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PRESIDENT JAMES B. ANGELL, LL. D.
President Angell of the University of Michigan has a few words to say on this subject in his last annual report. He remarks:
"It certainly is desirable, and I believe possible, to save some time in the education of the men who take four years' work in college and then their professional training. I am convinced that considerable time can be gained in the better arrangement of the work in schools. After the student is prepared for college, two plans for completing his education in briefer time than has usually been consumed are possible:
"First. Only three years of college work may be asked for the bachelor's degree. In that case the student must be required to do more work in each year than he has done heretofore in college, or the standard of attainment for graduation must be reduced.
"Second. Substantially the plan which we have followed for several years may be adopted. The condition of attaining the bachelor's degree is not meeting a requirement of time, but of work. One must complete so many courses of study, a part of which are fixed, a part elective. While in order to avoid cramming there is a limit to the number of courses which a student may undertake at once, still, with the liberty given, a capable and industrious man may easily meet the requirements for the degree of bachelor of arts in three and one-half years, and a few exceptionally strong men in each class may do it in three years. But in case they are within half a year of graduation at the beginning of their fourth year, we allow them to enter any one of our professional schools and continue half work in the literary department. Having planned their course in advance, they have always elected some studies-the law students, constitutional history; the medical students, biology and chemistry-which either form a part of the professional course or are closely allied to it. Thus they are able without overwork or cramming to complete the college course and the first year's course in the law school or the medical school. This plan, which has been followed several years, has worked on the whole satisfactorily. Of course, it could be followed only by a university which has upon the same grounds its collegiate and its professional departments."
But President Angell doubts the expediency of the reduction of the college course from four to three years by the University of Michigan on account of the effect it would have upon the standard of education in the West. In this connection he says: 66 Without assuming too much for ourselves, we can hardly doubt that if we made the proposed change our example would compel the smaller colleges in this region and probably tend to bring all State universities in the West to make the change also. One who is familiar with the range of work now generally done in the Western colleges and universities can hardly think that it would be beneficial to the West to reduce the standard of graduation by a year's study, at least until the requirements for admission are considerably raised."
PRESIDENT HYDE OF BOWDOIN.
The November (1891) number of the Educational Review contains an article entitled The Policy of the Small College, which was contributed by Rev. William De Witt Hyde, D. D, president of Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Me. This article coming from a man who is himself at the head of one of the smaller colleges is so suggestive that extracts therefrom are here reproduced. He begins his article as follows:
"Now that we have the germs, more or less developed, of eight or ten univer sities, the college must prepare to take second place in our educational system. To ape the university and try to spread over the whole field of higher education, or to be jealous of the university and set up as its rival, is equally absurd and suicidal. Its proper policy is to accept with modesty and self-respect its new position, and by losing the old life of self-sufficient independence to find the new life of membership in the highly differentiated educational organism of which the kindergartens are the feet and the university is the head.
"There are three classes of educated persons: First, those whose knowledge of reading, writing, arithmetic, grammar, geography, modern history, descriptive science, and their native language and literature enables them to do ordinary business, to enter good society, and to enjoy periodical and popular literature. Second, those whose knowledge of ancient and modern languages and literatures, higher mathematics, experimental science, political and economic history, psychology, ethics, and sociology enables them to grasp the principles
of medicine, or law, or politics, or theology; to guide social progress and form public opinion; to enjoy the companionship of wise and good men of all lands and ages; and to appreciate the results in some department of scientific investigation or historical research. Third, those whose special training qualifies them to discover and interpret new truth within some chosen field of knowledge.
To make scholars of the first class is the business of the school; to make scholars of the second class, and to discover and encourage those capable of entering the third class, is the business of the college; to train the chosen few who constitute the third class into full possession of productive powers is the business of the university."
The requirements for admission and the course of study to be maintained by the college are then discussed. He proceeds to show wherein the requirements for admission ought to be modified in order to bring the secondary schools and colleges into close connection. On this subject he says:
"The change is destined to become universal in the near future. As soon as the high schools are able to teach experimental science, French, and German as well as they now teach Greek and Latin, it will be the policy of the college to require for admission mathematics and English as at present; ability to read easy prose at sight in Latin, and either Greek, French, or German, and evidence of a thorough course in experimental science. We shall then have a considerable number of students fitting for college in the high schools, who will be for the most part in the same classes with the students who are not intending to enter college, instead of the small number who pursue a separate course, and thus receive an undue amount of the time of the teacher and an unjust proportion of the public school fund.
