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submitted to us, we should probably register a majority vote in favor of continuing our freedom, even though it has its attendant evils. Under the circumstances, the question of working out a satisfactory solution must rest largely with the college. The · problem concerns both secondary school and college, and, in a measure, is coming to involve the professional school.
The college and high school interests are closely bound together. The college recruits the teaching force of the high school, and, in turn, receives its recruits from the high school. The high school teacher and principal welcome the co-operation of the college in preserving proper educational standards. They are the educational experts of the local community, but their ideas are likely to be in advance of their constituents, who demand results too immediate, and have less appreciation of permanent educational values.
They find in the college a powerful ally, therefore, in their effort to keep the school from being dragged down to commercial levels. The talk about high school teachers resenting college dictation is largely manufactured by the newspaper correspondents, in their well-known zeal to furnish interesting reading. It is true that a few high school people occasionally get a notion that the college men are too remote from the practical needs of the world, and so a little conservative, but as a body, they welcome the aid and prestige of the college in preserving rational standards.
But when we turn to the colleges, we find they present rather wide divergence in the solutions they offer to the problem, and these divergences apply to entrance conditions as well as to college courses. The explanation of this state of affairs is not far to seek. Each college faculty is itself divided in sentiment, the teachers in the humanistic studies being inclined to conservatism, while the science teachers quite generally have been so thoroughly imbued with their newly developed subjects that they have demanded nothing short of a complete overthrow of the old régime. The subdivision of the various branches of science has introduced into college faculties a vastly increased number of science teachers. These have been aggressive, and many of them have been trained in schools of technology, in an atmosphere where the humanities do not flourish. Furthermore, the newness of their subjects, and their appeal to the popular mind due to the fact that the general advancement of scientific discoveries has immediate connection with the material welfare of the community, have given them a powerful prestige, captivating the minds of students, parents and the public in general. A quick response has been given to the demand for elaborate and costly material equipment for teaching the sciences, and everything has been done to place these subjects in the foreground. At our great universities, vast piles of buildings are erected for these materialistic studies, whereas, the humanities remain content with their modest classrooms.
Under such conditions, a reaction on courses of study was : inevitable. Science was credited with all our material ad
vancement, and the public did not stop to ask the question, What will the study of this particular subject contribute as a factor in a liberal training such as will enable one best to meet the universal demands upon the individual under our complex conditions? The student's choice of studies has too often been unduly influenced by prospective commercial utility, so that the spirit of the professional school and school of technology dominates. This is not saying that culture and utility may not be combined in a study, but the spirit in which a study is taken, or which gives it a place in a course of study, is important.
As a result of the onslaught of the newer studies, the older subjects have had a hard time of it. Theology and ethics have been relegated; philosophy, the oldest of the sciences, has been banished from the requirements everywhere; mathematics has been greatly curtailed, and the ancient languages have for the first time been challenged, and asked to justify the dignified position they have so long held.
It would be difficult to find any one who would favor a return to the old-time, inflexible curriculum. The conservative wing has welcomed the new subjects, and has granted them unquestioned recognition as fast as they were sufficiently developed, and could be presented in a way to merit a place in the course of study. The real question is upon the relative position of the humanities, which the conservatives still claim should constitute the core about which the course should be built, on the theory that the college stands, first of all, for liberal culture, in its true etymological sense ; viz., the education appropriate for a “liber,” a free man in the community. As Professor Münsterburg puts it, there are certain common experiences which come alike to every man in the community-the doctor, the lawyer, the merchant, the artisan, the clergyman and the statesman. The education which fits a man for these common experiences is a liberal education.
When we come to formulate a course of study, the informational side of an education is not to be ignored, for the college should prepare us to apprehend and appreciate the thought and activities of man in his varied relations, and in the various fields of achievement. But President Thwing well says that education as an end is overestimated, while as a means to power it is vastly underestimated.
Coming, then, to the consideration of a course that shall fit for college, the following conditions are to be met :
First, It must not sacrifice the element of power and training in the ability to do close, consecutive thinking.
