« EelmineJätka »
THE COLLEGE AND ACTIVE LIFE.
While defending liberal education, it may be held, that, especially while a four years' college course is maintained, it should also look toward the world of active influence and the filling of some vocation therein. The student's duties toward society must take on the modern aspect, as contrasted with the self-centered interest of the medieval recluse. That education should aim at mere serene enjoyment of the true, the beautiful, and the good is an idea of the past. The mere recluse to-day has no meaning and no use in the world. Educated men must join the march of progress; they must take part in the solution of ethical problems; in the bettering of government and society. The world demands of them altruism, public spirit, high ideals. They should mass the forces of the past for an onward movement in the present. Old knowledge should reach out toward new and useful applications.
To these ends the college should provide for a deeper knowledge of some subject or group of related subjects. This is an essential element of general education, and also has a practical aim. The principles of the philosophical and social sciences should find concrete illustration in the present. And above all, student life should be inspired with ideas of the duties and responsibilities of citizenship.
A public statement was recently made, that the seniors of a well-known university had less intellectual vigor and less moral power than the average man they might meet on the streets. If the charge be true, it is a matter for serious thought; but the statement should be swallowed with a large grain of salt. It may, however, serve as a text. I believe the college must assume an amount of responsibility for the character of the undergraduate student. There has been a natural reaction against some of the unwise requirements of twenty-five years ago; but the reaction may have gone too far. One of our famous universities ten years ago adopted the policy of leaving the student to his own devices and the moral restraint of the policeman; but the plan was condemned by the patrons of the institution, and to-day it exercises a wise and friendly care over the student's choice of studies, his attendance upon lectures, and his daily walk and conversation. Entire freedom in student life belongs only to the graduate schools, and to place both grades of students under one system can but prove harmful.
The ethical problems of college life are not to be solved wholly by perfunctory religious exercises, but by the spirit that pervades the whole teaching and student body, and the many ways and
means that the united efforts of earnest and devoted faculties may employ. It is a favorable circumstance, that the student, to an extent, can choose subjects in accord with his tastes; that his powers reach out toward some great intellectual interest-the whole being goes in that direction, the soul to its object. That the spirit of education is broader, more liberal and scientific is significant; the fact makes for truth and honesty. The historical method succeeds the dogmatic in history, social science, philosophy, and ethics. Men are better because they are broader and wiser, and are coming to a higher realization of truth.
No doubt the ethical life has the deepest significance for man. The great Fichte was right in claiming, that, if this is merely a subjectively phenomenal world, it is a necessary creation of mind, that we may have it wherein to work and ethically develop. I believe that institution will turn out the best men where the Baconian philosophy is combined with the Platonic, the scientific with the ideal. By some means the student should constantly come in contact with strong manhood and high ideals. It makes a practical difference whether the student believes in his transcendent nature and possibilities or in mere materialism and utilitarianism; whether his ethics is ideal or hedonistic, his view of life optimistic or pessimistic.
If the question is made distinct, What should the university do for the student? there are some additional considerations.
It is enough to say of graduate courses, that they should be a warrant for extended and thorough knowledge of a group of related subjects and for original power to grasp and deal with severe problems. The candidate's knowledge and power should be publicly tested by a good old-fashioned examination and defense of thesis.
The university should refuse to admit the student to the professional schools until he has received at least the equivalent of a complete high school education. The faculties of the University of Colorado have recently entered upon an investigation of the standard of admission to the professional schools, the length of professional courses, and the relation of professional courses to the college. The results are not yet wholly formulated, and the discussion of the data collected is yet to follow. But some important facts are at hand. Very few schools of applied science in the universities require four years of preparation. Only three or four universities require that standard for their law or medical schools. Most catalogues read after this fashion: "Admission to law or medical school-a college diploma, or a high school diploma, or a second grade teacher's certificate, or evidence of fitness to pursue
the subject." Less than half of the law schools require entrance qualifications, and only twenty of them require a three years' course. All medical schools advocate a thorough scientific foundation (many of them in a very ideal way), and urge extensive laboratory practice in many special subjects. The most of them think the first two years of a medical course could well be spent without clinical work. Many colleges and collegiate departments of universities provide electives that are accepted by some schools of theology, law, or medicine for their regular first year work. In rare instances, studies covering two years are made common to the college and the professional schools. But only a few universities combine in their own organization a plan of shortening the period of college and professional study. Some of us in the West are struggling with these problems, and we look to the East almost in vain for encouragement. Some of us already require the same standard for admission to engineering courses as for admission to the college of liberal arts, and would gladly publish the same standard for law and medicine did the conditions in other sections of the country make it possible.
