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some measure this was the expression of the more restrained, if not more sober, character of American life. It is peculiarly typified in the high hats, long coats, and hirsute adornment still reflected in those photographs of earlier classes which entertain the present undergraduate.
But America changed, and her colleges with her. There arose a class of newly rich who regarded the college rather as a place to acquire social polish and position, a knowledge of the world and of society, than as essentially a means of mental discipline. And many who were neither new nor rich altered their conceptions of life and preparation for it. Take a handful of paternal expressions of what the college is supposed to do. 'I want my son,' writes one father, 'to learn how to dress and behave, and make friends of the right sort.' — 'I should like,' writes another, 'to have my son learn how to meet people and form acquaintances which will be of advantage to him in after life.' Another, still more frankly, voices what is doubtless in many minds, confessing that he wants his boy to 'join a good society, make the football team, and live like a gentleman.' — 'Education by contact,' to' know men,' to 'get the most out of his college life,' 'social training' — these are the commonest of expressions nowadays. ,
They are the natural desires of mankind. Two centuries ago, some visionary in a New Haven town-meeting suggested that more attention be given to arithmetic in the school; but 'he was speedily suffocated by a substitute measure proposed, that the youth be instructed in points of manners, there being a great fault in that respect, as some exprest.' Times change, and manners, but the desire to have youth trained in the graces, to be 'socialized'
in all senses, survives both time and change. And the college, through the student guild, has thus conformed to that desire. 'To ride a horse, shoot with the bow, keep clean, and tell the truth' — these, the oldest educational requirements, are not out of date, save as the instruments have somewhat changed. The 'friendships formed at Yale,' or Harvard, or Michigan, or Emory and Henry — are these not as enduring as the mental discipline, and of more ultimate value? And how shall these be attained? How train men in laboratory or by lectures to meet their fellows — and their fellows' sisters?
These are some of the reasons why the undergraduates have formed their guilds. They began their social education with those willing instructors common to us all, the tailor, the haberdasher, the dancing-master, the theatre, the teacher of musical instruments, and their fellow men. They played some kind of ball, and less innocuous games of chance and skill; they formed debating clubs and boarding clubs and literary societies, and mingled as they could in social events. All these are as old as universities. And in America, some time before the middle of the nineteenth century, they turned to secret societies. There they parted company with most other nations, unless we may regard the German corps and Burschenschaften as a parallel. How greatly these 'fraternities' have grown, we know. They are numbered now by scores; their members by tens of thousands. A generation since, a distinguished Bostonian boasted that he could go from coast to coast and sleep each night in a different house owned by his college society. There is at least one organization now where he might sleep each night for at least two months in a different house; and no one familiar with the college world need have attention called to the increasingly luxurious habitations which adorn so many college towns — houses so splendid that many have come to doubt the wisdom of such elements in student life.
This is but one manifestation of the student guild. For undergraduates have not been content with building dormitories where the colleges had none, or none sufficient to their needs and desires. Far more important than this matter of housing, they have developed a curriculum. Football and baseball, rowing, track and field sports, games of all kinds, indoor and outdoor, boxing and wrestling, manly exercises, they have brought in, with or without the aid of the faculty, and these they'elect' and follow with a zeal worthy of a better cause — if such there be.
Nor is their educational system purely physical or social. The guild of scholars shows how things are, or should be, or have been, done; in his system the student does them for himself. He is nothing if not concrete. The lecturer on journalism expounds his principles — and the student produces a paper. The professor of business management explains how business is, or ought to be, conducted — and the 'managers' of 'student enterprises' devote most of their waking, and not a few of what should be their sleeping hours to the conduct of their respective interests. The professor of literature directs their attention to the masterpieces of prose and verse and drama; but the student writes and acts his plays, and contributes to his own periodicals, too often far from the softening influence of the English Department. The music school may cultivate his taste and sensibilities as best it can; but he makes more or less sweet sounds for himself with his own voice, attuned to vaudeville strains, or on the latest instrument, ukulele or saxophone, as the fashions change; he frames his glee-club programmes and those of his banjo and mandolin clubs
with small regard to the canons of the academic muse.
His methods, like his means of expression, differ widely from those of the faculty. He chooses for himself, according to his tastes, or real or fancied gifts, or his ambitions, the course or courses which he will pursue — 'what he goes out for,' in his sharper phrase. There the resemblance to his intellectual training stops; for two factors enter, which have little place in modern college education as conceived in official minds. The first is competition, which has been barred from purely academic shades, where studies are no longer a major sport. In the student university competition is the rule of life. Men compete or 'try out' for every place in every activity — athletic, literary, executive, musical, even social. From Freshman to Senior, life presents one long conflict, one endless rivalry, with prizes at the end. And this great stimulus of youth, this game he plays throughout, perhaps this is one reason why these outside activities detract from interest in the formal curriculum. They offer him what youth continually desires, a chance to try its strength and skill with its fellows. And his elders might perhaps consider that 'curriculum' once related to a race rather than to something that merely goes round and round.
