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ways. Surely no most excessive admirer of Harvard and its methods would think of denying that other colleges also have made a large place for the new sciences, are using improved ways of instruction with fresh enthusiasm on the part of both teachers and pupils, and have their eyes and hearts open to all that is going on in the wide world of science and learning. No one acquainted with Yale at present, as compared with Yale fifty or even twentyfive years since, could for a moment doubt that much of its education is worthy of being called “new.”
With the ethical spirit of Professor Palmer's article I am also in the fullest accord; he meets a hearty response from the Yale method when he proposes to measure the success of education by standards that are strong and high in an ethical way. I, too, understand the end of education to be not merely information in certain subjects — few or many — of scientific or historical research, but, also and chiefly, control of the faculties, and vigorous, reasonable, symmetrical use of them for the attainment of worthy ideals. And if he will show me that the so-called New Education really does " uplift character as no other training can, and through influence on character ennoble all methods of teaching and discipline,” I will not wait to be his ardent convert. It is precisely because of my fears that it will not accomplish this in the majority of cases that I am reluctant to accept the methods it proposes. But Professor Palmer advances the statistical proofs that in very truth the method has already wrought to this desirable and noble end at Harvard. We are brought around then to his statistics in our effort to come into the fullest possible sympathy of view with his opinions. Do the statistics show, or even tend to show, the superiority of the method of education in force at Harvard, as compared with that still employed at Yale ? I am prepared to affirm that they do not. I am prepared to affirm that, in all the matters which can fairly be said to be direct desirable results of the methods of teaching employed by the two institutions, the figures speak rather against than for the New Education. The various items of proof will be arranged for consideration in the order which seems most convenient, but all the points made by Professor Palmer will be covered before leaving the subject.
Among the various proofs of experience that the New Educa tion is successful we find the enlargement and improvement of the prevalent student idea of a “gentleman.” Students are proverb ially influenced by consideration for “good form.” It is no longer “good form” at Harvard to haze freshmen, smash windows, disturb lecture-rooms, etc. Such things as these are largely, if not wholly, at an end. Now the growth away from barbarous and rowdyish customs has characterized all the colleges of the land, — some of them to a greater, some to a less degree. A marked improvement in these regards has gone on at Yale, until the more offensive forms of such misbehavior are matters of tradition and of the past. It could be shown by all the testimony possible to obtain on such a point that both the major and the minor morals of the students have steadily improved for the last twenty-five or more years. The relations between the Faculty and the students, instead of the old feeling of antagonism or division of interest, are cordial and tending to more and more of friendliness and cooperative work. This is perfectly well understood by the students themselves; it is remarked upon in their conversation and in the papers which they publish. But I should not for a moment suppose that the same kind of improvement had not taken place — at least to some considerable degrec — in other institutions of learning ; nor should I venture to attributo it largely to any peculiar method of education, either as partly elective or as largely prescribed. Such improvement is chiefly the result of the steady change in our civilization which has been going on, of better manners everywhere, of the gradual decay of barbarous and mediæval antagonisms, of the spread of kindliness and intelligence. It is also due, in special, to the fact that teachers and parents take a different attitude toward the young under their charge, and that the young themselves have a wider outlook on life. It is also due to the fact that college Faculties have relaxed in many of their old severities and petty exactions, and have taken the young men – whether by some scheme devised or by the common consent of all hearts and wills — more into their confidence. It is also due to the influence of well-regulated athletic sports which provide an outlet for the expenditure of that surplus vitality in which youth rejoices. The New Education has no monopoly in these improvements. Nor do I believe that it can show any advantage in these matters as compared with that blending of things new and old which is prevalent at Yale.
It is also claimed that the New Education has the stamp of approval in the special amount of popular favor which it has secured. It is shown that the period during which thu new method has been on trial has been one of “unexampled prosperity” for Harvard, its representative. Rich men have signified their acceptance of it by generous gifts. Parents and sons have ratified the system, as may be seen by the increase of numbers which has taken place under its working. There can be no doubt that the last fifteen years exhibit a splendid record of growth at Harvard, both in numbers and in resources. But it will scarcely be claimed by Professor Palmer that all the generous gifts it has received have been designed to set the seal of approval from their donors upon its peculiar methods. Other sums of money, even larger, have been given to found and rear institutions by rich men who had no ideas, either new or old, which they desired to perpetuate in a peculiar college system. Other colleges which have not adopted the Harvard system - except so far as some elective courses in a college curriculum may be said to be an adoption of the system — have also received bountiful gifts. During the last fourteen years the amount of gifts made to the university of Yale, either already delivered over or in the process of delivery by executors, exceed $2,066,000; of this sum $928,400 stands upon the treasurer's books as cash paid in to the treasury since 1871; the remainder has gone into the “plant” of the university. During the same time the sum of more than $460,000 additional has been secured by bequest, to be paid into its treasury on the termination of certain lives. Meanwhile, its library has increased by 83,000 volumes. This more than two and a half millions may not, indeed, equal the sum given to Harvard during the same period. But it bears comparison with that sum so well as to raise the inquiry whether the prestige of the New Education with the long purses of the country is beyond question.
