Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 79.djvu/76

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

shop. . . . It does not beget generous' comradeship or any ardor of altruistic feeling such as the college begets. It does not contain that general air of the world of science and letters in which the mind seeks no special interest, but feels every intimate impulse of the spirit set free to think and observe and listen—listen to all the voices of the mind." Yet Princeton, of all American colleges freest of the taint of the elective system, had become, as described by ex-President Wilson himself, the pleasantest country club in America. Under the preceptorial system ex-President Wilson is now able to report Princeton as a place where undergraduates do a fair amount of good, intelligent work—"but," he adds, "nothing to get excited about"!

President Lowell notes that what has given these twenty-seven occupations—at least the absorbing ones—their fascination is the spirit of emulation which they foster and bring out to its fullest extent. The corrective therefor is to put the spirit of emulation into scholarship, to find the American equivalent to the Oxford and Cambridge dual pass-and-honor system. On this point Professor Münsterberg says: "If we can foster scholarship by an appeal to the spirit of rivalry, by all means let us use it. We may hope that as soon as better traditions have been formed, and higher opinions have been spread, the interest in the serious work will replace the motives of vanity. . . . Of course, no one can overlook some intrinsic difficulties in the way of such plans. No artificial premium can focus on the scholar that same amount of flattering interest and notoriety which the athletic achievement represents, in that little field, a performance which may be compared with the best. The scholarly work of the undergraduate, on the other hand, at its highest point necessarily remains nothing but a praiseworthy exercise, incomparable with the achievements of great scholars. The student football player may win a world's record; the student scholar in the best case may justify noble hopes, but his achievement will be surpassed by professional scholars every day."

In trying to domesticate the Oxford-Cambridge system Columbia has hit upon an interesting principle of segregation, described in the October Educational Review. A generation ago few students entered college without the definite desire to obtain a scholarly education. The student body was small and united in aim. To-day conditions are far otherwise. The spread of popular secondary education, the rapid increase and distribution of wealth, have placed a college education within the reach of those lacking both scholarly ambition and the traditions of culture, but to whom have come the opportunity and desire for social betterment. A boy of this sort is sent to college in order that in later life he may mingle freely and equally with college-bred men, that he may learn how to get along with his fellows, and by contact with them have his angularities removed. "It is quite idle," declares