Date of this Version
Published by the Proceedings of the National Educational Association, 1897.
A long time has elapsed since Bacon gave to the world the sound advice that “ we should accustom ourselves to things themselves.” Little by little this idea has gained ground, until now it is recognized as a general principle in every grade of educational work and in widely separated departments of study that contact with concrete objects is far more inspiring and thought-producing than the mere scanning of black marks on a white page. So far as natural science is concerned, the varied training which it affords has been abundantly discussed before this association and elsewhere. To be sure, its practical value was for many years, unfortunately, the chief, or even the only, reason advanced for its importance from the educational standpoint. But of late attention has been directed to more fundamental considerations, prominent among which may be mentioned the interest always aroused and, consequently, developed by it along a “line of least resistance.” It was reserved for the work of this Natural Science Department last year to furnish through the papers of two able educators specific demonstration of what many of us have felt for years, that natural science possesses a culture value in education as well as practical worth, and that, furthermore, its culture value is not a whit less important or less necessary than that of certain educational shibboleths. In fact, the educational world is just coming to believe what Louis Agassiz maintained more than twenty-five years ago: “A few weeks' training in natural science is the best preparation a man can have for work in any department of life.”