William Rainey Harper.

The trend in higher education online

. (page 1 of 24)
Online LibraryWilliam Rainey HarperThe trend in higher education → online text (page 1 of 24)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook





Oh TKt \









J, ^/^^

March, 1905













There need be no hesitation in saying that in
the present times there is a trend in higher educa-
tion. Nor is it difficult to point out some of the
more conspicuous elements which characterize the
movement that is taking place before our eyes.
The philosophy of it is something more difficult to
formulate. Indeed, such formulation cannot be ex-
pected for a long time. Meanwhile it only remains
to study the various features which, from time to
time, present themselves, and to indicate their in-
dividual significance.

If a unity of purpose exists in the several papers
collected in this volume, it will be found in the effort
made to point out this trend in some of the higher
educational movements of the day. I have not
undertaken to note all of these features, nor, indeed,
any considerable number of them, for the field is
illimitable. Nor have I proposed to classify these
elements as a basis for generalization. Some such
work as this may be undertaken later. I have tried
only to make a record of observations here and there
which may perhaps contribute something to a pre-
view of the tendency of things in this great field of
intellectual activity.

Without waiting for a technical formulation of
the significance of these facts, it is clear that every-


thing points in one direction, namely, toward the
growing democratization of higher educational work.
In this respect a comparison of the situation today
with that of one or two centuries ago reveals differ-
ences so great that one is at a loss to explain them
on the basis of evolution. It would almost seem at
the first glance that a complete revolution had taken
place; but a closer study of the facts convinces one
that here as everywhere change has come step by
step, and that it will go on step by step. Moreover,
one cannot imagine that a time will ever come when
these forward steps will cease to be taken. Changes
are taking place today which could not have been
dreamed of fifty years ago, and the question may
be seriously raised whether in all this we are not
moving at too rapid a pace. It surely can neither
be expected nor desired that we should always move
at the present rapid rate of speed.

It is not without a considerable feeling of dis-
trust in the value of these papers that I bring them
together into a volume and offer them as a contribu-
tion in a small way toward a statement of the edu-
cational questions current in our day. I have done
so only because some seemed to receive help from
them at the time they were originally presented;
and because it appeared to me that, placed together,
they might serve as a notebook in the great educa-
tional laboratory of which all such effort forms a
part. It is only by noting down here and there our
observations and impressions, and by putting these


in a form in which they may be compared with the
observations and impressions of others that we may
really make progress. If even a small service shall
have been rendered, the result will have justified the
effort made.

I am under obligations to The Century Company
for permission to repubhsh the article "Alleged
Luxury among College Students;'' to Messrs.
Harper & Brothers for permission to use the articles
first published in their various magazines {The
North American Review, etc.), on ** Coeducation,"
"University Training for a Business Career,"
"Higher Education in the West," and "Should
Athletics be Endowed ? " to The Curtis PubHshing
Company for permission to use the article "The
Business Management of a University;" to John
Brisben Walker for permission to use the article
"The University and Democracy;" and to The
World To-Day Company for permission to use the
articles "Are School-Teachers -Underpaid?" and
" Why Are There Fewer Students for the Ministry ? "
William Rainey Harper.

February 22, 1905.





' J

The University and Democracy i \y /


^ Some Present Tendencies of Popular Education 35


The University and Religious Education ... 55

"^ Waste in Higher Education 78 ^^


^ The Old and the New in Education .... 118 N.


"^ Dependence of the West upon the East . . . 135

^ Higher Education in the West 140

^The Contribution of Johns Hopkins 151


The Urban University 156'


The Business Side of a University 161

! XI

Are School-Teachers Underpaid? 186





Why Are There Fewer Students for the Min-
istry? 195 1


The Theological Seminary in its Civic Relation- '