And more: among the wise old heads of wise old 'educators' there still rages the ancient dispute whether it is better to watch over men from day to day, or point the way to youth and let it take its course, examining from time to time to see how closely youth has followed it, with or without extraneous aid, and to what result. But in the student guild there is no such argument. Men are tested and passed or flunked continually. In athletics, indeed, there has been some attempt to introduce the machinery of higher education, to reinforce the lessons of the football coach. Some have adopted the lecture system — socalled 'blackboard talks' — to illustrate their theory and their practices. But which of them has trained a team by lectures? Who has said, 'Do thus and thus. The game comes Saturday. Go now and see how much you can improve by then.'
Or who has taught them in a mass, by hundreds at a time? Whatever may be said of mental discipline, the training of the body has not lacked for individual instruction, for intimate relation of the teacher and the taught. The student guild has not tried to carry on a retail business by wholesale methods, or abandoned quality for quantity production, handwork for machines. Nor has it judged the laborer unworthy of his hire. Knowing something of relative values in the world, it has not hesitated to secure the best. Its members long since realized that it is only men that count. What money they have had, they have paid out for men. Only just now have they begun to reach the 'stone age' in the development of their institution; and beside the great structures for their outdoor contests we begin to see here and there buildings erected to house their various interests — with which they enter on another stage of this progress.
Such is the faculty and the curriculum, the physical equipment and the informing spirit of the student university. It has long issued catalogues. If you care to know the realities of a college, spend little time on its dull, formal, unillumined list of courses and names. Take up instead the college 'annual,' under whatever title it appears. There you will find no mere announcement of intellectual interests, but a fascinating tale of college life. There you may see the pictures of student habitations; the brawny forms of athletes unadorned,
or in their panoply; the 'boards' and 'fraternities'; the teams of every sort; the orchestra, the vocal and instrumental clubs; the endless organizations in which men find their interests expressed. There is the heart and mind of the undergraduate laid bare. This is his university, which he has built for himself; the educational system which he has devised.
Two things it seems to lack: the one degrees, the other unity. Yet it has its degrees — not sheepskin documents, obscure and for most recipients untranslatable, but genuine insignia. There are true 'bachelors of letters,' as their raiment testifies; honor men of the teams, pass men of the squads, aspirants of the numerals. There are the successful seekers after social degrees, with their strange symbols of gold and precious stones. There are the winners in this great competitive scheme, adorned with tangible symbols of their prowess in a chosen field. It is no fable, that story of the man who was too busy to graduate — for he had won five 'letters' in five different sports. This is no idler's club, this guild of students. Viewing its manifold activities, we may well revise Arnold's line, 'There are our young barbarians all at work.'
And for the general organization of this great complex? By its peculiar nature it cannot be so centralized and directed as that of the scholar guild. In the mediaeval university there were 'Reformatores Studii,' with a formal code of laws, a student legislature, student courts, and a rector above all. But have we not 'student councils' pushing their young stalks through the academic mould? Is there not, in every institution, a code, written or unwritten, —a* Freshman Bible,'—of traditionary or customary law, hardening year by year into a Codex Studentium? Whatof 'disciplinary committees' of undergraduates, and 'inter-fraternity councils,' and 'honor systems,' and 'student selfgovernment'? There are already individuals who stand at the head of all; and in more than one institution there is a group, in some places formally organized and recognized, which acts as an executive council. And the system is young!
Finally, there is another element in this young vigorous organism, which the formal institution, and perhaps even the mediaeval student guild, lacks. It is the oldest of all appeals to youth — romance. Who has not felt the fascination of the secret societies, whether from within or from without, whether as friend or foe? Who has not felt the thrill of 'coming back in the fall,' to meet the old associates, to live again that ever-changing, ever-delightful life? Who has ever gone away with the team, whether as player or spectator, who has not felt the charm? The invasion of the land of the friendly enemy, the journey, the cheers and crowds, the tournament between 'their' men and 'ours,' the sense of unity in the face of the struggle and the supporters of the other side — how shall the concerns of intellect compete with this? Can lecture and laboratory ever provide such contacts with each other and with concrete realities as this? And is it any wonder that youth loves it?
