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IN Tlil-, 


H. E. Ai^^OSS 


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To THE Registrar, 

University of Toronto: 

We beg to report that the thesis of Mr. H. E. Amoss 
on ** Elementary Science in the Secondary Schools of Ontario", 
together with his discussions of the questions set on the 
History of Philosophy and Ethics, the Principles of Psychol- 
ogy and Ethics, the Science of Education, and the History 
and Criticism of Educational Systems, qualify him for the 
Degree of Doctor of Pedagogy. 

(Signed) H. T. J. Coleman. 
W. E. Macpherson. 
W. Pakenham. 
Peter Sandiford. 

To the Senate of the University of Toronto: 

Gentlemen : 

I hereby certify that the thesis above-mentioned has 
been accept^ for the " p^^<Je of Doctor of Pedagogy, and 
that Mr. Ampss has complied with all the regulations in ac- 
cordance With- tH?. Statute. \n that behalf. 

(Signed) James Brebner, 




I. The Place of Elementary Science. 

State schools prepare for citizenship. Citizenship is con- 
cerned with future social activity. State education in corre- 
spondence with social activity is partly general, partly special. 
Elementary science is an essential feature of general education; 
it is in accord with the native interests of the child; it provides a 
training for the activities of ordinary life; it gives the pupil a 
knowledge of his physical environment; it enables him wisely 
to choose a vocation 7 

H. The Scientific Method. 

Method an ordered way of doing anything. Method-habit 
a series of more or less automatic reactions towards a definite 
end, initiated under certain conditions. Method-habits and 
teaching methods. Common elements in methods of scientific 
research and methods of ordinary activity; discovery of 
problems; solution of problems; the inference; the development 
of the inference through just judgments of systematically 
observed experience; probability of conclusions; application to 
practical life. Excess of research methods over ordinary 
methods 17 

III. Methods used in Teaching Science. 

Purpose of the chapter. Problem-finding conditioned by 
primary interests, novel conditions, and self-activity derived 
from confidence. School must solve the pupil's problems. 
Direct transference in scientific matters. Problems of abstrac- 
tion and application. Probable reasoning; the hypothesis; the 
preliminary list; direct transference; indirect transference 
through the study of the method abstracted as an idea. Cri- 
terion of real experience; the laboratory — how it may be over- 
worked and overestimated. Descriptive observation; per- 
ceptual development; systematic forms; end in view; trans- 
ference. Experimental observation; qualitative and quantita- 
tive; methods of agreement, difference, concomitant variation; 
averages; self-activity of the experimenter; transference. Just 
judgment; the use of errors. Solving problems of application 28 

IV. The Subject Matter. 

Selection of material conditioned by the needs of method 
training, the needs of citizenship, the needs of child nature. 
The material must form part of the pupil's ordinary experience. 
The call for a uniform curriculum, the need of method training, 
the requirements of citizenship and of child nature, all demand 
that the syllabus specify general conceptions to be taught, but 
that the choice of concrete material be left to individual 
schools. Applied science and the curriculum; the "transfer- 




ence" of knowledge; general conceptions must be associated 
with the main classes of relevant phenomena. The scientist, 
the citizen, and the educator must take part in the selection of 
material. The science course should not be differentiated into 
special sciences; definition and correlation; abstraction and 
application of general conceptions; school efficiency. Topic 
arrangement; seasons; complexity of methods; concentration 
periods 46 

V. The School and the Course. 

Elementary science not obligatory on all secondary school 
pupils; twenty-five per cent, do not take it; tendency to make 
it compulsory. Present course academic and preparatory to 
higher education; illustrations from botany and zoology 
courses; tendency to readjust the course; consequent con- 
fusion. Changes should be tried out previous to adoption; 
Department is executive, not formative and creative; univer- 
sities should do the research work in education. University 
not executive in state education; increased necessity and 
growth of general education; secondary schools no longer mere 
feeders to the university; matriculation requirements and 
university ideals should not dominate the secondary schools . . 60 

VI. The School and Method Training. 

Methods of teaching science; the teaching of science 
methods. Methods are not specified on the curriculum, hence 
not explicitly taught. The present course too extensive, 
specified in too great detail, and divorced from environment 
of ordinary life. The results of thefee defects on method-ideals 
and method-habits. Problem-finding; the appeal to real 
evidence; descriptive observation; experimental observation; 
the abolition of dictated experiments 70 

Vfl. Some Experimental Lessons. 

Study of buoyancy introduced by a lesson on flotation. 
Establishment of preliminary list of possible causal factors. 
Purging of list by use of method of difference and concomitant 
variation. Generalisation. Informal use of method of agree- 
ment to substantiate the generalisation. Lepson on buoyancy. 
Lesson on practical applications of the principles arrived at. . . . 88 

VIII. The School and the Curriculum. 

Topics in a general course subject should not receive technical 
treatment. The terminology employed should be that used i» 
ordi/iar>' life, and a vernacular nomenclature substituted for 
the present technical system of biological classification. Prin- 
ciples of science as organising centres. An undifferentiated 
course in which the common physical phenomena of life are 


grouped about scientific principles. Essential knowledge that 
does not lend itself to heuristic methods of investigation va 
high schools. Laboratory and library teaching should go 
hand in hand 93 

IX. The Curriculum. 

Knowledge required by citizenship, an inquiry. The 
syllabus. General remarks. Training in methods; problem- 
finding; real evidence; descriptive observation; investigation 
of causal relations; preliminary list; hypothesis; methods of 
difference; agreement; concomitant variation; averages; 
methods of practical application. Subject matter 103 

X. Summary and Conclusions 116 

Bibliography 119 

Index 124 


State schools prepare for citizenship. Citizenship is concerned with future 
social activity. State education in correspondence with social activity is partly 
general, partly special. Elementary science is an essential feature of general 
education; it is in accord with the native interests of the child; it provides a 
training for the activities of ordinary life; it gives the pupil a knowledge of his 
physical environment; it enables him wisely to choose a vocation. 


'^ " "EDUCATION is not a mere development, it is training, 
and training implies an end clearly conceived by the 

In every formal system of education some tendencies in the 
child's nature are carefully fostered, others are either greatly 
modified or entirely arrested. While the school cultivates the 
child's disposition to perform his various tasks neatly and to work 
at each industriously, it also checks his inclinations to do some 
things in a slovenly manner or to neglect his work along certain 
lines. Not only are evil tendencies arrested, but many good ones 
must be restrained. A man becomes a surgeon chiefly because at 
the same time he does not become a lawyer, merchant, farmer or 
mechanic. If development were the end of education, distinction 
among tendencies could not be made. The good and bad would 
be alike cultivated, and specialisation would be impossible. But 
in formal education this distinction is made, development is con- 
trolled. Development, then, can only be a means to an end, not 
the end itself. The real, ultimate end of formal education must be 
that which determines what tendencies in the child's nature are to 
be developed, and to what extent their development shall proceed. 

This determinant of development is not constant, but varies 
with the nature of the school. The schools with which this thesis 
deals are maintained and controlled by the state; their function and 
product must thus be social in character. Since secondary schools 
cannot engage in research work, the only line of social activity open 
to them is the production of good citizens. But good citizenship 

*J. Welton: " Logical Bases of Education", p. 261. 

8 The Place of Elementary Science 

embraces many fields of social activity. While each individual has 
the right to choose his particular sphere of social activity, and to 
develop those tendencies of his nature which will enable him to 
engage successfully therein, it is the right and duty of the state to 
see that those living within its boundaries and enjoying its privi- 
leges are educated in such a way that they may assume state duties 
and receive state benefits. The state should insist upon each 
individual attaining certain minimum requirements of good citizen- 
ship. A civilised state may demand justly that all children in the 
state learn to read and write. The state may set up certain stan- 
dards of proficiency to which physicians, teachers and others 
engaged in special social duties shall attain before practising their 
respective professions. With an increased state solidarity all 
social activities become more special and more important. Since 
the state makes certain demands from the individual, it is the duty 
of the state to provide institutions in which the individual may be 
trained in such a way that he can satisfy these demands 

The question arises, whether good citizenship refers to the 
present social activity of the boy, or to the future social activity 
of the man. The former position places emphasis upon the develop- 
ment aspect of education, the latter upon the social aspect. An 
ideal pupil in an ideal school of an ideal community, given full 
freedom of development, might develop into a good citizen. But 
the present pupil is not ideal, and certain standards have to be set 
up that will enable us to judge which tendencies in his nature should 
be encouraged and which restricted. These standards are derived 
from an examination into the lives of men and women of past and 
present times. Even if we could set up standards of boy and girl 
citizenship, we would have to refer to the adult lives of pupils 
in order to test the correctness of these standards. Otherwise 
these standards of boy and girl citizenship might lead us astray. A 
fruit farmer who leases a peach orchard for twenty years will 
prune the trees quite differently from one who leases an orchard 
for one year only. The ultimate end of education is found in man 
and woman citizenship, though for practical purposes of teaching 
immediate standards that gradually grade up to ultimate standards 
may be used. 

Apart from theoretical considerations, this may be proved 
true by actual tests applied to any school community. I recently 
asked some eighty secondary school pupils whether they would 

The Place of Elementary Science 9 

continue at school if they knew that at the end of six months they 
were going to die. The majority answered in the negative. A few 
thought that they might come, but would not work hard, or would 
study some special subject only. As a rule the parents of these 
pupils told me that their children were being sent to high school 
to fit them for making a living. A few wished their children to 
acquire culture, meaning, I found, that they wished them to become 
ladies and gentlemen. Some of the school supporters, who were 
sending no children, told me that they were glad to see the boys 
and girls "have a chance " ; others thought a good high school a town 
asset; a few were strongly opposed to being taxed for secondary 
school purposes. There is no doubt that at the present time pupils 
are attending high schools, parents are sending them there, and 
ratepayers are supporting these schools with a view to the future 
rather than the present welfare of these pupils. In a democratic 
country social institutions must function in accordance with the 
wishes of those who maintain them. Thus, from both a theoretical 
and a practical point of view, we may conclude that the school is 
given control of the child's present activity that it may prepare 
him for future social activity. 

Social activity for which state schools make preparation is 
either vocational or non -vocational. Society requires the services 
of physicians, engineers, and artisans; and for its own sake, rather 
than the sake of the individual receiving the training, the state 
establishes vocational institutions. Society also sets up certain 
mental, moral, and physical standards of citizenship, to secure 
which non- vocational schools are instituted. While each vocation 
requires a special educational preparation, there are many activities 
common to all occupations. Every occupation demands some 
knowledge of language and mathematics, some conception of the 
physical properties of things, a certain familiarity with human 
nature, and a training in general methods of thought and action. 
Likewise, in every condition of life many non-vocational activities 
are common. Every one must learn to care for his body, and must 
be fitted for the duties of domestic, social, and political life. Since 
certain aspects of both vocational and non-vocational life are 
common to all men, social activity may be divided into that which 
is general and that which is special. In correspondence with 
these divisions, education must be general or special. 

10 The Place of Elementary Science 

The graduate from the medical school takes post-graduate 
courses before he has his profession well in hand. There are many 
degrees of attainment in general as in special education. Some- 
thing more than a knowledge of "Osier" separates the doctor from 
the ditcher; the lawyer must know more than law. A surgeon from 
a country village where he had established a successful practice, 
moved to the city. He found great difficulty in establishing him- 
self there, because, while an excellent practitioner, he was lacking 
in those social qualities that attract and hold the confidence of city 
patients. Thus in the direct exercise of their professions, men of a 
higher calling require a higher form of general education adjusting 
them more perfectly to a wider range of life. They also have 
greater demands made upon their citizenship apart from their 
vocation. They are the social and political leaders in their com- 
munities and to a great extent mould and control public opinion. 
Speaking broadly, the extent of a man's fundamental education 
should increase in proportion to the extent of his special education. 
This means that general education cannot stop at the end of the 
primary school course, but must continue throughout the secondary 
and university systems. 

Is the study of elementary science a feature of general or 
special education? Does it deal with phases of social activity 
forming part of the life of every one who takes a secondary school 
education, or is its usefulness limited to those who specialise in 
science? Our whole treatment of elementary science will depend 
upon whether we consider it an introductory subject in a special 
science course, or whether we consider it a fundamental subject, 
preparing the pupil for those common activities of life in which all 
will engage, no matter what their occupation may be. Not that 
these ends are mutually exclusive. A special course has a certain 
value as a factor in general education, and all special courses must 
evolve from fundamental courses; but the character of the course 
will depend to a great extent upon which aim the emphasis is placed. 

To occupy a place on the general course of a secondary school 
a subject should fulfil four conditions. It must be suited to the 
child's interest and his stage of mental development. It must 
provide a peculiar field of training for methods of thought and 
action of general use in everyday life. It must organise the 
pupil's conceptions of a distinct and important portion of his 
everyday environment. It must be fundamental to the choice and 
study of a special occupation. 

The Place of Elementary Science U 

It may almost be taken for granted that a subject should accord 
with the present interest of the child and wich his stage of mental 
development. If a subject be foreign to the native interest of the 
pupil, a colony of ideas may be planted, indeed, in the mind of the 
child, but since they bear no relation to the dominant tendencies 
of his nature, they will have little influence upon his personality, 
character and actions. Even if it were possible successfully to 
engraft foreign interests, it is not the function of the school to 
make plums grow on apple trees. The function of the school is to 
control and modify the growth of the individual in accordance with 
the requirements of good citizenship; but it has neither the right 
nor duty, even if it had the power, to substitute one individuality 
for another. As far as I know, no one has ever denied that the 
interest of the average boy or girl entering the secondary school 
is, to a fairly large extent, centred upon those topics of physical 
or biological existence dealt with in an elementary science course. 
We may safely assume, then, that this subject fulfils the first 
condition required for a place on the general course of a secondary 

In the second place, is it possible to train the child in methods 
of thought and action of general use in everyday life? Experi- 
ments such as those quoted by W. C. Bagley (The Educative 
Process, chap. XIII) tend to show that a "generalised habit" is a 
psychological absurdity; that all habits are special and do not 
"carry over" or "spread" from one sphere of mental activity to 
another. I do not think that the arguments advanced support so 
sweeping a conclusion. Slovenliness in one's attire associated with 
neatness in one's work (p. 212) may result from the lapse of habit. 
Civil engineers who are well-groomed men at home tell me that, 
when railway building in the north, it requires constant effort to 
keep up the gentlemanly appearance necessary to maintain their 
position and authority over the workmen. The most slovenly 
woman upon my street was a neat, tidy girl three years ago, before 
she married a worthless husband. Many instances of incongruous 
habits existing side by side may be accounted for by partial lapse. 
One can easily account for the industrious school teacher finding 
difficulty in "carrying over" his habit of industry from the class 
room to the wood-pile or hay-field (p. 210, 211) by the mere 
physical exhaustion that rapidly follows new eff^ort and makes it 
distasteful. Even a special habit may be bent or broken under 

12 The Place of Elementary Science 

novel conditions. One of the best spellers in the First Form made 
a miserable showing during the inspector's recent visit. When 
the furnace has gone out on a chilly winter morning, I may omit my 
regular cold shower bath. In many instances the failure of a habit 
to function may be due to the introduction of new conditions that 
tend to retard its activity. It would appear that the author 
considers the opposite of any habit to be merely a negative quantity. 
Such is not the case. A child in a primary school under a good 
English but poor mathematical teacher may form positive habits of 
accuracy in spelling, and equally positive habits of inaccuracy in 
mathematical operations. Incongruous habits existing side by side 
in the same person may represent a battlefield of conflicting ten- 
dencies in which the struggle between two opposite and nearly 
equal forces has not yet been decided. The development of habit 
is in any case a slow process ; and the modification of a formed habit 
through "spread" would be doubly slow, since a habit already 
developed has to be overcome by indirect action. If the author 
would be consistent, he cannot speak of the habit of accurate 
spelling. The spelling of each word is a special, separate habit. 
Many people are good spellers, except when using words containing 
"ei" or "ie"; others stumble over "ee", "ea" and "ede". Thus 
to speak of the habit of accurate spelling is to refer to a "generalised 
habit". The same holds true in regard to accuracy in mathema- 
tical operations. Not only are addition, multiplication, etc., 
special habits, but each addition combination, such as 9+6 = 15, is 
itself a separate habit. Every primary teacher can recall many 
instances of children who seemed to "stick" at certain combinations 
though otlierwise fairly proficient in addition work. Though I 
have taught mathematics for fifteen years, I find that I can add a 
column in which the digit "9" frequently occurs, more rapidly and 
more accurately than if "8's" were substituted for the "9's". 
To speak, then, of a habit of quickness or accuracy in arithmetic 
is to refer to a "generalised habit". 

On the other hand, the complete rejection of the doctrine of 
formal discipline is modified very considerably in the latter part 
of the chapter. Professor O'Shea is quoted with approval as 
expressing the idea "that many lines of activity, diflfering in several 
characteristics, may yet have some characteristics in common. 
If such is the case, training in one may promote efficiency in the 
other . . . The method gained in the observation of plant life will 

The Place of Elementary Science 13 

be of assistance in observing human life."* This implies two 
things. If the material conditions of one line of activity are iden- 
tical in some respects with the material conditions of another line of 
activity, habit will tend to "carry over". The child will benefit 
materially when he comes to learn the subtraction combinations, 
9-6 = 3, if he has previously learned the addition combination, 
6+3 = 9. Common general methods may also ''carry over" from 
one subject to another. This term some members of my matricula- 
tion class who take the science option, on their own initiative 
adopted experimental methods of finding the key to the solution 
of problems in geometry dealing with loci or proportion, by using 
concrete positions or numbers. Those taking the moderns option 
I have never known to use this method unless it were pointed out; 
I invariably find them "turning back" to find the "rule". 

Later on in the chapter we find the following: "The doctrine of 
formal discipline assumed that the mastery of a certain subject gave 
one an increased power to master other subjects. It is clear that 
there is a certain amount of truth in this statement, provided that 
we understand very clearly that this increased power must always 
take the form of an ideal that will function as judgment and not 
of an unconscious predisposition that will function as habit ".f 
Or to put the case concretely, from the habit of being neat in one's 
attire may be derived an abstract idea of the general value of neat- 
ness, which idea will tend to modify habits in other directions. 
We may also note that in the cases of common material and com- 
mon method, mentioned above, it is essential that the student 
recognise the possibility of applying the method under new con- 
ditions. All my science students did not of their own accord adopt 
experimental methods in the solution of the geometrical deductions. 
Many failed to see that an experimental method of solution was 
applicable. Since this recognition is an act of judgment, the 
"carry over" even in this case is not directly from habit to habit. 

Space will not permit of a more prolonged discussion of the 
doctrine of formal discipline. The position adopted as a basis for 
the present work may be summarised as follows. All habits 
originate as specific reactions; hence all habits must be specially 
taught, and general habits as such cannot be taught. Muscular 

♦W. C. Bagley: "The Educative Process", p. 209. 
tW. C. Bagley: "The Educative Process", p. 216. 

14 The Place of Elementary Science 

habits functioning in a similar manner the same bodily parts may 
"carry over" directly. Grace in dancing tends to promote grace 
in walking. Mental habits will not "spread" directly; but if either 
the material used or the method employed in one line of activity be 
recognised as available in another line, the training received in the 
former may be "carried over" to the latter by means of a recogni- 
tion idea. Abstract ideas of the value of certain lines of action 
may be evolved from one or more habits, and serve to modify other 

Does elementary science provide a peculiar field of training for 
the development of mental habits, which by means of ideas may 
be "carried over" to the activities of ordinary life? We may note 
at once that the so-called general faculties, such as observation, 
cannot be developed at all, much less "carried over". But an idea 
of the value of drawing conclusions from real data, of careful 
observation, of exact work, of just judgment, things so essential 
in the study of science, may be abstracted and become so prominent 
in consciousness that it will react upon the habits of everyday life. 
In the study of science as in no other study are taught general 
methods of collecting, analysing, and classifying facts, general 
methods of testing inductions by means of experiments, in short, 
general methods of obtaining exact truths from experience. These 
same methods are applicable to the affairs of everyday life, if the 
pupil be taught to recognise the possibility of their application. 
" Every child ought to get a glimpse of the real mode of ascertaining 
truth in this world; ought to know how truth has, as a matter of 
fact, been come at in all the modern sciences, pure and applied . . . 
every child ought to learn what the scientific process of study and 
inquiry is, so that in after life when he is an adult, he shall know 
how to apply or how to get applied, in his own sphere or province, 
that invaluable method."* 

Does the study of elementary science organise the pupil's con- 
ception of a distinct and important portion of his everyday en- 
vironment? The life of every man is more or less concerned with 
physical and biological phenomena. Many vocations require a 
general knowledge of scientific conceptions, beyond what is given 
in the special training for those vocations. The lawyer handles 
cases in which scientific ideas are involved; the merchant and 

♦C. W. Eliot: "The Concrete and Practical", p. 27. 

The Place of Elementary Science 15 

manufacturer must understand the nature and preparation of the 
goods they handle; the minister should be acquainted with the 
tendencies of scientific thought. In non-vocational activities, 
every one should know how to care for his body, should be ac- 
quainted with the principles of domestic science and sanitation. 
The recreations of many are concerned with scientific things, nature 
study, gardening, the operation of motor machinery. Elementary 
science is the only subject in the lower school that attempts to 
prepare the pupil for this phase of his adult life. 

A man's life is centred about his vocation. Every one should be 
in a position wisely to choose his calling. To do this he must have 
"tried out" in a general way at least, his ability along certain 
directions. He should find out whether he is a square peg before 
he tries the round hole. If he excels in English but is deficient in 
mathematics, the platform, bar, pupil or pen, according to the 
particular line of his talent, affords a more certain avenue to success 
than civil engineering. The incidental, rather than the funda- 
mental features of a vocation so often determine a boy's choice. I 
remember a former student who wished to be a civil engineer 
because he liked "wild life", though he had never camped beyond 
his father's lawn, and made at least one blunder in every mathema- 
tical problem he attempted to solve. A failure in algebra and 
geometry at the matriculation examination caused him to take a 
more serious view of things; while a summer up north, fire-ranging, 
cooled his ardour for "wild life". The majority of men in Canada 
are engaged in vocations of a more of less scientific character. 
Hence it is essential that every one should be sufficiently familiar 
with the general aspects of science study to enable him to know 
himself and his possibilities in relation to these fields of activity. 

"While scientific investigation is for the few and therefore 
special . . . nature study is for every one and therefore funda- 
mental".* Elementary science should appear on the general 
course of the lower, secondary school curriculum, since it is F)ecu- 
liarly suited to the native interests of the child ; supplies a necessary 
and particular training in methods of mental action which may be 
"carried over" to the activities of ordinary life; organises an 
important sphere of human experience and preconditions the wise 
choice of a vocation. " No boy or girl should leave school without 

•L. H. Bailey: "The Nature Study Idea", p. 140. 

16 The Place of Elementary Science 

possessing a grasp of the general character of science and without 
having been disciplined more or less in the methods of all sciences; 
so that, when turned into the world to make their own way, they 
shall be prepared to face scientific problems, not by knowing at 
once the conditions of every problem, or by being able at once to 
solve it ; but by being familiar with the general current of scientific 
thought, and by being able to apply the methods of science in the 
proper way, when they have acquainted themselves with the con- 
ditions of special problems."* 

*T. H. Huxley: "Lay Sermons?', p. 54. 


Method an ordered way of doing anything. Method-habit a series of more 
or less automatic reactions towards a definite end, initiated under certain con- 
ditions. Method-habits and teaching methods. Common elements in methods 
of scientific research and methods of ordinary activity; discovery of problems; 
solution of problems; the inference; the development of the inference through 
just judgment of systematically observed experience; probability of conclusions; 
application to practical life. Excess of research methods over ordinary methods. 

WHEN a housewife bakes a new kind of cake she follows 
a certain method as outlined in the recipe; the in- 
gredients are prepared, mixed and baked in a certain, 
definite way. The next time she tries, the plan at first pursued 
may be modified somewhat. When a cake is produced that 
exactly suits the taste of the household, she soon becomes so 
familiar with the recipe, or modified recipe, that she does not need 
to refer to the cook-book. Now whether she follows the cook-book, 
or her memory, or her judgment, the plan pursued may be termed 
the method of making the cake. Method is an ordered way of 
doing anything. 

In making his morning toilet a man goes through a regular 
routine of action. He may brush his teeth before he shaves, and 
shave before he takes a cold shower. The relations among these 
actions are apparently fortuitous. There is no reason why he 
should not, like many men, take the cold shower before he shaves. 
But the sequence of actions has been repeated so frequently, that 
the completion of one action seems to initiate the following one, 
forming a series of nearly automatic reactions. In a strange house 
or under unusual conditions in his own home, this routine may be 
disturbed, but the tendency to reinstate itself under favouring 
circumstances remains. When a boy in the higher form tries a 
constructive problem in geometry he first makes a sketch of the 
completed figure; from this sketch he ascertains the geometrical 
relations that would exist among the various parts of the construc- 


18 The Scientific Method 


tion if finished ; finally, he combines the newly discovered data with 
the data originally given him, reconstructing the required figure. 
No matter what the details of the problem may be, the boy has a 
"fixed" way of doing constructive deductions. The relations 
between "sketching", "data searching" and "reconstructing" are 
highly rational and persist for a long time as "initiating ideas". 
Indeed after studying and teaching geometry for twenty years, I 
find, when working at a constructive deduction, the initiating idea, 
"sketch the figure " frequently coming into consciousness in the form 
of a command ; though I think the process of searching for data and 
of reconstructing the figure are automatically sequent. In solving 
a quadratic equation, whether the factoring, the perfect square, or 
the formula method be used, a certain routine of action is followed. 
In the beginning, each step in the sequence originated in a distinct 
idea; but with practice, the ideas controlling each step gradually 
disappear from consciousness; finally the completion of each step 
serves as a sufficient stimulus to initiate the following. Indeed, 
I frequently find pupils, while solving an equation rapidly and 
correctly, have completely forgotten the reason why certain steps 
are to be taken. After teaching the same lesson at school year after 
year, I find there is a serious danger that my plan of teaching may 
become so fixed as to form a kind of segregated habit, existing apart 
from and uninfluenced by any new conceptions of education I may 

In each of the above specimens of experience there is a succession 
of actions forming a more or less fixed series, a definite purpose in 
view, and a more or less constant set of circumstances. A series of 
mental reactions toward a definite end, which, when initiated in 
response to certain combinations of conditions, tends automatically 
to complete itself, I purpose calling a "method-habit". 