"This modification in requirement will necessitate some corresponding modifications in the course of study. It will be necessary to offer an elementary course in Greek, as well as in German and French, for those who wish to begin this study after admission to college. There should be a course in the history, literature, mythology, and archæology of Greece required of every student who has not studied the Greek language as a part of his preparatory or college
"The multiplication of highly specialized electives is not the province of the college. The expense is too great, and the profit to students at this stage too small.
"There are two fundamental lines of scholarly interest and two corresponding types of mind, the literary and the scientific.
The college should, by its required courses, insure to every student an acquaintance with the first principles in both these fundamental lines of study. The college may wisely require of its candidates for a degree, ability to read both French and German, to write correct English, the elements of political and economic science, psychology, and ethics on the side of the literature and life of man, and higher algebra, geometry, and trigonometry, and the elements of chemistry, physics, and biology, on the side of mathematics and physical sci
"For the remaining half of the course sufficient electives should be offered to allow concentration on either literary or scientific studies, according to the taste and interest of the individual student.
"Such a readjustment of the conditions of admission and the course of study, together with improved methods of teaching in the lower schools, will allow pupils to enter college a year or two earlier than at present. No shortening of the course will be necessary. The difference between the best academies and high schools and those of inferior grade will express itself by the increased number of students who will enter college a year in advance.
"A. B. should be the ordinary college degree, and it should be given without reference to the precise nature of the course pursued. The degree means simply that the recipient is a liberally educated man. Attempts to discriminate between the educational value of courses of equal length and thoroughness in the same institution of liberal learning are relics of an educational superstition from which it is high time to emancipate ourselves.
"In order to encourage continued study during the year immediately following graduation the college is justified in granting the degree of A. M. to graduates who give evidence of having done the equivalent of a year's graduate study. Beyond this the college has no right to go. It owes to its undergraduates the full expenditure of its income and the full time of its professors, and if it attempts to divide its strength between graduates and undergraduates it does an injustice to both. It is the duty of the small college to drive away grad
uates who desire a prolonged course of systematic instruction to larger institutions, which make graduate instruction their main concern.
"The degree of PH. D. no mere college has a right to confer, and the confer ring of this degree by institutions which make no adequate provision for graduate instruction is the gravest breach of educational propriety."
PRESIDENT CAPEN, OF TUFTS COLLEGE.
The purpose of the Office being to present this subject impartially, the most strenuous objections that have been advanced to a change in the college course are here presented. The first of these is from President Capen, of Tufts College, who protests most vigorously against any reduction in the requirements for the degree.
In the course of his remarks on the subject he says: "Of course, if knowledge be substituted for discipline and culture; if the cramming process takes the place of those calm and thoughtful methods by which the intellect of man finds its most complete development, it is possible that many young men might cover the ground embraced by the college curriculum in three years. But if the attainment of the bachelor's degree is to be put within the reach of the majority of undergraduates in the shorter time by diminishing the courses of study now regarded as essential to it, few persons who have given attention to the subject will fail to esteem it as a lowering of the standard of general education."
He does not agree with those who say that 27 is too advanced an age for a man to commence the practice of medicine. In connection with this he says: “It may well be asked who wants a stripling by the bedside of those whose lives are most precious to him?"
He also says that if the age of college graduates has been increasing in recent years it is due to the increase in the requirements for admission, and the remedy would be either to abridge these requirements or to so improve the facilities for secondary education that men may be brought to college at an earlier age. "For," says he, "if a youth has but seven years to give to study from the time he enters the secondary school until he receives the degree of bachelor of arts it is better that he spend three years in the fitting school and four years in the college than four years in the fitting school and only three years in the college."
PRESIDENT WARREN, OF BOSTON UNIVERSITY.
