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is worth while. In spite of all the just criticisms which have been lodged against educational work in America, the thoughtful and fair-minded person must admit that there has been a distinct advance made with every added year of our history and that our record on the whole is one of progress. The difficulty with us all lies in the fact that no generally accepted definition of the real purpose of education has yet been found.
The earnest prayer of every progressive teacher of our own times should be for poise, for balance, and for real sanity. When that prayer is answered the attitude of the true teacher toward every proposed reform or suggested advance in methods of education will be that of the scientist working in his laboratory. The scholarly investigator never accepts the half-tried theories of others as final. The research scholar submits his own original theories to the same tests he requires of those originating with others and announces nothing as true until, step by step, he has established himself in absolute and final conclusions. The upturned, expectant faces of the rising generation constitute a silent, pathetic, and impressive appeal to those who teach them to advance with the assurance of worked-out certainty, to be progressive without fanatical superficiality.
Since this particular time is set apart for attention to the status of higher education in America we may dismiss, for the moment, all considerations of the weaknesses or excellences of elementary and secondary schools and devote ourselves to a critical study of present conditions and policies in our colleges, and in the graduate and professional schools of our universities.
The American college is a transplanted institution. It can lay small claim to originality. As we have it in our country today the college is an educational hybrid. It found its beginnings in an attempted imitation of the aristocratic college of culture as grown in the English university system. Upon the original root have been grafted two very different shoots—one a sickly German university sprout and the other a somewhat healthful sprig of American originality. The situation which confronts us, however, is by no means hopeless. There is strong ground for belief that out of this rooting and grafting there will soon come a vigorous tree, under whose umbrageous. protection all educational leaders and followers will be pleased to find shelter.
There are about four hundred and fifty so-called colleges or universities in the United States. All stand committed in various ways by different requirements to the English conception of the humanities as a necessary basis for the baccalaureate degree. There is a smattering of the German university system in all, with evidences everywhere of a liberal adoption of the half-tested theories of one or more American educational theorists. The result of it all is an American college and university system which is a composite of requirements, electives, and groups, with conceptions of methods of instruction and standards of educational measurements as numerous as the colleges and universities themselves.
It is not alone in the undergraduate colleges where the goal is the Bachelor's degree that these different views and varying policies are found. In the graduate colleges and professional schools there is similar dispute as to methods and there are differing notions of aims and purposes. Take one concrete example, for instance. In the Law School of Harvard University the baccalaureate degree is required for admission and the case system is used exclusively as the method of instruction. In other reputable law schools a high-school certificate will suffice for admission, and the textbook method is exploited as the only proper system of teaching. Then there are those who try to strike a balance between the two. The distinguished dean of the Law School of Yale University recently made manifest his desire for safe passage between “Scylla and Charybdis” by advocating a combination of the case and the textbook system of instruction. Multiplied examples might be given in proof of the proposition that higher education in America is not built on many foundation stones of common agreement. Nevertheless, the institutions of higher learning in America have been mighty forces in the development of our civilization and, with all their differences and uncertainties, they could not be dispensed with without untold loss. In spite of divergent policies their present value is simply inestimable.
The paramount reason for the lack of the largest efficiency of our colleges is found in the fact that the attitude of college and university men is too largely one of independence and of separation from the elementary and secondary schools. Apparently they do not recognize that the largest educational efficiency can be realized only thru an educational system which is a unified whole. The institutions of higher learning must be closely related to the public schools and must be linked up in sympathetic co-operation with those who are responsible for the effectiveness of the elementary and secondary schools if higher education is to mean all it may mean by way of everything that is best in our American life.
The value of college and university training, if it have a value, must make itself manifest thru the college professor or instructor. It is a safe statement that the most serious obstructionists in the way of real educational progress today are the ultra-conservative college professors in many of our institutions of higher learning. The sense of security felt by too many occupants of college chairs has a tendency to make them comfortable in laziness. Running in a groove requires so little exertion that those once started are loath to get out of it. The complacent satisfaction of too many college workers is a curse rather than a blessing to education. It will be admitted that every great specialist should be primarily concerned with his own line of specialization, but he cannot accomplish the utmost possible in his chosen field unless he understands the relation of his particular department to that of all other departments. He will fail of the largest accomplishment where he works if he is without sympathetic knowledge of the relation his work
bears to education in general. The proper attitude of the college worker toward this general educational problem should be that of the scholarly investigator, of the truth seeker. His chief effort should ever be to correlate. The difficulty now is that we are narrow; we are running in circles; we are jealous of our own departments. Let us make shamefaced confession that it is because of this narrowness that the colleges are not filling the largest possible place in the American school system and are not participating as it is their privilege to do in solving the problems of progressive education.
The educational system does not consist of disjointed and competitive parts. “We being many are one body” in education, "and every one members one of another."
It is a tremendous mistake to regard the college as isolated and independent. The inexcusable arrogance of the college professor in affirming the independence of the college and its right to dictate to the secondary schools has a tendency to thwart the fullest effectiveness of our entire educational system. My plea is for greater sympathy between educational workers in all departments of a great system not broken, but united. There is no sadder spectacle than that of bargain-counter competition between departments in what should be one great educational corporation. The only rivalry should be such as exists in a great general store where each particular department strives to surpass the others in the efficiency of service rendered to the employer who heads the entire concern.
