Lane Cooper - Louis Agassiz as a teacher – 07 Avoid book learning, suit the subject to be observed to the interest of the student
Type of spiritual experience
A description of the experience
LOUIS AGASSIZ AS A TEACHER ILLUSTRATIVE EXTRACTS ON HIS METHOD OF INSTRUCTION WITH AN INTRODUCTORY NOTE BY LANE COOPER [PROFESSOR OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE IN CORNELL UNIVERSITY MARINE BIOLOGICAL LABORATORY LIBRARY WOODS HOLE, MASS. W. H. 0. I. 1917 ]
HOW AGASSIZ TAUGHT PROFESSOR ADDISON EMERY VERRILL
From a private letter from Professor Addison Emery Verrill to Lane Cooper. The extract is printed with the consent of Professor Verrill.
IN regard to the methods of instruction of Agassiz I must say that so far as I saw and experienced he had no regular or fixed method, except that his plan was to make young students depend on natural objects rather than on statements in books.
To that end he treated each one of his new students differently, according to the amount of knowledge and experience that the student had previously acquired, and often in line with what the student had done before.
Not infrequently young men came to him who were utterly destitute of any knowledge or ability to study natural science, or zoology in particular, but had an idea that it would be a 'soft snap,' as the boys say. In such cases he often did give them a lot of mixed stuff to mull over, to see what they could do, and also to discourage those that seemed unfit.
Sometimes he was mistaken, of course, and the student would persevere and stay on and sometimes turned out well later. In fact, his treatment was highly and essentially individualistic.
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Observation contributed by: Rosie Rock-Evans