Second, It should give due weight to the elements of comprehensiveness and symmetry, supplying the things that are fundamental in fitting us for the common experiences of life.
Third, It should give a considerable scope for choice, both on the part of the individual, and of the local community in which he lives.
An important step toward securing unity of action in the solution of this problem was taken by the National Educational Association in 1899, when at its San Francisco meeting it adopted a report on College Entrance Requirements. The scheme provides for certain constants which every course must contain. These occupy five eighths of the time, while three eighths is elective from a wide range of 'subjects. The choice of these depends partly on the college course for which preparation is being made, but a considerable measure of entire freedom is left for local, parental and individual preference. Careful provision is made, of course, that the elective studies shall be taught and studied in a thorough-going way.
The personnel of the committee that formulated the report is such as to insure that neither college influence nor conservatism dominated it. As a matter of fact it is exceedingly liberal. And yet if every course offered in every school in the land contained this minimum of constants, we would be measurably protected against the weak and characterless courses pursued in many high schools. The constants proposed are, 4 units (years) of foreign language (no language accepted in less than two units), 2 units in mathematics, 2 in English, I in history and 1 in science, a total of 10 year units. The scheme contemplates six additional units to complete the high school course.
About the only requirement in this program that is seriously sinned against is that of foreign language, many communities feeling called upon to offer, in response to popular demand, courses with no language but the mother tongue. Where this is the case, the place of the omitted language is usually supplied by additional work in English of doubtful grade, and by a multitude of subjects lacking sequence, continuity or disciplinary value, but pursued wholly with reference to the end of information and supposed immediate utility, or, as is too often the case, on the principle of following the direction of least resistance. The foreign languages and mathematics are the parts of the course which afford the severe test, because they involve the power to do intense and consecutive work, where each lesson for a series of years involves in a measure all preceding lessons and principles. This is a test to which a certain element in every school refuses to submit.
The recent tendency is to remove the pressure, at least so far as the language requirement is concerned, with a view to increasing the number who will complete a high school course. This is certainly a laudable end, if in attaining it there were not incidentally a lowering of ideals in the community, and ultimately throughout the whole country. Many who would otherwise take the severe course are led to take the easier way, partly because it is easier, and partly because public sentiment has come to endorse such a course, and if the severe course is taken, it is often in opposition to the sentiments of parents and friends. With a large element in school and community ridiculing the expenditure of time and effort on studies popularly classed as useless, a great deal of courage is required on the part of the boy or girl who runs this gauntlet of sentiment, besides deliberately choosing a course of study that is distinctly more difficult.
Eliminate the requirements in foreign languages and mathematics, and the number completing the high school course will certainly be greatly augmented. If we should go farther, and eliminate the grammar requirement from the grades, the grammar school would become immensely more popular, and many more would complete its course.
It is a marvel that mathematics has been able to remain so little molested during the period when the classics have been so furiously assailed. The explanation lies in the fact that the friends of the classics have had no fight against mathematics, but have rather regarded them a welcome ally in affording the full rounded development of the intellectual powers. On the other hand, our iconoclastic friends have needed the mathematics for the successful prosecution of certain branches of study in which they were particularly interested, and so have wanted them continued in the course, while the public has remained under the delusion that mathematics is a strictly utilitarian study, and has never questioned the immediate utility of higher arithmetic, algebra, geometry and trigonometry as qualifications for plowing corn, selling groceries or running a political caucus.
In my early experiences as a teacher in the country schools, I had repeated instances of boys who came determined to spend all their time on arithmetic. It was not hard to induce them to make some concessions toward a little writing and reading, but they were forced to enter classes in grammar, geography and history only on pain of being dismissed from the school. On the other hand, I never knew a boy who questioned the absolute necessity, no matter how difficult and blind it was to him, of puzzling his poor brain over mathematics. A distinguished educator used to say that all the mathematics used in the ordinary affairs of life could be compressed within