25 Feb 2014

Miss Mason and science


Miss Mason approached science, as she approached all other knowledge, in the widest possible way. Everything connected with nature, birds, beasts, flowers, weather, stars, rocks, geography itself, and even architecture, all meant science to her mind. She interpreted it to mean, in its broadest aspect, what our immediate forefathers so finely called "Natural Philosophy."

But she was very insistent in demanding that science should not be divorced from the humanities, that, because a subject was scientific, it should not therefore be presented to the child in the dry and precise manner so frequently found in school scientific text-books. She went so far as to decry the detailed experimental methods of the school laboratory. These she considered as tending to confuse the issue, rather on the lines of the old saying that "you could not see the wood for the trees." Her whole attitude towards it went even further. You should also be made to realize that the wood was part of the swelling countryside, was, in fact, at one with God's universe.

It was our knowledge of this wealth of nature which Miss Mason felt was the due of all children. It supplied a framework of "natural law" into which detail could be fitted according to individual tastes and pursuits. This combination of detail with general principles, the former gained by personal observation as far as opportunity served, was Miss Mason's method of approaching science.

by Telford Petrie, D.Sc.

PRArticles Volume 39, no. 1, January 1928 pp 55-58



  1. Interesting. This maybe why weather is the only "science" I am fascinated with.

  2. I found the "decry the detailed experimental methods of the school laboratory" statement most interesting. While I agree that much of the way science is presented in schools is DRY, I wouldn't go throwing out the old scientific method in favour of just living books and observation. How we KNOW the things we know is due to this rigorous method. Sure we need to appreciate and wonder, but we also need the detail, the quantitative measurements, the science behind it, or otherwise it's all just heresay and speculation. OK, off my soapbox now!


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