Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

intelligence, and to refine and strengthen his character. Its student life, social opportunities, and athletic sports are all additional elements of usefulness and of strength. It has endeared itself to three or four generations of the flower of our American youth, and it is more useful to-day than at any earlier time.

For all these reasons I am anxious to have it preserved as part of our educational system, and so adjusted to the social and educational conditions which surround us that a college training may be an essential part of the higher education of an American, whether he is destined to a professional career or to a business occupation. It seems to me clear that if the college is not so adjusted it will, despite its recent rapid growth, lose its prestige and place of honor in our American life, and that it may eventually disappear entirely, to the great damage of our whole educational system.

NICHOLAS MURRAY BUTLER COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY

VIII

DISCUSSION

TEN YEARS OF HIGH-SCHOOL GROWTH

In Search's Ideal school' the charge is indirectly made that the public high schools are not doing college preparatory work as well as they did thirty years ago. Since the courses of both college preparatory and other high-school students are in many respects identical, the charge, if proved, is a most serious one, because it proves that the work of the public high schools is deteriorating. Any careful student would question the truth of Search's charge, for several reasons.

His book appeared in 1901, and yet the Harvard College statistics, given as the basis of the charge, come down only to 1894. All teachers know that the high school as it exists today is little more than ten years old, and that no other period of high-school development can compare in importance with the last five years. Again, in a work as scholarly as the Ideal school one would expect the investigation pushed to other schools than Harvard College before drawing any conclusion.

A careful study of the Harvard tables (vide Report of the President, 1899-1900, p. 7) reveals some very interesting facts.

In the first place, Search's percentages are absolutely worthless, because he fails to reckon with a strong disturbing element in the Harvard statistics. The students entering Harvard College are arranged in the President's report, by years, in the following columns: (a) From public schools, (b) from endowed schools, (c) from private schools, (d) private pupils, (e) from colleges, including other Harvard departments, (f) total, (g) percentage from public schools. The disturbing element is in column (e) from colleges, including other Harvard departments. In the year 1871 there were only 8 in this class, in a total of 203. In 1894 there were 94 in this class

New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1901.

in a total of 470. Before any conclusions can be drawn from the Harvard tables, bearing on the character of public high-school work as compared with that of private schools, column (e) must be taken out of the totals entirely. For various reasons, column (b) from endowed schools must also be taken out. The two columns which shed light on the problem at hand are columns (a) from public schools and (c) from private schools.

We give by years the number of students entering Harvard College from these two sources.

[blocks in formation]

72 54 80 51 86 80 72 69

1876
1877
1878

36

1879

69 82 65

47 41 25 51 62 73 63 70 78

63

73

69

1880 1881 1882 1883 1884 1885 1886 1887 1888 1889 1890 1891 1892 1893 1894 1895 1896 1897 1898 1899 1900

96 78 94 98 95 128

99 82 147

116

133

135 142 126 165 134 143 134 158 212

114 114 II2 106 106 124 105

.

These figures reveal no startling tendencies in a downward direction for public high schools. The first ten years show no marked changes in the relative positions of the two columns.

Beginning with 1882, there is a steady increase in the number of students coming from private schools. This reaches its maximum in 1891. Private schools show a steady decline from that date. The public school figures give the first indication of new life in 1886. From that time on they show a steady increase. In 1891, 128 public high-school students entered Harvard College. In 1900 there were 212, an increase of more than 65 1-2 per cent. In 1891, 147 students entered Harvard College from private schools. In 1900 there were 105, a loss of more than 28

per

cent. A safe conclusion to draw from the Harvard tables, so far as they shed any light on the public high-school problem, is that during the last ten years public high schools have proved themselves excellent fitting schools for one of the best universities in the country.

In his last report President Eliot shows that the number of public schools which from time to time send students to Harvard College is increasing. In the ten years, 1876-1885, there were 82 such schools.

1881–1890,
1891-1900,

163

96

In 1895 there were only 13 public schools outside of New England which sent pupils to Harvard College. In 1900 there were 29 such schools.

During the last four years the percentage from public schools has kept up well and compares favorably with the average percentage of the twentysix years preceding. Considering that the number of persons who entered the four classes of Harvard College in 1900 is three times as large as it was in 1871, the persistence of the percentage from public schools is highly satisfactory.-President's Report, 1899-1900, p. 7.

Contrast this with the picture drawn by Search:

The result at the present time is that the high schools, as shown by this table, furnish less than twenty-seven per cent. of those admitted to Harvard College. Notwithstanding that the high schools of New England for thirty years have been, more and more, making of themselves fitting schools, their contribution to Harvard College during this time of greatest endeavor has been declining. The average young person who seeks the best training goes where he can find the greatest value. Either the high schools should qualify themselves to compete with private institu

tions, or they should cease to bend everything to college preparation.Ideal school, p. 36.

In order to learn how accurately this picture portrays the condition of public school work for the whole country, the writer addressed a circular letter to a large number of college and university presidents, asking for comparative statistics on this point. The following are taken from the replies:

Thirty-six per cent. of the entering class at Wesleyan University in 1893 came from public high schools. In 1901 the percentage of public high-school pupils in the Freshman class at the same institution had risen to 60 per

cent. Forty-six per cent. of the students now at Bucknell University were prepared in public high schools.

Thirty-five per cent. of this year's entering class at Swarthmore College were prepared in public high schools.

Lafayette College reports 34.9 per cent. of the Freshman class in 1876 as coming from public high schools. This rose to 47 per cent. in 1901. At the University of Pennsylvania, the percentage of public high-school pupils in the first class rose from 28 1-5 per cent. in 1895 to 30 5-9 per cent. in 1901.

At Columbia, the percentage of public school pupils entering the Freshman class rose from 16.6 per cent. in 1897 to 24.8 per cent. in 1901.

Going west we find the public high school much more in evidence. As one president of a State university puts it, "Here we depend entirely on the high schools.” No western college reports less than 73 per cent. of its students as coming from public high schools. Ninety per cent. seems to be a fair average. One of the largest State universities reports“ practically all” of its students as coming from the public high schools.

The registrar of one of the leading universities in the West has the following to say on the general question under discussion:

The development of high schools in our State up to 1890 was very slow; since then it has been very rapid. This has resulted in the disappearance of many private schools. Moreover, our best students come from the high schools. We are willing to take it for granted that the best private schools have better teaching and give more careful attention to the individual. In some cases the private schools give a better preparation for the Uni

« AnteriorContinuar »