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much abused English schools, which, at all events, seem to have solved this problem. The requisitions for matriculation at most of the colleges at Oxford and Cambridge are ridiculously low; less than half the amount of Latin, Greek, and Mathematics required for admission to our best colleges is enough to ensure matriculation. An English father who insisted on having his son sent to college at a given age, regardless of his knowledge, could be gratified much more easily than such a man could be here. But what would it amount to ? Such a boy would enter, it is true, “ without condition," but he would find himself as far removed from all the real advantages of the place as if he were in New Zealand. He would soon find that the real instruction of the place was not for him, and if he shonld attempt to attend the lectures which the real students hear in the best colleges, he would be unable to comprehend them; and he would settle down into his natural place among the polloi, and aim merely at a "pass degree,” that is, at escaping the positive disgrace of being “plucked” at the final examination. This sounds as if the system might do somebody injustice; but the truth is, the matter is so thoroughly understood that nobody in England is deceived by the empty show of being admitted to college “clear," which takes in so many in this country. Above all, nobody mistakes the whitewash which such a young man rubs from the college walls (to use President Quincy's phrase), for the polish of real culture. How is it now with the real students, for whom all the better instruction is provided, and to whose attainments the final examination for honors is adapted ? They know that the minimum required for admission is meant only for dunces (both natural and self-made), and they remain at school longer, or study harder while they are there, or both; and most of them carry studies at school far beyond the standard set by the university for a pass degree. They pursue a course which enables them to profit by the best instruction afforded at the university; and although their time has hitherto been too much wasted in writing bad verses, this is an evil which is rapidly diminishing in England, and at least need not be copied by us here. Now every teacher in England can show these two courses to any parent who complains of want of time to prepare his son for college; and the father can take his choice. In fact, the real standard of admission (for scholars) to the best English colleges is set, by the schools themselves, far above the low nominal standard set by the colleges, and is (as it should be) too high to be reasonably required of every applicant without regard to his ability.
To apply this to our own case : when it is once understood by teachers and parents (as it soon must be) that our colleges recognize two entirely distinct classes of students, one studying for a degree which means something, and another asking merely for a certificate of attendance at college, - one for whom the highest and best instruction is to be provided, for which the other is confessedly incompetent, —- and when also it is understood by parents that their sons can be fitted for the lower course by superficial study and judicious cramming, while the other requires a preparation which can be given only by careful and scientific study, and by such diligence as no teacher can compel; then we shall silence the complaint of want of time to propare for college. We need not, I trust we shall not, under any circumstances, allow such idleness and ignorance as is tolerated at the English universities; the lower course which I have in mind would not differ much from that which the lower half of one of our college classes now practically fol. lows. But this is even now becoming more and more distinct every year from that followed by the real scholars; and as the standard is raised, the distinction will be more and more marked. The high-water mark here is easily raised by artificial means, but the low-water mark is almost immovable. There must always be a class of students in our colleges, as there always is even in the first universities of Europe, who will not or cannot raise them. selves above the lowest mediocrity. It is important to have an education provided for these which shall be within their comprehension; but on no account must they be allowed to affect the standard of scholarship, or to deprive real scholars of one of the privileges of the place. Above all, no advance in scholarship can ever be made until we abandon forever the pernicious doctrine, that the instruction and the standard of scholarship in a college should be adapted to the middle rather than to the top of a class. This democratic doctrine — an absurd attempt to apply a system
of equal rights to scholarship and learning — has hitherto done more than all else combined to keep down the standard of college scholarship in this country; and it is a disgrace to us that we are just waking up to the truth, that a democracy of this kind must continue to degenerate (like the imaginary democracy of Plato's state) until it is left exposed to the tyranny of low pretenders whom it has itself encouraged. It is a most laudable ambition to educate the mass of the people, and our own State may well be proud of her success in this, perhaps the grandest of her undertakings; but we must not be blinded to the dangers to which this ambition exposes us. An education which is to permeate the masses of a great people must of necessity have a lower standard than the more aristocratic education of Europe. It is better that it should be so; for raising its standard would at once put it beyond the reach of many who now profit by it. But if we devote all our energy to this universal education, the higher education is neglected, and insensibly a low standard of scholarship is established and approved in our higher institutions of learning, under the specious pretext that it is better for them to educate a thousand moderately than ten thoroughly. The grain of truth in this saying — with that contained in the other equally common remark, that American colleges are made to educate citizens for the state — has done more to divert men's minds from the true issue in this discussion than anything else. If now, on this demo. cratic principle, a mixed body of students are all taught together, as has so long been the practice in American colleges, the more thorough you make the education of the thousand, the less thorough becomes the education of the ten. Above all, the teaching of teachers is shamefully neglected under such a system, and either degenerates, or (what is the same thing) does not keep pace with the age; and teachers of the higher branches of science are compelled either to prepare themselves for their profession by studies for which no provision is made in this country, and on which they must spend much time and often great expense, or else to undertake their work unprepared, and thus aid in depressing still further a standard of scholarship which is even now disgracefully low.
