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would rejoice in Dr. Ettinger's reëlection, but in spite of this there is a grave danger that the Board of Education will put in Dr. Ettinger's place an official who will be subservient to the political demand that Dr. Ettinger has refused to comply with. This is a dark outlook for the New York city schools. It is unfortunate that no legislation can be put through the present Legislature for the protection of the New York city schools. There has probably never been a time when the New York city schools have suffered so much from low politics as they have in the last few years. The defeat of Dr. Ettinger will mean a more rapid disintegration of the entire school system than ever. The entire state will await with interest the outcome of the election of a New York city superintendent. Several times in the last few years this journal has called attention to the harm that is being wrought by politics in the administration of the New York city schools. Failure to reëlect Dr. Ettinger will prove a sad disappointment to educational people everywhere. The greatest city in the United States should have an administration of its schools free from the devastating politics now dominating New York city, and it is to be hoped that the Board of Education will refuse to subject the schools of that city for the next six years to the harm that will come from the selection of a superintendent ready to carry out the orders emanating from the city hall.
Suggestions for Parents On Thursday evening, January 3, 1924, station WIP broadcasted the following important message from Dr. Edwin C. Broome, superintendent of schools, Philadelphia, to the parents of the children in the public schools:
Dear Friends: You are all anxious to have your children succeed in school. School work is the most important business of the children in your care. Careful home training, good health, religious instruction, and a thorough education are the best insurance for the future success and happiness of your children. Be sure that they have all these at whatever sacrifice. The progress of your children in school will be greatly aided, 1. If you will insist upon punctuality and regularity at school, and give no excuses, except for the most urgent reasons. 2. If you will read carefully all notices and reports from school, and through the principal and teacher keep in touch with the work of your children. 3. If you will encourage your children to strengthen their weak points as revealed by their report cards. 4. If you will insist that the older children, who have assignments of homework, set aside a definite period for study each day. 5. If you will lend your coöperation in the care of school books and other school property entrusted to your children. 6. If you will withhold judgment regarding reports of happenings at school, until you have heard both sides; and then never criticize the teacher in the presence of the children. 7. If you will insist upon obedience at home, and respect for parents, elders, teachers, and all officers of the law. 8. If you will know the character of the companions of your children and ascertain the nature of the entertainments which your children attend before permitting them to attend. 9. If you will arrange regular home duties, or “chores,” for your children so that they may acquire habits of work, ideas of service for others, and a sense of responsibility. Education is continually modifying its practice. The changes that have occurred in the elementary and secondary fields in the lifetime of many of those present have been revolutionary. A teacher of a generation ago would find himself, if he should suddenly return, hopelessly uninformed and bewildered by the vast amount of new knowledge that has been accumulated, the new methods that have been introduced, and the new practices that have been adopted. All this, of course, is as it should be. The schools cannot be expected to stand still. They could not, if they wanted to, for they are society's most sensitive agent for carrying out its plans. Social progress is always reflected in them sooner or later.
Higher Education: New Administrative Adjustments
By LOTUS D. COFFMAN, President, University of Minnesota
Higher education has not been static; it, too, has changed, but not so much so as the schools below. And there is a reason for this. Institutions of higher learning have been less sensitive to public opinion than have the elementary and secondary schools. They have stood more aloof and have been more instrumental in determining their policies and programs than have the lower schools. They have maintained, and frequently with some show of vigor, that they know better what society needs and wants in the way of higher education than society itself knows. But no institution is entirely self-sufficient; no institution can entirely disassociate itself from the developing and expanding of the times. Universities dimly and uncertainly at first, but recently more consciously, have felt the stirrings of new life, and of new tendencies. Some of the proponents of the traditional con
ceptions of the purposes for which universities have been established and maintained—those who have regarded themselves as the custodians of scholarship—with the first appearances of these new tendencies, fearful that change meant lowered scholarship, buckled on their armor anew for the fight to preserve their cherished programs without change. Their activity has not been without its value, but it has not possessed sufficient power and strength to prevent some progress or shall I say change from being made.