Since the constant employment by the pupil of any general 
method results in the formation of a method-habit, and since formal 
educacion is a training for future social activity, then the way the 
child thinks and acts in the schoolroom should correspond closely 
with the way the adult ought to think and act in the outside world. 
The method-habits formed in the school should be the method- 
habits that can be and are used in everyday life. In Chapter I 
it was pointed out that method-habits acquired in the schoolroom 
could be " carried-over " to the affairs of ordinary life, if (1) the 
material conditions were the same in each case, (2) the individual 

The Scientific Method 19 

recognises the applicability of the method-habit to new conditions, 
(3) ideals of action developed in one sphere of activity are recognised 
as true and valuable ideals of action in a different sphere. Teaching 
method, then, has three functions. It must develop in the child's 
mind those method-habits which he will find useful and necessary 
in ordinary life. Since method-habits are developed specifically, 
as special reaction series responsive to particular combinations of 
conditions, the second function of teaching method will be the 
relation of each specific method-habit to other important spheres 
of activity in which it may be used with advantage. And the third 
function of teaching method will be to render clear and explicit the 
value of those ideals of action strikingly exemplified in the study 
of any subject, and to give the pupil a conception of their value 
relative to other phases of conduct. 

Since we are here treating scientific method in relation to the 
teaching of elementary science, which is a general course, secondary 
school subject, we must first discover the method-habits common 
to the study of science and to the activities of ordinary life. When 
the material conditions of each are the same, the methods of scien- 
tific research are directly transferable to the activities of practical 
life. For instance, I am trying to make some window boxes in such 
a fashion that the plants may receive moisture from water rising 
through the soil, instead of being watered from above, and I find 
myself adopting much the same line of experimental study that I 
pursue in the school laboratory. But when we come to consider 
cases in which the material conditions of practical activity are 
quite different from the material conditions of research work, 
those method-habits which may be transferred through the 
"recognition idea" are much more difficult to discover. Yet 
when we consider that research methods are just refined forms 
of common sense from which they were developed, we cannot 
doubt the presence of common elements in each. "There is no 
difference of kind between the methods of science and those of 
the plain man. The difference is the greater control in science 
of the statement of the problem, and of the selection and use 
of relevant material, both sensible and ideational. The two 
are related to each other, just as the hit-or-miss, trial-and-error 
inventions of uncivilised man stand to the deliberately and 
consecutively persistent efforts of a modern inventor to produce a 
certain complicated device for doing a comprehensive piece of 

^ The Scientific Method 

work."* There are many general modes of mental action con- 
stantly, though imperfectly, used in the activities of ordinary life, 
which find their highest perfection in the work of scientific research. 
"As to the sciences which are not to be investigated deductively, 
but depend on experience, observation and a generalisation from a 
multitude of phenomena . . . the mode of attaining truth in these 
matters corresponds more nearly than any other to the mode by 
which right general opinions are formed about all the principal 
subjects which for the purpose of practical life it behooves us to 

But complete preparation for ordinary life cannot be attained 
through the study of science alone, and it is equally evident that 
many methods used in scientific research reach beyond the require- 
ments of ordinary life. Research work is a special study prepara- 
tory to a special vocation; elementary science is a fundamental 
study preparatory to general life. To arrive at those method- 
habits common to each, we may superimpose the methods of 
research on modes of mental action found in ordinary life, retaining 
what is common to both and neglecting the excess in each. 

Many comparisons should be made. A brief one is here given to 
illustrate the process. Two actual events are cited, though two 
ideal occurrences might have served the mere purpose of illustration 
better. The first is a statement of the manner in which a simple 
scientific discovery was made, through methods of research. The 
second gives a brief account of an ordinary commercial transaction. 
The latter was chosen for the reason that twenty-three per cent, 
of our secondary school pupils leave school to enter business, and 
many of the others enter a commercial career later in life ; at some 
time or other during their adult life, all high school pupils will 
engage in some business transactions. While modern business life 
is not a realm of economic ideals, it is a field of activity in which 
every high school pupil will to a greater or less extent engage. If 
"the school must fit the individual . . . not for a remote Utopian 
future, but for the immediate future, the requirements of which can 
be predicted with reasonable certainty", J it would appear that an 
investigation into the method-habits found in this wide field of 

*J. Dewey: "Studies in Logical Theory", p. 9. 
tJ. G. Fitch: "Lectures on Teaching", p. 49. 
JW. C. Bagley: "The Educative Process", p. 65. 

The Scientific Method 21 

ordinary activity, in order to discover the extent of their identity 
with the methods pursued in research work, would be well worth our 

"Brewster accidentally took an impression from a piece of 
mother-of-pearl in a cement of resin and bees-wax, and finding the 
colours repeated upon the surface of the wax, he proceeded to take 
other impressions in balsam, fusible metal, lead, gum arabic, 
isinglass, etc., and always found the iridescent colours the same. 
He thus proved that the chemical nature of the substance is a matter 
of indifference, and that the form of the surface is the real condition 
of such colours."* 

This afternoon, my landlord, a shrewd merchant, explained to 

me how he acquired the house in which I live. " W and I were 

walking past the site for the new post-office recently purchased 

from C at a good figure by the government. W said: " I 

wonder what C is going to do with the house on it?" That 

set me thinking. My lot at home ran across the block to the other 

street, and the back half was of no value to me. I knew C 

would sell "cheap" because he got his "price" from the government 

and had to remove the building immediately. M , X , 

Y , and Z (lumber dealer, mason, carpenter, and teamster), 

owed me big store bills. I looked over the house and found it in 

good shape. C was glad to get it off his hands at any price. 

I made the deal, cleaned up those bills, and am making mighty 
good interest on my money, renting it to you." 

What common method-habits or method ideals are disclosed 
h\ the comparison? 

W overlooked and my landlord, J , discovered a business 

opportunity. And this ability to see business chances is character- 
istic of J . As a member of the town council, of the school board, 

and of the water commission, he has been responsible for many 
departures from the old routine methods of conducting affairs. 
Dozens of people before Brewster must have noticed impressions 
from mother-of-p)earl, but failed to see the scientific problem in- 
volved. Brewster found and solved many other problems in 
physics. Biographical history proves that the great men of science 
were all problem-finders; and ability to see opportunities is the 
striking characteristic of men of affairs. On the other hand it will 

*W. S. Jevons: "Principles of Science", p. 419. See "Treatise on Optics" 
(Brewster), p. 117. 

22 The Scientific Method 

be a long time before J is confronted with the problem of 

extending foreign missions in China; and I expect the question of 
next year's fashions did not seriously disturb Brewster. Neither 
the research worker nor the business man is possessed of a 
general problem-finding faculty; but each has the habit of looking 
into and discovering problems in relation to those things in which 
each is interested. The first common characteristic disclosed by 
this comparison is the problem-finding tendency in connection 
with attention absorbing activities, possessed alike by the scientist 
and the successful man of affairs. In ancient philosophy it was 
called "wonder"; in modern psychology we speak of it as 
"curiosity"; in the business world it is termed "wide-awakeness". 

Both J and Brewster solved the problem they had found, 

and the general method pursued in solving it was much the same in 

both cases. When J first looked over the house, he formed a 

hasty idea of its value as an investment. When Brewster first 
noticed the impression accidently taken, he formed the hypothesis 
that the iridescence was due to physical rather than chemical 
causes. Each proceeded to test the probability of his inference by 
referring it to other experiences, confirming, denying, or modifying 

his hypothesis as he proceeded. The work in which J was 

engaged was complex, demanded an immediate decision, and re- 
quired only an approximately correct conclusion. Time was not 
an element to be considered in the research work in which Brewster 
was engaged, which, though simple in character, was of fundamental 
primary importance, since many other actions would be based upon 
the results obtained. The conclusion of Brewster had to be so 
probable that it would be practically a certainty. Hence his tests 
were more accurately applied, were more technical in character, 
and approached the question from every point of view. Both the 
scientist and the business man solve problems by the same general 
method-habit of subjecting inferences to the test of experience, 
modifying them in accordance with the results obtained until a 
conclusion is reached sufficiently probable to receive the credence 
necessary to its importance in relation to human action. 

This general method-habit embodies special method-habits and 

method-ideals. J tested his inference through investigation of 

actual conditions. An inefficient business man would have acted 
on partial evidence, hearsay evidence, or no evidence at all. Brew- 
ster also appeals to real experience for data. Here we find a 

The Scientific Method 23 

common method-ideal, that truth must be tested by the touchstone 
of real experience. 

But the virtue of this touchstone lies not altogether in itself, 
but depends a great deal upon the way it is handled. Not only did 

J refer to real evidence, but considerable skill was required to 

obtain and investigate that evidence. A certain methodical 
procedure was necessary in evaluating all the parts of the house and 
in estimating the cost of moving, locating, and renovating it. 
He had to know how and where to get evidence on each of these 
points ; had to follow a systematic scheme in checking that evidence; 
had to discriminate among conflicting testimonies and to sum up 
the relative importance of each bit of evidence in relation to the 
whole plan. Brewster selected his evidence more cautiously and 
sifted it more skilfully. He subpoenaed witnesses from all depart- 
ments of experience. Had he tested resins alone, the colour might 
have been due to some peculiar chemical property of hydro-carbons. 
He pursued technical methods of testing the evidence offered in 
order systematically to eliminate all possible sources of error. Both 
the scientist and the man of affairs possess method-habits in the 
way of collecting and investigating real evidence; both are trained 
observers, though the scientist exhibits a higher type of training. 
This does not mean that in either a general faculty of observation 

has been developed. The other day I was walking with J 

through the woods, and I do not think he so much as even noticed 
the spring flowers. A trained observer is one who has acquired 
definite ways of making inquiry in certain departments of thought 
and action in which he is interested. 

Though he does not habitually use these methods in other 
departments, yet in case of need he can use them. For instance, 
I have no direct interest in millinery, while my wife is somewhat of 
an expert. We both undertook to write out a description of a 
certain hat. I was unable to appreciate and distinguish colours 
as well as my wife, and my vocabulary was lacking in technical 
terms; but in all else she agreed that the description I wrote was 
fuller and more accurate than her own. From teaching science a 
number of years I had acquired a method-habit of proceeding from 
whole to parts, of searching for relations between part and whole 
and between part and part. On the other hand, my wife's des- 
cription of the hat was a collection of more or less unrelated state- 
ments of facts. The first might be called a subordinating process 

24 The Scientific Method 

of observing, the second a co-ordinating process. Partly as a 
result of systematic method and partly from the idea I had learned 
in the laboratory of the importance of small things, my description 
contained a greater wealth of detail. Finally I was able to intro- 
duce and use mathematical conceptions in making my description 
more accurate. Now the next time my wife asks me to tell her 
about a hat some lady was wearing, I do not suppose I shall be able 
to remember whether the lady wore a hat or not. Nevertheless, 
I can "carry over" certain method-habits of observation from the 
laboratory to other fields in which for the time I am interested. 

In the observing process there are several method-ideals such as 
accuracy, neatness, etc., whose value can and should be made 
explicit in the mind of the pupil. But among these there is one 
method-ideal pre-eminently distinctive of science study. When 
Brewster took an impression with lead, he did not say: "A metal 
cast reproduces the iridescence", but "a lead cast reproduces the 

iridescence". In the same way, when J estimated the cost 

of repapering a room, he did not say: "This room can be done for 
ten dollars". He thought: "This room will require so many double 
rolls at such a price, and the cost of putting it on will be so much ". 
In both cases each portion of evidence was justly judged. The 
judgments neither exceeded nor fell short of the facts submitted 
nor were they influenced by personal bias. 

Now if Brewster, like J , had put his conclusion to some 

practical use, say manufactured artificial mother-of-pearl, the 
comparison would have been complete. In this age of specialists, 
we have students of pure science whose business it is to discover and 
establish the laws of nature, and students of applied science who 
discover some way of using these principles in practical life. I do 
not mean to say that one who practises an art based upon scientific 
principles is a scientist. One would scarcely call a civil engineer a 
scientist, just because he graduates from a school of applied science 
where he learns to practise certain arts resting upon a scientific 
foundation. But one would call that civil engineer a scientist who 
introduced the parabolic curve to do away with the "grind and 
shock " of the circular curve in railway construction. Sir Humphry 
Davy was as much a research worker when he invented the safety- 
lamp as when he .announced his discovery of the complex com- 
position of potash. Edison is essentially a worker in scientific 
research. "The 'pure' scientist is prone to regard industry and 

The Scientific Method 25 

' applied ' science after the manner of the Greeks — namely, as unfit 
occupations for a gentleman and a scholar. According to the 
academic creed, research which has no immediate practical applica- 
tion is the 'academic ideal' of pure science while the 'mighty 
dollar' — the manifest goal of industry and applied science — is but 
a degraded ideal of the market place. If industry meets human 
physical and mental needs by physical means only, while science 
forms theories and laws to satisfy the intellectual feelings of wonder, 
is not this again a difference of degree rather than of kind, since 
both are engaged in manipulating material things and creating 
forms to satisfy human needs?"* The representative scientist 
would be he who in one continuous process first abstracted the 
general conception from the concrete manifestations and then re- 
embodied it in new concrete forms. 

Both the business man and the scientist apply general principles 
to the solution of practical problems. The method-habit used in 
doing this is almost the reverse of that used in the discovery of the 
principle. A study of the data supplied by the problem must 
suggest some known general conception which may be used in 
solving it. Then comes che process of adjusting the principle in 
relation to details of concrete experience. In the various discoveries 
connected with electric lighting, the general conception suggested 
by the nature of the problem was that the heating power of an 
electric current varies directly with the resistance of the conductor. 
This principle had to be adjusted to conditions of cost, safety, 
simplicity of operation, etc. The general conception arising from 

the nature of J 's problem was that the cost of renovating the 

house must be proportionate to the rental value. Thus, the plumb- 
ing must be installed in such a way that it would be satisfactory to a 
tenant, and yet the cost must be so limited that its proportion to 
the increased rental value resulting from plumbing the house, did 
not exceed the standard ratio. 

By this process of superposition we find that there are certain 
method-habits and method-ideals common to research work and 
business activity. In each case there is a problem-finding ideal. 
Then there are general method-habits of solving problems both 
abstract and concrete, theoretical and practical. There are the 
more specific method-ideals of appealing to real experience and of 

♦C. R. Mann: "The Teaching of Physics", p. 123-125. 

26 The Scientific Method 

passing just judgments, and the more specific method-habits of 
making observations and of testing inferences. On the other hand 
this process of superposition reveals the fact that in many respects 
the methods of research exceed the methods of ordinary life. 

"In the ordinary affairs of life we are contented with hypotheses 
which fairly cover the facts, without demanding proof that they do 
so exactly."* The extreme caution, so commendable in the 
scientist, would frequently prove ruinous to the man of affairs who, 
forced to decision and action within a time limit, must be satisfied 
with approximate results and conclusions that are reasonably 
probable. If a man starts out to walk a mile before he breakfasts, 
a few rods more or less than a mile is a matter of no importance; 
if a man builds a racecourse, he will have to measure the mile much 
more exactly ; while an engineer laying out an astronomical base line 
will have to determine the distance with all the accuracy that 
human ingenuity, with the assistance of delicately constructed 
apparatus, will permit. Since the results obtained by the research 
worker are accepted as true and acted upon by a great many other 
workers in various fields of action, these conclusions must be made 
so probable that our intelligence may regard them as certain. 
Consequently the research worker is forced to use special methods. 
In the first place, he consciously employs general, technical methods 
of testing inferences — method of agreement, method of difference, 
method of concomitant variation, etc. In the second place, he 
must select and test data from all classes of phenomena relative 
to the subject in hand. In the third place, when making each test 
he must use the greatest caution and skill in eliminating all possible 
sources of error. 

Now it is a very difficult matter to decide just where the line 
between general and special method-habits is to be drawn. In the 
office of a large store, the sales manager, the chief buyer, the head 
of the mail order department use methods in the study of their 
particular work which much more nearly approximate the methods 
of scientific research than the ways used by the country merchant 
in conducting his business. In fact we frequently hear the expres- 
sion: "Big business is run along scientific lines now-a-days". 
Modern competition is forcing men in all departments of life either 
to adopt scientific methods of "getting and keeping their affairs 

*J. Welton: "The Logical Bases of Education", p. 206. 

The Scientific Method 27 

in hand" or to go out of business. It would appear that no strict 
line of demarcation can be drawn between the special methods of 
scientific research and the general methods of ordinary activity; 
and this is just what one would expect from our previously drawn 
conclusion that the scientist is but a specialised social worker. Just 
as a rudimentary knowledge of mathematics will be sufficient for 
the man of small affairs, so an ability to use in a general way the 
method-habits and method-ideals of research will suffice the 
ordinary citizens. But just as big business requires the use of more 
special mathematical knowledge in the direction of its affairs, it 
likewise demands the application of the more special methods of 
scientific research. 


Purpose of the chapter. Problem finding conditioned by primary interests, 
novel conditions, and self activity derived from confidence. School must solve 
the pupils' problems; direct transference in scientific matters. Problems of 
abstraction and application. Probable reasoning ; the hypothesis ; the preliminary 
list; direct transference; indirect transference through the study of the method 
abstracted as an idea. Criterion of real experience; the laboratory — how it 
may be overworked and overestimated. Descriptive observation; perceptual 
development; systematic forms; end in view; transference. Experimental 
observation; qualitative and quantitative; methods of agreement, difference, 
concomitant variation averages, self activity of the experimenter; transference. 
Just judgment; the use of errors. Solving problems of application. 

IN Chapter II certain characteristic method-habits and method- 
ideals were found common to the work of scientific research 
and the activities of everyday life. It will be the business 
of this chapter to discover how these may best be developed in the 
mind of the pupil. In the same chapter it was shown that methods 
used in certain activities of ordinary life more nearly approach the 
methods of scientific research than those used in other activities. 
It will be our endeavour to decide to what extent the methods of 
scientific research should be developed in the elementary science 
class. In Chapter I it was concluded that method-ideals and 
method-habits developed in the study of science could be "carried 
over" to the affairs of practical life through "recognition ideas". 
It will be our concern to determine in whac way "recognition id( as" 
may be established in each case so that school work methods may 
be related to life work. Possibly the most satisfactory way of 
attacking these three problems will be to examine each common 
method-ideal and method-habit in turn from each of these three 

In dealing with problem-finding ability we are concerned with 
problems of new adjustment. A merchant finds many problems in 
connection with his business, or a woman in connection with house- 
work; but the merchant finds very few in connection with house- 


Methods Used in Teaching 29 

work, or his wife in connection with business. Problem-finding 
arises from interest — not interest that is slight or transient, but 
interest that forms a large continuous body. Such I propose calling 
primary interests. In the case of the child, they will refer largely 
to his out-of -school interests. Life has been defined as a continuous 
process of adjustment; since finding problems is simply finding 
new ways of adjusting oneself, the problem-finding tendency is a 
natural characteristic of conscious life. But life also tends towards 
a state of moving equilibrium wherein a man becomes adjusted to an 
environment which remains comparatively constant from day to 
day. The child is an incessant problem-finder, because each 
day he is confronted by new conditions; the average elderly man 
finds few problems, because he is already adapted to the conditions 
that each day brings forth. Problem-finding, then, depends upon 
primary interests being brought in contact with new conditions. 
On the other hand, many wonderful discoveries in science have been 
made by comparatively old men ; some business men are branching 
out in new directions, while others jog along the same old way. Why 
do some retain their ambition, their powers of initiative, their 
youthful tendencies towards continuous readjustment which others 
rapidly lose? Various accessory causes might be noted, but the 
primary cause in nearly every case is this — that, urged by necessity 
or prompted by favourable opportunity, they have attempted and 
successfully solved problems, thus creating an appetite for new 
ventures. This spirit of aggressive confidence resulting from 
successful effort, causes the native interests, on being confronted 
by novel conditions, to reach out and adjust themselves to those 
conditions. To develop the boy's problem-finding ability in the 
elementary science classes, these three conditions must be main- 
tained. In every lesson the boy's native interest must be brought 
in contact with new conditions in such a way that the natural 
tendencies towards self adjustment to those conditions may be 
given free scope. 

Every science lesson must be founded on interests already in 
the child's mind. Teaching in a northern lumbering town, I found 
the lessons dealing with insects injurious to orchards very dry 
affairs; but my present class, the parents of whom are engaged for 
the most part in fruit growing, bring up so many problems that I 
can scarcely get away from these lessons. To stimulate self- 
activity among the child's interests and at the same time to main- 

30 Methods Used in Teaching 

tain and develop the continuity of these interests, each lesson should 
provide means of solving problems already in the mind of the 
student. The pupil must bring problems to the class, instead of the 
class or teacher giving problems to the student. The best way of 
encouraging him to find problems is to give him a chance of solving 
them. The student who finds the laboratory a place in which he 
can settle questions that have been "bothering" him will not be 
slow in bringing grist to the mill. But if he has to spend all his 
time grinding at someone else's wheat, he will soon learn to leave his 
own waggon at home. 

In an ideal school a boy might be allowed to solve problems 
as they came to him. But under our present class system of teach- 
ing it would be impossible to have each member of the laboratory 
class working along distinct and separate lines, each solving his own 
special problems. Moreover, the socialising influence of school life 
would then be lost, and though the boy might become a scientific 
genius, he would scarcely become a good citizen. The pupil soon 
learns that the laboratory is a community in which, if he aid others 
in solving their problems, they in turn will aid him. Nothing will 
"key up" a boy's aggressive confidence in his ability to discover 
real problems so much as having an entire class working at some 
question which he himself has propounded. At the same time 
nothing outside the play-ground will so tend to develop within him 
the social community spirit. 

But if the class is to work as a class they must move along 
some definite direction. Their work must be continuous. They 
cannot first solve some pupil's problem in botany and then another's 
in electricity. There must be a clearly defined programme of work, 
so closely articulated that the class can move from point to point 
through their own efforts. But the programme will be for the 
teacher, not for the pupil, and must be merely a programme in 
outline, not in detail. It will be the duty of the teacher, keeping 
this programme of general progress clearly in view, to herd the 
interests of his pupils, tactfully to keep the wanderers from straying 
off; but to do so in such a way that the pupils appear to travel 
forward of their own volition. This he can readily do through his 
right of selecting problems for class solution. Irrelevant questions 
he can quietly shelve for future reference, or better still, refer them 
back to their originator for outside solution. And this is just the 
method used in ordinary social life. In the church, the council, 

Methods Used in Teaching 31 

or the factory there is an executive head who determines the 
general policy of development. Problems arising out of the puisuit 
of this policy, while generally propounded by individuals associated 
with the business, are discussed and solved by the whole body or its 

This problem-finding tendency may be directly transferred 
from the laboratory to the affairs of ordinary life in so far as the 
latter are concerned with scientific matters. Bodies of primary 
interest relative to the pupil's future physical environment have 
been developed in the school. The activities of everyday life will 
bring these bodies in contact with new conditions. And a training 
in problem-solving as suggested above will give the pupil such 
confidence in his ability to solve problems that he will seek rather 
than avoid them. If the school all along has been encouraging 
the pupil to find and study problems from real life, since the 
conditions for discovery remain the same, the child will, on gradua- 
tion, merely continue his school habit in this direction. But when 
the high school graduate comes to cast his first vote, it is very 
doubtful whether his training in science will prompt his political 
interests to original investigation. He will probably accept the 
political problems as propounded by the newspapers, though these 
may not be the real issues at all. The habit of finding problems 
is so closely bound up with special interests that it would seem very 
difficult to abstract it from these interests to form a method-ideal 
that will react on other interests. It would seem that the habit 
must be developed specifically in relation to each special interest. 

The pupil must be trained in method-ideals and method-habits 
of solving problems. As seen in Chapter II, problems in science 
may be of two types, those concerned with the abstraction of 
general ideas, and those dealing with the application of general 
ideas to the practical affairs of life. First we will consider methods 
of solving problems of abstraction. **The reasoning we have to 
depend on in the natural sciences and in the daily conduct of life 
is almost all probable and not demonstrative reasoning."* 
In probable reasoning, as the result of some experience, a hypothesis 
is first formed; this is then tested by relating it to various other 
experiences along the same line, until either unaltered or in a 
modified form its credibility is sufficiently established for the 

♦Eliot: "The Concrete and Practical", p. 26. 

8!^ Methods Used in Teaching. 

purpose at hand. If that purpose is of great importance the tests 
applied will be severe, if of less importance less severe. 

It is evident that this process will proceed much more satis- 
factorily if the first guess comes near the mark, or at least contains 
the truth. Hence it should be something more than a mere guess. 
In fact what we might call the preliminary hypothesis should be 
made only after the conditions of the problem have been subjected 
to careful scrutiny and should be little more than a summary of 
possible explanations. Suppose a student is beginning the study of 
"pitch". He would first draw up a list of all the possible causes 
of pitch. Pitch might depend upon the size of the vibrating object, 
the force with which it is struck, the vibration frequency, the nature 
of the conducting medium, etc. By thus " rounding up " all possible 
causal factors, the true one is certain to be included, and may be 
arrived at by eliminating the false ones. The value of this method 
would be still more apparent in a case where several causal factors 
were at work, one or more of which might otherwise escape notice. 
And here we are only systematising the more or less loose methods of 
ordinary thinking. When the engine in the motor-boat "dies", the 
boatman thinks: " It may be the batteries or the gasoline flow that 
has gone wrong". Only, if new at the business, he is likely to 
think of and test each possible cause at a time, doing a lot of fooling 
with the induction coil, when the real difficulty may be due to a bit 
of dirt in the feed. A trained engineer, having all likely causes in 
mind, would rapidly test each in turn, quickly and surely "running- 
down" the real one. 

In the practical teaching of elementary science this preliminary 
list can be rapidly drawn up as a class exercise. From three to five 
minutes will suffice, if the majority of the class are interested in the 
problem. However, in the study of some topics, such as Pascal's 
P.rinciple, I have found it almost impossible to get the class to com- 
pile a preliminary list. The pupils brought no problems dealing 
with this topic to school, and had no body of primary interest 
relative to it. If such topics are to be taught in the elementary 
science class, some other method than the scientific method must 
be employed. 

