Arthur Lefevre.

The organization and administration of a state's institutions of higher education online

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on which they are based: they are scientific institutions and their teachers
are scientific investigators. And that is just exactly the goal at which
our own best universities are aiming, and why they are beginning to in-
spire respect in foreign lands."

Professor Paulsen describes the German ideal of professorial
scholarship, and its practical consequences, as follows:

"The peculiar characteristic of the German university as a laboratory
for scientific research as well as a school of instruction in all the higher
branches of general and professional knowledge becomes at once apparent
when the internal organization of the institution is considered. Like
the English universities, it offers a broad and deep course of instruction
in the arts and sciences. This is the special province of the philosophical
faculty. Like the French facultes, it offers technical instruction for the
learned professions in that it trains the clergy, judges and higher officers
of administration, physicians, and high school teachers. But it is, in
addition, what the English and French universities are not, namely,
the most important seat of scientific work in Germany, and the nursery
of scientific investigation. According to the German idea, the university
professor is both teacher and a scientific investigator, and such emphasis


is laid upon the latter function that one ought rather to say that in
Germany the scientific investigators are also the instructors of the aca-
demic youth. . . . The important thing is not the student's prepara-
tion for a practical calling, but his introduction into scientific knowledge
and research.

"This intimate union of investigation and instruction gives the German
university its peculiar character. There are excellent scholars at Oxford
and Cambridge, but no one would speak of them as the chief representa-
tives of English scientific achievement. . . . But even the English
professors are not, in the German sense, the instructors of the students.
It is true, they deliver scientific lectures, but the real instruction is
usually left to fellows and tutors. In France, similarly, the scientific
investigators, the great scholars, belong to the Academy, to the Institut
de France. They are also, perhaps, members of the College de France,
or of the Sorbonne, and as such they deliver public lectures, which anyone
may attend. But they are not, like the German professors, the actual
daily teachers of the students. Nor is it expected, on the other hand,
that the members of the different faculties in France, especially in the
provinces, should be independent scientific investigators.

"In Germany, on the other hand, it is taken for granted that all
university professors are investigators and scholars, and that all investi-
gators and scholars are teachers in universities. It is true, there have
been prominent scholars who were not university professors, men like
Wilhelm and Alexander von Humboldt, and we find many names distin-
guished for scholarship among teachers in the German gymnasia. It is
likewise true that there are among the professors not only men who never
do any important scholarly work, but men whose sole ambition is to be
good teachers. But all these cases are exceptions. The rule is that the
professor is also a scholar. Whenever the name of a scholar is mentioned
in Germany, the question is at once asked, with what university is he con-
nected? And in case he does not occupy a chair in such an institution,
it may safely be assumed that he himself regards this fact as a slight.
Whenever, on the other hand, a professor is spoken of, the question
naturally arises, what has he written, what contribution has he made to
human knowledge?

"These conditions have an exceedingly important bearing upon our
intellectual life.

"The fact that he is always an academic teacher fixes the German
scholar's place in the life of our people. Our thinkers and investigators


not only write books for us, but are our personal instructors, men whom
we meet face to face. Men like Fichte, Schelling, Hegel, and Schleier-
macher influenced their times primarily as academic teachers; their in-
fluence as authors was not so very great. A large portion of their
writings was published after their death, from the syllabi of their lectures
or the notes taken by their pupils. Kant and Christian Wolff were like-
wise university professors. So were the great philologists, Heyne, F. A.
Wolf, G. Hermann, and Boeckh. The influence of these men was felt
especially through their personal activity as teachers; and their pupils,
who became teachers in their turn in the higher institutions of learning,
diffused the spirit and method of these men among the youth of the land.
Think of the influence which historians like Ranke and Waitz exerted
through their seminars. Call to mind our natural scientists and math-
ematicians, Gauss, Liebig, Helmholtz, Kirchoff, and Weierstrass. It may
safely be said that if the contributions of the university professors were
expunged from the history of German learning, the residue would not
be very large. It must also be added that several of our illustrious poets
Uhland and Eiickert, Burger and Schiller, Gellert and Haller were
university professors. The influence of the professor upon our legal and
political development has also been highly significant. Witness, for ex-
ample, the names of Pufendorf and Thomasius, Savigny and Feuerbach,
Niebuhr and Treitschke. And how much is implied in the fact that both
Luther and Melanchthon were university professors.

