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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 78

Real Teaching

Real Teaching.

Dr King next said emphatically that boys and girls at school should not be taught anything that was entirely useless and irksome. What right had we, he asked, to scribble inconsequent, fugitive jottings on these cells of the mind for mere examination purposes, or to brand them permanently with anything that is not worth retaining, or that can be of no further use or interest in after life? What right had we to waste and strain the nervous system with tables, rules, and problems of arithmetic or mathematics beyond all probable future requirements, or to harass children with distracting grammatical analysis before the mind is fit to grasp its meaning and possible value? Of course we must have scaffolding knowledge, but the proper permanent rallying points of memory ought to be built and tied into the cell groups with such interesting and important associative bonds as would make them parts of the being, readily available at all times as centres for the further extension of knowledge, thought, and imagination. Acquirements of this kind had no need of any artificial supports. To know a thing truly involves the remembering of it, no special effort of memorising being needed. If interest be aroused and page 64 knowledge be properly conveyed to a normal healthy mind which had not been overtaxed, the memory must remain—such knowledge was woven into the very physical structure, and its possessor could not get away from it, any more than he could get away from the power of swimming if he had properly learnt the art : in other words, if his nervous system had acquired the organic memory of how to swim. True knowledge is as different from mere verbal memorising as anything that can possibly be imagined.