One of the leaders of the opposition in this matter is President Warren, of Boston University, who has done his utmost to arouse popular disapproval to the proposals of Harvard. His remarks have been given great publicity through the medium of the public press, so that but fragments thereof will be here presented. In an open letter to one of the overseers of Harvard University he says: "The scheme which I thought to propose is this: That every American classical college retain its present four-years' course, and simply notify all st.dents of their successful completion of the junior year by conferring upon them at that point the title A. B. (Harv.), reserving the proper and legitimate A. B. as now for those who complete the entire course. This ought to satisfy Harvard, since it would greatly multiply the representatives of her ideas and standards, while, on the other hand, it would permit the other colleges to go on as usual, protecting and promoting the interests of liberal education, properly so called. This happy compromise seems to me so just and conservative of all interests that I take great pleasure in presenting it for your consideration and for the consideration of your distinguished colleagues.”
Again, on October 31, 18.0, the Boston Post contained a communication from Dr. Warren, from which the following is taken :
"As critical action is to be taken within a few days by the last of the governing boards of Harvard University, it may serve a useful purpose to set before the interested public a few pertinent facts and suggestions.
"First. The new measure now pending at Harvard makes no provision whatever for a compensative increase of the present requirements for admission to the freshman class.
"Second. The college is not understood to claim that its present requirements for admission are more exacting than those of any first-class American college. In fact, in consequence of their flexibility and of the provision for maxima and minima many a student now enters Harvard College who can not pass the en
1 Annual report of the president of Tufts College for 1889–90.
trance examinations at Yale, Brown, Amherst, Wesleyan, and similar colleges. Few people seem to be aware of this fact.
"Third. The new movement aims to cut down the requirements for the A. B. degree to such a point that any apt and industrious student can acquire the degree of A. B. in three years. In point of fact, an exceptionally brilliant student, taking as many hours per week as some of the more hard-working frequently take, could finish the proposed sixteen courses and win the degree in two and a half years.
"Fourth. So far as yet appears, no effort is to be made to limit the present range of election allowed to the student, so that the A. B. degree on the new terms, as on those now in force, may be taken by persons whose entire undergraduate course is spent in Harvard, and yet who have never studied Latin, or Greek, or French, or German, or mathematics, or history, or philosophy, a single day in Harvard College.
"Fifth. The new proposal, if adopted, will make the Harvard A. B. the least significant and least valuable in New England. There is even danger lest the 'A. B. (Harv.)' become a byword.
'Sixth. No body of American students has ever asked for such a cheapening of the degree. Even at Cambridge the students are reported to have voted against it.
"Seventh. The Harvard alumni have never asked for the change, and many have expressed themselves in terms of the strongest opposition to it.
"Eighth. Still less have the American colleges, or any class of them, or any association representing them, asked for such a surrender as the proposals of the Harvard faculty contemplate. On the contrary, the authorities of every college in New England, if not in the United States, deprecate the movement as fraught with grave and far-reaching evils in all the colleges, Harvard included. "Ninth. The fitting schools have not desired the change. On the contrary, nearly all yet heard from deplore even the discussion of so demoralizing a prop osition.
"Tenth. Massachusetts, which has ever felt a special ownership and pride in Harvard College, has required no such action as that proposed. Had the legis lature, five years ago, required it, how furious a storm of indignant opposition and expostulation would have raged from one end of the land to the other! Courts would have been appealed to, constituencies instructed, new legislators elected, to frustrate so p rnicious a measure. Yet, quod non fecerunt barbari, fecerunt barbarini. What the Philistinian "rural members" did not do, that the faculty and corporation of Harvard are doing their best to accomplish.
"Eleventh. No ecclesiastical or religious body has called for the innovation. All the religious bodies, even to those which are popularly supposed to care least for culture, seem stoutly to oppose so needless and harmful a capitulation. "Twelfth. The entire movement is self-originated in Harvard University, and herein, for the first time in all her noble history, Harvard appears before the American public and the world as the sole leader in a confessedly and disgracefully downward and backward movement in liberal education.
"On careful consideration of this matter, several questions suggest themselves-questions which the Harvard overseers and all custodians of the higher education should take time to investigate. For example, it has been jauntily assumed that the age of Harvard undergraduates is too high, and that the only problem is how to reduce it. Would it not be eminently appropriate for all concerned, first of all, to make a few inquiries like the following:
"1. Is it a fact that the majority of the youth entering Harvard and other colleges are any too mature for that self-direction in study now expected of them?