SHIP 207


Shall the Theological Curriculum be Modified,

and How? 234


University Training for a Business Career . . 268 *^


Shall College Athletics be Endowed? .... 276


Latin versus Science 285

Coeducation 294


Alleged Luxury among College Students . . . 312


The Scientific Study of the Student . . . . 317


The College Officer and the College Student 327

/ The Length of the College Course • ... 338

The Situation of the Small College .... 349



OF _ /


If education and government sustain relation-
ship each to the other, the highest in education must
have to do with the highest in government. If
national enlightenment contributes to a better and
higher national life, the state's chief agent for its
proper guidance must be a potent factor in its public
life. If humanity, in its slow and tortuous progress
toward a higher civilization, counts as its ally a
power by which, one by one, the problems of that
civiHzation are resolved, humanity and this allied
power must in due time come to have interests and
aspirations which bind them irrevocably together.
On the one hand, the University is an institution
of the government, the guide of the people, and an
ally of humanity in its struggle for advancement;
and on the other. Democracy is the highest ideal of
human achievement, the only possibility of a true
national life, the glorious and golden sun lighting
up the dark places of all the world.

The word "university" does not suggest the same
idea to everyone who hears or speaks it. Some-
times it stands for "college," and rightly so; for
the college, like the university (I give the usual
dictionary definition), is "an association of men

I Charter Day address, 1899, at the University of California.
Copyright, 1899, by John Brisben Walker.


for th^ purpose of study." Sometimes it means
everytlidji'g, ''Sometimes nothing. But whatever else
itmay:or:n;^y"not suggest, we may not overlook the
peculiar circumstances in connection with which it
had its origin.

The sixth century A. D. witnessed the destruc-
tion of the Roman schools, which had represented
the older, pagan education. By the twelfth century
the church schools, connected with monasteries
and cathedrals, and devoted exclusively to ecclesi-
astical work, had reached their highest stage of
development. Three points connected with the
origin of the university still continue to character-
ize it. The earliest history of the first universities
shows that they were guilds or associations of men,
organized in large measure for self-protection.
Here, in fact, was the beginning of that spirit which
now pervades every class or trade of men. These
associations were "spontaneous confederations,"
at times of "aliens on a foreign soil," at other times
of natives, and in still other cases of the two com-
bined. The rector was chosen by the students,
and under his leadership they secured from the com-
munity privileges which as individuals they were
denied, and they compelled even the professors to
be deferential. The university had its birth in the
democratic idea; and from the day of its birth this
democratic character, except when state or church
has interfered, has continued. What, in many
instances, has seemed the lawlessness of students


and the independence of instructors is to be con-
sidered from the point of view of the democratic
spirit which gave birth to the university and has
characterized every true university. In no other
sphere, moreover, did men of different nationalities
mingle together more freely.

A second factor was the necessity of securing
opportunity for study in lines outside the range of
ecclesiastical schools, especially law and medicine,
but in large measure also the arts. This is seen in
the fact that such instruction was given in the earli-
est universities; for example, medicine at Salerno
in the ninth century; and Hkewise in the secular
and catholic character of the university community,
for in the university at Salerno, "at a time when
Jews were the object of reHgious persecution through-
out Europe, members of this nationality were to be
found, both as teachers and learners." This secu-
lar character has at times been overclouded when
the church (as in the history of the English uni-
versities) or a denomination has seen fit to lay its
hand ruthlessly upon the university; but in such
cases it always happens that the university ceases
to exist, and a church school takes its place. That
institution cannot become a university, or remain
one, which to any considerable extent is controlled
by a power other than that which proceeds from
within itself. It is a significant fact that neither
church nor state seems at first to have appreciated
what was coming, since the first four universities


of Italy, after Bologna, rose into existence, like
Bologna itself, without a charter from either pope
or emperor.

But again, the university had its origin in the
desire to make use of new methods of instruction,
whereby greater independence of expression and
thought might be secured. In the schools of the
church there had never been an opportunity to
argue; that is, to discuss different opinions. The
method had been very simple, to be sure, yet very
monotonous. The instructor gave that which he
had been given ; the pupil received it as it had come
down the centuries. This method is still in vogue
in some institutions which are under ecclesiastical
control. But in the birth period of the university
the revival of the study of logic gave rise to the intro-
duction of a new spirit which, although exaggerated
and made absurd in some forms of its development,
nevertheless freed the work of instruction from the
one deadly and deadening method of the past and
made possible, in later centuries, the freedom of
expression which is today the most distinctive mark
of a real university.

