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VOL. LII, No. 1346
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 15, 1920
SINGLE COPIES, 15 CTS.
It's Lasting Impressions
led thousands of schools, colleges and societies the country over to adopt picture projection apparatus as one of the simplest and surest aids to efficient instruction.
It is significant that an increasing proportion of the purchasers of projection outfits are selecting the
BAUSCH & LOMB BALOPTICON
The Perfect Stereopticon
The Balopticon is invaluable for classroom, laboratory and auditorium. Models are made for showing either lantern slides or opaque objects, or bothphoto prints, postcards, specimens, etc.
The Balopticon "speeds up" impressions and makes them ever-
Bausch & Lomb Optical @.
522 ST. PAUL STREET
ROCHESTER, N. Y.
Leading American Makers of Photographic Lenses, Microscopes, Projection Apparatus
HIS new form of Demonstration Balance enables the most accurate verification of the principles of moments. The adjustments permit of varying the conditions in the greatest number of ways. The center of gravity may be changed so as to be either below, on the level with, or above the knife edge. The knife edge itself is a very delicate construction and is made by allowing two very hard steel points to rest in two V shaped grooves. The counterweight on the pointer permits of adjusting its weight. The plumb bobs on the scale pans and support permit of accurately leveling this apparatus and make it possible to make the forces act in the exact perpendicular to the length of the level arm. The scale and a clamp which holds the knife edge are both adjustable and the entire instrument is mounted on a tripod base with leveling screws. Nickel plated throughout, making a very handsome appearance.
W. M. WELCH SCIENTIFIC COMPANY
1516 Orleans Street
CHICAGO, ILL., U. S. A.
THE SCIENTIFIC TEACHING OF
SCIENCE, with its introduction of the laboratory, was expected to revolutionize teaching. But the ever-recurring distrust of the new has given us a curious combination in our scientific departments of the modern laboratory, the medieval lecture, and a degenerate form of the Socratic quiz. And the student feels them about as far apart in content as in origin. While the head of the department is lecturing to him on chlorine, the second man in the department is directing him in the manufacture of sulfur dioxide, and some assistant, once a week, is extracting from his brain all it contains of hydrogen sulfide. An unsavory mess it is!
If we could accept as the purpose of education the development-perhaps it is more accurate to say the restoration-of the right mental attitude in the student, we could bring order out of this chaos. For we should then see that the dogmatic handing on of facts through lecture and text-book inculcates the wrong attitude of mind in the student. A student will much more rapidly develop the right mental attitude by discovering facts for himself, even though they were known before, than by memorizing a multitude of facts discovered by other people. Men prate a good deal these days about the conservation and development of our natural resources, and are curiously neglectful of our greatest resource, humanity's power of creative thinking. The little child is, of course, the scientist, par excellence, curious, experimental, creative. Our education must retain and build on the curiosity and experimental eagerness of the child, and develop his power of creative thought. We can never know what the new generation has to contribute to us till we give it greater opportunity to express itself. We think when we have let a student choose his
major subject we have given him all the freedom it is safe to give him.
It is curious how far we are from the idea that a university exists primarily to develop this power of creative thought in its students. If our teaching is to develop this power, we much change the focus of our work. Heretofore we have had vaguely in mind as our focus a text-book or an instructor. But instead of a tyrannical text-book or the instructor's somewhat egotistical presentation of ideas in his lectures, instead even of his charming and stimulating personality, we must chose as the focus for our teaching the student and his problems. Every student has all sorts of problems more or less consciously in mind when he comes to a university. The laboratories books and instructors should exist as aids in the solution of those. Before he has gone far in his investigations, if laboratory, library and instructor are adequate, they will have led him out toward several other departments of the university, and a continuously increasing number of other problems will be tempting him on.
The lecture, the quiz, the laboratory manual, the text-book must be tools for the student rather than guides. The logical order underlying the text-book and lecture is that of a person with many years experience in a subject. The student approaches the subject in quite a different way, touching it at only a few, possibly unrelated, points. The logic of another, more experienced mind lacks significance for him. He needs to evolve his own orderly arrangement of the subject. That is all he can, as yet, comprehend. The laboratory manual, with its arbitrarily selected experiments, is similarly objectionable; it starts not with the student's problems, but with imposed problems. No lecture, or text-book, or laboratory manual exactly fits any one's needs. The quiz as at present conducted, instead of being used even as Socrates used it to lead up to some definite idea, or instead of its being, as it ought to be, a frank give and take between coworkers, has become merely insulting.