If the school science course deals with problems springing from 
the pupil's real experiences in out-of-school life, that is if school 
life is not divorced from real life, then, as in the case of transferring 
the problem-findiagij^dency, this method-habit of drawing up a 

Methods Used in Teaching 33 

preliminary list of possible causal factors will directly "carry-over" 
from the laboratory to those activicies of life dealing with scientific 
matters. But, that this method-habit should be more readily 
attained in school and more readily practised out of school, it should 
be made an explicit object of study in itself. At present we are 
much concerned with giving the student clear cut ideas of the 
facts and laws of science, but trust very much to luck that the pupil 
will "catch-on " to the methods used in finding these laws. When I 
first began teaching geometry, my pupils followed a hit-or-miss 
method of solving constructive deductions. A regular general 
method of solution as outlined in Chapter II was not explicitly 
taught them; a regular way of discovering the key to the solution 
was not made an object of study in itself. Though I frequently 
used the method in working out deductions on the board, yet, since 
the method itself was not emphasised, very few of the pupils (less 
than ten per cent. I should say) adopted it as a fixed certain way 
of solving this type of problem. Now, I take several periods in 
explaining the advantage and the way of using this method. As a 
result, when the senior students meet a consecutive deduction, they 
do not fumble around for a start, but attack it directly in a known 
definite way. In the same way this general method of framing an 
hypothesis should, after several weeks' work, be abstracted and 
made an object of study in itself. The student will thus be led to 
see that it is a real form of thought, not a mere school form, such as 
some of the "solutions" he is compelled to write out in the arith- 
metic class but never uses in real life. 

But the applicability of this method-habit of framing hypotheses 
is not confined to those spheres of activity relative to the physical 
world. It may be used by the lawyer, the merchant, or the politi- 
cian. Since this method reaches its highest development in the 
study of science, and since scientific methods are as yet but slightly 
used in other training departments, it would seem that considerable 
benefit might be derived if this method could be "carried over" to 
other activities than those of a scientific nature. A workman 
understanding the true nature of the tool with which he labours will 
be able to see its applicability to other uses than that for which it 
was specially manufactured. Since the form of this method-habit 
may be abstracted and studied as an idea, the pupil who has a 
clear conception of this idea may apply this method-habit to new 
departments, provided that )ie recognises the possibility of its use. 

34 Methods Used in Teaching 

In the secondary school we have no subject treating of general 
knowledge or philosophy in the modern sense of the term. It is the 
duty of each teacher to co-ordinate the subjects of his department 
with those of other departments where possible. There is no good 
reason why this co-ordination should, as heretofore, be limited to 
details of subject matter and not be made to include common 
methods as well as common topics. If the teacher in geography 
or history has occasion to discuss topics usually considered of a 
scientific nature, the science teacher should not only feel at liberty 
but should regard it as a duty to show his class how the methods of 
science study can be used advantageously in the study of history 
and geography. Since the method-habit would not be inculcated 
by practice no very striking results might be expected. But until 
scientific methods are more fully utilised in the teaching of history, 
geography and other subjects, no other avenue of transference is 

Having made up the list of possible causal factors, the pupil 
must first narrow it down to a working hypothesis, and then proceed 
to establish the probability of that hypothesis either in its entirety 
or in a modified form. He may attempt this by appeal to authority 
or opinion, by dialectical reasoning, or by referring the matter to the 
test of actual experience. However excellent criteria the two 
former may prove in other branches, no one will in this day deny 
that the ultimate criterion of all scientific truth, considered as 
scientific truth, is the test of real experience. And just as the 
touchstone of real experience is the acknowledged criterion in 
scientific research, so the laboratory is an acknowledged institution 
in the modern teaching of science. It would be a waste of time to 
advance supporting arguments for that which is universally accepted. 
There is even a danger that the laboratory may be overworked and 
its function overestimated. 

The primary purpose of the laboratory is not the impartation 
of scientific information, though that indeed is an important 
secondary function. But the first use of the laboratory is to 
provide a training ground where the student may exercise the 
methods of science study, so that he may become proficient in its 
method-habits and familiar with its method-ideals. If the student 
receives such a good grounding in these methods that he will be able 
efficiently to put them into practice, it is needless (even if it were 
possible) for him to discover all scientific truths which for the 

Methods Used in Teaching 35 

purposes of ordinary life it is fitting that he should know. "It is 
clear that although it is infinitely easier and shorter to learn than 
to discover, it would certainly be impossible to attain the end 
proposed if we were to require each individual mind to pass succes- 
sively through the same stages that the collective genius of the 
human race has been obliged to follow."* By far the greater 
portion of each individual's knowledge has been learned, not 
discovered, and it is not only fitting but imperative that students 
become familiar with our ordinary sources of information, books, 
magazines, lectures, etc. He must be taught to use the brains of 
others as well as his own. The farmer who reads agricultural 
papers, attends agricultural conventions, and keeps in touch with 
the Government Department of Agriculture will make more 
progress than one who depends entirely on his own experience and 
experiments for better methods of farming. The former has a dozen 
good heads thinking for him, the latter only one. But if the man 
is to use the more direct sources of information, he should form the 
habit of consulting them while a boy at school. And he should also 
possess some standard of criticism which will enable him to dis- 
criminate between statements that are authoritative and those 
that are not. " To be accepted by the expert is a sort of verification 
(well-known and not despised) by science",! but the boy must 
learn how to tell the expert from the charlatan. He must learn to 
subject the testimony of others to the same test that he applies to 
his own opinions, the criterion of real experience, and to accept as 
authoritative only such statements and conclusions as have evident- 
ly been founded on real evidence. The laboratory has its own 
function to perform, that of training the student in the use of 
scientific methods of investigation, and should not supplant the 
library or lecture room, whose chief function is to impart scientific 

There is also a possibility of overemphasising the laboratory 
as a source of real experience. We cannot in the ordinary affairs of 
life, as in the laboratory, always control the phenomena to be 
investigated. Each piece of evidence is not pure and absolute but 
mixed and circumstantial. There is grave danger that when the 
boy .leaves the region of pure science, with its test tubes, balances, 

♦Comte: "Philosophic Positive", Vol. I, p. 62. Quoted L. F. Ward: "Applied 
Sociology", p. 102. 

fThorndike: " Principles of Teaching", p. 157. 

36 Methods Used in Teaching 

and graduates, he may fail to recognise in the fields and factories 
about him the real material of experience. The laboratory is just 
a place where we purify evidence and is not in any sense of the word 
a warehouse or a manufactory of experience. Real expeiience is 
out of doors, and the laboratory is just a place where the student 
may bring his knotty problems, because he finds a better equipment 
there for solving them. The boy who notices that a waggon tire 
expands when heated in the smith's shop is appealing to experience 
much more real from the viewpoint of the ordinary citizen than the 
student in the laboratory who heats an iron ball and tries to pass it 
through an unheated ring of the same diameter as the ball when 
cool. The pupil should find his data where he finds his problems. 
He must become accustomed to appealing to the experience of 
ordinary life, and must not be given the idea that all real experience 
from a scientific point of view is enclosed within the walls of the 
laboratory. He must get into the habit of looking for evidence 
where he will have to find it in after years. For this reason the 
laboratory course dealing with pure evidence should be largely 
supplemented by out-door work and the boy brought in contact 
with the confused but no less real experience of everyday life. 
I would go still further and say that the laboratory should rather 
supplement the out-door work. It should form a sort of high court 
in which cases that cannot be decided in the lower courts of every- 
day experience may be carried and finally settled. 

How can this method-ideal of making appeal to real experience 
be transferred to the ordinary activities of life? If the suggestion 
in the preceding paragraph be followed, the pupil will already have 
formed the habit of appealing to the real experience of life in affairs 
of a scientific nature. He will be cautious in advancing an opinion 
unless he can back it up with real evidence. The class criticism 
which taught him caution in this respect will also teach him to 
accept with hesitancy the unsupported assertions of others. He 
will even doubt such assertions if made in print. The topics of 
science shade so gradually into the topics of geography, and are so 
intermingled with the topics of history and Hterature, that the 
critical spirit of science-study will spread out among neighbouring 
topics belonging more strictly to other departments. Scientists 
as a body are proverbially sceptical. When one begins to doubt 
mere opinions concerning some subject, it will not be long before 
he doubts mere opinion altogether and demands to see the evidence 
back of the assertion. 

Methods Used in Teaching 37 

But it is not enough that the student learn to appeal to real 
evidence. He must learn how to make this appeal; how to apply 
the test methodically and systematically. Methods of making 
observations, that is of appealing to real experience, fall into 
three groups according to the purpose in view. When the student 
aims to discover and properly classify the qualities and character- 
istics of an object or phenomenon he will employ methods of 
descriptive observation. If the purpose is to ascertain relations 
between phenomena, that is to discover causal factors, he will use 
the qualitative experiment. And if he then wishes to measure 
these ascertained relations, he will utilise the quantitative experi- 
ment for that purpose. Thus, when the pupil examines the 
structure of a bean seed, he makes a descriptive observation. When 
he plants seeds under different conditions of warmth, moisture, 
light, soil, etc., for the purpose of ascertaining the causal factors of 
germination, he performs a qualitative experiment. If, having 
discovered that heat is a causal factor, he proceeds to find out the 
minimum temperature at which certain seeds will germinate, or 
the optimum temperatures of germination, he performs quantitative 

Descriptive observation dealing with the proper classification 
of facts is foundational to all higher forms of observation used in 
the study of science. It is dependent upon trained sense percep- 
tion. The boy who cannot discriminate among colour shades and 
correctly name them can never be a good observer when occasion 
demands a colour description. Training in sense perception should 
form an essential part of primary education. By the time the boy 
enters the secondary school the best training period is past. My 
own experience in the laboratory, in this matter, has been confirmed 
by several art teachers, who tell me that if a boy does not bring to 
the high school a fair ability in distinguishing colour, size, shaF>e, 
distance, etc., it is very difficult for him afterwards to acquire 
this ability. I have students in the Middle School who cannot 
distinguish an acid from an alkaline substance by taste. There are 
even one or two who cannot tell which of two notes has the higher 
pitch. If throughout his primary education the boy has not been 
led to package and label his sense perceptions in sight, sound, 
smell and taste, these impressions will have become so confused and 
muddled that to make the boy a good descriptive observer would 
seem a hopeless task. 

38 Methods Used in Teaching 

Accuracy in descriptive observation also depends upon the 
observer following some plan or scheme in making note of different 
points. A horse dealer rapidly notices a great many details about 
the animal he is judging, because he is looking for those points — 
size, weight, proportion, hair, skin, teeth, joints, etc. The ordinary 
man sees just plain horse, because he has no scheme to guide him 
in concentrating his attention upon each point in turn. When the 
pupil in the botany class is first given a leaf to examine, he notices 
very few things, because he does not know what to look for. But 
when he gets the conception of a descriptive scheme — size, shape, 
edge, point, base, surface, etc., the results of his observation are 
much more complete. Hence it is necessary that pupils learn to 
adopt systematic ways of making observations along various lines. 

Descriptive observation also depends upon the end in view. 
An artist would view a horse from a standpoint different from that 
of a horse dealer, and a veterinary would adopt still a different view- 
point. In classifying a new variety of clover the attention of the 
botanist will be directed towards quite different things from those 
which a farmer, who is testing its value as a fodder, would examine. 
I doubt whether there is anything to be gained in describing a plant 
for the mere sake of the description. The pupil should always 
have an end in view, so that the scheme of observation which he 
adopts may be so associated with that end that when a similar 
purpose demands his attention at some future time the scheme used 
in making the necessary observations may be instantly recalled. 

The transference of these method-habits in descriptive observa- 
tion to the activities of ordinary life presents unusual difficulties. 
It is evident that the various schemes used in making observations 
are not only limited to scientific affairs, but to particular aspects 
of the various branches of scientific study. Thus the scheme of 
leaf observation would be of no use in examining a horse and of 
little use in examining a flower. Each separate method-habit must 
be taught specifically and associated with the purpose in view. 
Still, as shown in Chapter II, one may gain the idea that some 
scheme of making observations is necessary before one can conduct 
a successful examination along any particular line, and this idea 
may lead one to formulate plans beforehand. On the other hand 
the training along lines of sense perception, begun in the primary 
school and carried along in the secondary school, will be directly 
applicable to the ordinary affairs of life. 

Methods Used in Teaching 39 

That higher form of observation more strictly scientific in 
character, whose function it is to determine relations among 
phenomena, may, as we have seen, be divided into qualitative and 
quantitative experimental work. The function of the qualitative 
experiment is to choose among the possible causal factors listed 
in the preliminary hypothesis, the one or ones that are most proba- 
ble and then to substantiate further their probability. Four 
method-habits should be explicitly taught the secondary school 
pupil. First there is the method, as used by Brewster in the 
experiment series mentioned in Chapter II, in which a number of 
experiences containing a constant factor amid a variety of conditions 
are examined. This we may call the method of agreement. It is 
commonly used in substantiating the probability of some selected 
factor, rather than discriminating among a number of possible 
factors. The next is to compare two experiences identical in all 
respects save that one contains a possible causal factor and the 
other does not; as when two boxes of seeds are placed in a south 
window, the earth in one being kept moist, in the other dry. The 
absence of result in the latter case renders probable the supposition 
that moisture is a causal factor in germination. This method we 
may call the method of difference. It is the one most frequently 
used in purging the preliminary list of possible factors. Sometimes 
the possible causal factor cannot be entirely eliminated. When the 
student wishes to find out whether a material medium is necessary 
for the conduction of sound, he cannot experiment with an absolute 
vacuum, but he can make the air in a bell jar more or less rarefied. 
And when he finds the intensity of the sound of an electric bell, 
suspended in the jar, decreasing with the increasing rarefaction, he 
may conclude that very probably sound would not travel in a 
vacuum. This method of varying one possible causal factor while 
the others remain constant we may call the method of concomitant 
variation. This method is used in the quantitative experiment, 
whose function it is to determine exactly, that is in mathematical 
terms, the causal relation between two phenomena. Known quan- 
titative variations are made in one of the previously discovered 
factors, the others remaining constant, and the resulting quantita- 
tive variation in the phenomenon is measured. By repeating this 
process and averaging results, a mathematical relation is established. 
The latter process may be called the method of average. 

40 Methods Used in Teaching 

It is at once evident that quantitative experiments must 
always follow qualitative, since it is absurd to think of measuring 
a causal relation before it has been established. It is equally 
evident that these method-habits may be acquired only through the 
mental self-activity of the pupil. When he works a question in 
algebra, the answer he may obtain is important only as a test of 
the accuracy and correctness of his work. The aim in the teaching 
of mathematics is to develop the pupils* method-habits of solving 
various kinds of problems, not to obtain the answer of any parti- 
cular problem or problems. But in the teaching of science the 
answer obtained from the experiment is important in itself. While 
the pupil in algebra directs his attention for the most part on the 
method he is pursuing, the pupil in science may so centre his mind 
on the answer to be obtained that he does not become explicitly 
conscious of the method at all. Such a result must almost of 
necessity follow if the boy merely performs an experiment which 
has been devised and given him by the teacher. The boy's mind 
will be entirely concerned with mechanical manipulations and the 
results following such manipulations. He will have little concern 
in the question of why such manipulations were undertaken in 
such a way. But if the pupil is to learn the methods of science as 
well as the knowledge of science, he must dissociate the process 
and make it a study in itself. The result of an experiment is one 
thing and the process of obtaining that result is quite a different 
thing. The devising of an experiment is a way of thinking, and the 
only means whereby the boy can recognise the existence of these 
modes of thought, learn what the various forms are, and develop 
habits of consciously and definitely following these forms, is to do 
that thinking for himself. If he is to learn the methods of science, 
as distinguished from the knowledge of science, he must plan his 
own experiments. 

Suppose the pupil has listed as the possible causal factors of 
germination, warmth, light, moisture, soil, air, etc. If he has been 
trained in the scientific method, he will then proceed something like 
the following: — 

"The chances are that some of the things mentioned on this 
list are not causal factors at all. I am going to test each in turn 
and eliminate those that do not stand the test. I can 'mark out' 
soil immediately, because I have seen wheat sprouting in the shock 
after a week of rain. To test the others I intend using the 

Methods Used in Teaching 41 

'method of difference'. To test the first factor, I am going to 
plant bean seeds in two boxes of moist soil. One box I shall put 
in the refrigerator and the other I will put in a closed box in a 
warm room. Since the seeds in the latter germinate while those 
in the former do not, I am quite sure that warmth is a causal factor, 
but to be still more certain, I am going to try the method of agree- 
ment. When the cellar gets warm, the potatoes begin to sprout. 
These are not exactly seeds, but they are somewhat the same. The 
cucumber seeds planted on the twenty-first of April did not come up 
for two weeks, while those I planted on the tenth of May came up in 
five days. It was cold during the latter part of April and warm 
during the middle of May, while other conditions were about the 
same. I have often heard father say that the corn was slow in 
coming up, because the weather was too cold. I am pretty certain 
that warmth must be one causal factor in germination." 

If on the other hand the teacher always tells the boy what to do, 
he will never learn to plan his own experiments; that is he will 
never become consciously acquainted with the scientific methods 
mentioned above. It is not necessary that he always use the 
scientific method in obtaining scientific information. Information 
may be obtained more readily in other ways. But it is necessary 
that he practise these methods a sufficient number of times under 
sufficiently varying circumstances, that he may obtain an intelligent 
comprehension of their modes of operation, and that he can and will 
habitually use them when thrown on his own resources. 

There are two great difficulties in the way of transferring these 
methods from the schoolroom to the realm of actual life. In the 
first case the pupil may not grasp these methods as ideas. He may 
practise them under a teacher's direction without becoming clearly 
and intelligently conscious of them as modes of thought. Hence 
he will be unable to recognise conditions where they may be appli- 
cable, or if he does recognise their applicability, he will be unable to 
plan ahead so as to use them. In the second case these methods 
may have been associated altogether with laboratory surroundings 
and not at all with the environment of everyday life. The novel 
conditions of e\'eryday life will not provide the necessary stimuli 
to set off the reaction series. But if the school boy finds his scien- 
tific experience in the home, the factory, or the fields, using the 
laboratory as a court of appeal, as has been suggested, by the time 
he leaves school this method-habit will have become so associated 

42 Methods Used in Teaching 

with the things of real Hfe that he will merely continue to practise 
a way of examining into the facts of his physical environment. 
There will be a continuity, not a transference. On the other hand, 
I scarcely see how the scientific method of testing hypotheses may 
be carried over to other departments than those of a scientific nature. 
The reason of this is quite clear. At present the average man does 
not recognise the fact that politics, business, journalism, etc., are 
sciences. Hence the idea that scientific methods may be applicable 
to these departments does not even strike him. A growing appre- 
ciation of the scientific aspect of many things heretofore regarded 
as non-scientific is noticeable, but until this appreciation becomes 
common, the science master can only suggest and illustrate the 
possibility of applying these methods to things beyond the strictly 
physical world. Even then he will likely meet the usual fate of the 

The most prominent method-ideal in science study is just 
judging. Judgments in research work fall under two heads, abso- 
lute judgments and probable judgments. When a boy notices that 
the rails on a track elongate when heated, the ideal of just judgment 
compels him to conclude that steel expands when heated between 
certain temperatures; but he cannot with justice conclude that 
metals expand when heated. Absolute judgments merely state 
relationships observed among facts. The result of each experiment 
must be stated in the form of an absolute judgment; hence an 
abstract truth cannot be proven by any single experiment, but 
must be a generalisation from a number of experiences. Probable 
judgments deal with inferences based on absolute judgments from a 
number of separate experiences. The general truths of science are 
not absolute, but probable. The student must recognise this and 
learn to estimate the degree of probability. He must eliminate 
personal bias whether due to his own opinion or that of another, 
and base his conclusions entirely on the evidence submitted. 

Now the natural and indeed the only effective way of inculcating 
that habit of judicial caution which avoids rashness, hastiness and 
personal bias, is to allow the student to experience actually the evils 
of these defects in judgment. Not only let him make mistakes but 
let him discover his own errors. If the student after a single 
experiment wishes to conclude that solids expand when heated, the 
teacher should accept the conclusion, but should see to it that in the 
near future the boy either experiments with or at least discusses 

Methods Used in Teaching 43 

the expansion of type metal. After several experiences of this kind, 
the pupil will see the need of caution, and he must be brought to 
recognise the necessity of being cautious before he can be expected 
to practise that virtue. Now it is evident that if the boy is to gain 
a clear conception of the necessity of guarding against rash conclu- 
sions, he must devise and perform his experiments. If the teacher 
outlines the experiment to be performed, either the boy is never 
brought into contact with error and when he leaves school is not 
cautious in guarding against it, or, as is more likely the case, the 
boy either does not notice or does not care to criticise the wrong 
method adopted by the teacher. The boy accepts the teacher's 
authority, and thus in reality substitutes opinion for real evidence, 
quite contrary to the very spirit of science teaching. When the 
science course is heavy, too frequently we find pupils performing a 
single dictated experiment and drawing from it some general con- 
clusion. "And too often the teacher accepts such a generalisation 
as .... a valid inference. To do this may be to teach science, 
but it most certainly is not to teach scientifically. It is, indeed, to 
cultivate that habit of rashness in drawing conclusions, and that 
inability to estimate the force of evidence which it is the special 
task of education to replace by the opposite qualities."* 

If the data used in his scientific investigations has been gathered 
from the experience of his everyday life, and if the pupil has 
devised and performed his own observations and experiments and 
learned from experience "the difficulty of arriving at truth and the 
need of caution in making inferences from insufficient evidence ",t 
the transference of the habit of judging justly will be direct from 
the laboratory to the affairs of practical life in so far as these are of 
a scientific nature. But until it is recognised that practically all 
activities of life have a scientific aspect, we shall still find the 
cautious professor in science buying "wild cat" mining shares 
and the science student voting in accordance with the paternal 
traditions or the cry of his favourite newspaper. The method-ideal 
of just judging will not "carry over" to departments where an idea 
of its applicability is wanting. 

The mode of thought employed in making use of general con- 
ceptions differs from that employed in discovering them, and so 
requires a special training. In the process of discovery the general 

*Welton: "Logical Bases of Education", p. 259. 
fWelton: "Logical Bases of Education", p. 260. 

44 Methods Used in Teaching 

conception is the end ; in the process of application it is the means. 
The process of discovery is the focussing of a number of experiences, 
the abstracting of a common constant relation to form a general 
conception. The process of application is the passing from an 
incomplete concrete experience through a general conception to 
another concrete experience which serves to perfect the first. A 
housewife wishes to prevent the milk from running down the side 
of the jug after it has been used. The circumstances call to mind 
certain general conceptions of adhesion and cohesion. This con- 
ception in turn suggests some previous experience in which it was 
found that water would not stick to a greased surface. On slightly 
touching the spout with butter, she finds that the milk no longer 
dribbles down the side after use. Frequently, of course, this 
process is abridged. The incomplete experience may immediately 
call up some concrete experience of the same kind without the 
general conception coming into consciousness. The housewife 
might have greased the spout of the jug, because she recalled the 
fact that water ran off greased paper. Such empiric methods, 
however, do not always result successfully. The fruit grower across 
the way having no general conception of the actions of insecticides, 
sprayed his trees for aphides with paris green, because in the spring 
paris green had proved an effective remedy for codling moth. 
Just as one can find theatre seat fifty more readily if row G, centre 
aisle is marked on the ticket, so the clue to the solution of a practical 
problem is more quickly discovered by passing through organised 
conceptions than by searching at random. 

Just as a pupil in solving deductions in geometry is trained 
to recall propositions associated with the data given, and so find 
the key to the solution, so the science student in working out 
problems in practical science should be trained to recollect general 
conceptions suggested by the conditions, which, when found, will 
direct him to the needed concrete material. In the learning process 
the main classes of concrete experience relative to any principle 
must be related to it, so that in working practical problems, a 
recognition of the abstract idea involved may readily follow an 
investigation of existing conditions, and bring with it such a wealth 
of concrete ideas that the wanted material may be quickly secured. 
Too frequently the science teacher is content when the student 
formulates and understands the principle being taught. But to 
know a scientific law and to be able to make use of it are two quite 

Methods Used in Teaching 45 

dififerent things. A man may make a canoe and yet be unable to 
paddle it. The science lesson should never stop short with the 
discovery of a scientific principle, but should always provide exer- 
cises in which the student may become skilful in making practical 
use of the law. 



Selection of material conditioned by the needs of method training, the needs 
of citizenship, the needs of child nature. The material must form part of the 
pupil's ordinary experience. The call for a uniform curriculum, the need of 
method training, the requirements of citizenshp and of child nature, all demand 
that the syllabus specify general conceptions to be taught, but that the choice 
of concrete material be left to individual schools. Applied science and the 
curriculum; the "transference" of knowledge; general conceptions must be 
associated with the main classes of relevant phenomena. The scientist, the 
citizen and the educator must take part in the selection of material. The science 
course should not be differentiated into special sciences; definition and correlation; 
abstraction and application of general conceptions, school efficiency. Topic 
arrangement; seasons; complexity of methods; concentration periods. 

**r ■ "^HE child initiates new processes of thought and establishes 
I new mental habits much more easily than the adult, but 
"^^ the adult, with trained powers, has an immense advantage 
over the child in the acquisition of information. The important 
thing in childhood is, therefore, to train the child in as large a 
variety of mental processes as possible, and to establish as many 
useful mental habits as possible."* In the teaching of elementary 
science the chief aim should be to give the pupil a working command 
of the methods of science. A fund of useful and necessary scientific 
information may be gathered by the student in after years, but the 
method-habits and method-ideals of science study can scarcely be 
acquired by the ordinary adult. A certain amount of scientific 
knowledge is, in a sense, forced upon his attention by the affairs 
of his daily life, but these same activities tend to distract his 
attention from a study of method. Habits require time and prac- 
tice. But the adult who has not been trained in scientific methods 
during his student days has not the time to devote to their study, 
is not compelled to practise them, and has likely formed habits of a 
contrary nature. If the essential thing in primary and secondary 
education is the initiation of thought processes, then the selection 

*Eliot: "Education for Efficiency", p. 3. 


The Subject Matter 47 

and organisation of the material for study must, to a great extent, 
be subordinated to the needs of method training. The first test of 
a curriculum should be, does it make for good mental habits? 

