Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 79.djvu/82

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

Let us hasten away from this impossible college and come back for a brief space to the real institution, in which nevertheless some portion of this virus is at work. And first, it is safe to say that the day is not to be saved by a return to fixed programs of study made out of faculty piecings. Nor can Woodrow Wilson, or his successors, succeed in drawing off from the great mass of undergraduates the saving remnant foreordained to be separated for four years from all training that bears upon a special task—attractive as that ideal may be. Nor will President Hadley's ideal—" where a student learns things that he is not going to use in after life by methods that he is going to use "—ever again dominate the college. President Wilson found the work of the professional school "as exact, as definite, as exclusive as that of the office and the shop." The college can stand a large infusion of this ideal. Columbia's plan of providing an academic annex for majors in dullness, athletics and social functions seems none too promising. The junior college, and other compartment arrangements, useful perhaps as administrative makeshifts, are futile as attempts to segregate differing ideals of education.

In turning to greater administrative efficiency as a remedy, one can not but sympathize with the gentle plaint of Professor Showerman: "The professor thought of the administration of his college—of all the regents, registrars, clerks, secretaries, committees, and advisers, of all the printing and writing and classifying and pigeonholing, of all the roll-calling and quizzing and examination. What was all this marvellous system for? Why, simply this: in order that young men and women who came to college to get an education might be prevented from avoiding the very thing they came for! "Humiliating as the admission may be, that is about what it has come to. Of regents and registrars and pigeonholing and classifying we have perhaps a sufficiency. But of that concern for what Mr. Birdseye calls the student life department—ninety per cent, of the student's actual time—there is, alas, not a sufficiency.

Professor Barrows, who frankly abandons the undergraduate college as a period of serious intellectual effort, would still think of it as a moral opportunity—not for courses in ethics and formal moral teaching, I take it, but that by some process or other these bright, alert girls and boys might be enough arrested in their absorbing play to see, in the scholarly atmosphere shed from above, in the quiet ideals of the cloister, in generous comradeship with generous comrades, a moral quality and beauty that should win their allegiance and emulation. As a matter of fact, there has been too much reliance on the theory that somehow, through the mysterious processes of providence, just spending four years in college is in itself a saving and redeeming grace; that somehow shamming, and dissipation, and