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Table of Lessons in the Blochmann- Vizthum College (1840) at Dresden.
Course of Lessons.
(c) Homer cursor. (d) Exercises (e) Greek Antiquit. 1
THE general and growing interest in the subject of education is one of the most hopeful features of the present age. Throughout the country the popular mind is becoming increasingly awake to the importance of knowledge, and the nation as a body is coming to regard Education as one of the great natural interests. Already is it provided for and protected, as commerce, and manufactures, and agriculture are provided for; and the number is already large who clearly see and feel that it is of more importance and exerts a far greater influence upon the perpetuity of the Republic than any or all of the economical interests united.
There is, however, one characteristic attending this general interest upon the subject of Education which cannot but strike the eye of a thoughtful observer. It is a characteristic which, as history shows, invariably attends the movement of the popular mind in proportion as it becomes more extensive and far-reaching, and one that is deleterious in its influence if it does not find its counterpart and corrective.
We refer to the tendency to popularize knowledge in an excessive and injurious degree. By this is not meant the disposition to diffuse knowledge among the greatest number possible, but the disposition to render all knowledge superficial and in this form to diffuse it through society. If we mistake not, there are signs of a disposition to destroy the distinction between popular and scientific knowledge, and while en
Scientific and Popular Knowledge.
gaged in the laudable effort to spread information as widely as possible among all classes, to do it at the expense of that profound and scientific culture which must exist somewhere, in some portion of the community at least, in order to the perpetuity and vitality of even the common information of society.
There is no surer way of correcting this and kindred errors, than by establishing and diffusing profound and comprehensive views respecting the whole subject and the subject as a whole. It is a defective view of knowledge as a whole, an incomplete view of the system of education which lies at the bottom of the error in question. It is forgotten that the body of knowledge which is sought to be diffused is an organization with central and superficial parts, and that the complete system of instruction which proposes to impart this knowledge is an organized system, of which no better definition can be given than that all its parts are vitally connected and are reciprocally means and ends. Popular knowledge therefore cannot be diffused separated from scientific knowledge, and this latter again requires to pass through the tests of popularization in order that it may be proved to have a real and not imaginary existence, in order that it may be seen to be one with truth and absolute existence, and not the mere figment of the brain.
It will be our object in this article to distinctly mark the difference between scientific and popular knowledge, and to show the necessity and worth of those institutions whose office it is to impart scientific in distinction from popular education.
Knowledge traced to its ultimate is in the form of fundamental truths. These fundamental truths or first principles as applied to particular cases or run out to meet the ordinary wants of mankind lose their scientific and profound appearance, become popular in their character, useful in their results and go to constitute the common every-day knowledge of society. The gold originally in the form of heavy bullion has become, comparatively, light coin and a useful circulating medium.
There is, for example, an amount of information diffused through society which is sufficient for the practical purposes of commerce, manufactures and agriculture, and by virtue of the common intelligence in these departments the ship sails swiftly, the machine works well, and the earth brings forth abundantly. But it is not expected, and under the present arrangements of society perhaps it is not rational to expect, that all who work in these spheres should possess a thorough knowledge of those principles of natural science — those first truths of astronomy, and chemistry, and mechanics, and mathematics — which lie under all this action of man and yet this body of principles, the science which is VOL. VIL No. 25. 12
beneath this practice and practical application is essential knowledge sustaining the same relation to all the arts, manufactures, and improvements, all the comforts and elegancies of civilization that the flowers and fruit of the tree sustain to the black root underground. And upon the preservation and further development of these fundamental truths depend the permanence of the present civilization and its progressive improvement.
Again there is in the midst of the people an amount of information with respect to legal and civil affairs sufficient to make them careful of their personal rights and watchful over the acts and intentions of government. No people on the face of the globe are so well informed in all that pertains to judicial and civil matters as the people of the United States. An appeal to reason and law always goes home to the mind of the mass and produces a deep and great movement as it could not if we were an uninformed and barbarous population. Still it will not do to say that this knowledge though adequate for all the wants of common life, is equal in degree and depth to that which is implied in a thorough understanding of the sciences of Law and Government. It will not do to say that the great body of us are possessed of such a clear and deep insight into the first principles of legal and political philosophy as characterized the framers of the Constitution of the United States. And we do tacitly (but in a free and man-like way) acknowledge this when, in order to form or revise a code of laws or a constitution, we meet and choose the wisest and most thoughtful of our number to do this important work—a work which requires a more than ordinary and popular acquaintance with law and legislation.
Again in this Christian land there is an amount of knowledge concerning God and the eternal world, the soul of man and its obligations which is enough to bring in every man guilty before his Judge, and enough if rightly improved to bring about right relation between man and God. But besides this common knowledge upon moral and religious subjects there is a science of morals and religion for the study and exposition of which we are willing to sustain a particular class of men in the midst of us. It is because we wish to have our ordinary knowledge upon these highest of subjects made still more clear and vivid, and efficacious that we listen every Sabbath to one whose business it is to investigate and expound the principles of the word of God.
Thus it is apparent that when we go below the surface and get at knowledge in its solidity and substance we find it in the form of principles we find it Science. Below all the manifold uses and applications of knowledge as they appear in the ordinary life of men there lies the great deposite of primary truth-inexhaustible in itself and
Influence in connecting Science and Practice.
ever yielding new treasures to the educated and thoughtful mind. Now with this lower region of truth mankind must have communication or their course is backward in all respects. New inventions in the arts soon become old and pass out of use what at first were striking facts soon lose their novelty - the old modes of presenting those truths which from their very nature are the same yesterday, to-day and forever, become wearisome—in fine the floating information of a community is soon worn out and becomes powerless unless from the region of princi ples there is constantly coming off upon it, an invigorating influence — unless the ingenious mind of a Watt or a Fulton now and then startles society and forms a new era in its civilization by a wonderful application of an old but buried principle of natural philosophy-unless the thoughtful mind of a Newton pours through old science the light and life of a new principle which to the end of time is to influence this domain of knowledge with as steady and extensive power as that of gravitation itself—unless the "mighty and passionate spirit" of a Luther awakens the religious consciousness of all Europe to the recog nition of that great primal truth of Christianity on which man's eternal life hangs.
Having said thus much upon knowledge in its scientific and in its practical form and of the right relation of the latter to the former, we proceed to speak of colleges as the institutions for keeping up this right relation-as the instrumentality whereby science and practice are kept connected and made to interpenetrate each other to their mutual benefit, and to the growth of mankind in knowledge.
I. One way whereby colleges do this is by not suffering the distinction between scientific and practical knowledge to be lost sight of, and by keeping in existence an education which is based upon the study of first principles.
It is the aim of the higher institutions of learning to give what is called a "liberal" education i. e. one which is distinguished from that given in common schools by being more extensive and more profound. The lower institutions of learning take the mind in the earlier period of its existence when it is best fitted for the obtainment of all that part of knowledge which is gained by the memory, while the college receives it at the beginning of that period when its powers commence their maturity, and it is prepared to get that knowledge' of principles of which we have spoken, which comes from reflection. In the theory of education adopted by our wise forefathers, and (as history shows it) by all wise founders of commonwealths, the future citizen is to be surrendered to the primary school during the years of boyhood when the imagination and memory are active that he may learn to read and write, and