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science quite as fully as the most elaborate course planned by a noble university.
In many schools the difficulty of getting teachers capable of conducting scientific work is really a serious one, the reasons for which are evident. It will be seen further on that a large proportion of our colleges are really doing little more than school work in science, and there is a manifest inequality in the training in scientific and literary subjects. The average graduate from such a college is not prepared to conduct the simplest school course in botany, and yet these very colleges are, or at least ought to be, the source of the best teachers for the common schools. Such teachers as are furnished will naturally insist upon the same one-sided preparation as they have themselves had. If a demand for science teaching should arise in spite of the colleges, it can only be met by bringing teachers from elsewhere, and this is often impossible from financial considerations. We may confidently expect this state of things to be remedied in the near future as a result of the present agitation.
ORGANIZED EFFORTS TO ADVANCE SCHOOL WORK.
In 1879 a committee was appointed by the American Association for the Advancement of Science to investigate the question of science teaching in the public schools. This committee, consisting of E. L. Youmans, A. R. Grote, J. W. Powell, N. S. Shaler, and J. S. Newberry, made a report at the next meeting, from which the following extracts are taken:
Through books and teachers the pupil is filled up with information in regard to science. Its facts and principles are explained, as far as possible, and then left in the memory with his other school acquisitions. He learns the sciences much as he learns geography and history; only in a few exceptional schools is he put to any direct mental work upon the subject-matter of science, or taught to think for himself.
As thus treated the sciences have but little value in education. They fall below other studies as a means of mental cultivation.
They are not made the means of cultivating the observing powers, stimulating inquiry, exercising the judgment in weighing evidence, nor of forming original and independent habits of thonght.
But it is the first requirement of the scientific method, alike in education and in research, that the mind shall exercise its activity directly upon the subject matter of study, otherwise scientific knowledge is an illusion and a cheat. As science is commonly pursued in book descriptions, the learners can not even identify the things they read about. As remarked by Agassiz, “The pupil studies nature in the schoolroom, and when he goes out of doors he can not find her.” This mode of teaching science, which is by no means confined to the public schools, has been condemned in the most unsparing manner by all eminent scientific men as a “deception,” a “fraud,” an “outrage upon the minds of the young,” and an “imposture in education.”
The American Society of Naturalists, in pursuance of its general aim to build up the methods of science teaching, appointed a committee in 1887 to draw up a plan for teaching the natural sciences, to be recommended to the schools. This committee consisted of Samuel F. Clarke,
William N. Rice, William G. Farlow, George Macloskie, and C.0. Whitman. This committee submitted a report to the society in 1888, from which a few extracts are taken:
(1) Instruction in natural science should commence in the lowest grades of the primary schools and should continue throughout the curriculum.
(2) In the lower grades the instruction should be chiefly by means of object lessons, and the aim should be to awaken and guide the curiosity of the child in regard to natural phenomena, rather than to present systematized bodies of fact and doctrine.
(3) More systematic instruction in the natural sciences should be given in the high schools.
(5) An elementary (but general and practical) acquaintance with some one or more departments of natural science should be required for admission to college.
In the primary schools, and in the lower grades of the grammar schools, we would recommend that the study of plants and animals should be the main part of the scientific work. The botanical instruction should commence with such simple exercises as drawing and describing different forms of leaves, and should gradually advance to the easier and more conspicuous flowers, and later to the more obscure and difficult forms of flowers, the fruits and seeds.
The zoölogical instruction in the lower schools should not attempt a systematic survey of the whole animal kingdom; but attention should be directed chiefly to the more familiar animals, and to those which the pupils can see alive. The common domesticated mammals should first be studied, and later the birds, the lower vertebrates, the insects, crustacea, and mollusks. While the range of zoological instruction must be limited as regards the number of forms studied, these few familiar forms should be so compared with each other as to give the pupils, very early, some conception of the main lines of biological study-morphology, physiology, taxonomy.
A most important feature of the scientific instruction in the lower grades should be to encourage the pupils to collect specimens of all sorts of natural objects, and to make these specimens the subject of object lessons. The curiosity of the children will thereby be rationally cultivated and guided.
We would recommend the introduction of exceedingly rudimentary courses in physics and chemistry in the highest grades of the grammar school.
We would recommend, as perhaps the most desirable branches of science to be included in the classical courses in the high school, and to be required for admission to college, physical geography, phænogamic botany, and human physiology. The first is suggested as tending to keep alive in the student's mind a sympathetic acquaintance with nature in its broader aspect; the second, as affording unequaled opportunities for discipline in observations; the third, as affording knowledge of the greatest practical importance.
The most recent action of this association has been to issue a circular to all the colleges of the country asking them to take steps to make some scientific subject a part of their entrance requirement. From this the following extracts are taken:
While a liberal allowance of time is devoted to scientific studies in most of the college courses, and in the English course in academies and high schools, there is generally little or no time allotted to science in the classical courses in academies and high schools, and in the schools of lower grade. Most of the students in the colleges have therefore received no training or instruction in the sciences before reaching those studies in the college course. By so many years of exclusive attention to other subjects, their powers of observation and of imagination of physical phenomena are well-nigh atrophied; and the loving interest in nature, innate in
every normal child, instead of being systematically developed, is well-nigh extinguished.
