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2. The advanced undergraduate courses—Most of our universities have either the major subject system or the group system. The object of both these systems, as we know, is to furnish, in lieu of the old-time college curriculum, a number of curricula each of which has a substantial center. The essential requirement which we must make of every group and of every major is that a competent social consensus shall judge it to have the real internal unity together with the progressive grades of difficulty which fit it to be the center of a college curriculum. Both systems exclude a college course made up of scraps. Both may, and I think should, admit a major or a group whose internal unity is assured by the fact that it leads to one of the learned occupations.
What I wish now to urge is that, without affecting the number of majors or of groups or of departments, we may very decidedly reduce the number of undergraduate courses offered. Here, as I think, is the place for the pruning knife. The universities can cover the whole field of learning in typical introductory courses on the freshman-sophomore level. We cannot each of us by any possibility cover the ground on all higher levels. We must select. We must reject right and left subjects which have every argument in their favor except that we cannot do them all. We must weed out the suckers as a condition of having cornstalks.
There would result apparent hardships for the undergraduate and for some members of the faculty. The undergraduate would not be able, on the one hand, to take a large proportion of his college course within one narrow field, thus becoming a specialist without becoming an educated man; and he would not be able, on the other hand, to browse far and wide over any and every field which modern learning has developed. He would find instead, however, an abundantly wide choice of majors or of groups each offering an austerely chosen list of representative courses so arranged as to make a substantial center for a college course. And this, whether or not he is to become a specialist, is, I believe, the best thing which the university of to-day can offer him.
I have considered in this connection also the possible hardship to the younger professors who want to have each at least a small amount of advanced work to do. I do not wish to slight this consideration, for it is an essential feature of the university life that the younger men should have the door of hope open. I have not solved this problem to my own satisfaction, but I say this: If an instructor can do important productive work, the university should try to offer him as much leisure as the value of his work appears to warrant, whether he is doing the work with students or alone. What the university cannot afford to do is to pay so dearly for elementary non-productive junior and senior work. These courses are the suckers.
3. Productive work—The freshman-sophomore fundamental courses should be the first gainers from the resources of money and leisure saved by cutting off excessive expansion. The second gainers should be the graduate and research courses. I wish to consider this second gain as it might affect the larger universities and then as it might affect the smaller ones.
1. Our greatest universities are very rich. They have great graduate schools. They have scholars who have proved to be productive men. And yet, when the total output of scholarly work done in them is compared with that done in Germany, for example, the result is generally conceded to be discouraging. In many cases, little is accomplished beyond the comparatively elementary research work which has its terminus in the doctor's degree. No explanation of this result seems so probable as the fact that the German professor has as a rule the leisure which the American professor only secures by exception. It is doubtful whether the German rule can or should become the American one while we have the college and the university united in one institution. We wish our greatest scholar to surrender a little of his time to the freshmen. But having asked this of him as a duty of religion,
'It should, of course, be remembered that conditions vary widely in the different departments. For example, first-year work in a foreign language is not really collegiate work at all, and if it must be done in college, the amount of possible collegiate work in the subject is lessened. On the other hand, such a subject as. astronomy or geology presupposes collegiate work in other sciences. Good sense requires that such differences should be recognized, at whatever expense of superficial consistency in the treatment of departments.
we should spare his leisure as the most precious asset of the university. We should count it a sin to require such a man to “cover the ground.” We should sacrifice the catalog, make it thin and full of holes, confine the students to a narrow range of typically good choices, and by these inconsequential sacrifices preserve for the great man his chance to do the work which he alone can do.
2. There is an evil suggestion in the air that a university should not attempt to do advanced graduate and research work unless it is very rich. I know of nothing to justify such a counsel of discouragment. The history of learning, the history of the little universities of Europe, the current history of scholarly work in America all show that the conditions which permit a man to do productive work may be created anywhere. At the worst, some men in the smaller universities, in the little colleges, and in whatever places may seem more unlikely, will continue to prove that creative work is free for all and is the one thing which can never be controlled by a monopoly. Wherever these men are they prove also, directly thru their pupils or indirectly thru their colleagues, the vitalizing effect of research upon teaching and so demonstrate the true bond of unity between the university and the college. No institutional conditions can wholly suppress these masters of the guild of scholars. It is, however, our main business to organize conditions which shall not tend to repress them but which shall enable them to give their whole services to society.
In conclusion I will say that the problem of selecting from all the things which might be done the things which shall be done is the most difficult and the most imperative problem confronting the entire school system. It is not an artificial problem. The school must represent.civilization. When we have detected and dismissed the fads and frills there remains the great circle of sciences and arts which will not suffer dismissal, and yet for which our long and expensive school system has not yet found enough money nor enough time. This means simply that the school has forced upon it as never be fore the problem of selecting its course of study.
WILLIAM L. BRYAN INDIANA UNIVERSITY
SPECIAL STATE AID TO HIGH SCHOOLS
Altho the high school is of very recent development, it is so thoroly accepted as an established part of the public school system that it is almost incredible that forty years ago it was argued by many to be undemocratic, un-American, and unconstitutional to support high schools at public expense. So slowly did this opinion disappear that from 1821, when the first high school was established in Boston, to 1860 only forty free high schools had been established in the whole United States. It was argued that it was the duty of the state only to maintain elementary schools at public expense, and that those who desired the benefits of higher education ought to pay for it privately. This attitude accounts in a large measure for the very general establishment of private academies and private colleges. Similar arguments concerning the support of state universities and normal schools were prevalent.
At the present time, however, it is a thoroly established belief that the state must provide education for all of its future citizens and to any extent which they desire. The graduate college has come to be as definitely recognized as a legitimate part of public education as the primary school. In fact, the importance of graduate work as an incentive to those in lower grades is so thoroly recognized that in many states large stipends in the way of graduate scholarships and fellowships are provided for those who persevere to that point. The principle, well established in educational history, that all great educational movements start at the top and permeate downwards is acted upon in practice even if unknown in theory. To provide great teachers in the large sense of the term is the first step in developing a high educational status. Communities which at first regarded the high school as a trespasser upon elementary school funds have come now to regard the high school as the greatest uplifting agent in the community. They would no more think of lopping off the high school than of cutting off the first grade.
A comparatively new question has appeared upon the horizon with reference to the support of public high schools. It has been found that many communities with small property valuation, tho struggling heroically, have found it difficult to maintain all grades of a public school including the high school. As universal education for all has come to be regarded as absolutely necessary for the protection and preservation of the state, it has been asked why the state should not assist the small communities in providing as adequate public school facilities as the larger cities may easily provide because of their great aggregation of wealth. In short, is it not as much a legitimate function of the state to assist high schools by a direct bonus as it is to assist its normal schools and universities by special taxes and special appropriations ? Several states have answered this in the affirmative by appropriating state money according to various plans for the maintenance of high schools.
Massachusetts was the first state to adopt the important policy of establishing high schools. The first one was established within its borders in 1821, and in 1826 it was made a matter of state policy to provide public high schools. At that time a law was passed requiring towns of over five hundred families to support a high school, but exempting towns of less than five hundred families. It might be said in passing that this was merely a modification of the law established by the “ General Court” in 1647 which made it obligatory for towns of less than five hundred householders to maintain a school where children could learn to read and write, and towns having one hundred families or householders were required to set up a grammar school, “ye master thereof being able to instruct youth as farr as they may be fitted for ye university, provided that if any town neglect ye performance hereof above one yeare that every such town shall pay five pounds to ye next schoole." The above law remained the essential one concerning schools in Massachusetts for nearly 150 years. In 1891