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described, impressed upon the mind through as many channels of sense as possible. This direct study from the actual object is so fundamental, that I venture to repeat that it is the foundation of all good teaching in zoology.
The results of personal observations on the part of the student ought to be recorded in the form of drawings and written descriptions. The objects should be carefully observed before drawing is attempted, as it is essential to remove the mechanical elements as far as possible. The value of drawing, in giving directness to observation, is recognized by all teachers, and additional points of structure and relationship of parts will be noticed by the students as soon as they begin to sketch. These laboratory sketches should be viewed, not as artistic efforts, but as a means of expressing observations and conclusions in lines, and of value in proportion to the accuracy with which they represent characteristics accurately observed and intelligently interpreted. The best executed drawings, as regards foreshortening and shading, are often those of least value.
In most colleges with close curricula the attempt is made to teach too many sciences without sufficiently thorough work in any. The question of scientific methods seems to be overcome by a desire to have every student come under every teacher, unmindful of the fact that he receives a considerable amount of fragmentary information, in quantities perhaps too great for him to digest; that he receives a minimum of methods, and those are repeated. The result is that he receives but imperfect training in the use of methods and has no conception of the completeness and symmetry of any one of the subjects he has taken up. As opposed to this we find a small number of places solving the difficulty by insisting that in a course which is mainly literary in nature, one scientific study is all that should be required, but it should contain laboratory work and be so conducted as to put the pupil in full sympathy with the methods of scientific inquiry.
If laboratory work is to accomplish what is claimed for it, it is of vital importance that the classes shall not be too large. Each student must be the special study of his instructor, and the proper method of treatment for each man must be found. The personal equation and initiative power of the student must be considered with the greatest care. This is well stated in the “Handbook of Information Concerning the School of Biology” of the University of Pennsylvania:
The individuality of students should be fostered by the abolition of all marking or grading systems or anything approaching the old class system, in so far as possible. All nature condemns uniformity; natural attributes need guiding, not repressing, and the successful laboratory instructor seeks to develop common sense-a possession which nothing can replace, not even genius. He aims to stimulate originality in place of acquisition by rote or rule of thumb, and he accomplishes this most surely by an individual personal interest in each student.
The proper number of students that should come under one instructor in a laboratory is a point in regard to which there is not much difference of opinion. Professor Farlow regards it as "desirable that there should be one assistant for every twelve students in a laboratory, and necessary that there should be one for every twenty men, if the work is to be well done."*
* The Task of American Botanists. Popular Science Monthly, July, 1887.
With a larger number than this much time will be lost in a laboratory, from the fact that a singular helplessness seems generally to take possession of students, especially beginners, in laboratory work. The student, not knowing exactly what to do, has rarely the insight to find out for himself until the instructor can be consulted, and there is grave danger that students will then work together and allow one or two bright ones to do the thinking for all.
If it be true, as it doubtless is, that the best results are not generally being reached in the laboratory work conducted in a large number of our colleges, the cause is to be found mainly in two particulars-imperfect preparation and an inadequate number of teachers. In regard to the former we may quote from an article by Professor Farlow, read before the American Society of Naturalists at their meeting and published in the Popular Science Monthly for March, 1886: He writes:
It seems a great pity that students should come to college so ill fitted as are the majority to undertake biological work. But we must accept things as they are, and there is no use in attempting to take the second step before the first has been taken. If the schools can not or will not teach observation, then it must be taught in college, no matter if it does seem to be child's work. In colleges, however, it is absolutely impossible to find the time or the means for training everyone to become an observer, and we are obliged to distinguish between two different classes of persons in arranging courses in biology. The first and much the larger class in eastern colleges includes all those who are preparing themselves for literary, legal, and other similar pursuits, and who wish to know the most important facts about animal and plant life, but who, after they have entered college, can not afford the time to train themselves for strictly scientific studies. This class must of necessity be taught by lectures and perhaps a few demonstrations, and as far as the method is concerned it is the same as that pursued in teaching literature, history, or other subjects in which general information is sought.
The second class of students includes those who are intending to become professional naturalists, teachers of natural science, or medical practitioners; in short, all who need to know plants and animals practically and the methods of biological investigation.
Merely listening to lectures, however entertaining or full of information, is not enough for this class of students.
To meet this want and make biology a means of education as well as information to all students, larger teaching forces are absolutely necessary. Many institutions adopt the plan of calling in the aid of advanced students in directing the laboratory work of beginners, and the results are usually satisfactory.
In most of the books commonly used as laboratory guides, the existence of an inadequate teaching force seems to be assumed, and exceptions may be taken to many of them on the ground that their directions are too full. The organisms considered are commonly first described, and the student is then given directions for verifying the description. When this method was first introduced it was without question a wonderful advance upon the methods previously in use and caused as complete a revolution as was then possible, but it seems now to have certain objections. It does little to put the student in the attitude of an original discoverer, for it gives him few questions the answers to
which he must seek from nature. It tells him in advance what he will see, thereby increasing his confidence in printed statements and running the risk of making his reliance upon authority more absolute than ever. Moreover, the tendency to do dishonest work is, under these circumstances, often too strong for the average student to resist. He will see what he is told to see, thereby coming soon to regard the fact as the thing which he must acquire. He loses all appreciation of the training in methods and soon comes to look upon laboratory work as a useless superfluity.
While it is an invidious task to make distinctions between books, it may be allowable in this connection to refer to one-Colton's Practical Zoology-as the first conspicuous example of a laboratory guide which treats a number of types briefly and requires all of the points that are not too difficult to be made out by the pupil. Questions are frequently asked without any hint being given as to the answer. This can only be gotten from nature herself.
TEXT-BOOKS IN BIOLOGICAL TEACHING.
