PRESENT METHODS OF STUDY; NATURE OF STUDY, AND ITS PRINCIPAL FACTORS
INDICATIONS THAT YOUNG PEOPLE DO NOT LEARN TO STUDY PROPERLY; THE
SERIOUSNESS OF THE EVIL
No doubt every one can recall peculiar methods of study that he or
some one else has at some time followed. During my attendance at high
school I often studied aloud at home, along with several other
temporary or permanent members of the family. I remember becoming
exasperated at times by one of my girl companions. She not only read
her history aloud, but as she read she stopped to repeat each sentence
five times with great vigor. Although the din interfered with my own
work, I could not help but admire her endurance; for the physical
labor of mastering a lesson was certainly equal to that of a good farm
hand, for the same period of time.
This way of studying history seemed extremely ridiculous. But the
method pursued by myself and several others in beginning algebra at
about the same time was not greatly superior. Our text-book contained
several long sets of problems which were the terror of the class, and
scarcely one of which we were able to solve alone. We had several
friends, however, who could solve them, and, by calling upon them for
help, we obtained the “statement” for each one. All these statements I
memorized, and in that way I was able to “pass off” the subject.
A few years later, when a school principal, I had a fifteen-year-old
boy in my school who was intolerably lazy. His ambition was
temporarily aroused, however, when he bought a new book and began the
study of history. He happened to be the first one called upon, in the
first recitation, and he started off finely. But soon he stopped, in
the middle of a sentence, and sat down. When I asked him what was the
matter, he simply replied that that was as far as he had got. Then, on
glancing at the book, I saw that he had been reproducing the text
_verbatim_, and the last word that he had uttered was the last word on
the first page.
These few examples suggest the extremes to which young people may go
in their methods of study. The first instance might illustrate the
muscular method of learning history; the second, the memoriter method
of reasoning in mathematics. I have never been able to imagine how the
boy, in the third case, went about his task; hence, I can suggest no
name for his method.
While these methods of study are ridiculous, I am not at all sure that
they are in a high degree exceptional.