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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/553

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COMMENTS ON THE "SACRIFICE OF EDUCATION"

competitive examinations. Competitive examinations, however, might be toned down to a minimum, and a year of probation might possibly be substituted for the final and decisive examination. I say possibly, for, as is well known, we have always to think of "Take care of Dowb."

Two things seem to me necessary: (1) A careful supervision of examiners. If the examinations are to remain in the hands of the youngest members of the university, their report should always be made, first of all, to the respective faculties, and afterward only, when approved by the faculty, to the vice-chancellor. The necessity of this has been shown by recent experiences in India and elsewhere. (2) A gradual change of competitive into qualifying examinations.

Many years ago we wanted to have examinations for the sake of schools and universities; we now seem to have schools and universities simply and solely for the sake of examinations.

 
Prof. EDWARD A. FREEMAN.

Of the working of the fashionable fancy for endless examinations, I can speak from direct knowledge only in my own university. Coming back to Oxford, after many years of non-residence, I was perhaps better able to compare what is and what was than either those who have never known anything but the present system or those who have seen the present system grow up. Just now it seems to be understood that examinations are the chief end of life, at any rate of university life; they would seem to be thought to have an opus operatum merit for both the examiner and the examined. The object seems to be to multiply examinations as much as possible, to split them up—what is called to "specialize" them—to the extreme point. A man is not, as of old, wholly plucked or wholly passed; with the ingenuity of Italian tyrants, a piece of him is plucked or passed, while the rest of him is kept for the sport of another day. The end steadily kept in view would seem to be that examinations should never cease, that therefore nothing should really be learned, that examinations should follow so fast on one another as just to give time to forget the matter of one examination before the next comes on. The thing has grown to such a height that names can not be found for some of the endless schools, they have to be marked by numbers and letters. The gravest personages will be seen debating with the gravest countenances over some peddling change in "Group A 1," seemingly without the faintest feeling of the grotesque nature of their employment, or of the reductio ad absurdum of the whole system which is implied in such a nomenclature, if nomenclature it can be called. The Oxford undergraduate is even examined before he comes into being; the exercise