"It cannot be doubted that this condition is a fruitful one for all con-
cerned. The German youths who come into direct contact with the intel-
lectual leaders of the people at the universities thus receive their deepest
and most lasting impressions. In German biographies the years spent
at the university always play an important r6le, and it not seldom hap-
pens that the influence of a professor determines the intellectual trend
of a student's life. The relation is a pleasant and fruitful one, on the
other hand, for the scholars and investigators themselves. The constant
contact with the young enables them to prolong their own youth. The
direct, personal communication of thought in the lecture room receives
a stimulus and animation from the silent, but nevertheless appreciable
reaction of the auditor which is never felt by the solitary author. The
hearer's presence serves, moreover, to fix the teacher's attention always
upon the essential and universal. The inclination to philosophize, the
trend toward generalizations of which the German thinker is accused,


is assuredly connected with the fact that in Germany, more than anywhere
else, knowledge is directly produced for the purpose of oral instruction.

"But there is another side to this question. The pursuit of learning
according to university traditions readily displays less pleasing phases
of our intellectual life. It gives rise, for example, to a tendency to
literary overproduction, to scholasticism, to clannishness, and to a con-
tempt for those who are outside of the charmed circle. Such treatment is
bitterly resented by the outsiders and often leads them into vehement
.abuse of those who belong to the 'guild,' a practice familiar enough to
readers of Schopenhauer and Diihring. It is certainly more difficult for a
.scholar to succeed outside of university circles in Germany than in England
or France. Moreover, if intellectual work outside of the universities could
enjoy a larger measure of prosperity, it would serve as a very valuable
corrective for our distinctively academic scholarship by supplying it
with a more unbiased viewpoint for many things, as well as with a more
reliable standard of judgment. But certain difficulties grow out of this
relation for university instruction also. This is especially true with
regard to professional training, which is often neglected for the purely
academic treatment, in which the interests of research are alone kept in
view. This difficulty is felt just now by all the faculties, but more es-
pecially by those of philosophy and medicine.

"However, the German people have not, on the whole, any cause for dis-
satisfaction with the conditions described. In Germany, more than else-
where, learning is deeply cherished by the nation, and this is due entirely
to the happy circumstance that here the great men of science have always
been the personal instructors of our youth. And the universities themselves
lave every reason to desire a continuation of things as they are. The
secret of their power lies in their ability to attract and hold the leading
.spirits of the land. And so long as they can do that they will maintain
the position which they have won for themselves in the life of our
_people. . . .

"In the new empire . . . men of talent now find other paths to
-conspicuous positions open to them besides the academic career, such as
parliament, the world of commerce, the colonies. Energy that can make
itself felt finds ample room for activity and prospect of influence and profit.
But even amid these changed conditions the universities have maintained
their prominence in our national economy. They continue to be important
supporters of German unity. The constant interchange of both professors
students between the several states of the empire helps materially


to keep alive the feeling of national solidarity in the separate parts of
the realm. And it is to be hoped that the German university will always
cherish her reputation as the mainstay of German learning. That reputa-
tion will assuredly follow her so long as she remains true to her tradi-
tions and keeps alive the sincere spirit which rejoices in knowledge for the
sake of knowledge, loves the truth and is faithful to duty, thereby rising
above the sordid sense of loss or gain. . . .

"The character of the university is most clearly revealed by the
faculty of philosophy, in which research, above all else, is the con-
trolling purpose. In the other faculties the dogmatic transmission of
professional knowledge plays a greater r6le, and their exercises, such
as the clinics of the medical, the homiletics of the theological, and the
practica of the law faculties, are all, in the last analysis, technical in their
nature. The philosophical faculty, on the contrary, is purely theoretical.
Its teachers are the true exponents of scientific research and its students
are the scholars of the future. ... In the lectures and exercises there
is scarcely anything to show that the hearers are destined for any other
calling than that of the scholar. That, as a matter of fact, most of them
intend to take up teaching as a profession, scarcely comes into considera-
tion at all. The conviction prevails that the first and essential requisite
for this profession is thorough scholarship. . . . Hence the German
gymnasial teacher looks upon himself wholly as a scholar, at least at the
beginning of his career when university memories are most keenly alive
in him. And the ablest and most active teachers preserve this spirit
through life, more thoroughly than do the preachers and judges, the State
officials and physicians. These are almost entirely occupied with the prac-
tical demands of their profession, but the gymnasial teacher remains a
scholar also in his profession.

"And so it must, by all means, continue, if our gymnasia, our philo-
sophical faculties, and even our universities, are to remain what they
are. If the gymnasial teacher should cease to be a scholar and become
simply a professional teacher, the philosophical faculty would likewise
gradually degenerate into a mere professional school. And when this
faculty ceases to be a nursery of pure science, the character of the
entire university will undergo a change. . . . It is not only by chance
that the learned Academies are throughout Germany a kind of appendage
to a philosophical faculty. And it also seems worthy of remark that the
great universities of the United States, which were patterned after the


German universities, are really indentical with the philosophical faculties
of the latter.

