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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 83.djvu/359

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By Professor CHAS. W. HARGITT


THE flood of current criticism which has been directed against our educational system in general and that of higher education in particular is too obvious to call for special emphasis. While much of it has been exaggerated and some even hysterical, still there is not lacking a considerable body of really sane and timely criticism to which no true friend of advanced learning dare close the eyes. The college in particular has come in for some of the sharpest arraignment of recent years. One may discount the rather indiscriminate criticism of Mr. Crane and others of similar type, but he must face frankly, and answer with equal frankness, strictures which have come from such sources as the Carnegie Foundation, ex-President Wilson and others equally capable.

It is no part of the purpose of this paper to undertake to directly review in detail this discussion; but rather to inquire into certain conditions and methods of current educational philosophy, its ideals and aims, with the hope of directing attention to possible methods of scientific betterment.

It is charged that our educational work has failed to add to earlier literary, artistic or cultural power; that no American scholars are among the recipients of the Nobel prize; that there are no modern peers in literary distinction of Emerson, Holmes, Hale, Longfellow, Lowell, et al. These are grave charges if true. What is the answer? Is answer or explanation forthcoming? Surely it can not be said that interest in literary matters has languished, for the multiplicity of literary activity has not only not declined, but greatly increased, as expressed in the new magazines, journals and books which issue in veritable floods. But may not these facts of multiplicity of interest and activity be a sign of the very decline or failure which is charged? Granted that such may be the case; granted that such multiplicity and intricacy of intellectual life has placed an added burden upon student and literary devotee in the added necessity of larger and more varied preparation for such a career; granted that the enormous extension of scientific, historical and philosophic activity has had a disturbing effect upon the purely artistic or literary achievement, the further query arises, is this peculiar to American conditions? Is such a handicap essentially more serious to the American student than to the European? In some degree it may be so; for one finds in the German schools, for