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talk of our “ democratic” system of education, particularly in our public schools, it is in effect a system of scholastic aristocracy. If it were an aristocracy of scholarship, no one could object; for scholarship is more than the knowledge of books and it is more than theoretical learning. But a scholastic standard is always a single standard for all, and for that reason, tho possibly a help to the few, a distinct detriment to the many. For there can be no such thing as a single line of progress for all.
The suggestion for a remedy which this paper offers frankly discards the scholastic standard and the straight line idea. It disregards as frankly the sanctity of the A.B. degree on its present valuation. This degree is no longer, as in years gone by, a final degree. It is fast becoming, if it is not already, a secondary degree, and to continue to value it as tho it were a final degree seems the height of folly when this valuation stands in the way of progress. The age at which the normal student of today may expect to obtain the A.B. degree is twenty-two. It stands for a scholarly attainment far beyond the demands which the same degree made on our parents. It requires a scholastic ability which is expected only of the university scholar in all other countries. We recognize this fact tacitly when we allow advanced college courses to count toward university degrees, or when we allow professional courses in our universities to count in satisfaction of the requirements for the A.B. It represents an ideal which is distinctly not the ideal of the American college of the past, for its attainment rests for one-half, at least, on scholastic training, which is not necessarily “liberal” training. And lastly, it has “siamesed” college and university after the fashion in which secondary school and college were once “siamesed” and against which fashion we of the college and university have strenuously protested.
The suggested remedy is offered in the form of a diagram, which is preceded by a diagram of the present system. It is offered without further argument, but in the hope of stimulating argument.
DIAGRAM OF THE PRESENT EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM (Showing the requirements for admission to and graduation from its
DIAGRAM OF A Possible New SYSTEM (Indicating how grades may overlap, time be saved, and the university
degrees be standardized)
Average Age 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24
1 2 || Technical Trade School
1 2 3 4
1 2 Degrees
A. B. A. M.
Ph.D ; S.D.
M.D; LL.D; etc. N. B. Years IV and V of Grammar School devoted mainly to industrial training; years IV and V of High School devoted mainly to manual, commercial training, etc.
The suggestion contained in the foregoing diagram puts the burden of the change on the colleges, where it really belongs in view of the fact that they are primarily responsible for the present situation. The change implies the lowering of the college entrance requirements to a point where these requirements can be met by well-equipped high schools in three years, and the confining of these requirements to those subjects which all high school graduates should study, viz: English, one foreign language, elementary algebra and plane geometry, history, and one science. The requirements in these subjects should be of a character to leave sufficient time in the first three years of the high school course for the pursuit of other studies. Scholars who prove their aptitude in these scholastic studies in the first three years would transfer to the colleges, leaving the high schools free to devote the next two years to the training of their students for life. It will be noticed that the plan provides for a similar treatment of the grammar school course, permitting the transfer to the high school at the end of the present seventh grade of the elementary system (if not earlier). The net result will be a saving of two years for all students who obtain the A.B. degree, tho this degree will not have the same scholastic value as at present. Our elementary and secondary schools will be left free to work out their special problems; our technical schools will become true technical schools; our professional degrees can be more readily standardized; and the teachers in our public school system will secure the required liberal training before they take up their special course, instead of after, as is unfortunately too often the case now. From the point of view of scholarly results, the writer is convinced that we keep our students too long in the leading strings of college methods and that the effort to remedy this has introduced into our colleges methods of instruction which do not belong there. The American student is certainly not the inferior of his European colleague in natural gifts for scholarship, and if Germany, the land of scholars, can send its young men into the university at the average age of twenty we can do likewise. Long and familiar acquaintance with the German system has convinced the writer that the eminence which that country has attained in scholarship is due, in a very large measure, to the fact that its young men are permitted to enter the fields of research before the inquisitive instinct has been dulled and at an age when it is peculiarly active.
THE PLACE OF THE SOCIAL SCIENCES IN
Every teacher ought to have some theory of the relation of the subject he teaches to the whole educational aim and process. This is especially true of the college teacher at a time, like the present, when momentous changes in social conditions and viewpoints are insistently demanding that the college justify its existence. It is impossible, needless to say, for a college teacher to reach even a tentative theory of the educational function of his subject without first discovering what he thinks the function of college education as a whole is, or is to be, in view of the spirit and changing needs of the time. Any adequate discussion of the place of the social scienceseconomics, sociology, political science, history, psychology, and ethics—must therefore be prefaced by some tentative inquiry, however brief, as to what the twentieth century college in America should primarily aim to do.
Educational orators are fond of telling us that the fundamental function of the college is to build character. Now this is neither a sufficient definition of college function nor a very significant one. It would perhaps be a mere quarrel with language to say that character is an organic personality, which grows, and not an edifice that can be erected brick by brick and board by board by any sort of educational masonry or carpentry yet devised. It is much to the point, however, to suggest that the term character has been so terribly overdriven, by amateur and professional educators alike, that in its jaded indefiniteness it has ceased to retain any quick, concrete meaning to the man who demands for his educational aim an actual goal and not a fanciful pot of gold on the end of an academic rainbow. Perhaps all we can hope to do is to find another shibboleth which in its turn can be worked