What is responsible for changes in the field of higher education to which I allude? Several things. One is the insinuation of the scientific spirit into all fields of learning. Another is the new emphasis placed by psychology upon a knowledge of individual differences. Another is the discovery that society is still differentiating into new occupations and professions, and that the pressure for instruction in these fields is growing more impelling. A fourth reason is the growth in registration in colleges and universities. With the impact of these forces and sanctions following the war university authorities began to take an inventory of aims, programs of instruction, standards of work and administrative practices.
The discussion, which has not yet ended, and perhaps never will, soon developed two opposing points of view, one the academic point of view, which insists upon a limitation of registration in the interest of the gifted, and the other the public point of view which insists that the humblest person who meets the entrance requirements of the higher institutions of learning as they now exist, is entitled to his chance at higher education. One, in other words, would admit only the mentally elect; while the other, influenced no doubt by the American conception of equality of opportunity, maintains that those with the requisite preparation are entitled to their chance. The lines of demarcation between these two points of view are perfectly clear. Never before has there been any serious discord among those in higher education with reference to the number of students that should be admitted. It has only been a few years since they went out in the highways and byways to persuade students to come to college. The most lurid advertisements were used and the most preposterous claims of the value of a college education were made. Now all this is changed. A few presidents and individual members of many faculties, have sounded a new slogan—it is that too many students are going to college. No evidence is deduced that a college education is any more inimical to public welfare now than it ever was. It is claimed that many of those now entering college are mentally incapable of doing satisfactory college work and that it is better to educate a few gifted persons than to attempt to provide a college education for great masses of mediocre young men and young women. It is without doubt true that we have more mentally incapable students in college now than ever before, but there does not seem to be any conclusive evidence to show, at least thus far I have been unable to find it, that the percentage of mentally incapable students in college to-day is any greater than it ever was. Whether or not the time has come when those who do not possess superior gifts may be privileged to go to college is a question of great social significance.
That they have always gone is generally admitted. There are thousands of college graduates in this country who know that they were not endowed with unusual talent or superior ability. They had good ability and they succeeded because they were willing to work. There is not a college president in America who could not name members of his faculty who possess no unusual ability. A distinguished member of a distinguished private eastern university is reported to have said recently in conversation with one of his colleagues, “With the rules for entrance as high as they are, it is a good thing we are on the faculty rather than applying for entrance, for we could not get in.” “I might have gotten in,” he continued, “but I could never have got out.” It is conceivable, of course, that the academic world is undervaluing and overlooking the possibilities of the socalled mediocre person. The average citizen, whether he be right or wrong, still thinks so. He believes that intellectual progress and moral development are within the compass of higher education and possible for his own children. Which of these points of view shall prevail still seems to be a matter of opinion. It is my candid opinion, in case existing institutions do not cheerfully and willingly make provision for an increasing number of college students, that other colleges and institutions of higher learning will arise to meet the need. It seems doubtful to me whether those who desire to limit the present college facilities to the number of students they maintain their facilities may accommodate will receive the permanent approval of the public. The opinion still prevails, indeed it inheres in the American conception of the constitution of democratic society, that every child is entitled to a fair opportunity from the kindergarten to the university. The debate as to the functions of universities and particularly of state universities in providing educational facilities for the average man, may grow more serious, but the popular conception of the functions of the state university that it is a part of the public school system and therefore has a definite public obligation to perform, will not be easily put aside. For years now the staffs of state institutions have encouraged the youth of the state to believe that attendance at the university was their great opportunity and the youth have accepted these statements at their face value. They have come in response to an urgent appeal, and I dare say that the public will insist upon the obligation implied in this appeal being fulfilled. With reference to the question of competency of the college students of today, President Thompson of Ohio State University in his Founders’ Day address at Cornell in 1923, said, “Is it true that too many of our youth are attempting higher education ? Is it true that a considerable percentage of these young people are incompetent? The universities appear to think so, but let me assure you that the parents do not agree with us on that issue. They respond by directing attention to the fact that many teachers in our universities are less experienced than the high school teachers. They insist that inferior teaching may account for results as definitely as stupid students. They tell us that not all the responsibility is upon the student and cannot be charged to heredity. They ask that we test our processes of education as carefully as we read our examination papers. We are told that many teachers are little more than advanced students not yet parents. The fathers and mothers are inquiring why these undeveloped teachers are so infallible in their judgments as to the fitness of students to win degrees or
