Page images

valleys'; and he replied, 'All those were there five hundred years ago, but the United States was not there.' The United States, then, is a living human organism, and between great organisms of this sort is a higher form of competition, struggle for existence and survival of the fittest, than Darwin found among the lower animals.

Now the main element of these super-persons to which I wish to call your attention is that their lifetime far transcends the lifetime of the individuals composing them: for example, a nation lasts many hundreds of years. Therefore the interests of the nation cannot be the same as the interests of the individual, for the nation must look to needs of its later life which the individual cannot see or recognize. In order, then, to make the nation efficient, the individuals must and do feel within themselves instincts which deal with the larger and more distant interests. The same is true when we consider the whole human race; its best interests combine the best interests of all the nations and peoples, and deal with distant futures too far and too big for the individual to see or recognize, but he must and does feel within himself certain instincts which do deal with them. Such instincts dealing with futures out of reach are the religious instincts, the very wishes of God Himself touching the human heart; and this is the scientific approach to religion.

To many this scientific demonstration that religions must exist is the modern Holy Grail, and we observe that it is found in this science of evolution, which is conscientiously opposed by many people of to-day who cannot yet see the depth of time in past and future and the method by which Nature carries on her processes.

Evolution, then, is inspiring progress in the human mind, for we are developing a method of measuring human futures out of reach, just as the Greeks invented geometry to measure the distance of material objects out of reach and gave us our universe. So evolution, if I mistake not, is going to be one of God's chief instruments in developing our knowledge of a coming spiritual and religious universe, the Future of Humanity.

In this approach to religion, with a little tolerance on each side, we find a complete identity between science and religion. What a wonderful future to look forward to; and it is surely coming and not far off.

So these two great sciences have helped the human mind to grow. Astronomy has given us a perspective of space and measured its depth; evolution gives us a perspective of time and measures its duration. Astronomy has pushed Heaven in its religious sense farther and farther away until we make the discovery that Heaven and God are not far off among the stars at all, but right here among us and in us; and evolution pushes the day of beginning farther and farther back and the day of ending farther and farther in the future until we find both beginning and ending — that is, evolution itself - going on now as God's method of creation, continuous and ever present. Astronomy showed us that mere space is not a religious matter; evolution has the same work to do to-day in showing us that time of itself is not a religious matter. Together these two sciences supply the greatest inspiration we possess in expanding our ideas of space and in compelling us to fill a part at least of endless time with definite life and progress.



BLESSED be God who made such pretty birches,
And spent such gold in dandelions' crowns.

He made small swallows flying o'er great churches,
Made little fish that gaze from streams at towns.

He made great woods to give the small birds perches,
Made the green meads to give the crickets gowns.
He made the snail. He made the crab which lurches
Sideways to port, made cockleshells, made clowns.

Blessed be God, so sweet, so near is He.

He made the old man's sunlight, made this hour.
Made stars for roof tops. O what courtesy!

"T was He who dreamed the honeysuckle flower.
He gave the mole a labyrinth. He gave

The beach grass the embroidery of the wave.



EDUCATION Suffers in America from confusion of purposes. Justified a hundredfold in our faith in schooling as an instrument of democracy, we have cared more for the spread of education than for its fitness for specific ends. We have been interested in quantity rather than quality. For the most part out public enthusiasm for education has been uncritical, and the actual arrange ment of subjects in our school programmes has been largely the result of tradition, harried here and there by the raw winds of pedagogical theory. Not even in vocational schools do we know exactly what we want, to say nothing of the more difficult question of how to get it. In liberal education we are so far from clarity and agreement as to the ends to be served and the means to be used that the situation, in spite of a certain fixity, is little better than chaotic. Our professional students of education have been devoting their energies, perhaps inevitably, to the development of techniques for a scientific attack on the problems of the curriculum, and it is only within the last few years that the light of penetrating analysis has been turned on to one of the most important problems in our whole educational undertaking the problem of what to teach in our secondary schools. So far we have made small headway, and tradition remains generally undisturbed. College requirements have kept Latin enthroned and protected, but nearly


futile as a means of education. Mathematics has been struggling with some success to find its most fruitful form. Modern languages are just beginning to mean something in favored spots; history and science have been stifled; English drags; and such subjects as home economics and other forms of practical arts have had no freedom to find their place and proper goals. The root of the difficulty lies in the relationship between the secondary schools and the colleges; it is that relationship with which this article is finally concerned.

Our confusion as to purposes is one of the reasons for the lack of a coherent system of schools in this country. There is no discernible consistency in the multiplicity of our educational units and their endless variations. Sixyear elementary schools stand alongside eight-year and seven-year elementary schools. We have three-year and two-year junior high schools, or no junior high schools, together with proposals for the four-year junior high school. We have 'regular' four-year high schools and senior high schools of three years. The junior college, a two-year unit beyond the senior high school, has been added in a rapidly increasing number of cities, chiefly in the West, and without exact definition of its functions. The traditional fouryear college is matched by new collegiate units of two years, three years, and six years. The variations in vocational secondary schools, vocational

colleges, and graduate and professional schools, and their requirements and connections, form an intricate educational tangle. Endowed and preparatory schools constitute a completely disassociated system, internally somewhat more coherent, but hidebound by college requirements and by a purely external imitation of the great public schools of England, with their 'forms' and the fashions of their school life. In general, the organization of our schools, whether public or private, offers no testimony that we have translated into a definite scheme of schooling any clear and progressive philosophy of the social consequences of education. Our schools form a maze, a labyrinth, with any number of entry points and exits. Our procedure lacks not only simplicity but integrity. It is a sprawling, spineless profusion of educational 'opportunities.'