But a wide choice of equally valuable material for method 
training is open to the curriculum maker. The field must be more 
narrowly limited. Since the aim of the state school is to prepare 
the pupil for future social activity, the school environment to which 
the pupil's present activity is adjusted must be such as will make 
him a good citizen. The study of plants makes one man a botanist, 
the study of Animals makes a second a zoologist, though both pursue 
much the same methods. While scientific method is concerned 
with the way mind acts upon environment, the problem of subject 
matter is concerned with the way environment acts upon mind. 
Hence to make the student a good citizen, he should study the 
things of citizenship. But scientific knowledge has relative degrees 
of value considered from the standpoint of good citizenship. A 
knowledge of domestic sanitation is of much more importance to 
the average man than a knowledge of Avogadro's Hypothesis, 
though a knowledge of the latter might be of greater value to a 
student who intended to be a professional chemist. Since the 
function of elementary science is to prepare for the general rather 
than the special activities of citizenship, it is clear that the syllabus 
should be compiled from topics of use or interest in ordinary life. 

But many things with which the ordinary citizen should be 
familiar, the child of fourteen is not sufficiently mature to compre- 
hend. Many of these things do not appeal to him — he is not 
interested in them. And the school environment must harmonise 
with the nature of the child as well as with the needs of the citizen. 
'*As parents and teachers it is our business to take a sort of com- 
posite photograph of a child's present impulses and future needs 
.... satisfy a child's present growing needs for food and nourish- 
ment, and at the same time fit him for his future life in the midst of 
nature and society."* The third criterion of a curriculum should 
be, how far does it correspond with the native interests and abilities 
of the average child? 

Hence the programme of subject matter in elementary science 
must satisfy the needs of method -training, the needs of citizenship 
in the matter of scientific information, and the needs of child nature. 

*McMurry: "Special Methods in Elementary Science", p. 17. 

48 The Subject Matter 

What material will best satisfy the needs of method-training? 
In Chapter III it was shown that the development of the boy's 
problem-finding ability resulted from the activity of his primary 
interests. But his primary interests centre about his past and 
present experiences in everyday life. In solving problems he is 
taught to appeal to real experience; not the experience of the 
laboratory only, but experiences arising out of his life at home and 
its surroundings. The transference of method-habits and method- 
ideals of science from the schoolroom to the activities of mature life 
also depends, to a large extent, upon these methods having been 
associated in the acquiring process with those things in relation to 
which they will afterward function. "The child who draws his 
knowledge of science directly from life under usual conditions will 
not have much difficulty in finding it again in life. It is not difficult 
so to isolate the study of physics and chemistry, or even botany 
and zoology, from the usual conditions of life that the student in 
after years will have more difficulty in rediscovering his knowledge 
than he had in first acquiring it."* Since the pupil must find his 
problems in his daily experiences in the out-of-school physical 
world, since he must appeal to the same sphere of experience to 
provide him with the necessary data for solving these problems, 
and since the transference of methods learned at school is only 
possible when these methods have been developed in an atmosphere 
similar to that into which they are to be transferred, it follows that 
the material to be used in method-training must be largely if not 
entirely selected from those experiences common to the average 
secondary school boy or girl. 

What knowledge is essential to good citizenship? The man who 
studies plant life becomes interested in botany. To become a good 
citizen a man must study and thus grow interested in those things 
with which good citizenship is concerned. The subject matter 
selected must "form or help to form an important life-long interest 
— an interest not technical or superficial, touching life only on the 
surface here and there, and at long intervals, but one that lies 
close to the heart, to the home and to all that makes life worth 
living."t Now where is one to look for this material? Wherever 
else it may be found, one cannot fail to find it in the daily lives 
of actual citizens. We cannot find it in theories, unless these 

*McMurry: "Special Methods in Elementary Science", p. 31. 
fHodge: "Nature Study and Life", p. 24. 

The Subject Matter 49 

theories are broadly based upon the actual experiences of citizen- 
ship. No greater crime against the race was ever committed than 
when the German bureau of education undertook to instil into the 
minds of German students ideas of citizenship evolved apart from 
national and historical experiences. To burden the child mind with 
useless knowledge, which bears no relation to the needs of his adult 
life, is only less criminal than to misdirect his aims and activities. 
The school environment to which the child's present activity is to be 
adjusted should correspond to that sphere of social activity in 
which he, as an adult, will take a part. The science curriculum 
should epitomise the physical world in which he will afterwards live. 
But the elements of the physical world in which the man will live 
differ only in details from the elements of the physical world in 
which the boy now lives. So the second criterion of subject matter 
selection requires that the topics comprised in the curriculum be 
selected from experiences of the boy's out-of-school life. But 
these experiences are just the stuff out of which the boy's primary 
interests have been developed. The three criteria of subject matter 
selection all point to the same conclusion that the materials out of 
which the science curriculum is constructed are to be gathered from 
the world of the boy's actual experiences. The school science course 
must deal with the boy's out-of-school life. To "develop only such 
principles as grow out of and interpret life's experience would be 
not only ideal, but in the nature of the case the only method which 
can be successful."* 

Though this idea of selection cuts off a huge mass of material 
of interest only to the special student in science, and another mass 
of interest to the few but not to the many, an enormous field is still 
left to be covered. It would seem an impossible task to prepare a 
uniform curriculum for the schools of one province, or even for the 
pupils of one school. The experiences of a country and a city lad 
differ widely; the physical environment of a lake port town, of an 
agricultural community, and of a mining district are far from being 
the same; a boy and a girl in the same school, or even from the same 
home are not in contact with the same physical world. Yet some 
uniform curriculum must be devised which will comprehend the 
greater part of such varied and diversified experiences. An attempt 
may be made to compile a composite curriculum representing 

*McMurry: "Special Methods in Elementary Science", p. 31. 

50 The Subject Matter 

aspects chosen from the life of the town boy, of the farmer*s son, 
of the lumberman, of the fisherman, etc., but such an attempt to 
satisfy all classes will end by satisfying none. The miner's son in 
Sudbury will not be interested in the weeds found in agricultural 
districts ; neither will the farmer's boy from the level stoneless plains 
of Lambton county be much concerned with granite and feldspar. 
It will be impossible to teach such lessons by the scientific method, 
since they will afford no material for method training ; they do not 
form part of the boy's primary interests, and only rarely will they be 
related to the activities of adult life. Neither will it be possible, 
unless we revolutionise our entire school system, to adopt different 
curricula for different schools. 

Since the concrete forms of experience of different students 
under different conditions of life cannot be expressed fully and freely 
in detail on a composite curriculum, and since special curricula are 
impossible under present methods of school administration, we must 
go back of particular concrete experience to find common ground 
on which to build our syllabus. Though the Sudbury boy is not 
interested in weeds, both he and the Lambton boy are interested in 
plant growth; though the Lambton boy is not concerned with 
granites and feldspars, both he and the Sudbury boy are interested 
in geological formations. Both the fisherman's son and the farmer's 
son are interested in animal life, but the one knows it best as seen 
in the study of fish, while the other is more familiar with it as seen 
in the study of domestic animals. To satisfy the demand for a 
uniform course of study throughout the Province, the programme 
must specify only the general scientific conceptions relative to 
common experience. These must, in each case, be developed from 
the concrete material afforded by the particular experiences of 
pupils in each school. The city boy will bring his experiences of 
street cars, automobiles, elevators, etc., the country boy will bring 
experiences of threshing machines, hay forks, wind-mills, etc., to 
the study of the same mechanical principles outlined on the common 
school programme. 

In method -training an abundance of suitable material presents 
itself in any school for the establishment of scientific conceptions 
through scientific methods. But we have seen that the require- 
ments of method-training demand that the pupil make use of his 
own individual experience. In one school certain material which 
can be used to establish a general scientific conception will be 

The Subject Matter 91 

closely associated with the pupil's primary interest in that direction; 
in another school equally suitable but quite different material will 
be bound up with his primary interests. Now a programme that 
specified the concrete material to be studied, rather than the general 
conceptions of science which they embody, would, under the most 
favourable circumstances, seriously interfere with method-training 
since no general programme could be devised which would corres- 
pond with the experience of an ordinary boy. Under less favourable 
circumstances, where the material specified was either of little 
interest to the boy or quite unknown to him, the process of method- 
training would be brought to a standstill. The boy, being unac- 
quainted with the specified material, could bring no problems to 
school concerning it, he could not use it as real evidence in solving 
problems, and since this material from which his general conceptions 
and his method-habits would have to be evolved has little relation 
to the ordinary activities of his life, he could not transfer these ideas 
and habits directly from the schoolroom to the affairs of everyday 
life. Method-training, therefore, likewise demands that the 
programme specify the general conceptions to be taught, leaving 
the choice of concrete material to the teacher and the pupil. 

The needs of citizenship make similar demands. The pupil 
cannot be adjusted in detail to his future physical eavironment. 
The details of adjustment are innumerable, impossible to foretell 
and peculiar to the individual. The engineer, the lawyer and the 
physician learn the fundamental conceptions of their respective 
professions and when the need arises are enabled to grasp the 
particular details of the bridge to be built, of the case to be under- 
taken, or of the patient to be treated, and then to apply these 
principles to the solution of the problems that arise. If the pro- 
fessional schools cannot hope to pre-adjust their students to the 
details of a comparatively restricted sphere of activity, the second- 
ary schools of general education have much less chance of pre- 
ad justing their students to the details of a much wider range of 
activity. They will do well to familiarise them with the general 
scientific principles involved in social life. 

Moreover the chief functions of the school in the matter of 
instruction is not to teach the child, but to put him in the way of 
teaching himself. The greater part of the useful and necessary 
information required of him in the active duties of life will be 
acquired during his adult life. But the school must develop mental 

52 The Subject Matter 

centres about which this information may be organised. In the 
study of the physical world, conceptions of scientific laws and 
principles form such gravitation centres. The pupil in whose mind 
these conceptions have been developed will not only more readily 
comprehend the concrete details of life about him, but his knowledge 
will be so organised that he can make the best use of it. While the 
needs of citizenship along the lines of scientific knowledge cannot be 
satisfied in detail by the school, pupils can be given the power and 
tools wherewith to work out their own salvation. If centres of 
organisation have been rightly established in the mind of the pupil, 
he will be able to adjust himself to the details of his physical 
surroundings as need arises. Hence from the standpoint of the 
citizen the science curriculum should emphasise the teaching of 
general conceptions rather than the teaching of concrete informa- 

"An elementary presentation of physics should begin by resum- 
ing what might be called the experience of the average youth of 
sixteen years. The number of physical facts which a student of 
this age has accumulated is astounding .... The demand there- 
fore is not so much for new facts, or for sheer facts of any kind, as 
for an orderly arrangement and an ability to use these facts.*** 
As the mind becomes saturated with facts, these tend to crystallise. 
And if true centres of organisation are not present, these facts will 
crystallise about false conceptions. The boy "sucks up" water 
through a straw, the pump "sucks up" water from the well, the 
tree "sucks up" nourishment from the ground, the sun "sucks up ** 
moisture from the sea. Just at that period of life when the boy 
enters the secondary school, these centres of organisation tend to 
become fixed and permanent, so one of the chief functions of science 
teaching at this period will be to clear his mind of wrong general 
conceptions and to establish right ones. 

Thus we see that the demand for a uniform curriculum, the need 
of method-training, the needs of citizenship and the needs of child 
nature all point to the same conclusion — that the curriculum shall 
specify the general scientific conceptions to be taught, but shall leave 
the choice of concrete material used in teaching to the teacher and 
more especially to the student. 

*Crew and Jones: "Elements of Physics", p. vi. 

The Subject Matter 53 

But when we look at science from the viewpoint of its appli- 
cability and use in the practical affairs of real life, the above con- 
clusion must be somewhat modified. Since in applied science the 
general conception is used to relate an incomplete experience to some 
similar complete experience, it is apparent that general conceptions 
must be associated with the necessary concrete experiences to 
make the relation possible. If in the illustration given in Chapter 
II the housewife had merely a general conception of cohesion and 
adhesion, unrelated to concrete experiences, then the conditions 
surrounding the problem of preventing the milk from running down 
the jug could not have called to mind this general conception. 
Even had the general conception been aroused, it would have been 
unable to recall such associated concrete experiences as would have 
served to solve the problem. While general conceptions, rightly 
taught, must have been evolved from a number of concrete ex- 
periences and therefore related to them, such relationships may not 
be sufficiently extensive to satisfy the needs of applied science. 
Some systematic scheme of establishing relations must be followed. 
A general conception of convection might be induced from the 
study of water currents alone. In later years, the student trying 
to solve some problem in connection with the ventilation of his 
house would be unable to use his knowledge of convection, since 
this conception has been associated only with water currents and 
not at all with air currents. 

It is apparent that a problem of "transference" exists in con- 
nection with knowledge as well as with method-habits. Knowledge 
will only "carry over" along lines of association. Hence general 
conceptions to be available for practical use in the solution of 
problems of everyday life must have been associated in some way 
with the concrete conditions present, and must be related to other 
concrete ideas which will serve to complete the incomplete exper- 
ience. But we have seen that it is impossible to relate specifically 
each general idea with all the special concrete phenomena in which 
it may be involved. Nor is it necessary for our purpose. The boy 
who understands the relation of convection to air currents can 
readily apply it to questions concerning winds, ventilation, hot air 
heating, etc. What is necessary is that each general conception 
taught should be related to the main classes of common phenomena 
in which it is exhibited. The idea of convection should be asso- 
ciated with currents in liquids and currents in gases. The principle 

54 The Subject Matter 

of buoyancy should be associated with vessels, air craft, sedimenta- 
tion, etc. If each class of relevant phenomena is represented in the 
association process by one or more examples, and especially if in 
this representation the class idea is emphasised, then in future use 
the relation of the general conception to other members of the same 
class can readily be effected. 

We may draw this final conclusion — that the curriculum in 
elementary science should specify those general conceptions of 
science about which the common physical experiences of life are 
organised, associated with the chief classes of common phenomena 
in which they are exhibited. 

The question of how such a selection is to be made really 
resolves itself into the question of who is to make the selection. 
In vocational schools the programme is outlined by a body of active 
practitioners who, besides being well versed in the academic 
knowledge of their respective professions, are familiar with the 
practical needs of those professions. The medical programme is 
not arranged by physiologists and anatomists, but by physicians 
and surgeons who are most familiar with the applications of medical 
science to the conditions of ordinary practice. The course in 
engineering is not compiled by mathematicians, but by bridge- 
builders and railroad constructors. Even the university course 
in Latin is drawn up by Latin scholars who possess that culture 
and refinement which is the end of classic study. A boor could not 
be entrusted with the task of arranging a Latin course, however 
well he might know his Virgil. In devising an elementary science 
course it is not sufficient that a man should be a specialist in physics, 
chemistry and biology; he must also be familiar with the bearing 
of these sciences on ordinary life. It cannot be too strongly em- 
phasised that the end of elementary science study in the secondary 
school is not to give the students a knowledge of physics or botany, 
but a knowledge of life ; not to make them specialists in any of the 
departments of science, but to make them good citizens. Three 
factors enter into the preparation of an elementary science curricu- 
lum, a knowledge of the sciences themselves, a familiarity with the 
needs of ordinary life, a comprehension of the principles and 
practices of pedagogy. 

Now as a rule the scientist and the educator do not largely 
participate in the ordinary activities of real life. Standing some- 
what apart they are in an excellent position to sum up the needs of 

The Subject Matter 55 

education from a theoretical and ideal standpoint ; but having had a 
limited experience with the common realities of life, they cannot 
very well choose the elements of knowledge essential to good living. 
The botanist is eminently fitted to specify what knowledge a student 
should possess in order to become a botanist. The educator can 
map out the course of training that a teacher should pursue. But 
neither is well fitted to outline a programme of studies leading to 
good citizenship. The needs of the citizen are apparent only to the 
citizen. No man, however, is sufficiently cosmopolitan to represent 
in himself all sides and aspects of good citizenship. No man there- 
fore (or for that matter no small group of men, unless they are 
widely representative of the various classes and conditions of 
society) will be in a position to select the material for an elementary 
science course. The course should represent the opinions of the 
great body of citizens. It is one of the peculiar features of demo- 
cratic governments in this country that successful parents who 
know what makes for success in life, and who are able to express 
their opinions in a clear, intelligent manner, are not only never 
consulted about this matter, but are forced to send their sons to 
schools to be taught that which the parents do not particularly 
desire them to know, and to be taught little about the things their 
parents wish them to understand thoroughly. 

But while those actually participating in the activities of 
ordinary life should be consulted as to the elements of knowledge 
there needed, they are not in a position to organise the chosen 
material. A great deal of the valuable knowledge possessed by 
successful men of affairs has been learned empirically. Their 
conceptions are partial and unsystematised. They need to be 
ordered into a complete, compact form, so that the student may 
more readily attain them and more efficiently use them. This is the 
duty of the scientist. He must take the mass of crude material 
gathered from the common experiences of life and put it into a 
teachable scientific form. And in so far as the preparation of the 
programme is concerned, the function of the educator is to elabo ate 
this organised material and specially adjust it to the needs of the 
growing child. 

Finally, how are the parts and topics of the programme itself to 
be organised? *' Nature is not consecutive except in her periods. 
She puts things together in a mosaic. She has a brook and plants 
and toads and bugs and weather all together. Because we have put 

56 The Subject Matter 

the plants in one book, the brook in another, we have come to think 
that this divorce is the logical and necessary order."* This differ- 
entiation of science study into special sciences is subjective rather 
than objective. Utilitarian interests together with the rapid 
increase of knowledge have compelled the student more and more to 
concentrate his attention, giving us at first the special sciences and 
next the special departments in each science. But to the lower 
school student this specialisation has no meaning. No economic 
reasons compel him to centre his attention on any one or two 
branches of science. His horizon of knowledge is not so extended 
nor his time so limited that he must pick out some particular 
path to travel. His it is, for a time, to roam at will. 

What advantages would arise from the fusion of physics, 
chemistry, biology and physical geography into one general elemen- 
tary science course? 

The student would get a true conception of the provinces of the 
special sciences. He would begin with an undifferentiated course 
and mark in the divisions, as he found topics naturally segregating 
about different interest centres. We should no longer have the 
student look up from his note book and ask: "Is this physics or 
chemistry?" "Is this botany or zoology?" When he does come 
to study the special sciences as sciences, in the higher forms, he will 
have clear, definite conceptions of the nature of the subjects which 
he studies. 

Not only would the provinces of the special sciences be defined, 
but they would also be related. The problem of correlating the 
various science studies would be solved by the simple process of 
banishing the problem itself. The present need for correlation 
arises from the fact that in the objective world we find nothing to 
correspond with the hard and fixed divisions of the special sciences. 
Hence as soon as we begin to study any special science at all from 
a practical standpoint we must revert to this oneness of the ob- 
jective world. We cannot study botany from the standpoint of 
real life without studying physics, chemistry, physical geography, 
etc., at the same time. But the study of science as a number of 
distinct separate subjects, results in the content of each subject 
being bound up in itself and divorced from the content clusters of 
other subjects. Chemical explanations of vital phenomena do not 
*Bailey: "The Nature Study Idea", p. 132. 

The Subject Matter 57 

readily come to the mind of the student in botany, because his 
knowledge of chemistry is bound up with ideas of test tubes and 
reagents rather than with leaves and plant food. Having broken 
up the unity of nature and boxed its content in distinct, separate 
compartments in the mind of the student, the next problem of the 
educator is to redintegrate this content. This he attempts to do by 
various devices of correlation. But besides the psychological 
difficulty of association just mentioned, there is the pedagogical 
difficulty that the different sciences do not develop abreast each 
with the other, and with the growing mind of the child. The pupil 
in elementary botany cannot get a chemical explanation of plant 
food and plant growth, because he is not sufficiently advanced in the 
study of chemistry. The student in physical geography cannot 
follow many of the explanations given him because he has not yet 
discovered and mentally grasped the physical science laws upon 
which these explanations depend. This pedagogical difficulty 
might be overcome if it were possible so to arrange the science 
course that while each special science was logically developed 
within itself, a co-ordinate development could be established 
throughout the series and in correspondence with the growth of the 
child's mind. Even if the enormous difficulty of arranging such a 
three-way organised course were surmounted, the psychological 
problem of association could never be solved by artificially bridging 
over the gaps between the special sciences. 

This difficult problem of correlation would not appear in an 
undifferentiated elementary science course. The causes leading 
up to it would disappear with the disappearance of the special 
science studies. When the pupil had experimentally established 
the general conception of osmosis he would immediately use it to 
explain the absorption of nourishment by root hairs, the trans- 
ference of tissue fluids in the animal body, animal respiration, etc. 
Physics, botany and zoology would not need to be correlated 
because there would be no division walls among them. To the 
student they would all be one. When he found the principles of 
physics in operation throughout the entire physical world, he 
would gain a far truer conception of the meaning of "law", the 
influence of which would extend even to his moral life. Most 
people "go wrong" because they imagine they can dodge the con- 
sequences, that law is not universal. 

58 The Subject Matter 

A general conception is the abstract from many and varied 
experiences. The inductive process whereby it is established would 
be greatly hindered if these experiences were scattered over a two- 
year period and throughout several study courses. To get a true 
conception of an abstract principle, both just before and just after 
it has been formulated, the student's attention should be concen- 
trated on relative data. The more varied the data and conditions 
studied, the more abstract and general is the resulting conception. 
It becomes more than a mere formula, it becomes a true centre of 
mental organisation widely rooted and widely active. Not only 
does such an undifferentiated course promote the generalising 
process, but as a result it enables students more readily to apply 
principles. In a previous paragraph, it was pointed out that to 
apply general conceptions to the practical affairs of life, they should 
be related to the chief classes of phenomena in which they are 
exhibited. In an undifferentiated course these relations could be 
widely and strongly established; but when the course is divided 
into special sciences, many of these classes of phenomena would be 
separated from the first establishment of the general conception 
by breaks in time and interest. Association processes are best 
formed during the genesis of an idea, when the whole energy and 
activity of the mind are being centred upon the one subject, and 
vitally establish any relations made therewith. 

In the preparation of the syllabus such an undifferentiated 
course would result in topics being stressed in proportion to their 
importance in life, as they should be in a general course; and not in 
proportion to their importance in the study of some special science. 
The elementary principles of a science are not by any means the 
first principles of real life. For instance, at present some two or 
three weeks are spent in teaching the pupil the tables of metric 
measure. If the aim of the elementary science course is to give the 
pupil a grounding in science study, well and good. It is time well 
spent. If the aim is to prepare him for the activities of everyday 
life, the time is utterly wasted. I do not think that in this province 
one man in a hundred knows that a litre contains one thousand 
cubic centimetres, or that one man in two or three hundred makes 
use of this knowledge. At least in a town of some two thousand 
inhabitants I recently had occasion to make inquiry, and found only 
three men who knew it and only two who made use of 
it, though quite a number had at one time in life known 

The Subject Matter 59 

this table but had completely forgotten it. Moreover, time 
spent on lessons partly duplicated in the different divisions would 
be saved, the whole programme of science studies would be sim- 
plified, and the training in method would receive more attention 
and become more uniform. 

If we cannot start with the first principles of a science and work 
up, the arrangement of topics is apparently a difficult matter. But 
no programme, however well devised, can be rigidly followed alike 
by all teachers and all schools. So long as the work laid down is 
covered, the teacher must be allowed more or less freedom in the 
order followed. Each teacher has his own methods and each school 
its own peculiar conditions, and the work will be done in a more 
satisfactory manner if the teacher can express his own individuality 
to a certain extent in the classroom, and if allowance is made for 
the peculiar conditions of each school. But three rules can be laid 
down governing the arrangement of topics. The problems the boy 
discovers, the experience he brings to school to be organised, and the 
real data upon which he builds his inferences are things of present 
moment. Hence the topics must be arranged in relation to the 
seasons. Topics requiring difficult and complex methods of in- 
vestigation should succeed topics in which the investigating methods 
used are comparatively simple. The child's mind naturally works 
in short periods of concentrated interest. One aim of education 
is to lengthen these concentration periods. But if the child studies 
one thing too long he becomes weary of it and cannot work effi- 
ciently. At first related topics should be grouped to cover a period 
of not more than three to five lessons. Later on these groups and 
periods should be enlarged. 


Elementary science not obligatory on all secondary school pupils; twenty- 
five per cent, do not take it; tendency to make it compulsory. Present course 
academic and preparatory to higher education; illustrations from botany and 
zoology courses; tendency to readjust the course; consequent confusion. Changes 
should be tried out previous to adoption ; Department is executive, not formative 
and creative; universities should do the research work in education. University 
not executive in state education; increased necessity and growth of general 
education; secondary schools no longer mere feeders to the university; matricu- 
lation requirements and university ideals should not dominate the secondary 

IF elementary science is an essential feature of general education, 
every one taking a secondary school course should study it. 
But in the secondary schools of Ontario it is not obligatory. 
The regulations read: "When the content of a subject differs from 
that of the corresponding subject for University Matriculation, the 
Principal shall make the modifications necessary for the latter."* 
Since the only part of the present elementary science course required 
for matriculation purposes is a review of the second year's work in 
physics, no matriculation student need take either the biology of 
the two-year lower school course or the physics of the first-year 

Students preparing for matriculation may take either a lan- 
guage option or a science option comprising physics and chemistry. 
Students taking the science option will receive only a five months* 
course in elementary physics. Even though these students take the 
special sciences, biology, physics and chemistry, in the higher forms 
of the secondary school or in the university, they will lose the 
benefit of a science course, which being undifferentiated (Chapter 
IV), forms the natural source of study from which the special 
sciences outbranch and through which they are correlated. While 
the special sciences prepare for the special activities of life, the 
elementary course prepares for the general activities of life. The 

*1913: "Report of the Minister of Education, Ontario", p. 357. 


The School and the Course 6^1 

8f)ecial sciences are one step removed from ordinary life, the elemen- 
tary course is in direct contact with it. A student who studies the 
diflferentiated sciences only, while skilled in special methods of 
scientific research, will not necessarily be proficient in those 
practical methods which are derived from a science course not 
far removed from the activities of real life. He might be able to 
find the coefficient of expansion of copper, but might not be able 
"to thaw out a frozen water-pipe" without breaking it. Special 
knowledge, special method-habits and special method-ideals will not 
necessarily "carry over" from the special material and conditions 
from which they were derived, to the common phenomena found in 
the house, the garden, the flower-bed, the stable, the town in which 
one resides, or the country surrounding it. 

But the loss of students taking the science option is slight com- 
pared with the loss of those students who take the language option. 
The latter study neither elementary nor advanced science, and enter 
life with no clear knowledge of the physical world about them, and 
with little or no training in those scientific methods of thought and 
action so widely used in the affairs of real life. The lettered scholar, 
who is ignorant of science, and as a result lives in a badly ventilated 
house, takes no exercise and is poorly nourished, who finds little 
interest in the flower or vegetable garden and less in the surrounding 
fields and forests, who stands helpless when the water-pipes freeze 
or when the automobile breaks down, who cannot intelligently 
discuss the town's water supply or sewage system, is not well fitted 
for real life, however learned he may be. 

