« PreviousContinue »
ters, where the board's judgment may easily be superior to the president's, they may overrule him without harm; nor need an occasional veto of one of his nominations injure his influence if only he is called upon for a new name.
But any real invasion of his prerogative, any indication that he lacks the confidence of those employing him, will be fraught with ill results. It will lessen his efficiency all round, his power to do well the very things in which he is naturally masterful. His office as well as his work suffers. The spirit of unrest, never absent, flames up into troublesome strength. Factions form. If the faculty has a “boss," as not infrequently happens, his face lights with joy. Progress is retarded. Difficulties rise where all had been plain sailing. Shipowners cannot thus ruffle their pilot's seas and expect him to “keep her steady.” If they wish his resignation this is certainly not the honorable way to get it.
Most insufferable, as at once cruel and pernicious, is the habit into which board members sometimes fall of taking private counsel with the disaffected, hearing complaints and contracting bias by listening to ex parte stories. The best executive on earth is doomed if this becomes common.
Part guaranty against some of these evils is provided if the president is a member of the board, undoubtedly the ideal plan; yet all of them have arisen in as great seriousness under this plan as where the president has been a mere employee.
The business of the teaching force is to study, instruct and write, that of the administration to assist the teaching functionaries in doing those things. Instruction, in the large sense, is the grand, all-controlling end and aim. The centralization of college administration and the new emphasis thereon in recent decades means not less but more interest in teaching and investigation, a better appreciation of what faculties are for. A good criterion of college administration is its success in reducing to an absolute minimum professorial work that is not professional, that does not consist either in study or in imparting the results of study.
Unfortunately a certain modicum of drudgery has to be required of every instructor, being inseparable from the vocation. This he should cheerfully undertake and faithfully perform. The main items are or are connected with service as heads or chairmen of departments, on committees, in supervising examinations, and in appraising the results thereof. The preparation of examination papers or questions does not belong in this category but is proper professional work, because every good examination, even when it is used as a test, is a pedagogical act. To get ready an examination sheet exactly covering given ground, with no “catch,” leading or unclear questions, is the finest of pedagogical feats.
So far as can possibly be arranged every available ounce of a professor's energy should be applied in the direct line of his work. Contrary to the thought of some faculty men who, sighing for the flesh-pots of Egypt, seem to regard faculties' release from administrative burdens a lowering of academic dignity, the movement means the vast increase of that dignity. It has already achieved this. The proportion of American professors attaining distinction in the calling has increased very greatly since about 1850, when loose methods of administration began to end. If American faculties are ever to compete with the best German ones in amount and quality of literary output, they must, like earnest saints, lay aside every weight.
That they may do this let the university provide a liberal administration budget. College economy is nowhere more mistaken than in pinching on office help and machinery. Extravagance itself is not more mischievous. Not only should the central office for registration, recording, correspondence, publicity and conference, possess an ample outfit of clerks, stenographers, pages, typewriters and telephone attendants, with all the necessary instruments, but each dean and head of department should have these aides and aids at his disposal to the full extent of his needs, which should be gauged liberally rather than narrowly. Drastic saving in these items is no help to the teaching function but greatly the reverse. Office efficiency is every whit as important in an educational as in a business plant and for precisely the same reasons. A faculty of fifty
good men unencumbered will exert a greater amount of real educational influence, publish more good researches, do more to lift civilization, than one of sixty weighted with foreign cares and chores as not a few American faculties are now.
Due emphasis on faculties' proper duty suggests a final remark. Universities show much diversity in dealing with professorial tenure, some enforcing the competitive principle more rigidly than others. It is not thought that a professor who has grown inefficient has a right to his place simply because he has wrought long for the institution, even if his service has been satisfactory. The elderly professor who never did aught in his life save faithfully to draw his salary, never inspired a pupil and never published a research, but has thru sheer lethargy in the board employing him continued to "hold down his chair, is less and less frequently found in institutions of rank. In some cases application of the competitive principle appears cruel, and it may now and then be so in fact; but none who compare institutions where this procedure prevails with those using greater apparent clemency can doubt which is the juster practice on the whole and in the long run.
E. BENJAMIN ANDREWS UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA
DANGERS OF SCHOOL REFORM
This is a generation marked by the rapid increase in efficiency of commercial organization. We have on every hand innumerable examples which demonstrate how carefully the machinery of modern business is adjusted to the end that efficiency and economy may be increased. No expense seems too great, no effort too long continued, if the final result is either to send out a better or a greater product or to decrease the time required or the expense involved. In every corner of the business world competition is so fierce that of necessity the entire fabric of our commercial society is being reorganized for the purpose of promoting efficiency and economy.
The wave of reorganization affecting the individual and corporate interests of the industrial world has caused the ideals of efficiency and economy to permeate our national thought until the people are demanding that these ideals be applied to those political and educational affairs which the people control. Here and there political reorganization is undertaken and carried to a successful conclusion. Likewise the schools, which are the product of the civil, social, and industrial conditions under which they exist, cannot escape this demand for reorganization. The public mind is of this opinion, the public eye is upon the school, and the public hand is reaching out for the purpose of reshaping the educational machinery. It is my purpose to discuss the dangers of this reorganization movement and the part which teachers and superintendents should take therein.
The first of these dangers is that the analogy of the financial world be applied too literally to affairs that are primarily spiritual and intellectual. A school is not a factory whose efficiency can be measured by the number of boxes or bales of finished goods it may ship in a year, nor by the rate per cent. of its dividends. For the factory we demand economy in operation, but this economy is determined not at all by the total expenditure but by the ratio which the expenses bear to the products of the factory. A factory which expended $100,000 in sending to the market $150,000 worth of manufactured goods might be far less economically managed than one which by spending $150,000 produced $300,000 worth of marketable products.
'Address before Philadelphia Teachers Association, December 11, 1905.
In education, as in business, it is not the school system which spends the least which is most economical. Here too the question of economy is determined by the product. The difficulty is that the product is to be measured neither in quantity nor price but in efficiency; but following the analogy of our reasoning with the factory, we are prone when considering a school system to attempt to judge of its administration by determining the cost per capita. The fact that one city educates its children at an average cost of $35 each while another expends $45 per child, forms not the slightest basis for a real comparison of the economy or efficiency of the two school systems. Neither are we any nearer the real truth when we know that 13 per cent. of the taxes go to the support of the schools in one community and 26 per cent. of the taxes in another. In such cases we are comparing the tangible and measurable matter of cost in dollars with another tangible and measurable quantity (the number of children or the total tax valuation). We get comparative ratios, which, tho mathematically exact, yet in reality prove nothing. The real vital question is whether in comparison with the cost the efficiency of the school is high or low. In reality the economical administration of a school must be determined by comparing the cost on one hand with the product on the other, but it must not be forgotten that the value of the product is determined by multiplying the quantity produced by the efficiency. It is the efficiency of each child as well as the number of children which determines the worth of a school. It is not alone the number of automobiles which a factory produces which determines the value of its output, but it is the number multiplied by the worth