The Professors of the Imperial College of Science and Technology have addressed to Lord Crewe, the Chairman of the Governors of the College, a memorial urging the necessity of the encouragement of science and of research. In commenting upon this document the Journal of Chemical Technology observes that “a satisfactory feature of the memorial is the recognition on the part of the signatories that scientific education should be on broad lines.” “We have always contended that an indispensable preliminary to a professional career should be a thoroughly sound general education. Whether or not the study of science is the best kind of study may be a debatable point, but it is certain that exclusive attention to science is thoroughly bad. A man's mind is narrow when he is unable to recognise the importance of things outside his own particular sphere of action, and it is precisely this state of mind that the exclusive study of science tends to produce. It is, therefore, the more necessary, in seeking to secure greater attention to scientific studies in the reform of our educational system, to take care that nothing be done which may curtail the period required for the acquisition of general knowledge. It is far better to delay than to hasten specialisation. A step in the right direction has been made when scientific men themselves state that they do not believe that “an education which includes good teaching of science need be a narrow education,” but we wish that this opinion had been positively rather than negatively expressed. The memorial refers to the “lethargy, misconception, and ignorance” of the public regarding national education. It is pertinent here to remark that when anything goes wrong and no particular individual or individuals can be held to be, or will acknowledge themselves to be, responsible, the “public” is blamed; the public being everybody with the exception of the denunciator and his friends. In the present instance the fault is not, even for the greater part, with the people. They are, naturally enough, interested in education only in so far as it is expressed in terms of school and college accounts and of wage‐earning capacity. Of the bearing that improvement in education and the advancement of physical science has on the welfare of the community the average man knows little and cares less. He has to be educated in the value of education. He is not, and probably never will be, interested in education as an abstract good. What interest he has in it is purely utilitarian. If he sees that the knowledge which he himself does not possess carries with it but doubtful prospects for the future, poor remuneration in the present and a social position little better than his own, he is unlikely to be impressed with the value of education. The fact is that there is a lamentable want of opportunity for the intellectual classes in this country and until this state of things is remedied the public will continue to display—and with every justification — “lethargy, misconception, and ignorance” in respect to national education.
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