In 1912 there were 19,829 lower school pupils in the collegiates 
and high schools of Ontario. Some 15,000 of these took biology, 
so the remaining 4,800, or over twenty per cent, of the pupils 
attending, did not take the biology of the elementary science course. 
Experience shows that many of the matriculation students who 
voluntarily take the non-compulsory part of the lower school science 
course either drop it during the term or partly neglect it. We are 
safe in saying that one-fourth of our secondary school students are 
not in any way adjusted to the physical world about them. 

Since elementary science is not obligatory on all secondary 
school pupils, we must conclude that, at present, it is not regarded 
in the light of a fundamental general course subject. 

On the other hand, many matriculation students, either volun- 
tarily or urged by the teacher, take the entire course. Recently 

62 The School and the Course 

it has been made a compulsory subject on the general as well as the 
teacher's course. This shows that there is a strong and growing 
tendency to accord it full recognition as a general course subject. 
The chief difficulty in the way of full recognition is the fact that, 
at present, elementary science is treated more or less as a special 
subject, forming part of a special science course. Many who do not 
wish to study the special sciences would gladly pursue a course 
dealing in a scientific way with the things of practical life. 

The tyranny of the classics has been succeeded by the tyranny 
of the sciences. The subject matter outlined in the present 
elementary science programme has not been derived from the 
common experiences of life, but from a study of the first principles 
of the special sciences. The biology course is based upon an acade- 
mic scheme of classification. In the regulations issued by the 
Department of Education, we read: "The teacher's immediate 
responsibility lies in the laboratory work which embodies simple 
morphological studies of common forms, representing the chief 
animal types."* Now the normal interest of the present boy or 
the future man is not divided almost equally among a dozen types 
of animal life. He is not interested in the study of types at all. 
With some of those chosen, such as the wood louse, he has little 
or no acquaintance. The present course in zoology does not 
correspond with the normal interest of the boy. Morphological 
study of types may form an excellent basis for the special course in 
zoology taken in the higher forms, but it has little relation to the 
biological knowledge required by the ordinary man or woman. 

The first-year pupil is required to identify spring flowering 
plants "by means of a flora".! Apart from the fact that the 
technical name of a plant is rarely heard outside the walls of a 
university, a vast store of technical terminology which is of little 
use in ordinary life must be accumulated before the pupil can make 
intelligent use of a flora. To make use of "Spotton's Key**, the 
flora generally used in Ontario high schools, he must become 
familiar with from two to three hundred technical terms. This 
represents a vocabulary from one-third to one-half as large as that 
required from a first form student in Latin. Such a task is 
impossible to accomplish within the limited time. But the attempt 
to do so determines to a great extent the way in which descriptive 

*Ibid.: p. 393. 
t/Wd.: p. 395. 

The School and the Course 63 

botany is at present taught. Part of the aim in almost every lesson 
is to familiarise the pupil with the use and meaning of technical 
terms, so that the entire course in botany is technical rather than 
practical in outlook. Moreover the botany course like the course 
in zoology is cast about the idea of type study. This defect is of a 
similar nature to that noted in connection with the latter course. 

This insistence on the academic aspect of science study shows 
that elementary science is at present regarded in the light of an 
introduction to special science study rather than a general course 
subject. In fact the "Regulations" definitely state that one aim 
of the course is "to lay foundations for the more detailed study 
of each subject in the case of those who will continue the work 
in the higher forms".* The other aim is to give "a fair knowledge 
of the world around them to those who will not remain at school 
more than a few years ".f Why the distinction? Why should 
the boy who is leaving school in a few years be the one singled 
out as requiring a knowledge of the physical world of ordinary 
life. Surely the student who continues his course through the 
university, and enters a wide sphere of general activity, is the 
one who particularly requires an education along general lines. 
This dual aim would be like teaching arithmetic for the purpose 
of giving one boy a conception of elementary mathematical opera- 
tions, so that he would be able to pursue the studies of algebra, 
geometry, and trigonometry, and teaching the same subject in 
the same class to another boy, so that he would be able to perform 
the ordinary commercial transactions of life. Not only would 
these aims conflict when one tried to compile a programme, but 
it would be absurd to suppose that the boy who studies trigono- 
metry and becomes perhaps a civil engineer requires less education 
and training in the mathematics of business affairs than the boy 
who remains at school but a short time and becomes perhaps a 
railroad engineer. A general course subject cannot have dual 
aims. Its one and only function is to prepare for the activities of 
general life. Since, however, the special activities of life sprang 
from the general, and special branches of knowledge grew out of 
general knowledge, any training in general knowledge will prove 
the best and most natural foundation for future study along 
special lines. The general course in elementary science is to 

*Ibid.: p. 394. 
]Ibid.: p. 362. 

64 The School and the Course 

enable the more highly trained man to adapt himself to the broader 
sphere of general activity in which he will be placed. 

Still this expressed aim to relate the subject matter of the 
course to the activities of real life shows that the Department of 
Education is tending to recognise this subject as a phase of general 
education. Twenty years ago the science programme, in what 
corresponded to the present lower school, was exclusively con- 
cerned with the technical aspects of botany and physics. The 
present programme embodies a great deal of material relevant to 
the practical activities of everyday life. The chief difficulty in 
the way of full recognition of this subject as an essential feature 
of general education is that educationists still view the common 
world through the spectacles of the specialist. 

This gradual readjustment causes some necessary and much 
unnecessary confusion and disturbance. There are frequent and 
violent changes in the elementary science curriculum. The present 
course in that subject has little in common with the course of six 
years ago. As a result of these changes the classes become dis- 
organised, the equipment soon grows obsolete, and the teacher is 
unable to perfect his practice or to make those extensive prepara- 
tions so essential to good teaching in this subject. These read- 
justments must be made, and if the present method is pursued, 
the wheat will no doubt eventually be separated from the chaflf. 
But in the meantime our schools, which should be seed beds, are 
turned into threshing floors. The schools should not be placed 
at the mercy of pedagogical vivisectionists. The changes in the 
course should be tested and thoroughly tried out before being 
applied to the schools. 

This is especially true, since in Ontario the control of educa- 
tional affairs is in the hands of a bureaucracy of professional 
educationists. Conversant as these men may be with the psycho- 
logical theory and schoolroom practice of education, learned as they 
may be in the academic knowledge of their respective departments, 
they are less familiar with the social aspects of the question. Gradu- 
ates in other professions are compelled by their vocational duties 
to mingle with the world and to adjust their university experience 
to real life. But, as a rule, the educationist has little opportunity 
and less necessity for doing this. As a result the specifications 
in the curriculum devised by them do not always correspond 
with the training and information requisite for everyday life. 

The School and the Course 65 

The order issued by the Department several years ago, in spite 
of protests made by nearly every newspaper in the Province, 
whereby the "our'* spelling was substituted for the "or" spelling 
in a number of words, is an excellent example of this lack of sym- 
pathy with public conditions and demands. The child learns to 
spell "labour" from his spelling-book, and then reads "labor 
troubles in Britain" in the newspaper. The Department in this 
democratic country cannot remake the world in conformity with 
its ideals. The democratic spirit of progress along all lines must 
be trusted, and the means and ends of education made to conform 
to it. 

At the same time education must be conservative. It must 
possess stability. It cannot change with the views of every clamour- 
ing journalist. Progressive democracy must find authoritative 
expression. Modifications should be made in the curriculum only 
after some competent body or institution has threshed out new 
educational ideas, separated the grain from the straw, and thor- 
oughly tested it before passing it on to the schools. The work of 
the Department of Education is executive in character, not for- 
mative. Hence the need of some organised body to evolve those 
conceptions of education which it is the function of the Depart- 
ment to carry out. 

"The university is ... an integral part of the public school 
system ... its ideals control the development of all that falls 
below it ... an agency recognised by the people for resolving the 
problems of civilisation which present themselves in the develop- 
ment of civilisation."* Since the problems of education are among 
the most important problems of civilisation, and since the uni- 
versity furnishes ideals for the public schools, it is evidently the 
duty of the university to investigate not only the problem of 
modifying the elementary science course, but likewise the ques- 
tion of introducing better teaching methods in connection with 
it. In the previous chapter it was shown that the experiences of 
the citizen, the scientist and the educator were essential in the 
compilation of a science syllabus. The university is the only 
institution in which these three forces are focussed. It is evidently 
the function of the university to investigate these problems; but 
the investigation must be carried out according to modern methods. 

♦Harper: "Trend in Higher Education", p. 527. 

66 The School and the Course 

It will not do to turn from the opinions of the Department officials 
and accept the opinions of the university faculty. That would 
be jumping from the frying pan into the fire, since the officials of 
the Department are more in touch with and have a better con- 
ception of real conditions than the faculty of the university. Buc 
this work should not be based upon opinion at all. 

To fulfil its function in this direction, the university should 
establish educational laboratories in which real evidence may be 
examined by scientific methods of investigation, and conclusions 
derived which are founded on facts and not on mere opinions. 
The needs of modern Canadian civilisation should be determined 
from inquiry into real conditions and real experiences. They 
should find out what the people do, and the conditions surround- 
ing the doing of it; what the average man needs to know for the 
purposes of well being; how he needs to think and act in order to 
make life a success. The needs of other countries are not identical 
with our needs, neither can their educational programmes and 
methods be identical with ours. It will be the duty of these labora- 
tories to investigate the needs of both common and special education 
in our own country and to devise ways and means of satisfying 
these needs. This data may be obtained by direct observation, 
or by consultation with those engaged in the ordinary activities 
of life. The main point is that the data shall be real and repre- 
sentative of the general life of the Province, and that it shall 
have been carefully sifted, tested and organised by men trained 
and skilled in such work. 

The science faculty should be called upon to organise a course 
based upon this data. The general conceptions of science involved 
should be scheduled and the frequency and importance of their 
applications to the affairs of real life should be noted. With each 
should be associated the main classes of common phenomena 
relevant to it. In a similar way the methods of scientific research 
of use in the ordinary affairs of life should be noted. Their relative 
importance and the lines of investigation along which each can 
best be used should be specified. 

In these laboratories the faculties of education should study 
the phenomena of child development. It will be their function 
to arrange the scheduled outline into a working curriculum. They 
must adapt the course to the seasons; they must group the topics 
in accordance with the child's attention periods at different stages 

The School aistd the Course (57 

of his school career; they must arrange the topics in relation to 
the child's increasing ability; they must likewise determine the 
order in which the methods of scientific research are to be taught, 
and to what extent they shall be used. In short, they are to make 
a threefold adjustment among the subject matter, the method, 
and the growing mind of the child. 

The curriculum in elementary science devised from such 
research would harmonise with the needs of ordinary life, would 
be organised along scientific lines and would be developed accord- 
ing to the principles of pedagogy. The programme being com- 
paratively permanent, violent changes, so disorganising to school 
work, would be avoided and the teacher would be given an oppor- 
tunity to perfect his teaching methods. Teachers-in-training 
participating in this work would see the true relation between 
education and life, would gain valuable experience in educational 
research work, which would stand them in good stead when they 
came to adjust this general curriculum to the detailed and special 
conditions of the particular schools in which they taught. Some 
American and English universities have such laboratories, and 
in these many of our modern methods of education have been 
evolved. In Ontario our faculties of education are almost entirely 
concerned with teacher-training. Courses of study, methods of 
teaching and ideals of education which work well in other coun- 
tries, we adopt directly. But we have our own special conditions 
and our own particular problems, and it is evident on the face 
of it that these adopted educational practices, no matter how 
satisfactory they may be under foreign conditions, can never be 
exactly suited to our needs. So, while we may greatly benefit 
from the experiences of foreign educational institutions and sys- 
tems, it is incumbent upon us to seek our own salvation. 

On the other hand, the university has no right to exercise an 
executive control, either directly or indirectly, over secondary 
education. Its function in this matter is purely in the direction 
of discovery and research. Its duty is formative only, to prepare 
leaders in the educational world, to resolve the problems of educa- 
tion, and to evolve and formulate the ideals of education. 

Modern progress in civilisation demands a better fundamental 
education from all students. This is especially true in the depart- 
ment of science. "The applications of science to life have so trans- 
formed our surroundings that we live in a very different world 

68 The School and the Course 

from that of fifty years ago. To live properly in this new world is 
to understand it, to fit into it and to make the best use of it. Since 
the changes are due chiefly to scientific inventions and improve- 
ments, progress in education calls for a direct and more practical 
acquaintance with the sciences by common people".* The modern 
growth of democracy extends the field of common education. 
With the industrial, political and social uplift comes the demand 
that the great body of common people be better fitted for the new 
duties of citizenship. 

Two centuries ago practically all education was special, and 
was confined to a knowledge and culture caste. The great mass 
of people, living in a narrow sphere of activity, required little 
formal education. The primary schools in reality served as feeders 
to the universities. The rising tide of democracy and the rapid, 
material progress brought about the establishment of free, common, 
primary schools in which the child was adapted to the essential 
features of the new social life. But for a growing democracy the 
bare necessities of a formal education of fifty years ago are no 
longer sufficient. Secondary schools are becoming free institu- 
tions ; continuation classes are being established in public schools ; 
the course in fundamental education is being extended into the 
secondary schools; and the age limit of compulsory attendance 
is being raised. All this means that the secondary school, which 
had taken the place of the primary school as a feeder to the uni- 
versities, is in turn coming from under the shadow of the univer- 
sity, and is being recognised as an institution of general education. 
At present its function is of a dual nature. It prepares some 
students for entrance into higher educational institutions, and 
completes the general education of others. The training for 
those entering the university, the professional schools, or the 
normal schools, is as it should be of a special character in the 
higher forms. But for the first two years the course is more or 
less of a general nature. 

"The state and church alike may have their own schools 
and colleges for the training of youthful minds and for the pro- 
pagation of special kinds of intelligence, and in these it may choose 
what special colouring shall be given to the instruction. . . . But 
such schools are not universities. "f So long as the university 

*McMurry: "Special Methods in Elementary Science", p. 56. 

fHarper: "Trend in Higher Education", p. 8. 

The School and the Course 69 

remains a special institution neither maintained nor controlled 
by the state, it has the right to dictate its own terms of admission. 
The professional schools and the normal schools may also demand 
certain qualifications from those seeking entrance. Since it is the 
duty of the statje to prepare students for the special activities of 
social life, it is right that the state should fit them for the matricu- 
lation and normal entrance examinations, because these are the 
gateways to many special social duties and occupations. But 
neither the university as a body, nor the professional schools, nor 
the normal schools have a right to interfere in the state system of 
general education, whose concern it is to prepare citizens for the 
general activities of social life. While special courses may be 
evolved from, or even added to the general course of the lower 
school, this general course should be obligatory on all students. 
Its sole purpose should be to prepare students for the general 
activities of citizenship. The curriculum and graduation examin- 
ations connected with the general course should be entirely under 
state control and uninfluenced by the demands of special institu- 
tions. All secondary school pupils should satisfactorily complete 
this same common fundamental course before proceeding to their 
more special work. In brief, the lower school course which would 
include elementary science, should in every way be made a general 
course. Any subjects which a pupil may take in addition for 
matriculation or other purposes should be recognised as parts of a 
distinct, separate, special course. 


Methods of teaching science; the teaching of science methods. Methods 
are not specified on the curriculum, hence not explicitly taught. The present 
course too extensive, specified in too great detail, and divorced from the environ- 
ment of ordinary life. The results of these defects on method-ideals and method- 
habits. Problem-finding: the appeal to real evidence; descriptive observation; 
experimental observation; the abolition of dictated experiments. 

ONE finds great difficulty in discussing or criticising the 
teaching of scientific method, for this reason: that the 
information to be gained from a study of science is so 
extensive, important, and popular with the student body that in 
the Ontario High Schools of to-day the imparting of scientific 
knowledge seems to have quite eclipsed the training in scientific 
method as the chief aim of science teaching. Indeed, the teaching 
of scientific method seems to have become almost synonymous 
with the method of science teaching, that is, with the plans taken 
by the teacher to convey information to his students. The scien- 
tific method is scarcely regarded as a specific mode of mental 
action, or an habitual way of thinking and doing things, in which 
the pupils are to receive special training, but seems to be looked 
upon as a way of teaching, instead of something to be taught. 
Since the way the child is taught is the way the child will think 
and act, there would seem to be but little difference between 
"the teaching of scientific method" and "the method of teaching 

A comparison taken away from science teaching altogether 
may perhaps serve to illustrate the difference. The teaching of 
algebra is almost altogether a teaching of mathematical methods. 
A knowledge of algebraic conventions and of a few algebraic 
propositions is taught, but the chief aim is to train the student in 
methods of factoring, methods of solving equations, methods of 
finding the square root, etc. Now though all teachers in mathe- 
matics throughout the Province teach the same algebraic methods, 
different teachers adopt quite different teaching methods. When 


The School and Method Training 71 

we say that one mathematical master has a good method of teach- 
ing algebra and that another has a poor method, we do not mean 
that they teach different things, but that they teach in different 
ways while training the pupil in the same mathematical methods. 
But no matter what teaching method the master may adopt, he 
can scarcely fail to teach algebraic methods, not only because 
there is little else to teach in a study of that subject, but also 
because these methods are specified on the curriculum as things 
to be taught. On the other hand, it is quite possible for the science 
master to teach the pupil a great deal of science without giving 
him a training in scientific methods at all. This, possibility arises 
from the fact that in the study of science, besides a training in 
method, there is a great deal of scientific knowledge to be taught, 
and the master may unduly stress the latter aspect to the neglect 
of the former. And this possibility becomes almost a certainty 
when we consider that, unlike the curriculum in algebra, the 
science programme does not specify the scientific methods in which 
the pupil is to be trained. The syllabus says that the law of 
buoyancy is to be taught, but mentions nothing whatever about 
the method of "agreement" or the method of "concomitant 
variation ". As a result the teacher is quite likely to adopt a teach- 
ing method which will, in his opinion, most quickly and strongly 
impress the designated information upon the mind of the student. 
And we shall see reasons for believing that under present circum- 
stances the teaching method adopted cannot and does not coin- 
cide with the scientific method of research. 

Since this failure to accord scientific method an equal place 
with scientific knowledge is the chief source of error in the present 
teaching of scientific method (or the lack of it), a second illustra- 
tion may not be amiss. In the study of geometry we are partly 
concerned with training the students in geometric methods of 
proof and construction, and partly with giving them certain 
information having a practical value in itself. Now it is quite 
possible to teach geometry in a certain sense without teaching, 
to any appreciable extent, the geometrical methods. The infor- 
mation aspect may be unduly emphasised. Further, since the 
students use geometry text-books in which each proposition has 
attached to it a certain proof, it is possible and indeed it frequently 
happens that the student learns the proof itself as a piece of know- 
ledge. He "learns to prove" particular propositions instead of 

72 The School and Method Training 

learning methods of proving all propositions. I have distinct 
recollection of being able to "prove" all the propositions in the 
first book of Euclid, and yet unable to solve the very simplest 
problem or deduction. The proof given in the text was made an 
ultimate end of study, instead of being used as a specimen for the 
study of mathematical method. Even now, when the solution of 
problems and deductions occupies a fair part of the student's time, 
he may work them in a very haphazard way, and get only a con- 
fused conception of geometric method. This is due to the fact 
that while the curriculum specifies the theorems to be taught, it 
says very little about the methods of geometry in which the pupils 
are to be trained; and as a result the methods of geometrical 
reasoning are not always abstracted and taught as objects of study 
in themselves. 

I have given this second illustration (the truth of which can 
scarcely be questioned when one considers how difficult a subject 
many students who excel in algebra, find geometry to be, and how 
few candidates at Departmental examinations display ability to 
solve geometric deductions) to show that while the student may 
go through the form of a certain method, he does not necessarily 
comprehend the method itself or become proficient in its use. 
This possibility must be discussed, since the science curriculum 
insists upon the student performing experiments and making 
observations in connection with the specified topics. The nature 
of this laboratory work will be discussed later in the chapter. 
At present all I wish to show is, that it is quite possible for the 
student to "do" the proofs of science as he does the proofs of 
geometry, without gaining a knowledge of or an ability to use the 
method-habits involved in either case. The student may perform 
an experiment, either outlined by the teacher or in the Manual, 
write in his note-book an account of it together with the principle 
it is supposed to have discovered to him, and then learn it as a 
proof of that principle, much the same as the geometry student 
learns the proof of a proposition as given in the text. Many 
students are put through the form of a method the meaning and 
practice of which they never acquire. Other students performing 
the same experiments do "catch on" to the method employed 
in an uncertain, confused way. But unless scientific methods are 
abstracted and explicitly taught, the pupil can gain no definite 
conception of their practice. 

The School and Method Training 73 

Since the chief aim in science teaching is a training in scientific 
method rather than an acquisition of scientific information, the 
course in method teaching should be outHned on the curriculum 
equally with the course in knowledge-teaching. If it cannot be 
left to the teacher to decide the topics of study, neither should he 
decide the methods of study. If it is necessary to specify on the 
curriculum that the students shall study the morpholog^'^ of a 
wood-louse, surely it is equally necessary that a training in the 
methods of framing an hypothesis shall also be specified. There 
is no doubt that the present regulations issued by the Department 
do insistently demand that laboratory methods of instruction shall 
be employed. The very experiments which the student is to perform 
are described in detail. But we have seen previously that a student 
may study science in the laboratory and learn no more of the 
scientific method than if he had studied in the library — perhaps 
not as much. He may go through the form of research without 
having his attention directed to the modes of research. The pupil 
cannot learn the scientific method generally. As pointed out in 
Chapter II, scientific method is a complex of method-habits and 
method-ideals, and our discussion led us to believe that habits are 
special and specific, and that each must be specially taught. The 
teacher must devote definite time and attention to the develop- 
ment of each method-habit, and to impress this aspect of science- 
study on the teacher, as well as to guard against any neglect on 
his part, the curriculum should give the same place and importance 
to the methods of science that it now gives to the knowledge of 

On the other hand, the teaching of methods is not to be divorced 
from the teaching of scientific knowledge. The abstraction of 
method is to be carried out only to such an extent as will give 
the pupil a clear, definite view of the various modes of procedure. 
Method must never become a mere abstract, formal study, but 
must always be related to specific ends, to attain which it is em- 
ployed. When we consider scientific method as just refined 
common-sense, the teaching of method in connection with the 
teaching of knowledge will not prove difficult. During the lesson 
the child must simply be given full freedom to exercise that common- 

The next three criticisms of the present course deal with certain 
aspects which tend to limit the freedom of the child in the exercise 

74 The School and Method Training 

of that fairly well-developed common -sense he brings to the 

The present course is too extensive. If its sole aim were to 
impart scientific knowledge, little fault could be found with the 
length of the curriculum. But the student requires as much time 
to practise and exercise the methods of science as he would require 
to learn many times the information that this practice can dis- 
cover to him. It takes longer to acquire a habit, than to grasp 
an idea. Now if the field of information mapped out to be covered 
by the student is so extensive that he requires practically the whole 
of his time to get up the details of the work prescribed, it is evident 
that he will not have sufficient opportunity to practise and acquire 
the method-habits of science. 

The first two years' biology course in the Ontario High Schools 
covers about one hundred and seventy lesson periods of thirty 
minutes each. The course provides for the descriptive study of 
thirty-one named specimens, twelve common birds, and the wild 
animals and plants of the locality; the economic study of four 
insects and at least eight common weeds of the district; the classi- 
fication of twelve wild flowering plants; the discussion of twenty- 
eight general topics in connection with an examination of the 
phenomena exhibiting them; the performance of sixteen specified 
experiments; and the class review of reports on outdoor work, 
which, while it may be in connection with the study of the above 
topics, must be recorded in a separate part of the student's note- 
book. A certain amount of review work must also be taken up 
in connection with the Lower School examinations. In descrip- 
tive study, the class must eixamine the specimen, record their 
observations in their note-books, make drawings of parts, describe 
the function of these parts, and refer to the general life history 
of the organism studied. A period and a half (forty-five minutes) 
will be the minimum time in which the details of this work can 
be barely covered, with the class working under high pressure. 
Eighty-four lessons will be required for descriptive study. Six 
more will be taken up with the economic study of the four insects 
and eight weeds. To learn how to use the flora, and to classify 
twelve plants can scarcely be attempted by a teacher with ^any 
conscience at all in fewer than eight lessons. The teaching of 
such general topics as cross-fertilisation demands at least one 

The School and Method Training 75 

lesson period each, or twenty-eight in all. The mere mechanical 
performance of experiments on photo-synthesis, root-pressure, etc., 
can scarcely be accomplished in thirty minutes each. The high 
school inspector demands that at least five lessons each fall and 
spring term shall be devoted to the reports of the pupil's outdoor 
work. And if we take eight lessons to review for examination 
purposes, all of the time will have been used. 

It is evident on the face of it that every moment of school- 
time must be given over to the imparting of information, and 
that no time can be specially devoted to developing the scientific 
method. The free activity of the boy's common-sense is rigidly 
limited. It may be asserted that the scientific method may be 
used by the student in the study of these topics. In a restricted 
sense this is true, especially along lines of descriptive observation. 
But without considering for the present the relation of this syllabus 
to self-active, experimental observation which is more character- 
istic of scientific research, let us examine how the scientific method 
is developed under the more favourable conditions of descriptive 

The boy brings a specimen grasshopper to the class, and with 
it a dozen questions regarding grasshoppers of his past experi- 
ence. But the teacher must see that drawings and descriptions 
of the head, thorax and abdomen, the eyes, antennae, and mouth 
parts, the legs and wings, the segments and breathing pores, are 
entered in the student's note-book. The teacher must refer to 
the. function of each part, the life history of the insect, and its 
economic relation to the agricultural community. And he must 
do all this in forty-five minutes. This simply means that the 
teacher must volley questions at a machine-gun rate, and the 
class must volley back some sort of answers. 

"How many legs?" 


"Any difference ?" 

"Two large and four small." 

"Use of the larger pair?" 


"Of the two smaller pair?" 


76 The School and Method Training 

Some member of the class either observes the required answer, or 
guesses at it ; and the remainder of the class, seeing that the answer 
is accepted by the teacher, note it down. 