The remedy for this state of things is to be found in the introduction of elementary lessons in science at a much earlier period of the course. We believe that the study of nature should begin in the primary school, and should continue, in increasingly systematic and philosophical methods, through all grades of the educational system. We believe that, in the light of sound principles of pedagogics, a system of education must be pronounced radically defective which fails to gratify and to stimulate the curiosity of children in regard to the things about them and within them, confining them to mere abstract studies, some of which are better suited to maturer minds.
Hence we are led to make an earnest appeal to the faculties of the colleges to make some work in science form a part of the requirements for admission, being assured that in so doing they will be taking a most important step in the direction of a symmetrical and philosophical arrangement of the educational course.
The question of the particular sciences which should be required for admission is a comparatively unimportant one. In the report adopted at the meeting of the society in 1888 (a copy of which is forwarded herewith), the committee recommended the selection of phænogamic botany, human physiology, and physical geography. It was, moreover, believed that the high schools and academies in general are prepared to teach these, at least as well as any other, science studies. There is, however, room for difference of opinion on the question whether other sciences, as physics, chemistry, and zoology, may not have equal or even superior claims, and it is not unlikely that some preparatory schools are able to afford better instruction in some other sciences than in those recommended in the report. It would probably be best for the present, especially in view of the great inequality in the resources of different preparatory schools, to allow some degree of option to the candidate in regard to the particụlar science or sciences in which he should be examined. The point which we consider essential is that some study of nature should be required before admission to college.
PRESENT CONDITION OF SCHOOL WORK IN BIOLOGY.
During the past 10 years some improvement has certainly been made. While it has not spread uniformly over the country, but is limited to certain favored sections, yet the chief sign of progress is the fact that in so large a number of cases State universities in which most admirable courses in science are provided, and in which great stress is laid upon correct methods, accept the science teaching of the schools and admit pupils on certificate without examination. Especially is this true of many of the Western States, notably, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Dakota, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, and Minnesota. Of the New England and Middle States it may be said that while the city schools and those under the direct influence of the colleges give adequate courses in science, this does not seem in some States to be true of the average, at least so far as may be judged from the testimony of college officers and from the fact that comparatively few of the colleges make entrance requirements in science.
In the Southern States, notably West Virginia, North and South Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana, the situation seems worst of all. From each of these come loud complaints of the almost total lack of scientific preparation in the schools, the best doing but little, the large majority doing none.
In some of these States there are hopeful signs. The teachers of the schools are becoming aroused to their duty in this respect, and the associations of teachers devote much time at their meetings to the discussion of methods for introducing and carrying out this work. As showing the state of mind among teachers an extract may be quoted from the report of a committee to the Tennessee State Teachers' Association, adopted in 1888:
The natural sciences, properly taught, claim preëminence over all other studies as a means of training the observing faculties. In the training of the reasoning faculties, also, they stand very high. These two faculties, observation and reasoning, are the ones that especially suffer from the excessive use of text-books that prevails among poor teachers from ignorance, among good teachers because it is forced upon them by too much work. It is in the belief that it would supply these deficiencies that your committee would state
(1) That it is desirable that the study of some one of the natural sciences be begun at the commencement of school life and carried on continually through the higher grades.
(2) That until teachers are trained for the work it is better entirely to omit all 80called “scientific” study than to give mere text-book instruction.
(3) That it is desirable to substitute for the superficial courses in many sciences found in most high schools a more extended, more scientific, course in one or two sciences.
A study of the biological courses offered by a considerable number of colleges has brought to light many facts which the attempt will be made to arrange and harmonize in the present chapter.
A review of the statements in chapter it shows that but a small number of institutions report that they have no courses in any branch of biology, and in attempting to group these we notice that nearly all are denominational colleges under the management of the Roman Catholic Church.
In considering the work of the larger colleges in which great freedom of choice is offered, it is, of course, difficult to draw any conclusions or make any sharp statements, for in most of these biology stands on the same footing with other sciences, and the selection is left to the student's own choice. It was found impracticable on this account to embody the whole of chapter ii in tables that would be satisfactory, hence a number of institutions were selected in which there was little freedom of choice, and tables 2 and 3 were constructed to show the biological work prescribed in their arts and science courses.
BIOLOGICAL WORK IN PRESCIBED COURSES.
Considering the courses leading to the degree of bachelor of arts, offered by forty-five colleges, it is seen that some branch of biology is taught by fifteen in the freshman year, by twenty-nine in the sophomore, by thirtyone in the junior, and by nineteen in the senior. With regard to the time given to biological work, we see that in thirteen institutions the course occupies the whole or a part of 1 year, in twenty it runs through 2 years, in seven it occupies 3 years, while in four it is completed in 4 years. In the freshman year the average time devoted to biology is slightly more than half the year, with from two to five exercises weekly, as shown by table. The favorite subjects are botany, zoology, physiology, and biology, the details of which are as follows: