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nificant as respects the working of the two systems. Let the reader inquire of himself what its significance must be as regards preparation, both intellectual and ethical, for the work of life. Let any man in business or in professional life ask himself this question: What sort of work should I do, what success have, if I and my employees were absent sixteen per cent. of the entire time allotted for work? More particularly with reference to the life of education, let each one interested in the problem propose such questions as follow: What service would the public school or academy render which permitted an average non-attendance of its pupils amounting to sixteen per cent. of the entire time; or, in other words, reduced the school-days of the week to about four in number? Is there any adequate reason why a youth who is beiyg trained to a life of faithful and patient work should, for a term of four years in the most critical period of his life, enjoy a freedom from restraints which belongs to the well-regulated discipline of neither man nor boy? The average pupil under the New Education, if he has been properly fitted for college, has probably had no such liberty allowed him hitherto; unless he leads after leaving college a life of self-indulgence instead of successful industry, he will never have such liberty again. Is there any magic of morals which makes it best that he should for this particular quaternion be put “ upon honor” in a manner different from that to which the rest of the working world is compelled? But it is at best the average man at Harvard who is off duty sixteen per cent. of his time; what, then, must be the amount of irregularity characterizing the more faithless half or quarter of each class ?
I have no hesitation whatever in saying that it would be quite impossible for students to pass through Yale College who did not attend more regularly to their duties than the average senior under the New Education. Such students probably could not finish a single year. It must not be supposed, however, that attendance is exacted of the Yale student in such manner as to crush out all spontaneity of impulse, and make both recitation-room and teacher repulsive. Doubtless there is a considerable percentage of men in every college who find all mental work a hardship; with a few, the more and the more regular the work the greater their sense of hardship. But with the body of students at Yale the case is not so. Their spirit will compare most favorably with that which Professor Palmer describes as characteristic of the New Education. That they are not merely driven by severe rules to their tasks is shown by the fact that, as I have already said, the average Yale student does not avail. himself of all his allowed absences. It is also shown by the fact that a considerable percentage of men, especially in the upper classes, are ready to take over-hours of work; this in spite of the fact that the required number of recitations at Yale is fifteen (or sixteen) per week, instead of twelve as at Harvard. It is further shown by the large use which the students make of the libraries. On this point, then, let us compare facts with the New Education. Professor Palmer considers it a triumph for “the system” that the extent to which the college library is consulted by the undergraduates has increased from fifty-six per cent. in 1860–61 to eighty-five per cent. in 1883–84. But for years past the average Yale student, so far as the statistics of the respective libraries show, has been more a reader of books than his Harvard fellow under the present high estate reached by the New Education. During the year selected for comparison (1883–84) the undergraduates of Yale drew from “ Linonian and Brothers ” alone 18,440 volumes ; all but 76 — or eighty-eight per cent. — of the academical students and all but 38 — or eighty-two per cent. — of the scientific students used this collection of books. More than eighty-six per cent., that is, of all the undergraduates drew out to the average amount of 26 volumes each. As to the quality of the books drawn, no record is easily obtainable for this particular year; but the record for a previous year shows that more than two thirds were not books of fiction. Statistics just published for the last year show that the academical sophomores alone drew 4,139 vol. umes from this library; but the sophomores at Yale are denied all benefit from the New Education. The use of Linonian and Brothers' Library by the undergraduates, however, has been relatively decreasing, on account of the large increase in the use of other collections of books more recently placed at their convenient disposal. Noteworthy among such collections are the loan libraries belonging to some of the departments of instruction, - especially of political science, history, etc. Add to all these items the increasing use, by consultation on the spot and otherwise (of which statistics are not easily attainable), of the main college library, and we have an amount of voluntary literary activity among the Yale undergraduates which certainly need not shrink from comparison with the best results of the Harvard system.
Professor Palmer says truly that “the charge of softcourses is the stock objection to the elective system.” He is, therefore, at considerable pains to show how wisely the juniors and seniors on the whole make their choices, and with no predominating disposition to shirk hard work. I regret that we are not told more particularly just how the lower classes exercise their option. For it is as to the lower classes that our main contention exists. In or. der to make his case good, it must be shown that boys of eighteen and nineteen, on entering college without a knowledge of what their pursuits in life will be or of what in reality most of the studies before them mean, are competent to compose the entire subject-matter of their own instruction. On my part, I am prepared to affirm that for wise choice of elective courses far more maturity of judgment and knowledge of various subjects than belong to the American youth at such a time in his life are highly desirable, if not imperatively necessary. So far as I can judge, the choices of the Yale juniors and seniors show more taste for hard work than is developed under the new system. It is noticeable that no course in the classics or higher mathematics is set down as being a favorite with the two upper classes at Harvard in 1883–84. But 54 juniors and 181 seniors are reported as having taken courses in “ Fine Arts " for the present year. At Yale this term, however, 53 choices of courses in higher mathematics (calculus, vector analysis, etc.) have been made by juniors and seniors, and 179 choices in the ancient classics, 99 in Latin, and 80 in Greek, by the same classes. (I give the number of choices rather than of men, as indicating better the amount of interest taken in a given subject.) It should be remembered, also, that each of these choices involves responsibility for the performance of a daily task, as distinguished from cramming for an examination. I am unable to say that the Harvard system has no statistics to match these. But I have a pretty firm conviction that students who have been kept regularly at hard work in prescribed courses for the first two years of a college course will be far more likely to enjoy hard work in the later years of that course.
