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Professor William James - Louis Agassiz, Words Spoken at the Reception of the American Society of Naturalists [Dec 30, 1896]

Identifier

024966

Type of spiritual experience

A description of the experience

Professor William James - Louis Agassiz, Words Spoken at the Reception of the American Society of Naturalists [Dec. 30, 1896].

Agassiz's influence on methods of teaching in our community was prompt and decisive all the more that it struck people's imagination by its very excess.

The good old way of committing printed abstractions to memory never seems to have received such a shock as it encountered at his hands.

There is probably no public school teacher now [1896 ] in New England who will not tell you how Agassiz used to lock a student up in a room full of turtle-shells, or lobster- shells, or oyster-shells, without a book or a word to help him, and not let him out till he had discovered all the truths which the objects contained.

Some found the truths after weeks and months of lonely sorrow; others never found them.

Those who found them were already made into naturalists thereby the failures were blotted from the book of honour and of life.

'Go to nature; take the facts into your own hands; look, and see for yourself' these were the maxims which Agassiz preached wherever he went, and their effect upon pedagogy was electric. . . .

While on the Thayer expedition [to Brazil, in 1865], I remember that I often put questions to him about the facts of our new tropical habitat, but I doubt if he ever answered one of these questions of mine outright. He always said: 'There, you see you have a definite problem. Go and look, and find the answer for yourself.'

The source of the experience

Agassiz, Louis

Concepts and Symbols used in the text or image

Activities

Observation contributed by: Rosie Rock-Evans