With this condition of things we might be measurably content if only the spawning liberality of our provision for schooling had led to any new vitality or effectiveness of teaching. But no one can speak with pride of the quality of our product. It is as if we were trying to turn out an enormous quantity of goods, roughly finished in an indistinguishable pattern. What our students learn in school they do not learn well, and they are very far indeed from the point at which learning is transmitted into understanding. They acquire no mastery of subjects as means for the interpretation of life. Their history does not enable them to view the present broadly in the light of the past, nor does their science enable them to see facts as the outward expression of laws. They develop no general criteria of taste or principles of criticism, no standards of judgment, no grasp of methods. They come to college 'prepared,' but with hardly the beginnings of an education. Contrasted

with the students in English and Continental secondary schools, they must be rated, age for age, markedly inferior. In certain measure and in their own way the schoolmasters of England, France, and Germany seek the integration of what they teach into a coherent, flexible, and broadly applicable system of facts and conceptions; they expect their efforts to result in the development of cultivated intelligence. Because they do expect such results, they teach thoroughly, for it is clear that knowledge cannot be used before it is possessed. American teachers seem to entertain no such vaulting ambition. Our general attitude gives tacit assent to the view that no one needs to know anything very thoroughly unless he is going to be a teacher, with the consequence that thorough knowledge is uncommon, even among teachers. College professors, to be sure, are expected to know their subjects, although even that expectation has been weakened by the tendency to accept credentials and degrees as prima facie evidence of knowledge. School-teaching remains a craft, or even merely a job, often a temporary job.

So far as we aim at thoroughness at all, it is the superficial thoroughness of circumnavigation. Even our college graduates too often secure only a series of passing views of the islands of knowledge, including a view from the air. Their paper records may be complete, beginning with an orientation course and ending with a couple of seminaries or courses of research, but only in a few institutions is there vigorous effort to find out at the last whether or not students have really possessed themselves of a field of knowledge and learned to think in terms of its facts and principles. Our colleges, and indeed our graduate schools, suffer from the disease that

keeps our secondary schools per manently enfeebled - 'credititis,' the itch for credits, points, units, and semester hours. We are in the midst of a generation of students and teachers obsessed with the notion that organiza tion counts more than the actual out come of the educative process in the intellectual and spiritual condition of the pupil. Educationally we are a nation of credit hunters and degree worshipers. Even our graduate students, preparing to teach, talk of how many semester hours they have 'taken' with Dr. X or Dr. Y. To have had, work' with Dr. So-and-so, to say 'I had his work last semester,' is offered as a substitute for knowledge of the subject and independent views as to its issues. Everywhere the emphasis is on machinery and bookkeeping. Standardization has laid a deadening hand upon us. There is much attention to processes and little assessment of results.


This picture of American education is undoubtedly discouraging and may seem one-sided and unfair; but when one starts to examine our educational procedure from the standpoint of its consistent bearing on clearly defined and widely accepted aims, it is difficult to find much that will support a more optimistic view. No doubt I have massed the colors to make a sharp impression. There are bright exceptions that might be noted in a more detailed analysis and values that would appear if the picture drew upon a fuller palette. To paint our education in terms of expenditure, buildings, numbers of students, ingenuity in method, provision of textbooks and facilities, earnestness of effort, administrative elaboration, and business efficiency, or faith in the entire process, would yield a different and a more inspiring canvas.

But the time has come to question our schooling as to its actual results. What of the outcome, considered in relation to the time, energy, and money expended on the process? This is the inquiry which seems to me most to merit our present attention, and in these terms the account I have here presented is neither unfaithful nor misleading.

We have many requirements, and we put thousands of young people through the mill; it is high time that we began to examine the final product with a closer scrutiny. This is especially true of college preparatory work. When we ask how much the students who are working under the influence of college entrance requirements know of the subjects we force them to study, or, more pertinently still, how much we expect them to know and what use we expect them to make of their knowledge, our procedure offers no satisfactory answer. We are not clear as to our aims. We have compromised, relaxed requirements here and there, clung to certain traditions, insisted on a little mathematics or an elementary knowledge of a second modern language or a certain amount of laboratory work in science; but seldom have we carried through and applied in our colleges or schools a searching inquiry into educational values. Our discussions tend to degenerate into academic logrolling. The weighting of a subject for admission credit or the maintenance of a specific requirement for graduation becomes a political storm centre in a college faculty or an association of school and college teachers, much as does the duty on a given product in a new tariff measure in the national Congress. We avoid fundamental educational discussion. Great college presidents carry out educational reforms that deeply affect the whole educational programme, and educa- ! tional theorists establish movements

« PreviousContinue »