One of the most important results of the new methods of biological teaching is a strong feeling against "book science," but the difficulty exists of deciding upon the necessary mean between the total abandonment of books, as far at least as descriptive work is concerned, and the substitution of books for nature, which was a few years ago so common. On consulting the reports received from the institutions previously mentioned, we find that they almost unanimously state that certain text-books are used for reference, but that their main reliance is upon laboratory work, supplemented by lectures. In biology, especially descriptive botany, and zoology, the use of text-books is peculiarly impossible. No book constructed for one community will answer fully for another, unless the materials required are gotten from wherever they inay happen to be found; but if this be done the great advantage of biology as a study of objects already familiar is in great measure lost. It is scarcely too much to say, too, that no teacher can prepare a textbook of this character that will be quite satisfactory to others; and accordingly we find that where a book is used at all it is nearly always largely supplemented by lectures and virtually remodeled to suit special needs. In no more striking manner is the prevailing state of opinion shown than by the fact that in the past 10 years very few text-books in descriptive biology have been produced, while in the same period many laboratory guides and a considerable number of books for reference have appeared.
When we consider the real nature of biological teaching, and the objects for which this teaching is done, we see the reason for this. Regarding laboratory work as the chief thing in all grades of work, which is certainly the attitude of most teachers, it is evident that this is the source of the only real knowledge that the student gets. The question, then, to be solved is, what is the relation of other exercises to this work? Certainly it is not to tell the student anything which he might reasonably be expected to find out for himself, but primarily to arouse him to work, to stimulate an inquiring turn of mind, and to give general directions for methods of procedure in the laboratory; but we must remember that the time allotted to courses is usually far too short to enable a student to acquire for himself as extended and symmetrical a knowledge as he should have. He may study types of different groups, and yet may have no knowledge whatever of the groups as a whole. Although observation is an important part of all work in biology, still other things must be considered, and when students are sufficiently mature their observations should be united together and points brought out which they could not at all be expected to make out for themselves. The teachers of the country are overwhelmingly of the opinion that lectures constitute the best means of furnishing this additional information. “The object of lectures," says Professor Huxley, * "is, in the first place, to awaken the attention and excite the enthusiasm of the student, and this, I am sure, may be effected to a far greater extent by the personal influence of a respected teacher than in any other way." When we consider the great tendency of students to rely implicitly on book statements, and to forget that nature is the ultimate source of all scientific knowledge, we see another strong reason for reducing the amount of bookwork to a minimum, especially in the early stages of a biological course. That there are defects in the lecture system no one can deny, and that the system in the hands of incompetent teachers is open to abuse is still more evident. This was made clear in the report to the American Association, already quoted, in which it is stated that “the method does not remove the book that the pupil may come at the phenomenon, but it removes the book that the teacher may take its place.
There is only the substitution of a superficial class activity for the more deliberate work of the individual pupil. More mental effort is required on his part to get a lesson from a book than to listen to a lesson given by the teacher.
Where it is all talk and no work, and text-books are filtered through the very imperfect medium of the ordinary teacher's mind, and the pupil has nothing to do but to be instructed, every sound principle of education is outraged and science is only made ridiculous." But this applies to the schools rather than the colleges, and when we consider the present unsettled condition of the question, the appreciation of the difficulties on the part of the colleges, and the increasing preparation for science teaching which they afford, we may with confidence expect that many of the existing evils will soon be remedied.
THE PLACE OF BIOLOGY IN A GENERAL EDUCATION.
Having thus reviewed the character of work found in our schools and colleges, and endeavored to show something as to the opinions of leading educators with regard to the best methods of conducting such work, we are led to ask, in conclusion, upon what does biology base its claim to the prominent place which it now enjoys in college courses? Many facts must be borne in mind in attempting an answer, but with special care must we distinguish between the claims of discipline and utility.
* Lay Sermons, p. 110.
Regarding education as a process of development to fit one for the ordinary duties of life, without reference to any special profession, we rate the educational value of any study by the extent to which it trains the student in the mental process of which he will make use in after life. A youth of college age, who has spent the greater part of his life in acquiring facts and following out ready-made lines of reasoning, will probably have found the principal exercise of his own originality in framing mnemonic devices. In such work there is no appreciation of the value of the discipline involved in acquiring facts, and nothing to cultivate a habit of independent reasoning. Remembering that there is no pursuit in life in which success does not depend, in great measure, upon a close study of varying conditions, and the accuracy of judgments based upon these, we see the insufficiency of any course of study in which all reasoning is deductive in character.
In some respects the discipline derived from biological study is the same as that gotten from any other science, but there is this important difference, that physics and chemistry are more advanced, and consequently more deductive than biology. Of course this does not detract from the educational value of these subjects, for inductive methods may be and are successfully used in teaching them, but the fact that in the biological investigations of the present day inductive methods have still so important a part, is sure to have its effect through the teacher upon even elementary biological instruction.
With regard to the practical value of biological knowledge little need be said. The situation is much the same as in other sciences, in which it is almost invariably true that when cultivated for practical ends much of the distinctive culture is lost. The training through which one must pass to become an official entomologist or mycologist is of necessity onesided. The attention of the student is drawn away from those parts of the subject having the greatest disciplinary value and kept fixed upon matters with which he must be familiar for the successful pursuit of his work. In the relation of biology to medicine the case is somewhat different. The intimacy of this relation has long been insisted upon in recognition of the fact that a knowledge of disease can only be based upon a sound understanding of the organs of the body in health, and further, that the most natural approach to the complex conditions found in the human body is through a study of lower animals, in which we find all the manifestations of life in a simpler form. But in this instance the claims of utility and general discipline are not antagonistic, for a maximum of each can be obtained without sacrifice of the other. We contend simply that the preparatory course of a physician should include,