To this college life the price of admission and continuance is the performance of those intellectual exercises for which colleges and universities exist. Its expenses— greater by far in many instances than the modest demands of the guild of scholars — its members pay in part from their own pockets. As in Bologna, its 'receipts are derived from entrance payments . . . from fines . . . and from the occasional presents of an alumnus'; and though they are not now 'chiefly devoted to convivial and religious purposes,' as they were then, there is ample use for them, indeed for more
than undergraduates would be likely to supply from their own resources. But the student guild has hit upon a source of revenue, — the public, — and from the outside world is drawn much of the revenue essential to the continuance of a great part of this system.
And to what end, the cynic inquires? To see men play games like, and not as well as, the professionals on whom they model themselves; to yawn through dreary imitations of the vaudeville stage, and crude, expensive parodies of poor Broadway shows; to groan through illcomposed and vapid glee-club concerts? We see the teams recruited by 'scouts' and too-enthusiastic alumni, to beat a rival, with no regard to the ethics or spirit of amateur sport, and less to the training of the mass of men. We stand aghast at revelations of the incompetence, or worse, of student managers, from whose hands we are compelled to take control of re venue and expenditure.
And why should we put up with it? Why permit men to waste their time and money — and ours — in such follies? Is it the business of the colleges to provide great public spectacles? Is this why we support the'higher education'? The thing is a sham. The colleges are nothing more than clubs, — city or country, as the case may be, — where idle youths fritter away four years to unfit them for the real business of life. Let us mend it or end it.
Moreover, adds the critic, this comparison with the mediaeval student guild is misleading and absurd. There is no argument so fallacious as the argument from analogy — especially a false analogy such as this. It is preposterous fantasy. The mediaeval students were serious men, bent on improving their minds. These things are youthful folly organized. It is ridiculous to call them a 'system of education'; and it is worse than ridiculous to dignify these 'social and athletic merry-go-rounds' by recognition as part of college work.
To some minds such answers are effective; but there are two reasons why they are not wholly conclusive. They do not prevent our halls of learning from being crowded as never before, nor do they affect the development of the student guild. Neither denial nor destruction is a policy. We lack the word to charm the genie again into the bottle. And no amount of repression, not even raising entrance requirements and stiffening courses, — though these would help some institutions which pride themselves on numbers, — will solve the problem, which, call it what you will, remains one of the great issues in our higher education. The demand of parents and undergraduates for training beyond that afforded by the faculty is not only natural: it is legitimate. There is an education not set down in books, or embodied in lectures; and purely intellectual acquirement by itself is poor preparation for this wicked world. As it stands now, this part of our collegiate system is perhaps ill done. But it is now beyond us to end it; it remains to mend.
Much has been accomplished by some faculties. Deans and sub-deans and 'student' deans, advisers and supervisors of all kinds, have done and are doing good work. Still more, the earnest and unrecognized labors of many individuals in the guild of scholars among undergraduates has borne fruit. Something has been accomplished by the students themselves. Year by year the number of societies that take an active interest in the more serious activities of their members has increased. Some have established scholarships; many have begun to supervise the studies of at least the younger men; many more have cooperated with the faculty in a variety of ways. And slowly, toilsomely, this fusion proceeds, to the advantage of both groups. The colleges themselves
are embarking on a score of activities unknown to older generations, bringing themselves in closer touch, not only with the undergraduates, but with the alumni and with the world outside.
For it is obvious that there are two things which must be done. The one is to infuse into this mass of youthful energy something of judgment and direction more than is natural to youth; to connect this vigorous, undisciplined, loosely organized development with the saner standards and the worthier ends of maturer minds, on the principle of 'old men for counsel and young men for war.' What can be done by closer cooperation is revealed in one institution by the development of a glee club which has achieved distinction in the whole world of music; in another by a school of poetry, and in another of drama, which need not hide their heads even before professionals. The second is the recognition by the undergraduates themselves of the duties and the responsibilities which their system has brought with it. They must direct this movement to better ends than material comfort, or mere pleasure, or mutual admiration, or social distinction, or organization for organization's sake, unless it is to destroy itself. The idea of 'doing something' for this institution or that, though often expressed in futile forms or running to absurdities, points the way to better things than living for one's self or for one's club alone.
In these two things — closer cooperation between the guild of scholars and the guild of students, and acceptance of the obligations of their system by the undergraduates and the alumni — seems to lie the only perceptible basis for the proper development of the future college and university. But there is a third — the recognition of this problem for what it is: an integral part, not only of the situation as it exists, but of the education of our youth in its entirety.