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Calculated on the Columbia scale, the entrance requirements cf Princeton amount to something over 16 points. The Yale requirements also foot up the same, where Greek is offered. I say something over 16 points, for Princeton calls for Sallust in Latin, and logarithms in algebra, and Yale demands the Bucolics in Virgil. Where the substitute for Greek is chosen at Yale, they amount to 17 points. The Harvard requirements are more difficult to reduce to the Columbia scale, because the language requirements are so largely of the nature of sight translation. A bright boy with a facility for guessing at the probable meaning and the ability to make a good showing with limited knowledge, can sometimes pass the Harvard Latin and Greek examinations with less preparation than would be necessary for the other colleges, but in general, I fancy that the almost universal opinion is that honest preparation for the Harvard requirements in Latin and Greek calls for more work than the corresponding requirements at Yale, Princeton, and Columbia. Assuming, however, that these requirements are equivalent, Harvard demands of the student either 17 or 18 points. I will say 17, tho I am inclined to think that 18 is nearer the mark. There is also a considerable group of colleges including by far the largest number—the requirements in which are one point less than those of Columbia. This group includes such colleges as Cornell, Amherst, Williams, and many others. The University of Pennsylvania requirements range from 13 to 15 points, according to the subjects chosen, and in the same way Brown calls for either 15 or 16 points.
To avoid ambiguity, it may be well to state the matter in still another way. For the sake of simplicity we will imagine a student who offers Greek for entrance, altho the situation will be substantially unchanged, in most colleges, if he offers an alternative for Greek. To enter Cornell or Amherst he would have to pass in English, algebra, plane geometry, Latin. Greek, and ancient history-14 points. To enter Columbia he would need one additional point, which might be made up in any one of a number of different ways. To enter Princeton or Yale, he would have to add German or French, and if he goes to Harvard he will have to pile physics on to the load.
The Harvard requirements, then, are greatest in quantity, Princeton and Yale coming next, and most of the others falling somewhat lower. The difference between the highest and lowest of the requirements under consideration is 3 or 4 points, a difference amounting to from 20 to 25 per cent. of the whole. A difference of 20 to 25 per cent. means nearly, if not quite, a year's work. If the 14 point requirement of the majority of colleges is as much as can be reasonably demanded of entering students, then the 16, 17, or 18 points of Princeton, Yale, and Harvard are unreasonable. The thesis that I propose to maintain is a double one: first, that the quantity of work called for by such colleges as Princeton and Yale, represented by 16 points, is, if honestly lived up to and thoroly covered—note the qualification--more than can be wisely and reasonably exacted of the entering freshman; second, that if a smaller quantity of work is demanded, a higher quality can be secured. That means that the colleges will secure better prepared students if their requirements are less in quantity.
From the facts as stated it is clear that if students are to be prepared in our schools to enter such colleges as Yale, Princeton, and Brown—and the same thing holds true of Smith and Vassar—the courses of those schools must cover at least 16 points of work. Let us analyze these 16 points, and see just what this statement means.
I take the Princeton and Yale requirements as a basis, because they allow fewer options than most of the other colleges, and therefore are simpler to discuss. Columbia states that a point or unit is a course of five periods weekly thruout an academic year of the preparatory school.” That would mean that 80 periods of work are needed to meet the requirements as they stand—20 periods a week for four years, or 16 periods for five years.
Let us take up the subjects in detail. English counts 3 points, equivalent to 15 periods. Five periods a week for three years, or 4 for four years, are amply sufficient to meet the college requirement, provided the pupils have a proper basis and foundation on which to work. But the school has to overcome the influence of the street, the playground, the home. We have to teach many of our pupils, literally, to speak and to read. Many schools feel that they imperatively need at least five periods a week in English thru the entire course, and many more, that are devoting less to the subject, find that they have to give so much effort to the details of the college requirement that they lack the time for the necessary training of their pupils in fundamentals. Fifteen periods is enough to meet the college requirements in English, but there is serious question as to whether it is enough for all the work needed in English in the schools.
