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would have meant financial disaster to cut themselves adrift from the grants, by which alone it was possible to keep the science department of the school afloat. Moreover, the improved method of teaching meant more laboratory accommodation, better equipment, smaller classes, and an increased teaching staff.
In 1890, the Local Taxation (Customs and Excise) Act altered the position of affairs. Money was placed in the hands of the County Councils for distribution for purposes of technical instruction. One useful avenue was at once discovered in the assistance of secondary schools under public management for the strengthening of the science side. Liberal grants were made for equipment of laboratories, lecture-rooms, and workshops, and maintenance grants were made to enable the schools to live up to their increased facilities for science teaching by an increased staff, and in many cases a more efficient staff. I believe throughout the country the treatment of secondary schools in this respect has been very generous, and I venture to think no money has been better spent.
In inspecting secondary schools in London in 1892 for the purpose of Mr Llewellyn Smith's report, I was very much impressed with the unsatisfactory nature of the science teaching, especially in connection with experimental science. Young boys were introduced to difficult branches of the subject, and facts the bearing of which was imperfectly understood were committed to memory to meet the exigencies of grant-earning examinations. The recent introduction of courses in experimental science in which the work is almost entirely practical, and includes useful exercises in elementary mensuration, weighings and elementary mechanics, has been attended with the best results. Boys and girls take the greatest possible interest in this work, and when the exercises are arranged in a systematic manner it forms a valuable introduction to other branches of physical science.
In the teaching of chemistry radical changes have also been
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introduced. Qualitative analysis, which has always been the bane of practical chemistry teaching, is now taking its proper position in the courses of instruction in this subject. In badlyequipped laboratories, where thirty or forty boys were taken by one master, it was the only kind of practical work possible. The necessary appliances consisted almost entirely of test tubes and bottles of reagents; and, moreover, grants were awarded on the results of examinations in this subject. A scheme of work including the investigation of bodies, the preparation of gases, etc., and the general introduction of quantitative exercises, is only possible where the laboratory is well equipped, and, which is a matter of the greatest importance, where there is an adequate teaching staff, so that not more than twenty boys do practical work together under one master.
In a few cases there is a tendency to cling to old methods of practical work, but the more rational kind of instruction is rapidly gaining ground, and the teaching in the lecture-room and laboratory is no longer divorced as in the days of qualitative analysis. The science masters and mistresses generally appreciate the change as much as the boys and girls.
The equipment of science lecture-rooms supplied with adequate apparatus has rendered possible the proper illustration of science lectures. Under the old conditions, where an ordinary class-room usually served the purpose, there was a natural tendency to dispense with experiments, their place being taken by diagrams on the blackboard or the descriptions of them in text-books. The appointment of additional science masters has had a marked effect on the improvement in this direction. The preparation of the experiments for a lecture should take as long as the delivery of the lecture itself, and it is imperative that a lecture-room with proper appliances should be set apart for work of this kind, and that the staff should be adequate.
In the county of London, as the result of liberal grants made for the equipment of science lecture-rooms and labora
tories in secondary schools, a very great change has been effected in the practical nature of teaching. To give some idea of the influence so exerted I may perhaps be allowed to give some statistics which were obtained in this connection, following on the award of grants for this purpose.
The improvement indicated in this table has continued to the present time, so that at present there is very little theoretical instruction given in public secondary schools in London which is not definitely associated with suitable practical work.
Here then we see how gladly teachers avail themselves of opportunities of making science instruction more practical, and consequently more rational. In this they have been aided in every possible way by the very enlightened and generous action of the Science and Art Department in connection with what are termed schools of science, in which, so far at any rate as the first and second years' courses of instruction are concerned, great latitude is permitted to the teachers in drawing up schemes of study suitable to their schools, provided they come within the fundamental requirements of the regulations with regard to these schools.
In a syllabus which has been drawn up by a Committee of the Incorporated Association of Head Masters, a very satisfactory and rational scheme of work on elementary science has been produced. In submitting this scheme to teachers the Committee say:
"It is not intended that the teaching should be limited, either to the experiments here given or to the order in which the different subjects are stated. It is hoped that these experiments will be sufficient to indicate the lines on which the teaching should be based, and to assist the teacher in inventing others."
It would be a great misfortune if the teaching became in any way stereotyped, and of this there is always a danger in following a fairly detailed syllabus. There are splendid opportunities, opportunities of which many workers on these lines have already availed themselves for continual research on the part of the teacher in devising other simple and ingenious experiments in illustration of the various points. The great object throughout the course is to let the pupil, as far as possible, find out things for himself, make his own observations, and draw his own conclusions, following on from step to step in a logical order.
Of the value of physical science for the purpose of this training there can be no possible doubt. Writers on education are practically unanimously in favour of it. Mr Holman, in An Introduction to Education, says:
"Physical science subjects are not only of high disciplinary value from the nutritive point of view, but also from the point of view of pure exercise. For in dealing with pure, as opposed to practical and applied science, we have for the most part to do chiefly with the rational elements of experience—with general truths and principles. The mind is constantly exercised in that which is for mind only—the meaning or interpretation of experiences. And the discipline thus obtained is particularly valuable, because it is in such work that the mind gains the power and habit of fully and accurately receiving and responding to stimuli, of judging relations rightly, and of making those universal judgments about phenomena which, when properly expressed, we call laws or principles."
The child as far as possible is to become a discoverer; he
is to have what Pestalozzi called "the sacred right of discovery." We all know what a delight it is to a child to discover how to do things, and what an intense fascination there is in working out problems. The boy to whom the learning of definitions and rules is intolerably irksome, becomes interested directly there is something to work out, something to discover, using these definitions and rules as data. Do not we all remember how we slaved away at the propositions of Euclid, longing for the end of the lesson, but how we would willingly stay up half the night trying to work out interesting problems on them? This is one of the most powerful arguments in favour of this method of science teaching, that under proper conditions the teachers can awaken the greatest interest in the pupil by its means, and this interest should be maintained at all costs. Without it the best teaching is of little avail. The child must do its own part, you cannot do it for him. Teaching a child who is uninterested is like forcing food down the throat of an invalid who has no appetite. The food will do no good, because there will not be the necessary flow of secretions and other adjuncts to the successful carrying on of the digestive processes. This simile may be carried still further. In the case of people suffering from chronic dyspepsia there are certain preparations equivalent to the digestive secretions which are added to the food in order to digest or partly digest it outside the body, and these people are kept alive who otherwise would, and probably ought to, die. The result is, however, that if these processes are carried on for any length of time the secreting glands, having no work to do, degenerate and become functionless.
It is just the same in educational processes: the child must digest the food himself, it must not be digested for him by the teacher. As sure as children are nourished on peptonised information, the powers which ought to be developed and strengthened by its means will degenerate and become functionless, the child will lose all power of originating, all