"2. Is it a fact that they are any too mature for that manly self-government in conduct now expected of them?
"3. If younger would their power of sustained and accurate abstract thinking be sufficiently developed within the limits of their course to enable them thoroughly to master the fundamental, philosophical, ethical, and sociological sciences as now taught?
"It has been assumed that the age of those entering our colleges is higher than it was fifteen years ago. Precisely the contrary is the truth in Boston University, and it might be well for all concerned in the discussion to inquire:
"4. Whether the age of the majority of students in college has not of late years steadily fallen in all or most of our classical colleges.
"It has been assumed that the growth of the higher education in our country has not kept pace with the growth of population, and the short-weight degree
(which may also be spelled short-wait) has been represented as the only cure for the evil. As the first allegation does not accord with the results of my investigations, nor the second with my judgment, I venture to suggest two further questions:
"5. Whether the relative significance and power and growth of the higher education were ever as great in the United States as to-day. And
6. In case they are not, whether the best way to cure the evil would be to raise up a larger crop of superficial and one-sided smatterers chiefly interested in obtaining the earliest possible chance for money-getting?
"It has been assumed that many of the students who now enter schools of medicine would first have taken an A. B. course, had this required but three years instead of four. As in all my life I have never yet learned of one such student, it might be well to institute another inquiry and to ascertain—
"7. Whether ten such students can be found in all the scores of medical schools in the United States taken together?
"It has been assumed that the required attendance upon college four years makes the collegiate medical students far older on graduation than they ought to be. Inasmuch, however, as the statistics of the Harvard Medical School show that the noncollegiate members of the school are but seven months younger than the collegiate, it would be wise to inquire
"S. Whether a four years' course in liberal arts may not abundantly pay for seven months' delay in entering upon medical practice?
"It has been assumed that a three years' course in arts would attract far greater numbers of young men than can be induced to take a four years' course. Inasmuch, however, as many of the best colleges of the country have for many years offered both three years' and four years' courses, under the same teachers and with degrees conferred by the same authorities, the three years' course invariably offering even greater privileges of election than the four years' course, and still many times more students have always chosen the four years' course than the three years'-it is certainly fitting to start another inquiry, namely:
"9. Whether untested assumptions are to be made the basis of far-reaching and revolutionizing measures in educational administration?
"It has been assumed that Harvard College, without consulting with any other colleges of the country, has the full right to cut down the A. B. course to three years. Might it not be well to discuss for a little
"10. Whether she has not an equal right, if it please her, to cut it down to two years, or to one, or to six months?
"It has been assumed that if Harvard were to cut down her course, all the other classical colleges would do the same. In view hereof, might it not be well to ask
"11. Whether, in case they were to do so, it would be a good thing for American education-a thing for which, in history, Harvard University would be pleased to take the responsibility? And
12. Whether, in case they were not to do so, it would be a good thing for Harvard College?
"In closing, I may be permitted to say that Harvard College is the one institution whose leadership the other colleges of the country will gladly accept and follow so long as she is true to her own illustrious traditions. If just now these other institutions break with her and revolt, it is because they can not recognize her in her strange new rôle. She is not herself, Her face is set the wrong way. She is marching, not at the front forward, but at the rear backward. The warmth of cur remonstrance is simply an index of our habitual love and loyalty."
This letter was written a few days before the meeting of the Harvard board of overseers, at which meeting it was supposed that the question of shortening the course would be decided, and it was undoubtedly intended to influence this decision.
PRESIDENT ANDREWS, OF BROWN UNIVERSITY.
The fifth annual meeting of the New England Association of Colleges and Preparatory Schools was held at Boston, Mass., October 17 and 18, 1890. At. this meeting President Andrews, of Brown University, delivered an address on "Shall the college course of study for the bachelorship in arts be reduced?" As a representative of one of the smaller institutions, it was to be expected that he would uphold the negative side of the question, which he did in a very able manner. His address was discussed freely and brought forth the fact that the men at the head of some of the leading institutions for secondary instruction are greatly dissatisfied with the present state of our educational system. While