Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Little Gem of Pedagogy

From the introduction to "A History of Chemistry" by Forris Jewett Moore (1910):
The value of the historical method for studying every department of human thought is now so universally recognized that it requires no emphasis, but to the younger student of chemistry it may not be superfluous to point out that, by observing the errors and misunderstandings of the past, we learn to avoid errors in our own thinking; by acquaintance with the way in which great men have solved problems we are assisted in solving problems of our own; by observing the different aspects presented by the same facts in the light of successive theories, we acquire an insight obtainable in no other way into the nature, limitations, and proper function of all theories. Finally, as we study how man's knowledge of nature has broadened and deepened with the years, we acquire a better understanding of the trend of thought in our own times, and of the exact bearing of each new discovery upon the old but ever recurring problems of the science.

Nicely put.

2 comments:

John Drake said...

I like that quote. Thank you for posting that.

I've been trying to take a similar approach in my introduction to information systems class. My students have been very receptive of it so far.

christinemm said...

I wish our politicians would use that advice too.