The three birth-marks of a university are, there-
fore, self-government, freedom from ecclesiastical
control, and the right of free utterance. And these
certainly give it the right to proclaim itseK an insti-
tution of the people, an institution born of the demo-
cratic spirit.

Such being its origin, we may ask ourselves


whether it has essentially changed its nature in the
development through which ten or more centuries
have carried it. The proper restriction of the term
must, however, be first appHed. What is a uni
versity today ? I accept, with modification, a com-
mon definition: a self-governing association of men
for the purpose of study; an institution privileged
by the state for the guidance of the people; an
agency recognized by the people for resolving the
problems of civilization which present themselves
in the development of civiHzation. According to
this definition, therefore, only those institutions
are universities in which adults are associated (thus
excluding elementary and secondary schools, and
Hkewise colleges conducted for the training of boys
and girls in various stages of advancement); in
which definite and distinct effort is put forth to
guide the people in the decision of questions which
from time to time confront them, and to furnish
leaders in the different callings in whom the people
may have full confidence; in which facilities are
furnished and encouragement afforded to grapple
with the great problems of Hfe and thought, in the
worlds of matter and of mind, with the sole purpose
of discovering truth, whatever bearing that dis-
covery may have upon other supposed truth. This
requires men of the greatest genius, equipment of
the highest order, and absolute freedom from inter-
ference of any kind, civic or ecclesiastical. . ^

In this connection it is worth while to note Thomas


Jefferson's conception of the functions of the Uni-

(i) To form the statesmen, legislators, and judges, on
whom public prosperity and individual happiness are so
much to depend; (2) to expound the principles and structure
of government, the laws which regulate the intercourse of
nations, those formed principally for our own government,
in a sound spirit of legislation, which, banishing all unneces-
sary restraint on individual action, shall leave us free to do
whatever does not violate the equal rights of another; (3) to
harmonize and promote the interests of agriculture, manu-
factures, and commerce, and by well-informed views of politi-
cal economy to give a free scope to the public industry; (4) to
develop the reasoning faculties of our youth, to enlarge their
minds, cultivate their morals, and instil into them the prin-
ciples of virtue and order; (5) to enlighten them with mathe-
matical and physical sciences, which advance the arts, and
administer to the health, the subsistence, and comforts of
human life; (6) and generally to form them to habits of re-
flection and correct action, rendering them examples of virtue
to others, and of happiness within themselves.

The university is naturally the seat of the highest
educational work; but again the word "highest"
requires definition. It is the highest function of
the university to prepare leaders and teachers for
every field of activity. It will include, therefore,
the work of the college, the secondary school, and
the elementary school (with the kindergarten work),
if this work is conducted either, on the one hand, as
practice work in connecti(5n with which teachers may
be trained, or, on the other hand, as laboratory work
in connection with which effort is being made to



work out the solution of important problems, or to
secure a more perfect type of work. The sympa-
thies of the true university will be so broad as to
bring it into touch with educational problems of
every kind.

The university is, further, an integral part of the
public-school system. The state, by granting its
charter, makes it a pubHc institution, whether itS/
support comes from the state itself or from private
funds. As a public institution, it may not detach
itself from the various forms of educational or legis-
lative work conducted under state patronage. Its
ideals control the development of all that falls
below it. The university, therefore, may not stand
aloof; nor may the colleges and schools shut them-
selves away from its strong and revivifying influence.
There may be no organic connection. In most
cases such organic connection is unnecessary. The
bond is spiritual, and as such stronger than merely
formal connection could possibly become.

