Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 78.djvu/73

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
69
UNIVERSITY REFORMS

top to the bottom, is it possible to retain the freshness and mental vigor as essential to the teacher as it is to the investigator. The public, as a rule, does not appreciate the fact that successful teaching and investigating can not be disassociated in the university. The teacher who fails to take an active interest in research is generally deficient in his appreciation of the importance and difficulty of keeping the mind free from all those prejudices which tend to warp both sympathies and judgments and prevent the student from acquiring the faculty of appreciative discernment of new truths. A sharp and purely arbitrary distinction is often drawn between teaching and research, as if the two departments had nothing in common. Many persons look upon the latter as a luxury, something for which provision should be made only after every effort has been expended in teaching students how to meet the conventional restrictions imposed by examinations. The fact that this action is pretty generally accepted furnishes another instance of the relatively higher educational value placed by the general public upon the mere storing up of information than upon any effort made to develop other than the acquisitive functions of the brain. One of the chief aims of a modern education should be to cultivate in the student the spirit of a genuine love for learning. Teachers may preach this doctrine until "crack o' doom" without accomplishing as much by sermonizing as can be gained with the expenditure of less effort in giving practical demonstrations of what it is to learn. The frequent and sometimes noisy arraignments of the mental defects of college graduates made by business men not infrequently contain an element of justification, for many of the former unfortunately give evidence of having been taught to teach without first having been encouraged in their attempts to learn. The teaching not the learning spirit dominates in our American universities. In the selection of a professor the success of a teacher is too generally estimated by the ability to speak well, coin phrases, to give students their mental food in the compressed-tablet form, and in the capacity of maintaining until the end of the course a superficial, even if it be only a temporary, interest in the subject.

In the constant struggle for existence carried on by all nations it has become evident that success will crown the efforts of the people in which the brain power of its citizens has been developed to the highest state of efficiency. Any attempt to confer upon an individual the opportunities of obtaining an education is equivalent to offering him the chance of exercising the functions of the brain along the lines indicated by those who are generally without even an elementary knowledge of a very complicated organ. Rousseau fully appreciated the absurdity of expecting a professional opinion as to the functional capacity of this organ from those having only an amateur's knowledge of its anatomy