"I must not fail to call attention to the fact that of recent years
a counter-current to this development, an under-current of hostility to
the scientific activity of our universities, has made itself felt in many
ways. Something like disappointment is perceptible because scientific re-
search does not seem to redeem its promise to supply a complete and
certain theory of the universe and a practical world-wisdom grounded in
the very necessity of thought. ... A new generation, as distrustful
of reason as the former had befen of faith, turned to science with expec-
tation that exact research would place us upon a sure footing and supply
us with a true theory of the world. But that science cannot do. It is
becoming more and more evident that it does not realize such an all-
comprehensive world-view that will satisfy both feeling and imagination.
It only discovers thousands of fragmentary facts, some of them tolerably
certain, especially in the natural sciences, which at least supply a basis
for practice; some of them forever doubtful, forever capable of revision,
as in the historical sciences. The result is a feeling of disappointment.
Science does not satisfy the hunger for knowledge, nor does it supply the
demand for personal culture. . . . Such disappointment is widespread.
The chief bond uniting the followers of Nietzsche is after all this unbelief
in science; periods of doubt are always the easiest prey of charlatans.
But a feeling of resignation from time to time takes possession even of
scientific circles, as may be seen from the concluding remarks of Harnack's
Geschichte der Berliner Akademie. Is it, as a few think, the premonitory
symptom of the bankruptcy of science, its abdication in favor of faith?
Or is it rather a natural demand for ideas, the long suppressed demand
for philosophy that is coming to life again, but is not yet quite sure of
its path and goal?"

To reach the goal set for this chapter I must attempt to make
at least an approximate statement of a general ideal of education
as a result, such as ought to dominate and direct all efforts in
education as a process. This is no vague or unpractical inquiry.
It will depend upon some such ideal whether we squander effort in
vain pursuits or exert it wisely and effectively. From the same
stone may be built a house of kindness or a fortress of greed : it
depends upon the idea of the building. So the same life may


grow to harmful perversity or to beneficent power: it depends
upon the idea of the man. The significant compelling thing is the
ideal. The ideal will fashion the vessel for strength or for weak-
ness, for profit or harm, for honor or for dishonor. This fact is at
once the hope and the despair of all enlightened educational en-
deavor. It is the hope, because true ideals are potent to triumph
at last over obstacles; it is the despair, because false ideals seem
to have an almost equal potency.

All have heard complaints and doubts about the value of what
the speakers call education. Such strictures upon many processes
offered by teaching institutions as "educational" would be justi-
fied, but they are totally mistaken when applied to genuine educa-
tion. When education is dallied with or sought in mistaken ways
it is costly and troublesome, and there will be many who do not
believe in it and others who wish they did not, and could get rid
of the bother of it. But those who perceive the true nature of
education never ask what it costs, never harbor a doubt about it.
They condemn false imitations, but support all measures promo-
tive of genuine results. They understand that education aims
at intelligent sympathy with every human activity, and in its
ultimate effects includes those elements which may be designated
by the terms character and piety. They know, also, that the high
and true aim in education is the practical and efficient one, simply
because material utilities are included. Does it make one's skill
in any matter less marketable because he sees that enlightened char-
acter and inner power and freedom constitute in themselves a still
better reward for his studies than the wages they enable him to

One of Ruskin's incisive observations will serve to lead on to
what I wish to say:

"It happens that I have some connection with schools for different
classes of youth, and I receive many letters from parents respecting
the education of their children. In the mass of those letters, I am always


struck by the precedence which the idea of a 'position in life' takes above
all other thoughts in the parents' more especially in the mothers'
minds. They never seek, as far as I can make out, an education good in
itself, but an education which shall lead to 'advancement in life.' It never
seems to occur to the parents that there may be an education which in
itself is advancement in life, and that any other than that may perhaps
be advancement in death; and that this essential education might be more
easily got or given than they fancy, if they set about it in the right way;
while it is for no price and by no favor to be got if they set about it in
the wrong."

What then is the ideal of true education? Neither knowledge
nor yet mental discipline is education. The value of knowledge and
mental discipline as such is indeed beyond computation, hut they
are not education which is priceless. They are the material ; edu-
cation is the architecture. Plain stuff may be edified in beauty
or in ugliness, and costliest material may be piled up in unsight-
liness or in glory, and whether shall be the fact, lies, within certain
limits, not is the nature nor in the amount of the material at all.
Even so are knowledge and mental discipline related to education.
The profounder and ampler the knowledge, the fuller and sub-
tler the education that may issue from it. Yet the anti-type of
education, more antagonistic to it than rude ignorance, may equally
be yielded. This is what Ruskin means when he says, "this essen-
tial education might be more easily got or given than they fancy
if they set about it in the right way, while it is for no price and by
no favor to be got, if they set about it in the wrong." Hence
institutions for teaching may be, according to the spirit that pre-
vails in them, educational institutions, or, traitor-like, the deadliest
foes of education. It discloses little, therefore, as to the educa-
tional status of a place or of a country to enumerate its teaching
institutions, or even to show their success in imparting much and
accurate knowledge. After we have satisfied ourselves upon these
points, we have but passed the marches of inquiry. Before any
teaching may be rightly called educational it must be ascertained


not only that accurate knowledge results, but also that the student
is being put on the way of education put on the way of education,
for it is a process that lasts as long as life lasts.