Co-operation is essential among the various and several departments of our educational system. We can never have this co-operation so long as
. those responsible for the secondary schools, animated by jealousy, or goaded by self-induced feelings of inferiority, assume the scornful or flippant air of defiance toward those who teach in the colleges. Once more, we shall never have this co-operation so long as college professors are snobbish and take refuge in a self-opinionated and false sense of their superiority. There is often little ground for this superior claim of college professors. Too many of them have no pedagogical point of view. It is not disputed, I think, that information is the first necessary possession of him who would teach a given subject, but knowledge alone is not sufficient. It has been well said by another that “a college professor may be a great man and an honored member of many societies and still be, as a teacher, woefully incompetent." I have often wished that I might take some college professors on a pilgrimage to the room of some good primary teacher in order that those who pride themselves on belonging to a higher grade of educational workers might learn how to teach to the best advantage. If elementary and secondary teachers will adapt, as fully as is possible, to a young class of pupils the scientific and laboratory methods of the college, and if college professors can catch somewhat of the enthusiasm of the elementary and secondary teachers, added to the pedagogical knowledge which makes the public school teacher now
more generally successful as an instructor than the college professor, we shall have the very best teaching in all departments of one great educational system.
Qualifying adjectives are unnecessary in describing teachers. A teacher is a teacher whether working in the kindergarten, the grades, the high school, the college, or the university. No higher honor belongs to one than to another. Each is important in his place and should regard his position one of the greatest possible honor, provided only that he does the work committed to his hands in the best way possible for the growth and development of those committed to his teaching. The dawning of the perfect day will bring a unified educational system, knowing no distinctions as to rank, but binding together, in sympathetic co-operation all those who teach, with all lowliness and meekness, with long suffering; forbearing one another in love; endeavoring to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.
The foregoing conclusion is in no sense a digression. It grows directly out of the subject assigned me. The status of higher education in the United States is not what it might be because of the fact that the institutions of higher learning have not properly related themselves to the educational system as a whole. They can never be all that they may be in efficiency
a while they exist in isolation and in the fancied security of their own superiority and independence. The hope of a unified educational system in our country lies in the state
a universities of America. We have no national universities. That statement is made without any desire to harrow the pride of the few who boastfully claim that their institutions are national in character. It will readily be admitted that there are some American institutions which are more widely known than others. It is equally true, however, that the state university which is chiefly a product of the great Central West happily belongs in a peculiar way to the public school system. State universities are receiving larger support every year and as those responsible for their management come more and more to realize the close relationship that should exist between these institutions and the high schools and elementary schools below we shall approximate, as fully as may be, in the United States, the ideal educational system of the world.
Education is becoming increasingly democratic. A recent editorial in the Saturday Evening Post declares:
The older endowed colleges, of course, originally were, and still pretty largely are, aristocratic institutions. They were meant for gentlemen. They contemplate that their graduates should be ornaments to society. The public schools grew up in conformity with the entrance requirements of the colleges-although it was obvious that a great portion of the public-school pupils would have no time to ornament anything except possibly their own picket fences with a coat of paint. The state universities may standand rather increasingly do stand-in a different relation to the public schools. They may stand for a system built from the bottom up rather than from the top down.
The state universities in the various states of the Union, by collaboration with state superintendents of public instruction, city superintendents, high-school principals, and county superintendents, may so weld university and college in with the high school and the grades as to give us an educational system which will produce in our country the largest social efficiency. The great public-school system of America unified, then, in completest possible form from kindergarten to university, evolving policies which will give to our elementary and secondary schools a status challenging the confidence of the American people, will also establish standards of higher education that all endowed institutions, whether supported by some branch of the church or by private benefaction, will be obliged to follow.
If there be any such thing as a status of higher education in the United States at this time it is on the few points of agreement to which all reputable colleges and universities now subscribe. In higher education we are at present, we may safely say, agreed on three things: first, that a completed secondary school training shall be required for admission to college; second, that preparatory work shall be followed by further study in a college course of cultural and disciplinary studies; and third, that graduate colleges and professional schools shall be maintained for advanced study and higher degrees. This is really all there is to the status of higher education in the United States at this moment. In nothing else is there an approach to unanimity of opinion. In making this statement, I, of course, speak only of standards of scholarship. In matters of conduct, standards of character, and ideals of public service, the institutions of higher learning in our country are more nearly in agreement. It is the generally accepted conviction, I believe, among college authorities that higher education is a failure unless it shall be able to boast as its best product a potent social force.
So far as matters of scholarship are concerned, while we are generally agreed that there must be a completed secondary-school training with advanced study thereafter in a college course of cultural and disciplinary studies, all to be succeeded by graduate and professional training, we are in disagreement about nearly everything else. We have constant controversy as to the purpose of a college course for instance, and at the present time there is little prospect of a satisfactory solution of this problem. The discussions as to whether the college curriculum should be predominantly utilitarian or cultural and disciplinary in character is more lively today than ever. It promises to wax warmer until, by co-operation of the leaders in all branches of a unified public-school system in America, we shall be able, thru careful investigation and by painstaking, cold blooded weighing of results, to reach conclusions which must be accepted by all as final.
In considering the status of higher education in the United States we are also obliged to admit that there is wide difference of opinion as to the proper length of the college course between the high school and the professional and graduate college of the university. In all frankness we are