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Louis Agassiz as a Teacher; illustrative extracts on his method of instruction

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81 pages
The Project Gutenberg EBook of Louis Agassiz as a Teacher, by Lane CooperCopyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the copyright laws for your country before downloadingor redistributing this or any other Project Gutenberg eBook.This header should be the first thing seen when viewing this Project Gutenberg file. Please do not remove it. Do notchange or edit the header without written permission.Please read the "legal small print," and other information about the eBook and Project Gutenberg at the bottom of thisfile. Included is important information about your specific rights and restrictions in how the file may be used. You can alsofind out about how to make a donation to Project Gutenberg, and how to get involved.**Welcome To The World of Free Plain Vanilla Electronic Texts****eBooks Readable By Both Humans and By Computers, Since 1971*******These eBooks Were Prepared By Thousands of Volunteers!*****Title: Louis Agassiz as a TeacherAuthor: Lane CooperRelease Date: December, 2004 [EBook #7020] [Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule] [This file was firstposted on February 23, 2003]Edition: 10Language: English*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK LOUIS AGASSIZ AS A TEACHER ***This eBook was produced by Avinash Kothare, David Starner and the Online Distributed Proofreading TeamLOUIS AGASSIZ.ILLUSTRATIVE EXTRACTS ON HIS METHOD OF INSTRUCTIONWITH AN INTRODUCTORY NOTEBYLANE COOPERPROFESSOR OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE ...
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The Project Gutenberg EBook of Louis Agassiz asa Teacher, by Lane Cooper
Copyright laws are changing all over the world. Besure to check the copyright laws for your countrybefore downloading or redistributing this or anyother Project Gutenberg eBook.
This header should be the first thing seen whenviewing this Project Gutenberg file. Please do notremove it. Do not change or edit the headerwithout written permission.
Please read the "legal small print," and otherinformation about the eBook and ProjectGutenberg at the bottom of this file. Included isimportant information about your specific rights andrestrictions in how the file may be used. You canalso find out about how to make a donation toProject Gutenberg, and how to get involved.
**Welcome To The World of Free Plain VanillaElectronic Texts**
**eBooks Readable By Both Humans and ByComputers, Since 1971**
*****These eBooks Were Prepared By Thousandsof Volunteers!*****
Title: Louis Agassiz as a Teacher
Author: Lane Cooper
Release Date: December, 2004 [EBook #7020][Yes, we are more than one year ahead ofschedule] [This file was first posted on February23, 2003]
Edition: 10
Language: English
*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERGEBOOK LOUIS AGASSIZ AS A TEACHER ***
This eBook was produced by Avinash Kothare,David Starner and the Online DistributedProofreading Team
LOUIS AGASSIZ.
ILLUSTRATIVE EXTRACTS ON HIS METHOD OFINSTRUCTION
WITH AN INTRODUCTORY NOTE
BY
LANE COOPER
PROFESSOR OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGEAND LITERATURE IN CORNELL UNIVERSITY.
 The beauty of his better self lives on In minds he touched with fire, in many an eye He trained to Truth's exact severity; He was a Teacher: why be grieved for him Whose living word still stimulates the air? In endless file shall loving scholars come The glow of his transmitted touch to share.
—Lowell, Agassiz.
PREFACE
If it be asked why a teacher of English should bemoved to issue this book on Agassiz, my replymight be: 'Read the Introductory Note'-for theanswer is there. But doubtless the primary reasonis that I have been taught, and I try to teachothers, after a method in essence identical withthat employed by the great naturalist. And I mightgo on to show in some detail that a doctoralinvestigation in the humanities, when the subject iswell chosen, serves the same purpose in theeducation of a student of language and literatureas the independent, intensive study of a living or afossil animal, when prescribed by Agassiz to abeginner in natural science. But there is no need toelaborate the point. Of those who are likely toexamine the book, some already know theunderlying truth involved, others will grasp it whenit is first presented to them (and for these my slightand pleasant labors are designed), and the rest willfind a stumbling-block and foolishness—save forthe entertainment to be had in the reading ofbiography.
I have naturally kept in mind the needs of my ownstudents, past and present, yet I believe thesepages may be useful to students of natural scienceas well as to those who concern themselves withthe humanities. We live in an age of narrowspecialization—at all events in America. Agassiz
was a specialist, but not a 'narrow' one. Hisexample should therefore be salutary to thosepersons, on the one hand, who think that a mancan have general culture without knowing someone thing from the bottom up, and, on the other, tothose who immerse themselves and their pupilsblindly in special investigation, without thought oftheprima philosophia that gives life and meaning toall particular knowledge. There can be no doubtthat science and scholarship in this country aresuffering from a lack of sympathy and contactbetween the devotees of the several branches, andfor want of definite efforts to bridge the gapsbetween various disciplines wherever this ispossible. It may not often be possible until men ofscience generally again take up the study of Platoand Aristotle, or at least busy themselves, as didAgassiz, with some comprehensive modernphilosopher like Schelling. But it should not be veryhard for those who are engaged in the biologicalsciences and those who are given to literarypursuits to realize that they are alike interested inthe manifestations of one and the same thing, theprinciple of life. In Agassiz himself the vitality of hisstudies and the vitality of the man are easilyidentified.
In conclusion I must thank the publishers,Houghton Mifflin Company, for the use ofselections from the copyright books of Mrs.Agassiz and Professor Shaler; these and all otherobligations are, I trust, indicated in the properplaces by footnotes. I owe a special debt ofgratitude to Professor Burt G. Wilder for his
interest and help throughout.
LANE COOPER
CORNELL UNIVERSITY,
April 7, 1917.
CONTENTS
I. INTRODUCTORY NOTE
II. AGASSIZ AT NEUCHATEL
III. AGASSIZ AT HARVARD
IV. HOW AGASSIZ TAUGHT PROFESSORSHALER
V. HOW AGASSIZ TAUGHT PROFESSORVERRILL
VI. HOW AGASSIZ TAUGHT PROFESSORWILDER
VII. How AGASSIZ TAUGHT PROFESSORSCUDDER
VIII. THE DEATH OF AGASSIZ—HISPERSONALITY
IX. OBITER DICTA BY AGASSIZ
X. PASSAGES FOR COMPARISON WITH THEMETHOD OF AGASSIZ
I
INTRODUCTORY NOTE
When the question was put to Agassiz, 'What doyou regard as your greatest work?' he replied: 'Ihave taught men to observe.' And in the preambleto his will he described himself in three words as'Louis Agassiz, Teacher.'
We have more than one reason to be interested inthe form of instruction employed by so eminent ascientist as Agassiz. In the first place, it is much tobe desired that those who concern themselves withpedagogy should give relatively less heed to theway in which subjects, abstractly considered, oughtto be taught, and should pay more attention than Ifear has been paid to the way in which great andsuccessful teachers actually have taught theirpupils. As in other fields of human endeavor, so inteaching: there is a portion of the art that cannotbe taken over by one person from another, butthere is a portion, and a larger one than at firstsight may appear, that can be so taken over, andcan be almost directly utilized. Nor is the possibleutility of imitation diminished, but rather increased,when we contemplate the method of a teacher likeAgassiz, whose mental operations had thesimplicity of genius, and in whose habits ofinstruction the fundamentals of a right procedurebecome very obvious.
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