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Science in Public Schools

    Naturevolume 98page400 (1917) | Download Citation



    THE seventeenth annual meeting of the Association A of Public-School Science Masters was held at Eton College on January 3 and 4. In his presidential address, Prof. H. H. Turner dealt with two main points, namely, that few boys have in them the making of scientific investigators, and that more Openings are required for those who possess these attributes. Just as some boys have no sense of appreciation for music, so others are dead to scientific things, and may have a habitual dislike to them. It must, of course, be acknowledged that such types exist, but like indifferences or antipathy can be found to all school subjects. Prof. Turner dealt with instruction in science as if its intention was to produce experts, whereas up to the age at which specialisation is permitted in a school course, the scientific teaching should be that which can claim a place in general education as justly as the teaching of letters, history, and mathematics. Boys who specialise in science afterwards may become investigators, but at present the careers open to them are few, and the prospects in them are unpromising. Prof. Turner suggested the formation of a Research Civil Service, parallel to the existing Administrative Civil Service. There is plenty of work to be done, such as the survey of our Empire, geodetically, magnetically, gravitationally, bathymetrically, and in other ways. There are forestry and fisheries, and industrial research of many kinds. Work is less likely to fail than workers. Mddern researches aie often of embarrassing length and involve much labour, but schools may help with some of them, and Prof. Turner gave a number of instances, of which “upper-air research” was one. He quoted Capt. Cave's opinion that such work is suitable for boys, and would be scientifically valuable. Mr. O. H. Latter, of Charterhouse, in seconding a vote of thanks to the president, proposed by Mr. C. E. Ashford, of the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, thought that the views of parents would have to be taken into consideration when contemplating purely scientific investigation in schools. In this connection he read the following letter received by him as typical of the attitude of many parents towards certain studies of natural history:—

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