In place of these must be substituted the laboratory, reference books, private consulta
tion with the instructor, group discussions, and an occasional supplementary lecture. This means merely that the university exists for the student, be he called student or instructor, twenty years old or seventy, modest scientist or titled grandee. It means that the older student is to see that the younger student has what he needs to work with, that he can find the reference books he needs, that he has access to the more complete experince of this elder whenever his problem seems to require experience greater than he has at his own command. It means that instead of memorizing facts for possible future use, the student is already at his life business of solving problems, the business he began, by the way, in the cradle. The group discussion will, of course, be based on the problems that have arisen in the laboratory, will be reports of laboratory work, and will relate the knowledge gained there with other sciences or other aspects of the same science. And now and then, there may be a lecture by a visiting scientist on his specialty. There is, of course, gain rather than loss in the instructor's reporting from time to time his own research work, or some particular interest, or bibliographic suggestions, just as the other students do. Such reports will give the younger students greater acquaintance with the instructor's point of view than they could get, perhaps, merely through conversations. But in such reports the instructor takes his place as a fellow student, not as a superior. Laboratory, reference books, a more experienced scientist to consult, occasional exchange of ideas with groups of fellow workers, these are all our incipient scientists need.
For three years the experiment was made in a scientific department of one of our middle western universities of teaching by the method just suggested, so far as that could be done under the conditions that exist in every university at present. All the courses in the department were so conducted, the students ranging in rank from freshmen to graduates, and numbering usually about twenty to the
At the beginning of each course there were
conferences with the students, who had registered for the work, to find out why they were there, what contact they had already had with problems in this subject, what points they expected the course to clear up for them. They were asked to prepare a rough outline of the subject, limited though their knowledge was, and from this outline their laboratory work was begun, so that they began with the points of contact previously made with the subject, and were already at work organizing what slight knowledge they had.
Each student's laboratory work was made at all times the center of his activity; it was starting point and unifying element. The questions that arose in the student's mind during his laboratory work were the basis of laboratory conversations and class-room discussions. Most of the conferences on work took place in the laboratory, when problems arose. The class room was used in part for the discussion of problems that could not well be worked out in the laboratory because of lack of time or equipment. This discussion of more general problems and of investigations carried on by other scientists, though usually introduced by the instructor, was brought in when suggested by the laboratory work of the students. Each student presented, also, during this class hour, the results of his own research studies. And though many problems were individual in origin, some of them were, of course, related, and lent themselves well to group discussion. It is true the students were less interested in the discussion of each other's investigations than in their own; still, a problem that a fellow student feels vividly is more interesting than one imposed by an instructor. Nearly all work was done independently of both his fellows and the instructor, in so far as the student was able, unaided, to solve his own difficulties.
Most of the systemization of work was done in laboratory conversations between instructor and student. Such correlation was urged throughout the course. Attempt was made to order data as they accumulated. At the end of the course, this systemization was rounded
out in a second outline of the subject the students prepared.
The students almost invariably floundered at first. They had grown so dependent on directions that for a time they could only with difficulty initiate work of their own. Gradually they came to understand what was expected and they became clearer as to what they themselves wanted. And as the course continued the method seemed to them increasingly desirable and successful.
There were difficulties and hindrances in applying the method, of course. Almost all of them came from having to fit it into the regular university system. It couldn't be adopted wholeheartedly because of the regular schedule; and when work was prescribed in all other courses and enforced by examinations, there was a tendency, naturally, to slight a more flexible course.
And it is difficult to persuade a student one is really interested in his opinions when all through his home and school life independent thinking has been discouraged as inconvenient. But probably it is better to save him at the eleventh hour than let his power to think be dammed forever. It certainly seems absurd to dictate all details of work to the undergraduate and expect the graduate student suddenly to manifest originality, initiative and creative power. The method of the little child and the graduate student should not be interrupted by the years of directed mental effort our present school system imposes, should not because it is inefficient, and so fatiguing as to be almost disastrous. It is equally important that the beginnings of a science be taught by the scientific method as that graduate work be so carried on. For the early years in any science should be given largely to discovery and original research, as are the early years of childhood. Thinking and first-hand contact would better come early, else they may never
The difficulty of handling many students in this way is more fancied than real. One can not, of course, believe it possible to know and develop individually as many students as one