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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 81.djvu/510

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(Stewart Paton) there results the helpless "looking outward for (their) succor" (W. C. Lawton) that makes for resignation not born of strength, and docility not the issue of sacrificing loyalty. No one knows better than the regular attendants at faculty meetings the hesitant, dispirited, nibbling, myopic, lame and wearisome discussions that are a trial to spirit and flesh; but the reasons therefor lie in the "vicious circle" from which they can be released by converting the prisoners into the guardians of a fortress. For any believer in that oldest and perennial source of salvation, the liberation of spirit that makes freemen of slaves, knows what marvels may be accomplished by removing barriers of intellectual restraint, whether shackles, blinders or ghettos. The redemption is through the enthusiasm born of self-assertion, with responsibility as its poise. All bodies long deprived of their constitutional rights tend to become incompetent or nihilistic or restless according to temperament. If disposed to act under a sense of personal injury, they become militant; if organized and with the prospect of control, they become insurgent; if academic, they apparently become dormant. The academic situation suffers from restriction in means and neglect of ends in a confusion of peremptory demands. Reform must be directed to the illumination of ends and means, and primarily to a fitter sense of their kinship. "Administration plays a part in most of our colleges and universities altogether disproportionate to its value. Nor is the objection to this state of things merely negative. There is positive harm of the most serious kind in that submergence of self-assertive personality on the part of the professors which inevitably goes with it" (New York Evening Post: editorial). Here lies another vicious circle: we have so much governing to do because we rely so much on governmental machinery and so little on self-government. Yet externalism, however unsuitable and disturbing in itself, is yet more disastrous by reason of its by-products,—the distortion of purpose, the suppression of initiative, the false competitive standards that insinuate themselves in underhand and unforeseen ways, and so little of which is enough to contaminate the whole academic life. It is the common disaster that ensues when those who should lead are subservient to their following, either by force of circumstance or feebleness of principle. In the university above all should the ideals of a sturdy and righteous government be visibly expressed. Its spirit should be progressive. "It appears that the general course of social evolution is not towards competition. In the university it would probably be adverse to the finer traits of scholarship and character, most of all when, as under our present system, the competition would be for the favor of presidents and trustees" (J. McK. Cattell). Faculty incompetence and the restrictedness of academicism—much of which is superficial rather than deep-seated—is not the excuse for but largely the result of externalism and of living in the depressed atmosphere which it breeds.