escape the follies of the freshman year. Public sentiment proposes to make clear the responsibility of the teacher. It is obvious that we cannot escape by way of the Binet test unless it is applied all around. We cannot correct the evils due to excessive enrollment by protesting that our students are inferior. Some other method awaits our discovery.” Various schemes have already been tried to limit registration for the protection of society. One method tried by the professional schools has been to lengthen their courses. It has seldom been admitted that this is a reason for the lengthening of professional courses, but it is nevertheless true. There is nothing to show that the lengthening of the courses has in the long run reduced the number of students or that society has been any better protected from the quack, the shyster or the fake than before. “There is no way by which society may be protected against the evils of sophistry and of the appeal to passion except by the influence of thoughtful, educated men. There is no institution that so prepares men and women for this service as does the college and university. The social responsibility, therefore, of the college or the university must not be overlooked in our zeal in the pursuit of academic ideals.” The lengthening of the various professional programs of education may be both necessary and desirable for other reasons than that of eliminating students. If the reasons are based upon sound educational theory, if the service which society has a right to expect of the professions requires additional preparation, and if the economic rewards are such as to justify it, then there is no reason why more training should not be required of those expecting to enter the professions. In other words, the lengthening or the shortening of curricula should not be determined by the growth in registration or by a desire to attain increased academic respectability but because of more fundamental considerations. Other internal administrative changes in the field of higher education quite as significant and as far reaching are under consideration and have actually been initiated. For example, laboratories once built to accommodate a few students are now constructed to accommodate hundreds of students at one time. Lecture courses with quiz sections now provide for large numbers of students at much less expense than formerly. Whether these changes which apparently have been forced by necessity have resulted in decreased educational efficiency, is still an open question. The optimum size of classes for college students is a problem deserving careful study. The opinion has prevailed for many years that classes of fifteen or twenty, certainly not more than thirty, give the best results, but there is no concrete scientific evidence to support this opinion. Studies of the influence of the size of class upon attainment in the public schools have apparently revealed the very interesting fact that the size of class furnishes no index of the probable achievement of students. One critical student of educational administration in discussing this matter recently said that instead of spending so much time in attempting to determine
The result is that universities have faced the danger -of graduating their students with “split and partial minds, students whose intellectual attitudes are undisciplined and extemporaneous”. A sound, systematic, thoroughgoing education is really being denied many students, not through any fault of theirs but rather because of the natural expansion of subjects and the accumulation and organization of knowledge by ambitious scholars. This splitting of the materials of education into a multiplicity of subjects results, among other things, in an overemphasis upon certain rather highly specialized materials in a given field, leaving the student with a fragmentary and illy-proportioned conception of every field. It has also been attended by another evil or danger quite as unfortunate. Accompanying the separation of fragments of knowledge into compartments comparatively isolated, there has grown up or been evolved by ingenious faculties a vast array of regulations, rules and devices for the improvement and recording of the scholastic standing of students. Students not fully realizing or appreciating the subtle connection between artificial systems of grading and the acquisition of an education, but recognizing fully that graduation depends upon conformity to the rules, have become seekers after credits and thinkers in terms of hours,’ semesters’ and years’ work, with the result that thoroughness of scholarship is in danger of being neglected. Two things are happening, however, which should be wholesome correctives for this situation in so far as it applies to freshmen. One is a reorganization of the materials of instruction for freshmen. Columbia has really been the leader in this movement. Its course in contemporary civilization has served as a stimulus and a model for other uni