Poor teaching? Horrible! But is it the teacher's fault? 
He is not allowed to dictate notes, and in what other way 
can he get over all this work in forty-five minutes? There 
is no spare time, and the Lower School examiners will not 
accept original work from the student, but require text-book work. 
And what of the boy, bubbling over with questions relative to his 
own experience with grasshoppers, eager and anxious to fall in 
with and carry out any line of inquiry which will supply him 
with an answer. The teacher is compelled to "put him off" or 
to tell him directly the required information. He is given no 
chance to exercise and develop his common-sense activity into 
research methods. His attention is forced in one direction, while 
his real interests lie in another, and he soon learns to repress 
those interests while in school. 

It is not necessary that all topics on the course be studied 
through research methods. The boy may and should use the 
library, and so become familiar with the sources from which the 
greater part of our scientific information is usually derived. But 
the course should be lightened so that the class shall have sufficient 
time and opportunity to exercise research methods, until they can 
and do habitually use them. 

The course is specified in too great detail; too many concrete 
elements are introduced. This is not conducive to the teaching 
of scientific method. Save in descriptive observation, the scientific 
method is concerned with the concrete only so far as it serves as 
data from which general conceptions may be derived. The scien- 
tist does not care a button about the peculiar structure of the pitcher 
plant as a fact by itself. But it has a striking significance for him 
as an example of plant adaptation for the purpose of obtaining a 
necessary kind of food. But if the concrete elements of biology 
are specified as ends of study in themselves, no opportunity to 
practise those methods of abstracting general conceptions will be 
afforded for the student. And these methods are most truly 
characteristic of scientific research. In order to study the mor- 
phology of a grasshopper the student does not necessaiily have 
to frame hypotheses and test them by methods of agreement, etc. 
The pupil in reality is not studying science at all, but merely the 

The School and Method Training 77 

material from which science is developed. Such a course is not 
even suitable for training in methods of descriptive observation. 
As seen in Chapter III, descriptive study must follow certain 
forms of procedure which are determined by the end in view. The 
forms for descriptive observation are specific, both in relation to 
the material and the purpose. And each particular form must 
be related to its specific material and specific purpose. The pupil 
who studies a flower for the purpose of classification will adopt a 
quite different form of investigation from that of the student 
who studies the same flower in relation to cross-pollination. Des- 
criptive study apart from purpose is barren, meaningless, and 
uninteresting. But the purposes in view should be general con- 
ceptions rather than particular conceptions. 

To afford the pupil a training in the more characteristic methods 
of research, or even in the methods of descriptive observation, the 
course should specify the general rather than the concrete concep- 
tions to be taught. A great part of the present biology course 
deals with concrete elements. This is especially true of the cur- 
riculum in zoology. As a result, this course affords the pupil small 
field for exercise in methods of experimental observation. And 
this is particularly unfortunate, as there are many biological 
experiments of a simple character which may be readily devised 
and carried out by the pupil. Since these are only slightly removed 
from the pupil's normal common-sense methods of investigation, 
they would serve as an excellent introduction to the more complex 
experimental methods. On the other hand, the course in physics 
is not specified in concrete detail. General conceptions of science, 
together with cc^tain classes of phenomena in which they are 
exhibited, alone are mentioned. The teacher is at liberty to 
develop these conceptions from material supplied by the pupil's 
experience, either in the laboratory or out of school, and thus 
give the pupil a training in the more characteristic methods of 
scientific research. The course in biology should be recast along 
lines similar to the curriculum in physics. This elimination of 
concrete elements would do much to lighten the course, which at 
present is so extensive. 

The present course is too far removed from primary interests 
of the pupil and from the experiences of his out-of-school life. Many 
of the concrete details referred to above are not very familiar to 
the average student. The general conceptions of science could 

78 The School and Method Training 

be more readily developed from data supplied by the pupil than 
from data supplied by the Department. He would be interested 
in the former, and would be able to follow the true scientific method 
of finding a problem and then solving it. But the worst feature of 
the present divorce of school from home life is that scientific 
methods are developed from material quite unlike that which he 
finds in ordinary life. As a result, when scientific methods are 
developed in the laboratory, they will not "carry over" to the 
realm of practical life. The student does not see the possibility 
of their application in this field. 

Much might have been expected from the outdoor work pre- 
scribed. However, not only is the time that can be devoted to 
it limited by the amount of specified class-work, but instead of 
forming the basis from which each lesson springs and the field 
of application in which each lesson ends, we read that "the out- 
door observations should be separately recorded by the pupils".* 
The very thing that should have brought the problems of primary 
interest before the class, as well as data for their solutions, has 
been carefully excluded from regular class-work. Though the 
field for outdoor work in physics and chemistry is as extensive 
and fertile as in biology, no outdoor work beyond "the prepara- 
tion of simple apparatus at home" is prescribed or suggested. 
Instead of beginning the study of capillarity in an investigation 
of such common phenomena as the rise of oil in lamp-wicks, of 
water in the soil, or of ink in blotting-paper, and then defining 
the conceptions derived from these investigations by laboratory 
experiments, the pupil is immediately introduced to capillary 
tubes. He soon gets the idea that he can "experiment" only in 
the laboratory and with laboratory apparatus. 

To enable the pupil to devise and perform true scientific experi- 
ments (experiments whose need is apparent to him, and which he 
himself plans out and performs) and to relate the methods of 
experimental observation to the activities of everyday life, each 
lesson in science should be based on the out-door experience of 
the pupil. His out-door work should not be divorced from, but 
should form an essential part of the regular class-work. 

The four general defects of the present course in method- 
training, namely, that method study is not outlined on the curri- 
culum, that the programme is too extensive, that it is specified in 

*Report of the Minister of Education. Ontario, 1913. 

The School and Method Training 79 

/. too great a detail, and that it is divorced from the interest of the 
pupil and from the real life of the community, have so far been 
treated only in a general way. In the remaining part of the chapter, 
the influence of these defects upon the teaching of each particular 
method-habit and method-ideal will be briefly noted. 

The development of the pupil's problem-finding ability depends 
upon the activity of his primary interests. The boy continues 
to be an enquirer so long as problems arising from his own free 
experience receive consideration. He must be made to feel that 
these are "worth while", that the study of science is concerned 
with just such things. But when all the concrete details of the 
course are specified in the programme, then the class problems 
are bound to come from the teacher rather than from the boy. 
His primary interests are supplanted to a great extent by foreign 
interests whose activity depends upon the will of the teacher or 
some other external agency. Recently I asked a first form class 
how many legs a spider had. One-half the class did not know, 
and very few of the remainder were certain. Not more than eight 
per cent, remembered having actually counted them, and many 
of these had done so in the public school. Now if the morphology 
of the spider had been of normal interest to the students, every 
one of them would have voluntarily counted the number of legs 
(at home), since all have had frequent opportunity to do so. And 
though many questions are asked by students during the morpho- 
logical study from specimens, the questions are not the same as 
would be asked at home. The school questions arise from an 
abnormal interest created and kept active by the teacher. If the 
study of zoology were continued for some time such abnormal 
interests would no doubt become normal; but in the meantime 
the boy feels that his own experiences and problems are of little 
account in school life, and he drops them at the schoolroom door. 
Since elementary science is a general course subject, these problems 
and experiences should constitute the bulk of the course, because 
they are directly concerned with the ordinary things of life. If 
the course were restricted to general conceptions, and the concrete 
data from which these conceptions might be developed were left 
to the choice of the teacher and class, then the things the boy 
was interested in at home would be the things he liked at school. 
His own home problems would assume a new importance to him. 
If he found the teacher and class interested in knowing the very 

80 The School and Method Training 

things he wanted to know, his eagerness to initiate investigations 
would be tremendously stimulated. And if he also discovered 
that he himself could actually carry out these investigations to a 
successful issue, his self-evolved problems would assume a still 
greater importance. They would become motives of successful 
activity. Just as a man likes to bowl because he can bowl well, 
the boy would like to investigate because he could investigate 

With the partial exception of physical geography, all the 
sciences are now studied by the laboratory method. The pupil is 
trained to gather wisdom from first-hand experience. He is taught 
to base his conclusions on real evidence. But, as already indicated,, 
laboratory experience is in many respects artificial and arbitrary. 
While general methods of investigations can be best taught in the 
laboratory where experience is simplified and freed from extraneous 
matter, still the pupil must learn the way and get into the habit of 
gathering data from the ordinary experiences of life. He will 
not live in a laboratory. His investigating methods must be 
related to and fitted for the surroundings of everyday existence. 
He must learn to observe and experiment upon the things he finds 
at home. These will form the real data for the scientific investi- 
gations of his mature years. But, at present, the outdoor work, 
instead of forming the basis of the regular class-work, is divorced 
from it, and receives scant attention. In the laboratory experience 
is manufactured instead of being organised. The boy who has 
seen railroad steel "buckle" during the summer, or has seen the 
smith setting a waggon tire, or has noticed the stove-lids "swelling", 
has learned from real data that iron expands when heated, just 
as truly as the boy who performs a carefully devised experiment 
at school. He has learned more; he has learned where to look for 
real evidence. When he goes out into the world, his methods of 
investigation will "fit in" with his surroundings, since they have 
been developed in connection with just such things. The labora- 
tory should supplement, not supplant, the student's outdoor 
work. Those problems which the boy cannot decide by means of 
outdoor evidence may be carried to the laboratory and submitted 
to more accurate and more refined methods of investigation. 
Experimentation is simply controlled observation. Doubtful 
factors may there be established or eliminated, and the values of 
factors may be measured, but investigations should begin with 

The School and Method Training 81 

outdoor data and make use of them as far as possible. To make a 
good citizen the boy wants a knowledge of practical everyday 
methods of investigation rather than of special theoretical methods. 

The present plan of training in descriptive observation leaves 
little to be desired. The pupil is trained to examine systematically 
and accurately, and to use and have confidence in his own per- 
ceptive power. Given a specimen, he must see things for himself 
and describe things by himself. In the actual teaching practice, 
however, the present course is so extensive that the lessons have to 
be hurried over. The teacher can never be certain that all the 
members of the class have actually observed and found out for 
themselves the thing which is under discussion. If the present 
course were lightened, the teacher would be in a position to re- 
quire each member of the class to write out his descriptive observ- 
ations before any answers were taken, thus insuring independent 
work on the part of each. But if the present course is to be covered 
during the regular class periods this cannot always be done. As 
it is, the lesson is either broken up into a series of question — 
answer — note, question — answer — note, or the whole topic is 
treated by class discussion and then the student writes out his 
account. In either case there will be many in the class viewing 
the specimen through the eyes of other students. The high school 
inspectors demand that the notes in the students* note-books 
shall be written as the pupils make their observations. If this 
plan were universally followed (sufficient allowance being made 
at the time of inspection for defective observations which the 
students are more or less certain to make), though the note-books 
would not present as perfect an appearance, the aim of method 
teaching would be placed on an equal standing at least with the 
aim of knowledge teaching. The note-books would no longer be 
historical accounts of studies in biology. They would be true 
scientific note-books, with some parts erased, others crossed out, 
and with additions written in here and there, but on the whole 
resembling very much the civil engineer's loose-leaf pocket-book. 

Then again, we probably have too much description for de- 
scription's sake. The regulations require that all studies of form 
shall end in studies of function. But this is placing the two in a 
co-ordinate rather than a subordinate relation. Indeed to a certain 
extent function is subordinated to a study of form, rather than 
the reverse. As indicated previously, each specific form or scheme 

82 The School and Method Training 

of making observations should be adapted to a specific purpose. 
If a student is examining a plant for the purpose of classifying it, 
his observation scheme will be quite different from the one he would 
use in a study of its economic value, or from that followed in a 
study of cross-fertilisation. Were general scientific conceptions 
alone outlined on the course and the concrete material used in 
their study left to the teacher and class, a special relation would 
be established between each particular purpose and the method 
of observation suited to it. 

But while the present plan of teaching descriptive observation 
is on the whole very good, and improving every year, there is at 
present practically no training in those methods of experimental 
observation more nearly akin to science study. As seen in Chapter 
III, experimentation is a method of study in which the student 
first draws up a list of possible causal factors, then purges this 
list until he finds a working hypothesis, and lastly proceeds to 
test this hypothesis in certain definite ways. "Laws have been 
discovered by something like a happy guess from very rough 
observations, while the confirmation of the guess depends on 
methods of greater refinement which generally depend altogether 
on a knowledge of the law itself they are intended to prove".* 
If scientific investigation is a mode of thinking, it is quite certain 
that the student, to receive training, must do that thinking. 

After careful investigation I have found that the majority (no 
exceptions among those asked) of the science masters in the Pro- 
vince dictate to their pupils detailed outlines of the experiments 
to be performed. These are taken from the Manual of Sugges- 
tions, from text-books, or are devised by the teacher. As a rule, 
only one experiment is performed to establish each law or principle 
or general conception. The pupil performs the experiment, that 
is, goes through the mechanical operations as directed, and from 
the result is led to formulate some generalised conception. Either 
Chapters II and III are entirely wrong, or this is not a training 
in scientific methods of investigation. Experiments thus per- 
formed may vividly impress certain information, or may illustrate 
certain principles, but the teacher, not the student, thinks them 
out. If a mathematical master wrote out the solution of each 
problem to be solved, and required the student merely to do the 
multiplying and dividing, that student would receive little or no 
*Cumming: "Electricity", p. 33. 

The School and Method Training 83 

training in the methods of problem-solving, although he might 
receive a training in elementar>' mathematical operations. "The 
essence of heuristic method is that the pupil learns to think for 
himself, not that he learns to do certain things with his hands, 
though that, too, may be involved. There is nothing in the heu- 
ristic method, for example, if a pupil in a chemical or physical 
laboratory works 'experiments' which have been dictated to him 
by his teacher. To him they are not experiments at all, for the 
essence of experiment is the mental planning of what is to be done 
and the clear conception of why it is worth doing. If on the other 
hand the pupil does this mental part of the work, it is compara- 
tively unimportant who carries out the actual physical manipu- 
lation".* As in the study of descriptive observation the child 
is trained to see for and by himself, so in experimental observa- 
tion he should be trained to think out his own solutions. 

It may be contended that if the student intelligently follow 
the different experiments (thus performed), if he be led to see the 
reason for each step, he will "catch on" to the general methods 
followed. If the experiments performed were real scientific in- 
vestigations, this would be true. No doubt his conceptions of 
methods would be rather vague and confused since these would 
not have been explicitly taught him, but an intelligent student 
under a painstaking teacher would get a fair knowledge of method. 
But the present series of prescribed experiments are not real 
scientific investigations at all. The pupil who does "catch on" 
gets a false knowledge of method. 

At present students form so-called general conceptions from 
the results of single experiments or single experiences. A general 
conception based on a single experience is a contradiction of terms. 
The concrete judgment, which alone can be justly pronounced, 
may be accompanied by a guess at some more general concep- 
tion; but this remains nothing more than a guess, until its pro- 
bability has been estimated by submitting it to the test of other 
experiences. The need, the method, the habit of doing this 
constitutes the essence of scientific method. "One of the chief 
advantages derived from the teaching of natural or physical 
science should be the recognition by the pupil of the difficulty 
of arriving at truth and of the need of caution in making inferences 

*Welton: "Logical Bases of Education", p. 256. 

84 The School and Method Training 

from insufficient evidence".* The student who gains his know- 
ledge of method from the pjresent experimental course receives 
an impression of research quite opposite the true method-ideal 
of all scientific investigation. The "one experiment to one prin- 
ciple" plan teaches him that general truths are absolute and 
may be derived from one experience rather than that general 
truths are probable and must be deduced from many experiences. 
If the student has failed to grasp the fundamental method- 
idea of all real sciencific investigation, surely it is most improbable 
to suppose that he will be able to "catch on" to correct method- 
habits through the performance of dictated experiments. Neither 
in the Manual of Suggestions nor in the Physics text-book are to 
be found true qualitative experiments whose function it is to dis- 
cover causal factors through a process of trial and elimination. 
An examination of science note-books from different schools, and 
an inquiry among the science teachers of the Province show that 
the real qualitative experiment is seldom, if ever, used. The 
student does not draw up a preliminary list of possible causal factors 
and then test each by the method of "difference" or "concomitant 
variation". It is very doubtful whether many students have even 
a faint idea that they are testing an hypothesis at all. In some of 
the science note-books (from the better class of high schools) each 
record starts out with the purpose of the experiment, for example, 
"To show that solids expand when heated". On the face of it, 
it is evident that this does not record an experiment, but a demon- 
stration. The student has not a doubt in the world as to the out- 
come of the process. The teacher and text-book have both told 
him that solids expand when heated, and he merely expects to 
see a sample of that expansion. The pupil cannot select, test, 
and choose among causal factors, since the dictated experiment 
simply thrusts the right factor upon his notice. He is told in 
fact, if not in words — "This is the causal factor; watch it work!" 
The true method is just the reverse — "You see the causal factors 
working; find them!" He can never become familiar with the 
"Method of agreement" since one experiment (for him) proves 
one principle. The "method of difference" requires that at least 
two experiments shall be performed, in one of which the factor 
to be tested is present, while in the other it is absent. Since he 
performs a demonstrative rather than two comparative experi- 
*Ibid.: p. 260. 

The School and Method Training 85 

ments, he cannot "catch on" to this method either. Since only 
the factor given him by the teacher is in mind, he will not see the 
necessity of guarding against the influence of other possible factors. 

It would seem as if quantitative experiments were, in many 
cases, substituted for qualitative. A causal factor should be dis- 
covered before it is measured. Qualitative experiments should 
always precede quantitacive. While in the curriculum we find 
that "the relation between the volume and pressure of a gas" is 
specified before the "proof of Boyle's Law", yet inquiry and an 
examination of science note-books reveal the fact that many 
teachers begin the study of Boyle's Law, Archimedes' Principle, etc., 
by quantitati\e experiments, thus requiring the pupil to measure 
a factor which is as yet unknown to him. This fault is, in the 
main, due to poor teaching, and can be charged against the present 
curriculum only so far as the latter fails to specify the teaching 
of methods as part of its content. 

On the other hand, any intelligent boy can get a fair grasp of 
the "method of concomitant variation" as used in many of the 
quantitative experiments now employed. Variations are made 
in a causal factor and a mathematical relation is established 
between the measure of the variation and the measured change 
in the result. Possibly the use and importance of the "method of 
averaging results" to obtain a final conclusion is neither intelli- 
gently taught nor its practice insisted upon. While the majority 
of quantitative experiments used are good, others are vicious. 
In the study of buoyancy an experiment is outlined in which the 
pupil is directed to balance a brass cylindrical cup containing a 
solid brass cylinder just fitting inside it. The solid cylinder is 
then removed, hooked below the cup and immersed in water. 
On filling the cup with water the original balance is restored. 
Neither the method nor apparatus are those employed in real 
investigation, but have been devised by learned scientists to 
illustrate principles already discovered and formulated. They 
are the products of mature minds, not the tools of inquiring minds. 
The principle of buoyancy may be beautifully illustrated, but not 
investigated, by such an experiment. Unless the boy already 
knows the answer he will be unable to manipulate the apparatus, 
and if he does know the answer he is not investigating. 

The present course of dictated demonstrative "experiments" 
tends to foster rashness in forming judgments, and even encourages 

86 The School and Method Training 

mental dishonesty. In the study of "expansion due to heat" the 
student heats a flask of water, which has been stopped with a doubly 
perforated cork through which a glass tube and a thermometer 
are thrust. When the flask is heated the water rises in the tube. 
From this one experiment he is led to discover that water or even 
any liquid expands when heated. A week later when studying 
*'the maximum density of water" he performs an experiment in 
which the same apparatus is used, only this time it is placed in 
a freezing mixture. From this experiment he concludes that 
water between certain temperatures contracts when heated. 
Mental honesty is sacrificed to secure uniformity. The first 
generalisation is rash; in fact it is impossible, since the only con- 
clusion to be drawn from a single experiment must be concrete 
and specific. General and abstract conceptions from their very 
nature must be the product of a number of experiences. Such 
experiments surely must "cultivate that habit of rashness in draw- 
ing conclusions, and that inability to estimate the force of evidence 
which it is the special task of education to replace by the very 
opposite qualities".* 

It is evident that the present course in dictated demonstrative 
experiments not only gives the student false method-ideals of 
scientific investigation, but that, with the exception of the "method 
of concomitant variation" as found in certain quantitative ex- 
periments, he receives no training in the method-habit of research. 
The only remedy is to abolish entirely the present course of dictated 
experiments, and to place the teaching of scientific methods on 
the same footing in the curriculum as the teaching of scientific 
knowledge. At present the science teacher is strictly forbidden 
to dictate notes; he should be strictly enjoined from dictating 

It may be objected that such a plan would require too great 
an expenditure of time. If all of the present programme were to 
be taught this way, it would indeed require too much of the school 
time. But we have already referred to the fact that it is not neces- 
sary to use the scientific method in teaching all the curriculum. 
It is to be used until the pupil is able to handle it. It is not so 
much a way of teaching as a thing to be taught. Although it is 
profitable to teach the specified knowledge along with and by 
means of the method, still much of this information can be taught 
*Welton: "Logical Bases of Education", p. 259. 

The School and Method Training 87 

by other means after the pupil has become familiar with the use 
of the method. When the concrete details have been eliminated 
from the biology course, the curriculum will be much shortened. 
During the past three years I have been testing the lower school 
classes in different parts of the physics course. With the excep- 
tion of a few experiments, such as the electrolysis of water, the 
entire course has been tried out in sections during that time. I 
am posicive that the entire two-year course (with the exception 
of a few topics which should not be in it anyway) c^n be covered 
within the required time, the pupil using the true scientific method 

It may also be objected that results obtained in this way will 
not be sufficiently accurate. Again we see the insistence upon 
knowledge-teaching rather than method-teaching. One might 
as well insist that a boy learning arithmetic should use an adding- 
machine. But the objection is not true. Boyle discovered the 
law named after him by means of apparatus far more simple than 
that used in the present class-room. The careful manipulation of 
simple apparatus will bring results the accuracy of which will 
be as delicate as the mind of a boy can appreciate or the require- 
ments of ordinary life demand. The averaging of the results 
obtained by different members of the class will, as a rule, very 
closely approximate the established principle. But if a training in 
scientific methods of investigation is essential to good citizenship, 
the boy must receive that training, no matter what has to be thrown 
overboard in the way of theory or present practices. 


Study of buoyancy introduced by a lesson on flotation. Establishment of 
preliminary list of possible causal factors. Purging of list by use of method of 
difference and concomitant variation. Generalisation. Informal use of method 
of agreement to substantiate the generalisation. Lesson on buoyancy. Lesson 
on practical applications of the principles arrived at. 

THE training process cannot be reduced to a set of fixed rules. 
Different topics will require different methods of treat- 
ment, and the details of subject-matter will vary with 
the class and with the school. The general conception of scientific 
method has been developed in the previous chapter. Illustration 
lessons will be given in this chapter in order to show the way 
this conception is to be correctly applied. 

In Chapter VI, Section II, a way of teaching buoyancy, con- 
trary to the ideas of scientific method, was discussed. The following 
is not a model lesson, but a synopsis of the efforts of an ordinary 
class to make use of the true scientific method in organising their 
vague ideas and experiences of buoyancy. Instead of developing 
the idea of flotation as a corollary to the principle of buoyancy, 
as is usually the way, the conception of buoyancy has been evolved 
from the idea of flotation, because the pupil has had more experience 
with phenomena exhibiting the latter. The last few minutes of 
the previous lesson had been skilfully directed to the discussion of 
flotation, and the pupils were asked to find out what they could 
about the subject at home. 

During the following lesson, the pupils were first asked to 
suggest possible causal factors of flotation, what made an object 
sink or float. One suggested that, as wood floated and stones 
and iron sank, the substance of the object used was one factor. 
A second said that iron ships floated. The first replied that the 
ships were really made of wood with just a thin sheet of iron on 
the outside. A third remarked that canoes were sometimes made 
of pressed steel, and a fourth remembered a toy metal ship at 

Some Experimental Lessons 89 

home. The first answered, that while a small iron ship might 
float, a large one would sink. It was agreed that "substance", 
"shape", and "size" were to be listed as possible factors. Another 
pupil remarked that a person could float more easily in salt than 
in fresh water. This caused another to recollect that eggs floated 
in pickle brine. The "fluid used" was added to the list; and no 
other possible factors being suggested, each one on the list was 
examined in turn. Four minutes of class time were used in making 
the list. Twice the teacher had to check discussions which tended 
to pass into the second stage before the first was completed. 

The majority agreed that "size" could be eliminated, giving 
as reason chat icebergs or large logs of wood floated as well as 
small pieces of ice or wood. A few maintained that, though the 
larger object might float, it sank deeper in the water. The class 
were given large and small blocks of wood of the same thickness. 
After experimenting with these in tanks of water they all agreed 
to cross out "size" from the list. Among the first four a sharp 
discussion regarding "substance" arose. They compromised on 
the statement that if objects were of the same shape the material 
affected their flotation. But when the discussion came to "shape", 
it was evident that Number One was not yet convinced. She and 
her supporters still maintained that a ship made entirely of iron 
would not float. They agreed that boats made of sheet lead 
would do to test the case, though one of her opponents objected 
that, lead being heavier than iron, the test would not be fair to 
his side of the question. Number One, driven into the last ditch 
by the results of experiments tried with boats made of sheet lead, 
declared that, if the sides were very thick, the boat would sink. 
A boy said that the first boat he made was not very deep, and 
sank when placed on tie water. This caused another to remark, 
that the boat he made leaked and sank. This result seemed so 
obvious that the class laughed. The results obtained from ex- 
periments with thick-sided boats and shallow boats plainly per- 
plexed them, as no one could state a relation between shape and 
flotation. The boy whose leaking boat had been the subject of 
mirth spoke up and said that, since his boat in sinking had not 
changed its shape, shape was not a factor at all. Just as the teacher 
inquired what caused the boat to sink, the class-bell rang, and the 
class were requested to think over the question at home. 

90 Some Experimental Lessons 

At the opening of the following lesson many were ready with 
examples to show that the weight, rather than the material or 
shape, should appear on the list as a causal factor. Having pre- 
viously studied "density", they were soon in a position to state 
that when an object was not as dense as water it floated on water. 
The discussion, especially in regard to boats, emphasised the fact 
that it was the density of the entire object that had to be con- 
sidered. The next topic for discussion was the "nature of the fluid 
used" as a causal factor. They wished to experiment with the 
liquids which they had used the week before in the study of specific 
gravity, and found that the wooden blocks floated deeper in coal- 
oil than in water, deeper in fresh water than in salt water, deeper 
in water than in mercury. One group demonstrated the fact that 
a coin would float on mercury, another group that coal-oil floated 
on water. They speedily came to the conclusion that the density 
of the fluid used was the determining factor. The general con- 
clusion drawn from these qualitative experiments was that an 
entire object less dense than a fluid floated on the fluid ; the denser 
the fluid the higher the object floated. 