The last remark would, of course, hold true only in case the standard of scholarship were kept well up, and the instruction made bracing and attractive. I am therefore led to examine briefly two other excellences which Professor Palmer ascribes to the New Education. It is, he thinks, steadily raising the rank which is reckoned “decent scholarship.” This is apparently proved by a comparative statement of the “marks” received by the average Harvard student in the different classes for the different years since 1874–75. I will say frankly, but without intending to cast the least shadow of question over the sincerity with which the proof is offered, that I find myself unable to confide in it. I should not think of trying to compare the statistics of the marks given under any two systems; or even - for that matterunder different decades of the same system. The marks of the average student are, of course, higher under the elective system. One reason is to be found in the fact that so many students choose their electives with reference to the marks they expect to attain under the chosen instructor. The teacher, as well as the pupil, is known by his marks. And it is more of a test of a pupil's real merits, under the elective system, to inquire how many courses he takes under teachers that give hard work and low marks than how high a mark he is able to attain by judiciously choosing his courses. Under a system of study largely prescribed, the various eccentricities of the instructors in marking nearly cancel each other. But under a system wholly elective the comparative statistics of the marks are quite worthless to indicate the grade of real scholarship secured.
I feel some hesitation about extending my comparisons so as to cover one of the points which Professor Palmer has made. He testifies to the improvement which the New Education has wrought in the spirit and work of the instructors themselves. His testimony is, of course, to be accepted as conclusive upon this point. I should be very loth to admit, however, that the kind of spirit and method which he justly considers admirable in the teacher are inseparably connected with the system in vogue at Harvard. It seems to me that a teacher who suffers himself to grow dull and slack because his pupils must come to him whether or no is scarcely fit to be a teacher under any so-called system. Certainly there have been not a few inspiring instructors in our American colleges before the New Education was discovered. Is it at all likely that there will be only a few poor ones in case the triumph of the New Education is everywhere secured? Is it not even possible that certain methods of instruction may in time be developed by a system that makes so much depend upon the favor of those instructed which will not conduce to the highest efficiency in education ?
A word of personal experience will be in place at this point. I cannot follow Professor Palmer, who looks back upon his college days and feels that more than half his studies should have been different. The studies in my college curriculum were wholly prescribed; they included the ancient classics in junior year, and
calculus, both integral and differential. Like him, I was especially fond of Greek and philosophy; but I studied calculus with more carefulness on that very account. I learned to do patiently the things set me to do; to work hard and wait for the reward ; to conquer every task — whatever it might be — before leaving it. And I would not give this bit of learning for all to be got from the most attractive elective courses of both Harvard and Yale.
But it is full time to recall thought to the real matter of disagreement between Professor Palmer and myself. Toward the close of his article we find the remark that, for lack of room, he cannot explain at length “ why the elective system should be begun as early as the freshman year;” it is added, “surely not much room is needed." But, as I understand the matter, this is precisely what requires most room, both for explanation and for argument. In common with most colleges, Yale now permits considerable choice in the last two years of its curriculum ; the elective courses now constitute eight fifteenths of the junior year, and four fifths of the senior. No choice, with the exception of one, between French and German, is permitted in the first two years. Now, of course, the question is entirely reasonable to ask of one who, like myself, approves heartily of so much of the elective system, Why not accept it throughout in the form adopted by Harvard? Why draw the line between sophomore and junior years rather than between freshman year in college and the last year in the fitting-school? Why prescribe any courses for the last two years in preference to giving the student full range for the exer. cise of his preferences ? The reply to these questions might be given with almost indefinite details. This whole question, like nearly all those questions which most perplex our human life, is one of drawing lines and making distinctions. Probably all will admit that lines must be drawn somewhere. There comes a time, that is to say, when the boy may be left more and more to direct himself, — as in other matters, so in the subject-matter of his education. But for years the boy, in order to learn how to study and how to make right choice of what he will study, must be kept in prescribed lines. Infants cannot decide whether they will learn to read or not. Small boys cannot be left wholly to decide whether they will study grammar and arithmetic. Older boys and youths and young men, whatever they undertake in the education of themselves, find a great fund of previous experience and established custom hemming them in and restricting their perfectly free choice. The average college freshman ought not to desire, and