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WHAT SHOULD THE COLLEGE AND THE UNIVERSITY DO FOR THE GRADUATE OF THE HIGH SCHOOL?
BY JAMES H. BAKER, PRESIDENT OF THE UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO.
Touching the theme of this paper, inquiries were sent to a large number of universities, colleges, and secondary schools. The first two questions related to the work of secondary education, and were as follows: (1) What should the high school graduate be when entering college? (2) What does he lack of an ideal education when he enters? Considering the general character of the questions, the answers are all that might be expected, and they are valuable for the limit of their range as well as for what they express, since they show, that, concerning the main purpose of education, there is nothing new to be said.
In the replies the deficiencies enumerated naturally answer to the ideals demanded, and only the positive series needs to be used. I formulate the answers that represent the consensus of the majority or appear important as individual opinions. (1) The high school graduate, when entering college, should possess a mind educated by methods that create interest and make power to think and generalize, power to do original work. (2) He should have an acquaintance with each field of knowledge, and should show a symmetrical development of his mental activities. (3) As tending to produce greater interest, knowledge, and power, he should have been trained in only a limited number of subjects in each field; in these subjects the work should have been continuous and intensive. (4) He should have good command of English. (5) He should be well grounded in right habits and moral principles-the practice of self-control.
While this inquiry is not strictly upon the subject assigned, it shows that the difficult problems of university life are to be solved in part by the secondary schools, and that some of the failures in higher education are due to the imperfections of earlier training. It also introduces part of the discussion that follows.
IDEALS OF HIGHER EDUCATION.
The third question pertained to higher education-What should the college or university do for the high school graduate? Some of the more important opinions received may be expressed as follows:
(a) It should supplement the failures of his earlier training. There should be no chasm between secondary and higher education.
(b) It should give him a liberal education. It should offer him a course that has unity and harmony. It should cultivate the power
of research. It should teach him to bring all his knowledge and all his power to bear on the problems of life.
(c) It should make him broad and then deep in some subject. It should start him in lines of study leading to his life work.
(d) It should give him high ideals of private and civic conduct. It should make a man of him.
To consider merely the subject of college ideals would be trite and unprofitable in the extreme, and I shall use some latitude in the discussion.
THE COLLEGE AND IDEAL PREPARATION.
The influence of the college should be felt in the work of preparation. That the college should be closely articulated with the high schools is an idea of modern date, and one not yet fully accepted. An examination of the admission requirements of the colleges shows a variety of demands, having no common basis in principles of education, in the standard courses of high schools, or in uniform agreement, The requirements of some colleges are imperative for specific subjects that are not fundamental, but merely rank with a series of allied subjects in a given field of knowledge. Often a method of work acceptable to one college would be rejected by another. Among reputable institutions the height of the standard varies by two years. That the dissatisfaction of the high schools with these evils is deep-seated and wide-spread can be noted in recent papers and addresses and in repeated efforts to remove them. The fault rests mainly with the colleges and universities, and the reasons that maintain unessential distinctions are absurd in the eyes of secondary school men. If absolute uniformity in college admission is not feasible, a reasonable choice of equivalents within a given department of knowledge may be allowed. At least a plan of admission may be "organized without uniformity." I have known a college to refuse four years' excellent work in science as a substitute for some chapters in a particular book on physical geography. In another instance a certain scientific school, requiring two years of preparation in Latin, refused a four years' course in Latin in lieu of the prescribed number of books in Cæsar. A joint committee has recently been appointed by the Department of Higher Education and the Department of Secondary Education of the National Educational Association to consider further the basis of connection between the high schools and the colleges. This committee consists of eminent and able men, who will accomplish important results if
given proper encouragement and aid by the National Association, and if the various local associations coöperate, instead of fostering organized differences. The report of the committee of ten did much to prepare the way for a more complete and satisfactory connection between the colleges and the high schools, but much remains to be done which may be well undertaken by this joint committee. It is interesting to note that one of the longest sections in the report of the Royal Commission on secondary education is on the "Relation of the University to Secondary Education," and that the importance of a close connection is emphasized and the means of securing it suggested.
The work of secondary education must be based on pedagogical principles and adapted to the stage of development which it represents, and the colleges must take up the work where the high schools leave it. Whatever is best for a given period of growth, is also good preparation for what follows. There should be no saltus in the process of general education. I do not mean that the colleges are not to help determine the preparatory courses of study; but they must regard the natural order of development in grades below the college as well as ideal college standards.
