Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 79.djvu/157

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

Another feature of the history of the small college explains its partial failure to respond promptly and effectively to the new needs of the time. Most colleges were originally not only religious but also denominational institutions, founded primarily to give "proper" education to men who were going into the ministry of the respective sects. In the early days sectarianism was assiduously inculcated, but as time wore on its outward trappings were discarded. The colleges, for all their shortcomings, had a mighty end in view. They believed in the moral life and they perceived that a liberal culture was a necessity for the leaders of that Christian morality they hoped, through church and school, to make universal. But their conceptions of morality, of the Christian life, and of culture were all often somewhat narrow, and nearly always lacked that element of adaptability to meet new social and moral issues which must now be counted an essential of true, constructive, productive, morality. It is not for us to blame them for this. We have rather to seek an explanation of the fact, and to point out how it crippled their efficiency and finally helped to bring them to the bar of critical judgment.

A certain narrowness of horizon cooperated with a deplorable lack of financial resources. Their limited horizon kept the colleges from seeing just how seriously lack of funds impaired efficiency, and conversely their limited resources narrowed their horizon. Both the theory and the practise of education were narrow because the colleges did not conceive an aim at the same time broadly fundamental and intimately and directly related to the specific needs of our national life. Moreover, they did not early enough begin vigorous efforts to get resources adequate to the demands of a broad culture. Their aim was intense often to the point of fanaticism, but it lacked breadth and adaptability to the actual facts of human nature and of social life. The restricted horizon of the colleges was, of course, to no small extent, due to the nature of the general moral and social environment of the society in which they were located. Like the society about them, and from which their students came, they proceeded on the assumption that morality is merely a matter of goodness. In spite of their "mental discipline" and "cultural studies" they came dangerously near to divorcing morality from intellect. In effect many colleges still take practically this position. They have not yet arrived at a social-efficiency or social-productivity theory of morality. Primarily the persistent, traditional view reflects the strict, non-adaptive tenets of old-time orthodoxy, in which the key note to the highest morality is surrender of the will and obedience to authority. Such a view glorified discipleship. It allowed reason and self-direction to go so far; then it demanded that loyalty to personal authority step in. Something of the inherent selfishness of medieval orthodoxy ate through our educational system. Rules