What, then, is the touchstone that tests the educated man from
the merely taught man, he he ever so learned ? For I have known
men so erudite, and so skilled in the manipulations of special fields
of experimental sciences, that in their narrow ranges they spoke
with authority, who were none the less plainly and hopelessly
uneducated men. Let us see if the ideal I am striving to define
cannot be so presented that it will be recognized as a truth that
each one has ever dimly discerned. I know it came to me in this
manner more than twenty years ago from one whose voice un-
timely hushed in death spoke powerfully for a brief season in a
university, in which, after twenty years, his influence is vet cher-
ished by a few, and is being handed on amid new antagonistic con-
ditions created by subsequent authorities who have been ignorant
or thoughtless of the essential things. There still rings in my
own memory an inspiring discourse by that extraordinary man,
which, unfortunately, was never published or preserved in writing.
Some of his very words, however, are here echoed, and the lumi-
nous truth of his thesis could not be forgotten by a competent

I believe if any one will reflect upon what characteristic he
deems most directly antagonistic to that of being educated, he
would say narrowness. Ignorance expresses deficiency, not antago-
nism. From this point the truth may be leaped to at once : edu-
cation is intelligent sympathy with all branches of human activity.
To be intelligently sympathetic with every sort of activity of
human head and heart and hand is to be educated. Both the
intelligence and the sympathy must coexist, neither blind sympa-
thy nor unsympathetic knowledge yield education, but the indissol-
uble wedlock of sympathy and knowledge. Looking, for illustra-
tion, to the products of the higher learning, if a university habitu-


ally sends forth entomologists that revile palaeography, or archaeol-
ogists despising histology ; if generally among its alumni Euripides
looks askance at Newton and Lavoisier thrusts out his tongue at
Bopp, however great as a place of teaching, such a university is a
deeducational institution. The same criterion may be applied all
the way from the most advanced research in a university to the
ABC class in a primary school. Does the teaching tend to make
the master in one field chilled in appreciation and dimmed and
blurred in his vision of others ; does it tend to persuade the bacca-
laureate that the subject whence his particular course has radiated
is the radiant point of human knowledge; with lad or maiden
for whom a summer's day brings down the curtain on the last
act of high school life; with the little fellow just struggling
through a syllabilized reader, does it tend to dry up the fountains
of their sympathy and turn aside the waters of their understanding
from all save certain regions? then, I say, such university or
college or high school or primary school is the antipodes of an
educational institution. The great word of the Roman play-
wright though with deeper meaning than that with which he
charged it furnishes the criterion: "I am a man and nothing
human is strange to me."

Moreover, it is of primary importance that every teacher should
inculcate by the silent influence of a broad and lofty outlook the
fundamental moral principle that fixes the prerequisite condition
upon which any high purpose may be attained, namely, that it
must be sought honestly. It is impossible to filch this guerdon of
a well-aimed and well-spent life. For instance, no man can be-
come educated so long as he has in mind and heart only the money
that educated men are able to earn. Think a moment how many
are doomed to failure by this immutable moral law. A man
might as well seek to win the joys and mighty support of friend-
ship with any selfish or ulterior purpose in his choice of friends.
Such a man is eternally forbidden from even discovering what


true friendship means. It is thus with all high things, seek
them with a pure heart, and many others things will be added to
us; seek them with a base purpose, and we are necessarily ex-


In this chapter we come to the crux of our entire subject as it
is viewed by a much disturbed and solicitous public opinion. Both
lay and professional critics commonly discuss the college curricu-
lum by complaining against subjects of study as here or there
required or permitted, and offer by way of remedy some different
prescription for nominal studies which, in the individual's opinion,
would be better suited to "preparation for life." They desire to
enforce their opinions by regulations enacted in the same spirit
and manner that have led to the existing conditions. I shall con-
sider the administration of the curriculum in an entirely different
way. If I imagined that I knew what the curriculum of the
American college ought to be, I would not wish to see my opinion
enforced by law. It is, however, perfectly evident that nobody
knows what the college curriculum ought to be, for the very
sufficient reason that it ought to be variable.

Existing College Curricula

It would be profitless to exhibit in these pages the incessantly
shifting maze of arbitrary facts presented in the requirements for

Online LibraryArthur LefevreThe organization and administration of a state's institutions of higher education → online text (page 29 of 49)