By a closer union with the high schools, the colleges may help to fashion their courses, improve their methods, and may suggest the importance of placing college educated men and women in charge of the various departments of high school work. The report of the Royal Commission previously referred to, discussing the preparation of teachers for the secondary schools, says: "So far as regards general education, they will obtain it, and in our opinion, ought to obtain it, not in special seminaries, but in the same schools and universities as are resorted to by persons desiring to enter the other professions. The more attractive the profession becomes, the larger will be the number of teachers who will feel that they ought to fit themselves for it by a university course." The report further says: "Whatever professional education is provided for teachers ought to have both a theoretical and a practical side. Freedom and variety would, in our opinion, be best secured, if the universities were to take up the task; and if the science of education
is to make good the claims put forward in its behalf, it ought to be studied where other branches of mental and moral philosophy are fully handled by the ablest professors."
Many colleges are now doing much to increase laboratory practice in the high schools, to cultivate the spirit of investigation, to limit the number of subjects, and secure good results. In Colorado the principle is generally recognized that a good preparatory education is also a good general education, and that every high school
is therefore a preparatory school. The secondary school period is maintained at four years, laboratories are provided in all the schools, and Latin and German, if not Greek, are found in all. These results are largely due to the close relation in that state between secondary and higher education.
In the second group of opinions quoted the philosophy is Platonic rather than materialistic or utilitarian. It makes a student a man of ideal powers, possibilities, and aspirations. He possesses a nature whose development is an end in itself, whose well-being is of prime consideration. Liberal education aims to give the student a conscious realization of his powers without reference to material advantage through their use in a given occupation or profession. Through liberal education the student acquires ideas of universal interest and essential character. He gains a comprehensive view that enables him to estimate things at their relative value; to learn the place, use, and end of each.
That liberal education should remain the ideal of at least a large part of the college course most educators agree. Were this function of the college not a distinctive and essential one, that department of learning would of necessity be abandoned, and the direct road to practical business would be pursued. Recent addresses, representing three of the greatest American universities, agree that the function of the college is to be maintained, and that acquaintance with the several fields of knowledge is necessary to the very idea. of liberal education. They agree to include the field of the languages and literature; the field of the sciences and mathematics; the subjective field—that of philosophy and psychology. In the report of the commissioner of education, just published, appears a German criticism of American education, which mentions the lack of linguistic training. The writer says: "The consequences are seen in the defective linguistic-logical discipline of the mind, which perhaps more than the discipline in mathematical forms of thought is a requisite of all profound intellectual progress, be that in linguistic or in mathematical and scientific branches." In the University of Berlin, philosophy is a required subject for all degrees.
The conservation of the ideals of the race is largely the work of liberally educated men. Some one has argued, that, not through education but through a higher standard of society and politics, will the youth of the land be reached; but society and politics depend upon ideal education and the church for their own purification.
The power of research is characteristic of modern university training, and is essential to a liberal education, as giving one the mastery of his powers. Carlyle was not far from right when he said that the true university was a library. The ability to use a library is one criterion of successful college work. Here the student gathers his own material, uses his own discrimination, formulates his opinions in the light of numerous facts and opinions, and gains self-reliance. It is the scientific method as taught by Socrates applied to all fields of study. This is the kind of work that prepares the student to grapple with the practical problems of the day.
The opinion that some portion of the college work should be prescribed appears to be well founded. This view is strengthened by the fact that many high schools are weak in one or more departments of preparation. A minimum of required work in leading departments of the college will tend to supply the deficiencies of previous training. From an inspection of the latest college catalogues, it appears that all colleges exercise some kind of supervision over the choice of studies, and most of them prescribe and determine the order of more than half of the curriculum. In choice of electives many require the group system in order that consistency may be maintained and that a definite result in some line of work may be reached.
The line of demarcation between college and university work is a variable, and the problem of definitely locating it is perplexing in the extreme. Many believe they see signs of segmentation at the end of the junior year, and predict that the senior year will adhere to the graduate school. There are many evidences, that, somewhere along the line, the period of general education will be shortened, and the tendency to specialize before the end of the college course is one proof that the change is demanded. Historically the college in America stands as a whole for liberal education, but in its later development the standard has been advanced and the period of professional education has been lengthened until the problem presents new phases demanding important readjustments. Replies recently received from many institutions of higher learning touching this question show a variety of opinions. One correspondent pithily says: "Verily we are a smattering folk. believe both the college and the professional course should be lengthened." President Eliot advocates "a three years' course for the A. B., without disguises or complications." Estimating the replies already received numerically, something more than half favor some kind of time readjustment, to the end that the period covered by the college and the professional school may be shortened one year.