Reference was now made to a question which had been asked 
some time before, as to what weight a vessel would carry without 
sinking. One or two thought the boat could be loaded until it 
was as heavy as water. But since the majority were not certain, 
they tried the experiment of placing weights on a block of wood 
until it just floated in water. Then the volume of the block was 
determined by measuring its dimensions: the weight was ascer- 
tained in some cases by using a balance, in other cases it was 
calculated from the specific gravity which had been determined 
the week before. One class and two homework questions were 
given as to what weight a raft of given dimensions ^nd having a 
certain specific gravity would carry without sinking in water. 

On the following day after the home-work was taken up, some- 
one inquired how balloons floated. The teacher asked what 
happened to a block of wood placed near the bottom of a tank of 
water. He was told that it rose to the surface, since the block was 
less dense than the water. From this the pupil reasoned that the 
balloon rose, because it was less dense than air, and that it would 
continue to rise until it reached a stratum of air whose density 
was the same as that of the balloon. In the lesson on specific 
gravity the class had found that a quart of air weighed about one 

Some Experimental Lessons 91 

gram. Some questions as to the lifting pKJwer of a balloon were 
now given them. 

The weight of a floating block and of a submerged block of 
wood was then discussed. The class soon agreed that in the first 
case the weight was zero and in the second case it was a negative 
quantity. They were then asked if the weight of a piece of iron 
submerged in water was lessened. One boy remarked that it was 
easier to lift a rock in water than out of it; but, as most of the class 
were doubtful, they tried weighing pieces of lead, copper, iron, 
and limestone tied by a string to a spring balance, first in the air 
and then in the water. Possible causal factors were then suggested 
and listed on the blackboard. Those given were: "density", 
"size", "shape", "material" and "fluid used". "Material" and 
"shape" were rejected without recourse to experiments. The 
class then tried different sized blocks of the same substance, and 
the same sized blocks of different substances, first in water, then 
in coal-oil, and then in salt water. They concluded that the two 
causal factors of buoyancy were the size of the object and the 
density of the liquid. To get an exact statement of the relation, 
the experiments were repeated, the volumes of the various blocks 
being first ascertained in cubic centimetres. It was found that 
each cubic centimetre of the various objects used lost one gram 
in weight when weighed in water and 9 grams when weighed in 
coal-oil. Part of the recess period was used before the law was 
finally determined, and formulated thus, "that each cubic centi- 
metre of an object immersed in a fluid lost the weight of one cubic 
centimetre of the fluid". 

The following lesson was more or less open and dealt with 
applications of the idea of buoyancy. Each group was given a 
mixture of sand and sawdust, and asked to separate the two 
substances. Each group successfully solved the problem by 
shaking the mixture in a beaker of water. But when they were 
given a mixture of sand and sulphur to separate, only about half 
the number of groups were able to solve the problem independently 
by using the process of sedimentation. At the most, however, 
only a hint was required to put the others on the right track. 
The uses of this process in gold-mining, cleaning grain, etc., were 
then discussed, and reference was made to the formation of strata 
in sedimentary rock as the process was revealed on the near-by 
lake shore. The method of raising sunken vessels and the water- 

92 Some Experimental Lessons 

tight compartments of ships were also discussed. As the end of 
the period drew near, the question as to the cause of buoyancy 
came up. This formed the starting-point for the study of "pres- 
sure at a depth" and "Pascal's Principle", which formed the 
topics of the following lessons. 

The above, being examples of actual lessons and hence falling 
short of ideal conceptions, still show that the ideas of scientific 
method outlined in Chapters III and VI can be applied in the 
ordinary school. The lessons were founded upon and resulted in 
the organisation of primary experiences of the pupils. The topics 
dealt with matters relative to the life of ordinary citizens. The 
pupil's problem-finding ability was developed, since a great part 
of the time was devoted to answering, or rather giving the pupil 
opportunity to answer questions raised by himself. Conceptions 
were founded on real data. The pupil devised his own experi- 
ments and passed just judgments on the results. General con- 
clusions were extracted from a number of experiences, and during 
the first lesson, at least, the original generalisation had to be 
modified and recast. The general conception was related to 
different classes of phenomena, and the pupil was given practice 
in making practical use of his knowledge. 


Topics in a general course subject should not receive technical treatment. 
The terminology employed should be that used in ordinary life and a vernacular 
nomenclature substituted for the present technical system of biological classifi- 
cation. Principles of science as organising centres. An undifferentiated course 
in which the common physical phenomena of life are grouped about scientific 
principles. Essential knowledge that does not lend itself to heuristic methods 
of investigation in high schools. Laboratory and library teaching should go 
hand in hand. 

SINCE the content of any course depends to a great extent 
upon the place that course occupies in the school system, 
and since it was maintained that in the subject of 
elementary science the subject-matter must lend itself to the 
teaching of method, it has been found necessary to discuss many 
aspects of the present course in Chapters V and VI. The business 
of this chapter will be to tie up the loose ends of that discussion, 
and to consider more especially those features of the programme 
having a distinct value as knowledge. 

In Chapter VI it was shown that the requirements of method- 
training demand that at least part of the course should treat of 
topics of primary interest to the student. He must bring problems 
concerning these to the school, and he must discover data to be 
used in solving them in his everyday surroundings. His methods 
of investigation must have been acquired in connection with the 
study of commonplace topics in order that they may be directly 
transferred from the school to practical life. Chapter IV main- 
tained that since elementary science was an essential feature of 
general rather than special education, preparing the student for 
the ordinary duties of citizenship, the content of the programme 
should deal with the common rather than the special technical 
aspects of science study. Thus we see that the knowledge requi- 
site to good citizenship, and the topics required for the purposes 
of method-training are of the same general character. The entire 
curriculum should, therefore, be based upon the common experi- 
ence of the average boy or girl. 


94 The School and the Curriculum 

But in Chapter V it was shown that the course in zoology was 
expressly based upon a technical scheme of classification. As a 
result much time is devoted to technical descriptive study of 
specimens. "Comparison of a grasshopper with a cricket or 
cockroach, leading to the recognition of the order Orthoptera" 
is a topic clearly suited to special rather than general education, 
yet it is placed on the curriculum for the work of the third week. 
Throughout the entire course in this subject the study of function 
is treated as an adjunct to the study of form. But even from a 
scientific point of view, form is subjunctive to function. Only 
in technical classification, which forms a small, though important 
part of the study of science, is the study of form in itself of domi- 
nant importance. The student is not interested in technical 
classification, but he is interested in the living activities of animals. 
Instead of making each specimen in turn the organising centre 
of the student's ideas in zoology, his conceptions should be arranged 
about functional activities. Instead of studying all there is to 
know about a grasshopper, then all about an earth-worm, then 
a bird, and then a cat, he should study the locomotion of animals, 
their breathing, how they sense the outside world, etc. For ex- 
ample, in the study of respiration, he will find out how mammals, 
fish, - and insects breathe, how their organs of respiration are 
adapted to their respective environments, the physiology of the 
process, and finally a hygienic study of respiration in relation to 
his own well-being. The boy's ideas would then be organised 
about a true scientific conception centre. The concrete material 
could be eliminated from the programme and left to the choice of 
the class and teacher. 

The course in botany rests upon a larger foundation of common 
experience. It is organised to a much greater extent about plant 
function. Many of the general topics and all of the sixteen specified 
experiments deal with vital activities of plant life, rather than 
descriptive studies of form. Other general topics deal with eco- 
nomic relations. On the other hand the "identification of plants 
by means of a flora" tends to unduly emphasise technical descrip- 
tive teaching. "Stem structure in dicotyledons and monocotyle- 
dons", "varieties of axial and terminal types of inflorescence", 
"seed structure in dicotyledons, monocotyledons, and gymno- 
sperms" are topics much more closely associated with the study of 
technical classification than with the experiences and interests 

The School and the Curriculum 95 

of ordinary life. However, on the whole, if technical classifica- 
tion and its attendant topics were removed from the present course 
in botany, very little fault could be found with it. Certain topics 
might be more intimately related to the study of physical prin- 
ciples in which their explanations are to be found. But the greater 
part conforms to the primary interests of the child, to the know- 
ledge of use to the average citizen, and readily lends itself to 
treatment by scientific methods of research. The present course 
in physics and chemistry is also subject to little criticism in respect 
to its academic nature. Perhaps too much stress is placed upon 
the metric system of measurement throughout the course. It 
is something that, unfortunately, the pupils will have little use 
for in out-of-school life. If the present teaching of it will tend 
toward its general adoption throughout the country, it might 
with profit be retained upon the programme. But the fact that it 
is used in all measurements in special science-study is absolutely 
no argument in favour of its retention. It is not the function of 
a general course to teach the A, B, C's of a special course. The 
pupils never become familiar with it in a two-year course. When 
we speak of a gram the only idea that comes to their minds is that 
of a small brass weight, but when one refers to a pound there 
c omes to mind a picture of an iron weight, a cube of butter, a packet 
of tea or coffee, etc. There can be no doubt but that mathematical 
( onceptions in the science course will mean more to the student 
if expressed in the English system of measurement. And it is 
very doubtful whether the student at the end of a two-year course 
becomes so familiar with the use of the metric system and so 
aware of its advantages that he will favour a change in that direc- 
tion when he leaves school. 

Where the content of the programme is excessively technical 
in character, a great deal of technical terminology in the language 
of instruction is associated with it. For instance, to make intelli- 
gent use of a flora, a pupil must be familiar with the use of from 
two to three hundred technical terms. Technical terms may be 
divided roughly into two classes: those for which there are no 
popular synonyms such as dicotyledons, vertebrates, corolla, etc., 
and those having popular synonyms, such as epipetalous (growing 
on the petal), tarsal (ankle), petiole (leaf stalk), etc. When the 
former denote ideas with which the pupils are familiar, they should 
be used in class. There is an ever-growing tendency to make use 

96 The School and the Curriculum 

of such terms in ordinary life. But the latter class of terms are 
of use only to the scientist. They do not form part of the language 
of everyday life. When used in the schoolroom the attention of 
the pupil is distracted from the idea to the spelling, pronunciation, 
and sometimes the definition of the term. A great deal of time 
and energy is wasted in teaching words for which the pupil will 
find no real use. In this case the popular synonym should be 
employed. Not only is it the term used in ordinary life, but being 
already associated with the idea in the mind of the pupil, it helps 
to concentrate rather than dissipate his attention. 

To teach the nomenclature of technical classification in biology 
to junior pupils is absurd. To the scientist knowing their deriva- 
tion, these names have meanings, but to the junior pupil they are 
meaningless, unpronounceable, unspellable words, labelling or 
libelling some well-known plant. The function of any system of 
classification is two-fold. It must give a plant a distinguishing 
name, and it must indicate morphological relations between the 
plant and other plants. The technical system which has common 
use in different countries and different languages is of great value 
to the scientist whose range of study is not confined to local dis- 
tricts. In the wide world of his activity it is necessary that every 
species shall be so named that a reference made to it will be clear 
to all nations and all men. But the boy lives in a different world, 
a world in which plants have old familiar names, names as a rule 
more strikingly characteristic of the plant than the corresponding 
technical ones ; names he has read in old books, and reads in modern 
magazines and newspapers. If it is essential that a scientist shall 
use and be familiar with the nomenclature used in the world of 
science, is it not equally reasonable to affirm that a boy should 
learn those popular names employed in ordinary reading or con- 
versation? The popular name designates the plant in the words 
of the ordinary citizen just as truly as the technical name does in 
the words of science. As an indication of morphological relations 
the name "Ranunculaceae'* has no advantage over the popular 
name "Buttercup Family"; nor the generic name "Ranunculus" 
over "Crowfoot"; nor the specific name " Pennsylvanicus " over 

Identifying plants supplies possibly the best means of training 
the pupil in' methods of accurate systematic observation. But 
to take full advantage of this practice, a flora should be prepared 

The School and the Curriculum 97 

in which common names and popular terms are substituted for 
the present technical nomenclature and terminology. A standard 
system of classification in the vernacular would overcome a possible 
difficulty arising from the fact that some plants are known by 
different popular names in different localities. Such a change 
would make the study of classification much more interesting and 
popular with the students. They would merely continue in a 
more systematised way an informal, out-of-school study. The 
average student, on entering school, is able to name from thirty 
to fifty wild plants and as many (or more) cultivated specimens. 
This knowledge could be readily organised to form the basis of 
the study of classification, if the scheme of classification proceeded 
along lines already familiar to the student. He knows several 
species of maple, of oak, and of apple trees. From the common 
characteristics found in each group and sub-group, he easily 
arrives at the idea of the family and the genera. 

I do not think the student should begin the study of classifica- 
tion by making use of the key or flora. He should get a concep- 
tion of grouping directly from the study of specimens. For in- 
stance, a boy in a fruit district knows that there are a number of 
different trees all known as apple trees, another group known a» 
peach trees, and still another as plum trees. In the first group 
there are spies, greenings, kings, crabs, etc. Similarly, in the 
second and third groups are to be found different kinds of peach 
and plum trees. A comparison will also disclose to him the fact 
that plum, peach, and apple trees have many common character- 
istics, and that in many respects they are quite distinct from oak 
trees or cedar trees. Such a study will give him a conception of 
the meaning of family, genera, and species. He should in this 
way become fairly familiar with several family groups before he 
begins a formal study of classification by means of a flora. If a 
popular nomenclature is used he has already done a great deal of 
classifying in an informal way. And if a simple terminology is 
used in the flora adopted, he will be able to utilise intelligently a 
key as soon as it is placed in his hands. In this way he will be 
enabled easily to classify sixty plants whereas he classifies twelve 
now, and that with difficulty. 

The flora should embrace common cultivated plants as well 
as wild plants. The pupils of the present generation, as a rule, 
are more interested in the former than in the latter. The city 

98 The School and the Curriculum 

man or woman knows far more about different varieties of the 
rose than he does of the buttercup family. The agriculturalist is 
interested in different kinds of grass, wheat, or corn. In my first 
form this year I found that nearly all the pupils could name and 
give a fair description of ten fruit-trees, but that very few could 
name and describe off-hand more than four or five forest trees, 
and most of these were selected from the shade-trees of the town. 
Very few of us get much benefit from a knowledge of wild flowers. 
We never see them frequently enough. But many a man and 
woman has become interested in rose-culture, because by chance 
they have become acquainted with the forms and beauty of the 
different varieties. If both wild and cultivated plants were in- 
cluded in the flora, the study of classification could be more closely 
adapted to the interests of all the students, and would more fully 
satisfy the needs of the average man or woman. 

In Chapter VI it was shown that the programme lent itself 
much more readily to the needs of method training if the general 
scientific conceptions to be taught alone were specified, and the 
choice of concrete material were left to the teacher and class. 
In Chapter IV it was maintained that the present need of the boy 
was not for more facts, but for an organisation of facts already 
in his mental possession; that the need of the man was not so 
much in the line of concrete information as in the possession of 
mental centres of organisation whereby information obtained by 
him could be assimilated and made fit for use. Conceptions of 
scientific principles form just such gravitation centres, through 
which a knowledge of the physical world about him is actively 
organised. Education, in other words, should be dynamic, not 
static; the boy should not be adjusted to a fixed environment 
but given the power of adjusting himself to a changing one. Hence 
the needs of method training unite with the needs of knowledge- 
teaching in emphasising the important position that the general 
conception of science should occupy on a study programme. 

Speaking broadly, the present course in physics is organised 
about general causal conceptions. Reference is also made to the 
main classes of phenomena in which each is exhibited. The present 
course in biology is, on the whole, organised about general formal 
conceptions of type, while the course in physical geography is 
grouped about conceptions of contiguity. For instance, the 
curriculum in physics reads: "principle of the mechanical powers, 

The School and the Curriculum M 

Pascal's Law, pressure of liquids at a depth, Archimedes' Principle", 
etc. The curriculum in zoology reads : " the study of a grasshopper, 
a spider, a centipede, the order Orthoptera", etc. The curriculum 
in physical geography runs: "changes on the earth's surface, the 
atmosphere, the ocean", etc. Conceptions of form, though im- 
portant, are not fundamental centres of mental organisation. 
The boy may be familiar with the structure of a dozen different 
flowers, or types of flowers, but this information has no real mean- 
ing to him until it is related to the causal conception of cross- 
pollination. Now this causal conception and two others are, 
alone, specifically mentioned in the biology course. That other 
causal conceptions are supposed to be taught is suggested in the 
note on the general scope of the work. "These morphological 
studies a'-e not to end in the study of form — there must be a con- 
stant effort to interpret the meaning of the form to show the 
relation of form and function".* This is good so far as it goes, 
but the fact remains that while the morphological studies are out- 
lined in minute detail, the study of causal conceptions is only 
implied. Suppose the course in physics read: "the study of a 
water-pump, the structure of a dam", etc., and made no mention 
of the principles in which these forms found explanation, is it 
reasonable to suppose that conceptions of the principles of science 
would be as well established in the mind of the student? The 
course in biology should be recast. General biological conceptions 
together with the chief forms in which they are exhibited should 
be specified as lesson-topics. Although a study of classification as 
outlined in previous paragraphs should be included in the course, 
it should not overshadow the course as it does at present. 

But the present course in physical geography cannot be re- 
organised after this fashion. Its causal principles are to a great 
extent the same as those involved in the study of physics, chemistry, 
and biology. To re-organise the course so as to found it upon a 
study of causal conceptions, rather than conceptions of contiguity, 
would be to duplicate in part these other subjects. The present 
course dissociates the study of phenomena and the study of causal 
conceptions. The pupil studies winds in the chapter on "The 
Atmosphere", ocean currents in the chapter on "The Ocean", and 
convection currents in the physics class. But since the pupil does 
not study convection until he enters the Middle School, lie is 
♦"Report of the Minister of Education, Ontario," 1913, p. 394. 

100 The School and the Curriculum 

really engaged in investigating the phenomena, winds and currents 
in which the idea of convection is exhibited, before he has grasped 
the idea itself. Numerous other instances might be given where 
the pupil investigates phenomena in the physical geography 
class, whose explanation depends upon conceptions afterward 
developed in the physics or chemistry classes. If the pupil is to 
study these phenomena at all intelligently and scientifically, it 
must be in connection with the principles upon which their ex- 
planation depends. But if principles must be established in the 
physical geography class and again investigated in the physics 
class, a great deal of work will be needlessly duplicated. Even 
were the course in physical geography recast in such a way that 
explanatory laws would be established in the physics class previous 
to the study of relevant phenomena in the geography class, there 
would still be the break in time, interest, and study concentra- 
tion. The study of topics at present contained in the physical 
geography course should be taken up at the same time as, and be 
directly associated with, the study and establishment of causal 
principles upon which their explanation depends. Winds and 
currents should be studied in connection with convection. Rain, 
snow, and dew should be associated with the investigation of 
"change in state". Certain topics in biology, such as animal and 
plant food, metabolism, movement of liquids in plants, etc., 
should also be studied at the same time as the establishment of 
physical or chemical conceptions which underlie them. These 
dissociations evidently arise from the premature differentiation 
of the science course into five special sciences. Reasons were 
given in Chapter IV for believing that the student would receive 
a better training if the science course were not so divided. The 
above-mentioned difficulties in the practice of teaching would 
seem to substantiate the conclusion arrived at in the previous 
chapter. The elementary science course should not be differenti- 
ated into special science studies, but should consist of topic groups, 
in each of which some general conception of science is established 
and studied in relation to all of its chief fields of application, so 
far as such are of interest to the average citizen. 

So far we have considered the teaching of scientific knowledge 
in connection with the training in scientific method. But there 
are certain facts of science of such value in themselves that all 
pupils should be familiar with them. Since the time that may 

The School and the Curriculum 101 

be devoted to science teaching is necessarily brief, and since the 
equipment of the average High School is limited, the child cannot 
obtain all this information by heuristic methods of investigation. 
He cannot study the germ theory of disease, the chemistry of foods, 
etc., in the laboratory. Had he ever so much time, or were the 
equipment of the school ever so extensive, a great deal of such 
investigation would be beyond his capacity. He will have to 
gather much of this information from books or be told it by the 
teacher. Heuristic methods should not be made the Shibboleth 
of all teaching in the science class. So long as the pupil has suffi- 
cient training to enable him to understand the scientific method 
and to apply it in the ordinary affairs of life, other methods of 
gathering information may be used. Since the aim is to give the 
pupil information, not training, short cuts are in order. So long 
as the pupil has sufficient actual experience in his home life with 
certain topics to make the thing which is studied real to him, 
there is no reason why he should not utilise the same sources of 
information as his elders. Life is too short for any man to 
establish scientifically more than a small part of the knowledge 
necessary to right living. "We are astonished often to note that 
it required the combined labours of many eminent thinkers for 
a full century to reach a truth which it takes us only a few hours 
to master".* The successful man of affairs is he who is most able 
to make use of the experiences of others. The main thing is that 
the child shall be so trained in the scientific method that he will 
be able to use it when occasion demands and that he shall be so 
familiar with the process that he will be able to tell when others 
have correctly used it in arriving at conclusions. The pupil must 
be trained to make use of the library as well as the laboratory. 
He must learn to use his training in scientific methods as a criterion 
with which to test the statements made in his general reading. 
Such a student will not "swallow" all the conclusions of pseudo- 
scientists in current magazines and newspapers. He will not freeze 
the family out trying to burn coal ashes. He will not invest in 
costly preparations advertised as "getting more heat from your 
coal ". He will not follow first one food crank and then another. 

The school course should be potential as well as kinetic. The 
student should leave school with an eagerness to pursue his studies 
•Mach: "The Monist," Vol. VII, p. 175; quoted in "Applied Sociology" 
a. F. Ward), p. 102. 

o i^ > I. 

108 ^ " ' " ' Yhe School and the Curriculum 

further. The science student should have a deep interest in the 
scientific movements of the age. I think it is a great pity that in 
our revolt from "book science" we have gone to the other extreme 
in our secondary schools and condemned everything that is not 
"laboratory science". The student must become interested in 
"book science" if he is to pursue his studies in after years. The 
articles he reads in books, magazines, and newspapers must 
stimulate and guide his efforts when the teacher is no longer at 
hand. He must associate his science study with these forces while 
he is at school. Laboratory teaching and library teaching should 
go hand in hand. And in this way alone will he arrive at a balanced 
yet true conception of the world of nature around him. 


Knowledge required by citizenship, an inquiry. The syllabus — general 
remarks. Training in methods; problem-finding; real evidence; descriptive 
observation; investigation of causal relations; preliminary list; hypothesis; 
methods of difference; agreement; concomitant variation; averages; methods of 
practical application. Subject matter, 

IN order to discover what aspects of scientific knowledge 
were of real use to the average citizen, eighty-nine letters 
were sent to different people throughout the Province. 
In these letters they were requested to write out on a prepared 
schedule just what things of a scientific nature they found interest- 
ing, outside the special technical interest of their particular occu- 
pation. Sixty-seven replies were received. Of these, sixteen 
were of such a general nature that they afforded no specific data 
whatever. I then interviewed some fifty-four persons along the 
same line of inquiry. The results obtained by personal interview 
were much more satisfactory. From a knowledge of the lives of 
these persons, I was able to discriminate between things that they 
actually found interesting and things that they merely thought 
they would like to be interested in. For instance, a doctor who 
has a large country practice, when I interviewed him on this sub- 
ject, told me that "it was a splendid thing for boys and girls to 
know all about the birds and trees and things they see about the 
country ; they will get so much pleasure from a knowledge of these 
things when they grow up". I was out driving with him some 
weeks afterwards and found he scarcely knew a crow from a black- 
bird, or a beech from a birch. He had studied botany and zoology 
at school and university, and in the practice of his profession had 
ample opportunity to become familiar with these aspects of nature 
had he so wished. Such imaginary interests, where discovered, 
were scored out in the schedule. I had less opportunity of thus 
checking over the answers obtained by letter. 

Of the one hundred and five whose replies were such as could 
be utilised, forty-three were graduates either of universities or 


104 The Curriculum 

of university professional schools, thirty-nine had received a second- 
ary school education, and the remaining twenty-three were what 
are usually called self-educated men, that is, they had made the 
best of an ordinary public school education. They were all good 
citizens, and had made more or less of a success in life. The occu- 
pations followed by them were: Medicine, 9; Dentistry, 9; Civil 
Engineering, 4; Law, 8; Druggists, 7; Ministry, 10; Farming 
(including fruit-growing), 16; Banking, 6; Merchants, 13; General 
Business, 4; Manufacturing, 11; Mechanics, 8. The majority of 
these lived in small towns, and so their replies are not represent- 
ative of purely urban or purely rural life. 

In the schedule were specified the several special sciences and 
the main departments in each. The results are as follows: 

Botany. — Four were interested in the technical study of 
botany (morphology, and physiology) for its own sake. Forty- 
three found pleasure in a knowledge of the natural plant life of 
the community in which they lived. Five of these were familiar 
with technical nomenclature; the remainder knew plants only 
by their popular names. Seventy-eight were interested in culti- 
vated plants, seventy-one having either flower or vegetable gardens 
of their own. Several of the professional men in towns owned 
small farms in the vicinity, more as a hobby than for the profit 
to be derived from them. I have not included farmers among 
those interested in plant culture, though I believe in many cases 
more than a professional attention was devoted to it. Though 
only four were engaged in a purely technical study of botany, 
probably eighty were interested in particular aspects of scientific 
botany relative to certain works or amusements pursued by them. 
As one man said: "I don't want to be a wise guy, but I want to 
know all there is to know about growing roses". 

