Chemistry in Rural Schools


IT has no doubt caused as much surprise to others as it has to myself to read, on the authority of the principal of the South-Eastern Agricultural College, that “chemistry is one of the least suitable of the natural sciences to teach children whose lives will be, or ought to be, spent in the country” (M. J. R. Dunstan, NATURE, March 29, p. 511). I have no doubt that Mr. Dunstan has good reasons to assign for this expression of opinion, but those who are interested in the subject of education in rural schools will probably want some more explicit statement before reconsidering their curricula. For my own part I had come to an opposite conclusion. It has been my privilege during the last few years to have been associated with the founders of two rural schools, one in Essex and the other in Sutherland. The curricula of these schools were very carefully considered by my colleagues and myself, and the question of the suitability of chemistry was never raised; on the contrary, we considered that from the disciplinary as well as from the utilitarian point of view it had everything in its favour. Nor have we had any reason during the existence of these schools to doubt the wisdom of including chemistry in the curricula. As a means of training in experimental method and of inculcating habits of careful observation and accurate reasoning, this science (with physics) has been taught with the greatest success. It is popular with the pupils and of distinct value to them in after life, even when that life is “spent in the country.”

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MELDOLA, R. Chemistry in Rural Schools. Nature 73, 558–559 (1906).

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