The pioneers of the teaching of science imagined that its introduction into education would remove the conventionality, artificiality, and backward-lookingness which were characteristic; of classical studies, but they were gravely disappointed. So, too, in their time had the humanists thought that the study of the classical authors in the original would banish at once the dull pedantry and superstition of mediaeval scholasticism. The professional schoolmaster was a match for both of them, and has almost managed to make the understanding of chemical reactions as dull and as dogmatic an affair as the reading of Virgil’s Aeneid.

The chief claim for the use of science in education is that it teaches a child something about the actual universe in which he is living, in making him acquainted with the results of scientific discovery, and at the same time teaches him how to think logically and inductively by studying scientific method. A certain limited success has been reached in the first of these aims, but practically none at all in the second. Those privileged members of the community who have been through a secondary or public school education may be expected to know something about the elementary physics and chemistry of a hundred years ago, but they probably know hardly more than any bright boy can pick up from an interest in wireless or scientific hobbies out of school hours. As to the learning of scientific method, the whole thing is palpably a farce. Actually, for the convenience of teachers and the requirements of the examination system, it is necessary that the pupils not only do not learn scientific method but learn precisely the reverse, that is, to believe exactly what they are told and to reproduce it when asked, whether it seems nonsense to them or not. The way in which educated people respond to such quackeries as spiritualism or astrology, not to say more dangerous ones such as racial theories or currency myths, shows that fifty years of education in the method of science in Britain or Germany has produced no visible effect whatever. The only way of learning the method of science is the long and bitter way of personal experience, and, until the educational or social systems are altered to make this possible, the best we can expect is the production of a minority of people who are able to acquire some of the techniques of science and a still smaller minority who are able to use and develop them.

Questions

  1. The author implies that the ‘professional schoolmaster’ has
  • No interest in teaching science
  • Thwarted attempts to enliven education
  • Aided true learning
  • Supported the humanists
  • Been a pioneer in both science and humanities
  1. The author’s attitude to secondary and public school education in the sciences is
  • Ambivalent
  • Neutral
  • Supportive
  • Satirical
  • Contemptuous
  1. The word ‘palpably’ most nearly means
  • Empirically
  • Obviously
  • Tentatively
  • Markedly
  • Ridiculously
  1. The author blames all of the following for the failure to impart scientific method through the education system except
  • Poor teaching
  • Examination methods
  • Lack of direct experience
  • The social and education systems
  • Lack of interest on the part of students
  1. Astrology is mentioned as an example of
  • A science that need to be better understood
  • A belief which no educated people hold
  • Something unsupportable to those who have absorbed the methods of science
  • Gravest danger to society
  • An acknowledged failure of science

Analysis and answers

Question 1.

Correct Answer:B : Thwarted attempts to enliven education

We can read in the initial part of the passage that, “The professional schoolmaster was a match for both of them, and has almost managed to make the understanding of chemical reactions as dull and as dogmatic an affair as the reading of Virgil’s Aeneid.”
This tells us that the schoolmaster has made learning dull. And so we eliminate answers C and E which imply he has done something good.
But to be sure of the answer we should also read the previous sentences. We learn that, “The pioneers of the teaching of science imagined that its introduction into education would remove the conventionality, artificiality, and backward-lookingness which were characteristic of classical studies……” This section tells us that other people tried to alter the nature of education, but the “professional schoolmaster was a match for both of them”. He therefore prevented (thwarted) these attempts, and the answer is B.

Question 2.

Correct Answer: E: Contemptuous

To find the attitude, try asking yourself whether the author is positive, negative or neutral to the subject. Then look for the evidence. Here, it is obvious that he thinks that nothing very valuable is learned in school about science and scientific method. He is therefore negative. Eliminate the neutral (A and B) words, and the positive (C), and then decide between D and E. He seems to be expressing contempt rather than mocking. And so E is the best choice.

Question 3.

Correct Answer:B: Obviously

It’s a direct vocabulary based question. You don’t need to refer to the passage in case you already know its meaning. Else read it in the passage and derive its meaning out of the context.

Question 4.

Correct Answer:E: Lack of interest on the part of students

Be careful on ‘except’ questions. You are looking for something the author does not do.
He does blame poor teaching, exams, social and education systems, lack of direct experience, but he never blames the students. Hence answer E. You have to read the passage for this question.

Question 5.

Correct Answer:C: Something unsupportable to those who have absorbed the methods of science

Astrology is mentioned as a ‘quackery’. Quackery is something that claims to be true but is actually based on falsity. He implies that people are fooled by astrology, but he also implies that there are other more ‘dangerous’ ideas. So we eliminate A, B and D. It is not likely that astrology is a ‘failure of science’, but it is something that scientists would not approve of. Hence answer C.