.