Algebra and plane geometry together count 3 points, 15 periods. This appears to be fair, tho hardly a liberal allowance. Two years, with five periods a week, should be sufficient for algebra, and one year for geometry. Let me call attention in passing, however, to a few minor points. The mathematicians have lately discovered, or rediscovered, the graph, a mysterious thing to some of us who used to think that we knew a little about algebra, but apparently very important, for the College Board lays considerable stress on it. Yale and Princeton do not appear to have discovered it yet, but Princeton insists that logarithms, permutations and combinations, and some other topics are necessary to the salvation of the subfreshman, and Yale calls for special work in mensuration as applied to geometry. As we have to meet all requirements in our classes, this lack of uniformity still further increases the load laid upon the schools.
Another point to be noted is that in the course of the last ten years or so the difficulty of the algebra examinations has increased decidedly, so that it is necessary to go more deeply into the various topics, and text-books, that a few years ago were amply sufficient, are now entirely inadequate. In geometry, also, there has been a marked increase in difficulty due to the greater emphasis laid upon original work. The ability to solve original problems is, of course, a better proof of geometrical mastery than the mere reproduction of so-called " book propositions." It is a better ideal at which to aim, but it is, for a large proportion of students, at least, distinctly more difficult of attainment, and I think that it is a fair question whether we are not expecting too much original work from boys and girls with non-mathematical minds. Still, we are concerned now only with the quantity of college requirements, and my quarrel with the geometry requirement is that original work has been added without any reduction of book work. The theory, of course, is that the pupil who can solve "originals ” does not need to go thru the full catalog of book propositions. The theory, however, does not fully conform to the facts. There is a certain body of propositions forming a logical, connected development of the subject, and constituting what may be called the elements of geometry. They are fundamental, and in the older text-books they were the only ones given. Modern text-books have added largely to the number, propositions that are interesting and sometimes valuable, but that are distinctly not essential. Their solution often depends on some special device or turn of reasoning that would not occur to an ordinary student, certainly not in the stress of an examination, and they must therefore be studied and learned as “book work.” I am told that propositions of this latter class amount to approximately one-half of the number contained in modern text-books. In other words, the old requirement of plane geometry has not only been increased almost 100 per cent, by the addition of non-essential propositions, but also by the requirement of original work. Harvard, which has led the way in the demand for original work, issues a syllabus of propositions which it regards as essential, and confines its demands for book work strictly to these. This is a rational plan, and is to be commended, but the other colleges call for the full number of propositions contained in the modern text-books, and have also decidedly increased their demands for original work. The wording of the geometry requirement in the college catalogs remains substantially unchanged, but the quantity of work called for by that requirement has been substantially enlarged.
Latin is rated as 4 points—20 periods—and this I have no hesitation in condemning as inadequate. I know that the work is frequently done in this time, just as I know that a bright boy has sometimes covered the whole ground in three years or even less, but the fact remains that for the majority of pupils the time is too short to do the work properly. Almost every school that I know of that has a four year Latin course, feels, I think, that the work has to be done under high pressure, and a considerable number of students of fair ability and good working power are unable to maintain the pace, and fall by the wayside. Latin is one of our best-taught subjects, but I fancy that in the majority of schools it is found to be the subject in which the pressure is greatest.
Greek is allowed 3 points or 15 periods, and this is an adequate allotment. Greek is not an easy subject, but it should be covered comfortably in the time allowed and can be done in less.
The modern language, whether German or French, is assigned 10 periods, and this again may be regarded as a fair, tho not a generous allowance. That is, it is time enough in which to meet the requirement, but a modern language above all things ought to be studied in a somewhat leisurely fashion, with plenty of opportunity for practice, for drill, and for assimilation.
Ancient history is rated as I point, and 5 periods is a satisfactory allowance. So far, I have spoken only of the subjects included in the classical requirements at Yale and Princeton, but when we pass to the subjects accepted by these and other colleges as alternatives for Greek, we find that the same thing holds true. Five periods, for example, is merely a fair allowance for solid geometry and trigonometry. It was a fair allowance also for physics a few years ago, but I question whether it is sufficient now, since the mathematical side has been so strongly emphasized. The modern school course in physics may be admirably adapted to the pupil who intends to specialize in the subject, but for the general student it is by no means the best course that could be planned, and it is too severe to be completed thoroly in one year, especially if any adequate treatment of the descriptive side of the subject is attempted.
From this analysis of the requirements, it will be seen, I