Zoology. — Forty-eight were conversant with the elementary 
morphology and physiology of animals. The majority of these 
were horsemen, dog-fanciers, chicken-fanciers or sportsmen. 
While a large per cent, of the total number were fairly well versed 
in human anatomy and physiology, I think a horseman invariably 
knew more about a horse, or a chicken-fancier about a chicken, 
than either did about his own body. Thirty-two, the majority 
being sportsmen, were interested in wild animal life. These seemed 
to regard school-knowledge on the subject with calm contempt. 
"You have to live it," said one. "Look at old D who taught 

The Curriculum 105 

science up there (the high school) for three years and never could 
tell a sawbill from a mallard a gun's length away." Forty-six 
(including farmers) found both pleasure and profit in the study 
of domestic animals, horses, dogs, chickens, etc. One peculiar 
feature about the whole subject of animal zoology was the sharp 
line of division between those who were interested and those who 
were not. In botany the interest gradually shaded down, but a 
man either knew a lot about certain animals or he knew nothing 
at all about the subject. If we include hygiene and sanitation in 
the subject of zoology, ninety-four were interested in this aspect. 
This was the high water mark of interest shown in any topic. 
Some of the comments are given below: "They are of greatest 
importance in modern civilisation with its increasingly complex 
conditions". "If properly taught ninety per cent, of the practice 
of medicine would be eliminated." "Absolutely necessary in all 
occupations of life." "One of the two or three useful subjects." 

"What caused four hundred cases of typhoid in our town ? 

Pure ignorance." "The viscera of a man are his machinery and 
it takes a trained engineer to look after them." In nearly every 
case it was strongly emphasised that the school should teach the 
pupil about his body and health and how to look after them. 

Physics. — In some respects nearly every one, while in others 
scarcely any one, seemed interested in the study of technical 
physics. No one, I think, was interested in this subject as a whole, 
although nearly every one was more or less intensely concerned 
about certain aspects of it. For that reason it will be best to treat 
it in sections. Seventy-nine were interested in domestic physical 
science — heating, ventilation, etc. Here are some of the remarks. 
"Every house in Canada must be heated and should be ventilated. 
Not one in a thousand including furnace ' experts ' have more than 
vague ideas on the subject." "Imperative for the maintenance of 
our normal physical condition, too often open to attack." " Every 
householder should know fuel values, light values and power 
values." "A fool can burn two ton of coal where one would be 

sufficient." "I sold B an electric water-pump, but do you 

think I could sell his wife an electric iron? Women don't 'get 
wise' to good things." Twelve were interested in the study of 
light in as far as it applied to photography, and nineteen musicians 
knew something about the science of sound. Seventy-eight were 
interested in some form of mechanics, though in several instances 

106 The Curriculum 

this interest may have been vocational in character. Nearly 
every man seems to have a natural, almost instinctive liking for 
machinery of some description. "Emphasis on this division for 
all common machines and many of the rarer class." "Laws that 
govern them." "It is well for a man to be able to help himself" 
(referring to the common use of machinery). "The superior 
intelligence of the amateur worker will often discover new and im- 
proved lines of practice." In respect to this last quotation it is 
strange how many men are dreaming about or working at inventions 
of some kind or another. I believe that one out of every four or 
five has made some attempts in this direction during his lifetime. 

Geology. — No one seemed particularly concerned about the 
study of geology except two civil engineers. I suspect that I 
would have received more favourable replies from Northern 
Ontario. "Nice to know about." "Rather interesting." "Those 
who want to study mines and minerals should be sent to special 
schools," were some of the replies. 

Physical Geography. — Here also the replies were indefinite 
and unsatisfactory. No one seemed deeply concerned about it. 
It did not touch the daily life of the majority. "Helps one in 
reading." "Interesting from a conversational point of view." 
" N.G. So few will take up continent building as a means to make 
a living, that it is not worth while." " If it can be made useful to 
the majority of those to whom it is taught, then teach it." These 
replies indicate the attitude of the majority towards the subject. 

Chemistry. — Only two were interested in the study of technical 
chemistry. Many of those interested in practical botany were 
familiar with a certain amount of agricultural chemistry. "The 
present smatter of theory is worse than useless. Arrange a system 
of chemical analysis of soil, so that any one with a secondary 
school education, or for that matter a public school education, 
may determine the fertiliser necessary to make a field produce 
profitably the crop desired." The medical men (including doctors, 
dentists, and druggists) without exception declared that the chemis- 
try of foods should be taught in outline in the school. 

Other remarks on general topics were as follows: "Certainly 
all give pleasure in' the pursuit of them and all are more or less 
useful since all divisions in science are intimately connected, but, 
broadly speaking, does not one pick up more knowledge from 
everyday unavoidable conversations and observations on these 

The Curriculum 107 

subjects than from the schools? Hence I would suggest special 
stress should be laid on those subjects of which a knowledge is 
obtainable only by direct studies." ''Thorough understanding 
of underlying laws." "Much of the stuff taught is useless. Who- 
ever wants or would benefit from it w ill acquire it with no assistance. 
Perhaps one in a hundred would benefit. Why burden the other 
ninety-nine?" "A thorough practical scientific training to live 
in a scientific age." " I read with avidity everything of a scientific 
nature from 'Jules Verne' up." 

From the column of remarks I gather that the average demand 
is for a general course in science with emphasis upon those features 
pertaining to personal and domestic well-being. 


The following syllabus is for a two-year course extending from 
September to mid-June of each year, comprising three hundred 
and fifty lessons of thirty minutes each. With the exception of a 
few pieces of apparatus such as the air-pump, compound micro- 
scope, etc., the equipment should be individual in character and 
of such a simple nature that the student can easily understand 
and readily manipulate it. The flora used should be based upon a 
scheme of popular nomenclature and contain both the common 
wild and cultivated plants. While the course is more or less of a 
dual nature, aiming to train the pupil in the use of scientific methods 
of investigation, as well as teaching him the knowledge of science 
essential to good citizenship, the teacher should not divorce these 
two purposes. The pupil gains a much clearer conception of 
scientific knowledge when he employs scientific methods of in- 
vestigation. And research methods must be associated with those 
aspects of the material world in relation to which they are specially 
employed. But while the two purposes unite in most of the actual 
teaching process to emphasise the fact that each aspect is of 
equal importance, the two are separately specified. 


The general conceptions of science specified in the course 
should be developed as far as possible on a basis of the pupil's 
out-of-school experience. The problems which the pupil brings 
to school should form an essential part of each lesson. He should 

108 The Curriculum 

be given opportunity to solve them in the laboratory, or to bring 
them before the class for discussion, and should be encouraged in 
every way to originate investigations. 

Great care should be exercised by the teacher to insure that 
all the conclusions arrived at by the pupils are founded on facts. 
The pupil muse be taught that the ultimate criterion in all science 
study is real experience. He should be taught to appeal to the 
real evidence of his out-of-school life, as well as the real evidence 
supplied by the laboratory. He should learn to listen and to read 
critically, applying this touchstone of scientific truth to the opinions 
of others. 

In making descriptive studies he should follow fixed purposive 
methods, and should relate the forms of description used with 
the ends in view. There is no virtue in a mere accumulation of 
facts, nor any training in a purposeless arrangement of them. 
Observations should be accurate, adequate to the end in view, 
and neatly recorded. 

In investigating causal relations a list of possible causal factors 
should be drawn up from the rough observations of the pupil's 
out-of-school life. The "method of difference" may be formally 
or informally used to test each factor, but the pupil should be 
familiarised with the dual form of experiment utilised in this 
case, and the reasons for its use. The resulting hypothesis should 
then be substantiated by the ''method of agreement". The pupil 
should be led to see that every time the generalisation arrived at 
is used in successfully explaining a phenomenon, or producing and 
controlling it for practical purposes, that this also constitutes a use 
of the "method of agreement". If mathematical relations are to 
be established between cause and result the method of concomitant 
variation should be used, supplemented in every case by the 
"method of averages". Each of these four methods should be 
abstracted from the experiments in which they occur and studied 
as things in themselves. The purpose and mode of procedure in 
each case should be made clear to the pupil, and he should practise 
e^ach until he habitually and successfully uses it. When he has 
obtained proficiency in this respect, short cuts to information 
along recognised roads will be in order. 

The pupil should be taught to distinguish between the absolute 
judgments that may be pronounced on concrete experiences, and 
the probable judgments arising from several related experiences. 

The Curriculum 109 

The truths of science are probable. The student must be aWe to 
estimate degrees of probability. 

Each generalisation should end where it began, in the everyday 
life of the student. He should be trained to explain phenomena, 
always in a scientific way, by getting at the principles involved. 
He should learn to accomplish practical ends by recognising the 
applicability of scientific laws to the purpose in view, and then 
using these laws in concrete way. 


september to november 
Plant Nutrition. 

The chemical constituents of plant tissues (water, ash, carbon, 

and inflammable gas). 
The sources of plant food; root and leaf starvation. 
Mineral foods; their effects on the growing plant; fertilisers, 

kinds and values; soil, forms and fertility. 
Absorption of mineral foods; solution; root hairs; osmosis; 

the rise of underground water; capillarity; root depth; 

mulching; cultivation and drainage. 
Origin of soil; various forms; artificial modification. 

Animal Nutrition. 

Chemical constituents of animal tissue; dependence of animal 
on vegetable life. 

Function of foods to promote growth and repair, circulation, 
cleansing, and to produce energy; classification of ordinary 
food-forms; food values; food hygiene. 

Vital energy from heat (warm and cold-blooded animals); 
heat from chemical combination ; combustion of carbon and 
hydro-carbons; tests for carbon dioxide; the slow burning 
of hydro-carbons in animal organisms (breath test). Con- 
stituents of the atmosphere. 

Animal Respiration. 

Function of respiration ; organs of respiration (lungs, gills, etc.) ; 
process of and hygiene of respiration. 

Plant Respiration. 

Night and day forms of products; organs of respiration; 
process of respiration. 

110 The Curriculum 

Plant Metabolism. 

Energy absorbed in chemical dissociation; plants and sum- 
light; photosynthesis, organs of. 

Animal Metabolism. 

The chief organs and their functions. 

Plant Assimilation. 

Movement of liquids in plants; direction and location of flow; 
growing parts; root pressure and leaf evaporation; cell 
tissue; fibro-vascular cells; cell nutrition; cell growth. 

Animal Assimilation. 

Circulatory system; cell tissue; capillary system; cell nutri- 
tion, waste, repair, growth; elimination of waste materials; 

Study at convenient periods of the wild and domestic mammals, 
fishes and birds of the localitv. 



A simple study of the following in relation to out-of-school 

Units and methods used in measuring. 
Space measurements. 
Time, solar and standard, how reckoned. 
Mass, weight, density, and specific gravity. 
Motion, velocity, and acceleration. 
Momentum, force, work, and power. 


Centre of gravity; states of equilibrium. 

Buoyancy; flotation; sedimentation and sedimentary rock. 

Pressure at a depth; springs and water systems; water pres- 
sure; air pressure; barometer; pumps, etc. 

Tendency toward spherical form. 

Formation of mountains; shift of sediment; change in coast- 
line; bending of strata; faulting, etc. 

Form and motions of solar system ; tides. 

The Curriculum 111 

Molecular Force. 

Molecular theory. 

Molecular attraction; adhesion, cohesion, friction, tenacity, 
hardness, etc. 

Molecular motion; diffusion; solution, solvents, saturation, 
alloys, hard water, salt beds, mineral veins, rock disin- 
tegration; conglomerate rock; crystallisation, rock crystals. 

Molecular Motion. 


Temperature and thermometer. 

Heat measurement; the calorie; specific heat. 

Heat, pressure and expansion; expansion of solids; liquids 
and the peculiar expansion of water; gases, engines, ex- 
plosives, etc. 

Nebular theory; igneous and metamorphic rock; volcanoes; 
mineral dykes. 

Change 0} State. 

Three states of matter; latent heat. 

Fusion and solidification; freezing point; casting, refriger- 
ation, etc. 

Vaporisation and liquefaction; boiling point; distillation; 
evaporation; humidity of the atmosphere, clouds, rain, 
dew, etc. 

Rainfall ; geographical conditions. 

Study at convenient periods of the mechanical industries and 
geological features of the locality. 



Asexual, mere perpetuation of life; buds, slips, grafts, spores 

(scale insect), etc. 
Sexual, the modification as well as the perf)etuation of life; 

seeds, eggs. 

Plan r Reproduction (sexual). 

^5 ^ Study of seed forms. 

Germination; physical conditions, air, heat, moisture; pre- 
paration of soil, time of planting, sinking of the water table; 
rate of germination. 

112 The Curriculum 

Growth of the young plant. 

Organs of sexual reproduction; fertilisation; cross-pollination 

use, methods of artificial control, artificial and natural 

modification, heredity. 

Animal Reproduction. 

Hatching of eggs; artificial hatching; internal incubation in 
higher animals; heredity; breeding to purpose; care of off- 
spring; growth of young. 

Study at convenient periods of the wild flowering plants, 
grains and cultivated flowers of the locality. Classification 
of same. Plant collections. 


Nutritive Adaptations of Plants. 

Modifications of the root, stem, leaves, and leaf arrangement 

to secure food, moisture, and light. 
Plant societies. 
Saprophytic and parasitic plants; economic relations of 

common forms; yeast, moulds, fungi, sour milk, etc. 
Disease germs; spread of disease, flies, mosquitoes, water, food 

contagion, etc.; sanitation. 

Nutritive Adaptations of Animals. 

Modifications of the teeth of mammals, bills and feet of birds, 
mouths of insects, etc., in relation to habits of feeding. 

Locomotive Adaptations. 

Modifications of limbs and feet of mammals, wings and legs of 
birds, wings and limbs of insects, etc. 

Sensory Adaptations. 

General use of sense organs. 

Structure and relation to environment and habits of life; 
organs of smell; organs of feeling, skin, antennae, fingers, 
etc.; organs of hearing, origin and transmission of sound, 
intensity, pitch ; organs of sight, reflection and refraction of 
light, the eye and camera, microscope, colour. 

Study at convenient periods of the forest and fruit trees of the 
locality. Classification of same. 

The Curriculum 113 


Transmission of Heat. 

Convection; ventilation; heating; winds; ocean currents; 

climatic modifications due to latter two. 
Conduction; good and poor conductors; heat insulation. 
Radiation; absorption and radiation, economic relations. 
Seasons; geographic lines and their significance; climate. 
Heat from combustion; value of fuels. 


Electric heating; conductors; insulation; heat and resistance; 

heat and current strength; lightning. 
Batteries and current strength. 
Induced currents; voltage; transformer, spark coil, etc. 


Simple resolution of force, sailing-vessels, aeroplanes, turbines, 

Sources of energy. 

Work equations; mechanical advantage, lever, pulley, in- 
clined plane, screw, wheel and axle. 

Pascal's Principle; hydrostatics; Boyle's Law; pneumatics, 
compressed air and its uses, etc. 

Study at convenient periods of the mechanical industries and the 
minerals of the locality. 


Reprodtictive Adaptations. 

Storage of food for spring growth; annuals, biennials, peren- 
Storage of food in seeds; number of seeds; dispersion of seeds. 
Storage of food in eggs; number of eggs; care and protection 

of young. 
Permanence of the individual in higher forms of life. 

Protective Adaptations. 

Plant modifications; thorns, hairs, etc. 
Artificial protections, sprays, etc. 

Animal modifications; coverings, colour, mimetic forms and 
habits, flight, etc. 


114 The Curriculum 


Fossil life. 

Metamorphosis of the frog, of insects; the meaning; stages of 
growth in the individual. 

Theory of evolution; natural selection; survival of fittest; 
heredity, cross-breeding and type variations; use and dis- 
use of organs. 

Social life and development; social animals. 

Study at convenient periods of the insect life of the locality with 
special reference to economic aspects. 
The six appended topics dealing with the study of the natural 
history of the community have purposely been left rather vague. 
An average of six lessons each should cover the work, but the time 
devoted to any particular topic will vary with the locality. Thus 
in Northern Ontario very little attention should be directed to 
the study of fruit and grain, a larger portion of the time being given 
to the study of mineralogy and geology. A large part of this work 
should be done by means of field excursions. The industrial 
establishments of the locality should be visited. The aim of these 
lessons is not so much to impart information or to train in methods, 
as to deepen interest in and to widen familiarity with the physical 
surroundings of the pupil's home-life; in short, to create enthusiasm. 


THE function of the state school is to prepare the student 
for the future social activity of the citizen. Individual 
development is a means to this end, not an end in itself. 
In certain forms of social activity all citizens participate, some to 
a greater extent than others. Other forms engage the attention 
of particular groups only. Consequently state education must 
be partly general and partly special. A man's fundamental educa- 
tion should be developed in proportion as he advances along 
special lines. Hence, general education cannot stop at the end 
of the primary school course. It must be continued into the secon- 
dary school. 

Elementary science is an essential feature of a general course 
in secondary schools. It is peculiarly suited to the interests of 
the child. It supplies a particular training in certain methods 
widely used in everyday life. These may be carried over from 
the schoolroom to the affairs of ordinary life ; directly, if the school- 
room materials in connection with which they were developed 
are the same as those of the student's home environment; in- 
directly, if an idea of the value and applicability of the method 
to out-of -school affairs be given the pupil. The study of elementary 
science organises an important sphere of human experience, and 
pre-conditions the wise choice of a vocation. Hence it should 
form part of the lower school general course. This course should^ 
be obligatory on all students, entirely under state control, and 
unconditioned in any way by the entrance requirements of special 
educational institutions. 

Method is an ordered way of doing anything. A method-habit 
is a series of reactions toward a definite end, initiated under certain 
conditions, and tending automatically to complete itself. Scien- 
tific research is just refined common-sense. The methods of thought 
used in the ordinary affairs of life are here used more accurately, 
more definitely, and in a more developed form. By super-imposing 


116 Summary and Conclusion 

the methods of everyday thinking upon the methods of special 
research and then cutting the latter to pattern, the method- 
habits and method-ideals of science, which should form part of a 
general course subject, may be discovered. In both we find that 
problems are discovered, and that these are solved by an appeal 
to real evidence. In the process of solution, a rough working 
hypothesis is first formed. This is developed by means of just 
judgments passed upon systematically observed experience. 
Both the scientist and the man of affairs use the knowledge thus 
gained in the practical activities of life. 

By bringing to school problems arising in connection with his 
home-life, and having them there solved as part of the regular 
school-work, the boy gains confidence in his own powers of initia- 
tion. He forms the habit of finding problems. Real experience is 
the only evidence admissible in scientific research. The boy must 
solve his problems by reference to this evidence. His conclusions 
must be founded on facts. He must be trained to use this touch- 
stone in testing the opinions expressed by others. The reasoning 
of science and of ordinary life is probable, not demonstrative. 
The truths of science are probable, not absolute. The student 
must recognise this. He must learn to sift and weigh evidence, 
to form just, absolute judgments on concrete experiences, and to 
estimate the probability of conclusions founded on these judg- 
ments. He must become a careful, accurate workman. In dis- 
covering causal relations he must be trained in the drawing up 
of the "preliminary list", the eliminations of possible factors by 
the "methods of difference", the substantiation of the "working 
hypothesis" thus formed by the "method of agreement", and 
the measurement of causal relations by the method of "concomitant 
variation". He must learn to explain physical phenomena and 
to discover means to an end in the practical affairs of life through 
the application of scientific principles. He must be taught the 
formal use of these methods in the laboratory, and their informal 
use in out-of-school life. 

At present the student in the Ontario High Schools receives 
little training in scientific methods. They do not appear on the 
curriculum as things to be taught. The present course is so ex- 
tensive that the pupil does not get time to practise them. It is 
outlined in such detail that the pupil's problems do not receive 
attention and his method-habits and method-ideals are divorced 

Summary and Conclusion 117 

from the activities of everyday life. The use of the "dictated 
experiment" does not give the pupil a chance to think out his own 
solutions. The solutions he obtains do not conform with any of 
the above-mentioned methods, with the exception of the method 
of ''concomitant variation". Though the student receives plenty 
of exercise in the explanatory application of principles, he receives 
no training in using them as means to an end in doing things. 
Drawing abstract conclusions from single experiments or experi- 
ences, he becomes rash instead of cautious, forms absolute where 
he should make probable judgments and develops an inability 
to estimate the value of evidence. The course should be cut down 
and more closely related to the home life of the pupil. Dictated 
experiments should be abolished and scientific methods should 
be specified on the curriculum as things to be taught. 

The subject-matter should conform to the needs of method- 
training, the interests of the child, and the requirements of citizen- 
ship. All three are represented in the out-of-school experience of 
the child. But this experience must be organised to form mental 
interest and gravitation centres. These centres are found in the 
principles and general conceptions of science. Hence the syllabus 
should specify the general conceptions to be taught, together with 
the chief classes of common phenomena in which each is exhibited. 
The concrete material should be left to the choice of teacher and 
class, to be derived from the out-of-school experience of the student. 
These general conceptions are rarely bounded by the confines 
of any of the special sciences. The course should not be differentiated 
into special science subjects. The pupil would gain a better con- 
ception of the provinces of the special sciences. He would more 
truly appreciate the meaning of "law" and would get a clearer 
idea of each particular principle and its range of application. 
The problem of correlation would disappear, time would be saved, 
and each topic stressed in proportion to its importance in real life. 
The present course exhibits all the evils of premature differenti- 
ation. In physical geography unifying centres are found in con- 
ceptions of natural contiguity. Phenomena are studied apart 
from the establishment of explanatory causal principles. The 
biology course is based on type study, that is, on a system of 
technical classification rather than a system of causal relations. 
Neither the student nor the citizen is interested in the study of 
types or technical classification. True centres of mental organis- 

118 Summary and Conclusion 

ation are not thus formed. An excess of technical description and 
technical terminology results. The present course in physics is 
comparatively free from these defects. 

As many of the topics of the present course are of a concrete 
nature, the syllabus is peculiarly subject to change. An important 
fact to-day may appear of less importance to-morrow. These 
changes are disastrous to school organisation. No one class of 
men, particularly professional educationalists who are somewhat 
apart from real life, are in a position to represent the life of the 
average student or average citizen on the syllabus. The university 
as an organ of research should undertake this work. Pedagogical 
laboratories should be established. Scientific methods of in- 
vestigation should be used to determine the actual experiences 
and needs of the citizens and students throughout the Province. 
The material thus discovered should be organised by specialists 
about scientific principles and conceptions. Educationalists 
should then arrange this in accordance with the mental growth of 
the child and the requirements of practical teaching. The true 
function of the Department is executive, not formative. 

A course thus widely based upon the student's own experience, 
organised about true conception and interest centres, in which 
popular terms and names are substituted for technical terminology 
and nomenclature, will, in connection with a good training in the 
use of scientific methods, prepare the student for those activities 
of real life in which all school-life finds its end and being. 


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Bibliography 123 

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Applied Knowledge: in science and life, 24-5; in the school, 91, 109; methods 
of, 25, 43-5, 53. 

Bagley, on formal discipline, 11-3; on educational aims, 20. 
Bailey, on nature study, 20. 

Classification: criticism of, 96; scheme of, 97-8. 

CoMTE, on discovery and learning, 35. 

Correlation, in an undifferentiated course, 56-7, 60, 99-100. 

Crew and Jones, on a science curriculum, 52. 

CuMMiNG, on scientific discovery, 82. 

Curriculum: character of, 47-53; criticism of, 60-4, 74-8, 94-6; makers of, 

54-5, 64-5; method training in, 107-9; organization of, 55-9, 98-100; popular 

investigation of, 103-7; subject matter of, 109-14. 

Dictated Experiments, 40^ 72, 82-7. 

Descriptive Observation: methods of, 37-8; in the curriculum, 77, 81-2; 

and classification, 97. 
Development, as an educational ideal, 7-8. 
Dewey, on methods of science, 19. 

Eliot: on scientific training, 14; on probable reasoning, 31; on primary educa- 
tion, 46. 
Experience: in science and life, 23 ; as a test of hypotheses, 23, 34. 
Experimental Observation, forms of, 39. 
Experiment, the devising of, 40, 72, 82-3, 85-7. \ 

Fitch, on methods of science, 20. 
Formal Discipline, discussion of, 11-4. 

General and Special: methods, 26-7; science course, 62-4; in education, 9-10, 

67-8; in the curriculum, 44, 50-4, 58, 66, 76-7, 93, 98-9. 
General Education: character of, 10-4; and elementary science, 10-6, 62; 

and the state, 69. 

Harper, on functions of universities, 65, 68. 

Hodge, on subject matter, 48. 

Huxley, on science teaching, 15. 

Hypotheses: in science and life, 22; the development of, 22, 34-43, 82, 88-90. 

Information, and discipline, 35-41, 76, 101-2. 

Interest: and the science course, 11, 49-52, 62, 77-8; and problem-finding, 


Subject — Index 125 

Jevons, on research methods, 21. 

Judgment: as a method-ideal, 24; absolute and probable, 42; teaching of, 43, 

83-4, 86. 

Laboratory: and real experience, 34, 80, over emphasised, 35; over worked, 
34-5; pedagogical, 66-7. 

Mann, on pure and applied science, 25. 

McMurray: on science and progress, 68; on subject matter, 47-8. 

Method: defined, 17; of agreement, 39, 41, 84, 91-2: of application, 25, 91-2; of 

concomitant variation, 39, 84, 85; of difference, 39, 41, 84, 89; of observation, 

37-8; of science and life, 14, 19-27; training in, 47, 51, 107-9. 
Method-habit: defined, 17-18; and the curriculum, 73; and knowledge, 46; in 

algebra, 70-1; in geometry, 71; lack of teaching, 70; transference of, 18. 
Method-ideal: nature of, 13-4; of science and life, 19-27; of problem-finding, 

21-2; of judgment, 24, 42; transference of, 19. 

Observation: as a method-habit, 23-4, 37-8, 77, 81-2, 97; in science and life, 

O'Shea, on formal discipline, 12. 

Preliminary List: nature of, 32; use of in life, 35; use in school, 32, 84, 88, 91; 

transference of, 33-4. 
Probability: of inference, 23, 32, 83-4; transference of, 31. 
Problems, of abstractions and application, 31. 
Problem-finding: conditions of, 28; in science and life, 21-2; in school, 29-31, 


Qualitative Experiment, 39-40, 84-5. 
Quantitative Experiment, 39-40, 85. 

Social Activity: and state education, 8-9; and science teaching, 62. 

Terminology, discussion of, 95-6. 
Thorndike, on authoritative evidence, 35. 

Transference: of habit, 11-14; of knowledge, 63-4; of method-habit, 13-4, 
18-9, 23, 31, 36, 38, 41-2, 44-5, 61; of method-ideal, 19, 42. 

University, and the science course, 60-1, 65-9. 
Undifferentiated, science course, 56-9, 98-100. 

Vocational training, 15. 

Welton: on educational aims, 7; on practical hypotheses, 26; on just judgment, 
43, 83; on dictated experiments, 83. 









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