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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 65.djvu/34

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

The American university cares for its students, unwisely sometimes in nagging or futile fashion, but still on the whole to their great advantage. She is always a cherishing mother, and as such her children love her. I have never heard a German university called Alma Mater. 'Liebes närrisches Nest,' 'dear silly nest.' This Goethe once called Jena, but Jena was held in remembrance not for her loving care, but for the fond follies she, uncaring, allowed her sons to perpetrate. The German university makes no effort to see that her students work wisely, or indeed that they work at all. They are weaned once they leave the gymnasium. There are too many of them anyhow. Most of them go to swell the 'intellectual proletariat' which, so the Germans tell us, with the military proletariat, is a national menace, and so what does it matter?

Bismarck is reported to have said that one third of the German students drink themselves to death, one third die of overwork and the rest rule Europe. In America, the college has tried to change these proportions, college professors have thrown their personal influence to induce young men to lead sane and profitable lives, to keep them from throwing away their future till the time comes to rule. In this work the faculty of Colorado College has long taken an honorable part. It has shown the value of personality; men are saved by fellowship as often as by precept or practise. By personality is built up the college atmosphere, the 'fellow feeling among free spirits,' an agency in higher education as subtle as it is effective. For this reason the value of the college depends largely on the nearness of the professors and students—'They know each one of us by name.' This has been declared as the secret of the education of old Japan. Not professors, not masters, not martinets of high or low degree, but men who were fellow students have been, the most successful teachers. The value of a teacher decreases with the increase in the square of the distance from the student. In this matter the smaller universities have a great advantage over the larger ones if they will only be as careful in the choice of teachers. Only those who are near him know that a teacher is great. There are many graduates of our strongest institutions who never in their whole four years came in contact with a professor. Not long since, the editor of an eastern magazine, an able student and a man of strong character, told me that in his college course he had a speaking acquaintance with but one professor. There were a hundred in the faculty, many of them men of high distinction, but what was that to him? His work was laid out for him in a prescribed course, long before he was born, and from young instructors he received all his guidance.

In this lies one value of the study of science. It has but one method, that of the laboratory, that of first-hand contact with the