Sunday, January 03, 2010

Thomas Sprat (1635 – 20 May 1713)

Thomas Sprat was one of the founders of the Royal Society of London, an important organization for the advancement of science. He was the author of the History of the Royal Society, published in 1667. At the time, science and the manual arts were inseparable. "It would not be amiss, if before young Scholars be far ingag'd in the beaten tracks of the Scholes, the Mysteries of Manual Arts, the names of their Instruments, the secrets of the Operations, the effects of Natural causes... were propos'd to be the subjects of their first thoughts and observations." In addition he wrote:
"I will venture to propose to the considerations of wise men, whether this way of Teaching by Practise and Experiments, would not least be as beneficial as the other by Universal Rules? Whether it were not as profitable to apply the eyes and the hands of Children, to see, and to touch all the several kinds of sensible things, as to oblige them to learn and remember the difficult Doctrines of general Arts?"
And so, in the early days of science, it was understood that the explorations of the hands in the making of objects was a necessary foundation for scientific exploration. Is that hard for anyone to understand? Is there a reasonable explanation for why educators no longer grasp that which was so clear in the 17th century? Help me if you can to understand this interesting shortcoming. Is it just that no one has ever explained it to them before? Or am I missing something?

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous5:53 AM

    You're not missing a thing. But priorities have apparently changed and important lessons forgotten.