In the year 1884 I was invited to give tuition by correspondence, in Biology. Although disposed at the time to ridicule the idea of imparting instruction in natural science by letter, I gladly accepted the opportunity thus afforded me of ascertaining for myself what could and could not be accomplished in that direction. Anyone familiar with the scope of biological enquiry, and the methods of biological instruction, will not need to be reminded that it is only by the most rigorous employment of precise directions for observation, that any good results are to be looked for at the hand of the elementary student. True to this principle, I determined to issue to my correspondence pupils rigid instructions, and to demand in return faithful annotated drawings of facts observed in their usage. In the case of two among the few students who passed through my hands, the result far exceeded my most sanguine anticipations. The notes sent in by one of them-- a man working at a distance, alone and unaided-- far excelled those wrung from many a student placed under the most favourable surroundings; and their promise for the future has been fulfilled to the utmost, the individual in question being now a recognised investigator. It thus became clear that, not-with-standing the complex conditions of work in the biological field, tuition by correspondence would suffice to awaken the latent abilities of a naturally qualified enquirer. The average members of a University Correspondence Class will be found neither better nor worse than those of any other, and they may therefore pass unnoticed; if however, the correspondence system of tuition may furnish the means of arousing a latent aptitude, when the possibilities of other methods of approach are excluded-- and in so doing, of elevating the individual to that position for which he was by nature qualified, ensuring him the introduction to the one sphere of labour for which he was born-- it will have created its own defence, and have merited the confidence of all right-thinking people. The plucking of one such brand from the burning is ample compensation for the energy expended on any number of average dullards, who but require to be left alone to find their natural level.
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