Bauhaus-Universität Weimar

Drawing a straight line; a study in experimental didactics
Scripture, Edward W. C.S. Lyman
E. W. Scripture and C. S. Lyman. 
“ The ignorance of the ancients in regard to the art of experi¬ 
menting, or the low state of development which it reached with 
them, is one of the causes why their physics lagged so much 
behind,” says Poggendorff in his Lectures on the History of Physics. 
In comparison with such sciences as mathematics and astronomy 
. physics has achieved most of its progress in modern times. In the 
very latest times the experimental methods have been carried over 
from the general science of physics to the technical sciences depen¬ 
dent on it; the science of electrical engineering is built on experi¬ 
ments and measurements, partly taken from the physical labora¬ 
tories hut also to a great extent carried out by practical men for 
practical purposes. 
In psychology the first real progress since Aristotle began when 
Fechner showed the possibility of experimental methods. “With 
the introduction of experiment, the trustworthy application of the 
method of introspection became for the first time possible ” (Wundt, 
Physiol. Psy., 4 ed., I 4). Psychology to-day is a science of experi¬ 
ment and measurement. The time seems at hand when applied 
psychology should also become an exact and trustworthy science. 
Pedagogy, or the science of education, is in great extent based on 
psychology. It will not, however, do to wait for the crumbs that 
fall from the psychologist’s table; he is thinking of other matters 
than practical applications. Pedagogy, moreover, has its own pecu¬ 
liar problems which.must be solved in special ways. Can pedagogy 
make use of experiments in solving any of its problems ? 
We have chosen such a simple matter as the drawing of a straight 
line and have tried to gain information on the subject by making 
experiments. The main object was to see if we could really experi¬ 
ment on a pedagogical subject; at the same time we hoped to make 
a contribution to our knowledge of methods of drawing. No wide 
generalizations have been attempted; we have gathered a few facts 
and drawn the proximate conclusions from them. We firmly


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