This dangerous tendency must be counteracted by raising our colleges to a position in which they can use their endowments and their learning in giving the highest instruction in all departments to those who are fitted to enjoy such advantages. In reply to those who tell us — some exultingly, others despondently — that there is no call for such learning in this country, after reminding them that there is quite as little call for Christianity in Central Africa, I would merely point to the increasing throng of American students at all the best universities of Europe, who are seeking a higher education than they can find at home. These alone would be sufficient to support an American university, if one were founded with advantages equal to those now offered in Europe. But whenever the colleges take a step forward, they must be supported at once by the High schools, which must take a step of equal length. This will of course require the time of school study to be lengthened, and this is not to be regretted; but no slight part of the time might be saved by improvements in the system of study which every teacher ought to search for and adopt. I have no time to speak of this important question here; and I can merely allude to another question which may be asked, — How far ought the State to provide free education in schools of so much higher grade than our present High schools ? I would say on this point, let us have the higher schools at all hazards; free schools, if they can be supported entirely by the State; partially free, if the expense prove an obstacle to their establishment. It is, I suppose, well known that the socalled public schools of Gerinany, except the most elementary, are partly supported by a small tuition fee, which in a Berlin gymnasium amounts to about twenty dollars a year. In our smaller towns, where the majority of the scholars in the high schools are not studying for the university, it would be more difficult to provide for the higher education of a few than it would be in cities; and here, perhaps, the difficulty would be best met by a small tuition fee, which might relieve many pupils from the necessity of going elsewhere for their preparation for college.
It is sometimes asked whether the higher instruction will not ultimately be given by a new class of universities, for which our present colleges will prepare students, so that the present position
of the schools will not be affected by any advance in scholarship. The whole question of the future American university is still involved in great obscurity; but if there is anything about which I feel certain with regard to it, it is this: that the department which will correspond to the German “Philosophical Faculty ” will be developed chiefly from the undergraduate department of our present colleges. This has the endowments, which would be wasted even more unprofitably than at present, if they were used only for elementary education; this has the traditional glory, and it would be hard to transfer the associations of college life to any other institution; above all, the college would always be an unfit as well as an expensive place for preparing boys (must I perhaps add girls ?) for the real university studies. Few parents could or would afford to add a university education to a college course, and support their sons away from home at great expense at least seven years.
In conclusion, I would say that I am not speaking of an extended course in a few departments of learning, but of one in every department in which schools can give instruction. As a university should be a place where every department of science should be raised to the highest attainable point, so the preparatory school should lay the solid foundation in all departments (not merely in two or three) without which no superstructure can be securely raised. The main principle must be kept steadily in view, that we cannot afford to use our universities to teach the elements of any science, but these must be taught in the schools.
Every year's experience gives me greater hope that this is not a mere vision in the clouds. And I cannot help adding that the inaugural address delivered at Cambridge this very week (since the preceding pages were written) has strengthened this hope and made its accomplishment seem nearer. All that is needed to secure its accomplishment is a steady purpose, and the earnest co-operation of the whole body of teachers, both in our colleges and in our schools.