The increase of students is a more direct and appreciable argument. It certainly does go for something in showing how the popular favor is setting, at least for the immediate time. I can readily see how young men of eighteen, if left to themselves, would incline to give the authority of their presence to the methods of the New Education. Still, it is by no means certain that the large accessions to Harvard for the past twenty-five years signify all that they might seem to at first sight. During the same period other institutions, not adopting its method, have likewise had remarkable growth; on other grounds than its adoption Yale has constantly grown in numbers during this period. Its growth as estimated by the average number of undergraduates, exclusive of special students (which I suppose Professor Palmer also excluded from his estimate), has been as follows : 1861–65, 533 ; 1866–70, 610; 1871-75, 704; 1876–80, 745 ; 1880–84, 792. It should also be said that probably no other college has rejected so
the average pers during this n
of special stw
large a per cent. of candidates for admission, or sent away so many for failing to keep up to its standard of scholarship.
Even the most recent statistics throw still more doubt upon the argument from the number of students. It is found, by counting the undergraduates in the last Harvard catalogue, that 591 of the 1061, or more than 55 per cent., are from the State in which the college is situated. Only 247, or less than 32 per cent., of the undergraduates of Yale are from Connecticut. Not only relatively but absolutely more men come to the latter than to the former institution from outside of the State in which it is situated. If then Massachusetts may be said to sanction the New Education, as yet the country at large cannot be said to have done so. It is not yet cosmopolitan.
But we shall better appreciate the statistical argument for and against the New Education if we compare figures concerning matters that may more fairly be held to indicate its direct results; and among them, first, the amount of regular attention given by the students to the college exercises, to lectures and recitations. Professor Palmer thinks it creditable to the method he advocates that, by actual count, under a wholly voluntary and wholly elective system, the last senior class at Harvard “ had cared to stay away” only two exercises per week out of twelve, -- that is, rather more than sixteen per cent. of the whole. Now the point of fidelity and regularity is of such supreme importance in the life of the student that I have taken especial pains to secure its statistics here; the reader is requested thoughtfully to compare them with the statement of Professor Palmer. At Yale this term, for the seven weeks for which the record is complete, the average per cent. of absence in the class of '89 has been 3.7 per cent. ; that is, the average freshman of the Academical Department has been present 15.4 out of a possible 16 of his weekly recitations. This record includes absences from all causes whatever; it includes 48 absences due to the illness of one man for three weeks, and several other cases of absence due to illness of the student or of his friends. The record of the sophomore class for the same period is even slightly better; for the average sophomore has attended 14.5 exercises per week out of a possible 15 required. The absences of this class have been only slightly more than three and a third per cent. It should further be mentioned that under the rules all tardiness at a recitation beyond five minutes and all egresses are counted as absences. Moreover, if the student chooses to be present without responsibility for being questioned, he has the privilege of doing so at the expense of one of his “ allowed ” absences. In the aggregate a considerable number avail themselves of this privilege. For an example of diligent attention to the business of learning, I think it would be hard to find anything superior to the following: On a recent week (in November) there were only eight absences in a division of 34 men, and three of these were so-called “ cuts," when the student was present but not reciting. That is to say, the real absences were for that one division during the period of a week only a trifle over one per cent. It should be remembered, also, that no excuses are now given for sports, attentions to friends, ininor ailments, etc.; and yet the average Yale freshman or sophomore does not avail himself of more than about three fourths of the six absences allowed him during a term to cover all such cases. Nor should it be inferred that the regularity of these seven weeks is special to any large extent, as being due to causes prevalent during the earlier part of the fall term of 1885. It is likely that the record for the entire term would make even a better showing; the spendthrifts who incur most absences on the whole, as a rule, use up their “ cuts " early in the term. The officer in charge of the records assures me that, on looking over them cursorily, he concludes that the worst terms for some years past would not show more than five per cent. of absences in these classes. The amount of absence in the two upper classes is somewhat greater. There is good reason for this. The junior and senior classes contain more men who are of age, who therefore go home to vote, have private business out of New Haven to which they must attend, etc. Under the rules of the college they are also given one third more of “allowed absences” than the lower classes, – that is to say, eight in a term instead of six. But for all causes combined, exclusive of a few cases of sickness lasting more than a week, the irregularity of the junior class during the period under consideration was less than five and a half per cent. ; that of the senior class only a trifle more than six per cent.
A comparison of the two systems as actually at work in Harvard and in Yale shows, then, this remarkable fact: The irregularity of the average Harvard student is from a little less than three to about five times as great as that of the average Yale student. The former is off duty, either from choice or compulsion, rather more than sixteen per cent. of his time; the latter from less than three and a third to a trifle more than six per cent. Such discrepancy is remarkable. In my opinion, it is highly sig