5 JUNE 1920, Page 17

A NEW SCIENCE.* TWENTY years ago the prophets were full

of the thought of the wonders that " modern science " would do for the men of the next generation. Now we think rather of what modern psycho-

logy will make of them. To the man ttho does not particularly want to get anywhere it is no use to offer an aeroplane. To the man who has nothing to say we extend wireless telephony

in vain. Why discover new dyes for the man who takes no pleasure in colour ? It is a mockery to prolong the life of him who wishes himself dead. The product of the old science is a tool, a means. The product of the new science is a man, an end. To the rich and powerful of the world applied science has offered the satisfaction of so many material desires that a sort of satura- tion point has been reached. There was also just before the war another social phenomenon to be observed. Those who had attained, what we should call, a high cultural standard, saw that many of those people, who were not rich and powerful, had also reached the point where their powers of gratification outran what their critics held to be their absurdly modest desires. In brief, the stupid, both among the rich and the poor, were in the position of dyspeptics at an alderman's feast. They could not live up to their opportunities, and therefore science turned from the ungrateful task of stuffing further quails to ask if the mental dyspeptics were born so. And, if not, how they had come to that pass. And, above all, to ask who had been their physi- cians, and how these had dealt in their physickings and diet.

And it was found that, though in the kitchen, where material gratifications were compounded, the actions and reactions of heat and of cold, the several properties of bacteria, sepsis and asepsis were nicely understood, in the laboratories, whence came diet and medicine for the growing soul, pounded mummy and mandrake root were the current remedies, and horoscopes not symptoms were studied. Sometimes mummy and mandrake proved highly beneficial, but even the black-robed, zodiac-hatted astrologers themselves admitted sighing that it was a hit and miss business at best, and that the best hope for a boy or girl was, after all, to have a good digestion to start with and not to swallow too much of the remedies. But once the applies,- _bility of new methods to their work was demonstrated, it was not long before all the best of the astrologers—now complete with white overalls and a set of test tubes kindly lent by the kitchen department—had discovered that it was the acid in the mandrake root that had suited Johnnie Brown so well and had nearly killed Tommy Jones. We shall understand the progress

of the new educational movement more easily if we remember that, though there is no Isaac Newton of the new combined science of psychology and pedagogics (Rousseau by no means fills the role), its exponents have a scientific apparatus ready to their hands.

It is a comparatively new science, it is concerned with the most complex object of which we have any knowledge, the mind and soul of man, but it is fortunately able in many of its activi- ties to stand on the shoulders of its sister sciences.

We have now reached a stage where the principles of the new science are being applied by many individual teachers with a varying amount of thoroughness and under widely varying circumstances, and the history of these experiments, partial or thorough, is generally exceedingly interesting. Two admirable examples of this type of history are to be found in Miss Owen's and Mr. Craddock's books. Mr. Craddock, who is a teacher of experience, tells the story of how, impatient of the waste of the teacher's and of the pupil's time entailed by the ordinary auto- cracy of the school, he established a " Class Room Republic." He took the bold step of abdication. He would teach, but he would have no hand in keeping order. He delegated all his powers of reward and punishment to a committee elected by the class. To give additional interest to the actual school work he devised an extremely ingenious system by which the class was divided into A's and B's who competed for marks. It is impossible here to do justice to the ingenuity of his plan, but the reader will gather its cunning from the fact that, when a question was asked, the leader of A group could call upon any B to answer. A

• (1) The Class-Room Republic. By Ernest A. Craddock, M.A. London : A. and C. Black. P28. 6d. net.)—(2) The Child Vision. By Dorothy Tudot Owen, ILA., ALE& Manchester Unicersity Press. 16s. fkl. net.]

naturally chose the stupidest B, a course which the dull B's leader had foreseen and for which he had therefore crammed his follower.

The question of a danger of collusion between A's and B's and between the committee and an offender is fully realised and discussed by Mr. Craddock, whose arguments and experience will almost certainly satisfy the reader at least in the case of boys up to sixteen. Those who have had experience of the scout's court of honour will corroborate Mr. Craddock's findings.

The book (which is quite short) is, besides being a genuine con- tribution to the science of pedagogics, extremely amusing even to the non-professional reader. It is indeed delightful to read such a book as Mr. Craddock's, well written, conceived with gusto and treating of a subject so interesting.

Miss Owen focuses the new light upon a much smaller field. She has studied the ordinary methods of teaching English composition and the resultant " essays." The result of her enquiries has been to induce her to evolve and bring forward an entirely different system. Among the chief defects she had observed in the old system were the preoccupation of the younger children with spelling and neatness, and the vaguely conceived aims and literary ideals of children of all ages.

To meet the first difficulty her plan is to let the children speak their essays. More difficult of solution is the second problem, and Miss Owen's method of meeting it is ingenious in the extreme.

It is to let the other children in the class do something which will demonstrate how far the essayist " has produced the prose ideal, " the extreme characteristic impression of the thing written about," In practice this is achieved as follows. The essayist describes a scene—cows walking in single file across a wooded

common—and each member of the class has to draw a picture- diagram with coloured chalks representing the event. If the child has said " lots of " cows, the fact that this might be six or twenty-six will be pointed out by indignant classmates. If the sea is mentioned, the draughtsmen must know if he is to " put " it light or dark, while mention of the time of day must accompany that of the sun. With older pupils story writing is taught and the points of a narrative are represented by an ingenious graph. Miss Owen's notion seems a singularly happy one and calculated to remedy a real defect in traditional teaching. Incidentally the device might surely be adapted to improve the. essay writing of adult students.