I quote from the "Report on Legal Education," 1893, issued by the United States Bureau of Education: "Admission to the bar in all Continental (European) countries is obtained through the universities, which are professional schools for the four learned professions-theology, medicine, law, and philosophy. In England and America the colleges and universities are chiefly schools for general culture; only a few offer provision for thorough professional studies. While in England and America the erroneous idea is still predominant that a collegiate education need not necessarily precede professional study, in continental Europe it is made a conditio sine qua non." We are unable to understand why great and wealthy universities with abundant students cater to numbers instead of quality, and make professional education in America a by-word. Their faculties surely cannot hold the opinion that the professional school should be the shortest and easiest avenue to money-making. No one more needs than the lawyer the power of general education to grasp all the facts relating to a subject, to weigh their value, discard the unessential, give prominence to the determining factors, to avoid fallacies, to argue intelligently scientific points which may be involved in litigation. No one more than the physician needs an acquaintance with psychology and philosophy; with the various sciences and the modern languages. No one more needs the power of judgment in view of seemingly contradictory facts and symptoms. No one more needs the ethical quality of the noble and honorable gentleman. May we not expect aid from the greater universities to maintain the standards which in theory all are ready to advocate.
SOME PRACTICAL RESULTS OF CHILD STUDY.
BY A. S. WHITNEY, SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS, EAST SAGINAW, MICH.
As so much literature bearing upon this topic has recently appeared from the pens of nearly all of the leading advocates of this line of study, I feel unwarranted in attempting little more at this hour than to present as concisely as possible a few personal observations consequent upon the direct application of child study to the practical every-day work of the schools. In so doing, however, I desire it understood at the outset, that, owing to the more thorough and scientific treatment of certain long established physical laws, it has been deemed justifiable to consider them within the scope of this paper, though well aware that the propriety of this classification may be rightly questioned.
With this explanation, then, and craving your indulgence for referring almost entirely to the work as viewed from my own supervisory standpoint, I beg leave to submit the following, somewhat in the nature of a report.
During the past school year it was deemed advisable, after some general preparation therefor had been made, to direct the attention of our teachers to the investigation of certain phases of child study, hoping thereby to arouse in them a deeper interest in child nature, to acquaint them more thoroughly with the child's growing powers and possibilities, to bring them into closer living sympathetic touch with their pupils, and at the same time to verify so far as possible the practical claims of its leading students rather than to collect large masses of facts and to attempt general deductions therefrom.
With this end in view, we first turned our attention to the investigation of vision. For this purpose a supply of Snellon's test cards was provided for the several school buildings, and all of the teachers carefully instructed how to make the proper examination. As a result, out of the 5,000 pupils whose eyes were tested, average of between fifty and sixty per cent was found with impaired sight. This discovery was simply astounding even to teachers of long experience. It was one thing for them to read appalling accounts of defective vision, and quite another to realize its prevalence among their own pupils. It was also discovered, that, in some rooms, especially those of the younger teachers, many of the defectives were assigned to the darker and more distant sections, while those of normal powers occupied the more favored sittings. The remedy for this (readjustment) was direct and immediate, and the advan
tages gained very great. In extreme cases, however, this was insufficient, and the desired end was sought by informing the parents of the difficulty, and strongly urging upon them the importance of consulting a physician, and, if necessary, of providing properly fitted glasses. By so doing, it was found, that, in many instances, the parents were wholly ignorant of the existing defect, and were ready and willing to follow the course suggested; that others, failing to realize the necessity, were careless and indifferent and needed enlightment; that still others, assuming the rights accorded them as independent American citizens, had no hesitancy in informing the teachers in language more forcible than courteous that it was "their business to learn their children, and not put such stuck-upnotions into their heads or make dudes out of them." But, in general, the appeals of the teachers-appeals such as the parents had never been wont to experience-met with kind and hearty responses, and have resulted in the relieving of distress and the opening of newer and brighter worlds to many a poor unfortunate.
Standing upon the vantage ground of this experience, we next turned our attention to the examination of hearing, adopting the same methods of procedure, meeting the same difficulties, and applying the same remedies as in vision. The results were even more surprising, showing a general average of twenty to twenty-five per cent of defectives. Of this number, there were many of whom most pathetic tales of physical pain, of stunted intellects, of crushed spirits, might be graphically related; but to do so would simply be multiplying the already well established evidence of our too long delay and cruel neglect.
In this connection, it may be of interest to state, that two years ago an attempt was made at our central school to iron out some of the many wrinkles necessarily incident to a graded system, by establishing a new department and placing it in charge of one of our best and most experienced teachers. This department was denominated "unclassified" in contradistinction from "ungraded" or "truant," which bears such an unsavory reputation as to stigmatize all consigned thereto. In this are placed all pupils of the grammar grades who, for various causes, are not adaptable to the work of the regular classes, hoping thereby more perfectly to adjust matter and method to individual needs and capacities than was otherwise possible. At the time of the examinations above specified, the significant fact was ascertained, that every pupil enrolled in this department was suffering from defective vision, defective hearing, or from both.
When now we consider, in view of all this, that from a fifth to a fourth of all of the pupils in our public schools are suffering fronr defective hearing; when we consider again the acknowledged stulti