The university is also an institution of the people, i/
It must, therefore, be "privileged" and, in many
instances, supported by the people. In the latter
case, it must be influenced by the changes which
the people may undergo in their opinions. But
the people must remember that when, for any
reason, the administration of their institution, or
the instruction in any. dt^e of its departments, is
changed by an influence from without, whenever
effort is made to dislodge an officer or a professor

\ '



because the political sentiment of the majority has
undergone a change, at that moment the insti-
tution has ceased to be a university; and it cannot
again take its place in the rank of universities so
long as there continues to exist to any appreciable
extent the factor of coercion. The state has no
more right than the church to interfere with the
search for truth, or with its promulgation when
found. The state and church alike may have their
own schools and colleges for the training of youth-
ful minds, and for the propagation of special kinds
of inteUigence; and in these it may choose what
special coloring shall be given to the instruction.
This is proper, for example, in the military schools
of the state, and in the theological schools of the
church. But such schools are not universities.
They do not represent the people; they do not
come out of the people.

The university touches life, every phase of life,
at every point. It enters into every field of thought
to which the human mind addresses itself. It has
no fixed abode far away from man; for it goes to
those who cannot come to it. It is shut in behind
no lofty battlement; for it has no enemy which it
would ward off. Strangely enough, it vanquishes
its enemies by inviting them into close association
with itself. The university is of the people, and
for the people, whether considered individually or

Democracy means, in general, the supren^acy


of the people, government for and by those governed,
co-op erative government. The democracy of Greece,
and the democracy of a century ago in our own land,
were stages in the evolution which has been taking
place from the beginning of man's history on earth.
Wherever the industrial spirit has prevailed, as
opposed to the predatory, this evolution still con-
tinues, and will continue until it includes within its
grasp the entire world.

The essential principles in democracy are equality
and responsibility to the public will. Opposed to
these stand the class system and absolutism. Every-
where and during all time the struggle has gone
slowly on; and democracy has surely made her
way, and, absorbing from her enemy all that was
good, she stands today more firmly and more tri-
umphantly secure than ever before.

Democracy is a government in which the last
appeal is to the public will; but the judge to whom
the final appeal may be made must be an inteUigent
and educated judge. The people must be an edu-
cated people. Education, indeed, must be the first
and foremost pohcy of democracy. It is the founda-
tion which underlies all else. No advocate of de-
mocracy today would accept Rousseau's opinion
that the people have in themselves an innate and
instinctive wisdom. All will agree with Lord Arthur
Russell, that **the multiplicity of ignorance does
not give wisdom."

How, then, as a matter of fact, shall a democracy


administer itself? By accepting the guidance of
those who have been prepared to lead, and by hold-
ing them responsible for the trust confided to them.
Mr. Gladstone, whose life was devoted to the
cause of the Liberal party, once said: "The nation
draws a great, perhaps the greatest, part of its light
from the minority placed above;" and elsewhere:

The people are of necessity unfit for the rapid, multi-
farious action of the administrative mind; unfurnished with
the ready, elastic, and extended, if superficial, knowledge
which the work of government, in this country beyond all
others, demands; destitute of that acquaintance with the
world, with the minds and tempers of men, with the arts of
occasion and opportunity, in fact with the whole doctrine of
circumstance, which, lying outside the matter of political
plans and propositions, nevertheless frequently determines
not the policy alone, but the duty of propounding them. No
people of a magnitude to be called a nation has ever, in strict-
ness, governed itself; the utmost which appears to be attain-
able, under the conditions of human life, is that it should
choose its governors, and that it should, on select occasions,
bear directly on their action. History shows how rarely
even this point has in any considerable manner been attained.
It is written in legible characters, and with a pen of iron, on
the rock of human destiny, that within the domain of practi-
cal politics the people must, in the main, be passive.

And in such a scheme education plays an impor-
tant part, both with the people and with those to
whom they commit the guidance.

Democracy has nothing to do with religion, and
yet it has everything; nothing with the specific
form in which the rehgious feeling or religious teach-


ing shall express itself, but everything in making
provision for the undisturbed exercise of religious
liberty. Where dense ignorance exists, there is
no demand for such liberty. It is only where in-
telligence asserts itself, when education has done
its work, that the privilege of reHgious freedom is
demanded. With the church as such, democracy
knows no relation; with morality and righteousness
in individual and nation, democracy is deeply con-
cerned. Religion itself does not always conduce
to morality and righteousness, nor is intelligence
in every case a guarantee. But enlightenment of
mind and soul, whatever be the single or joint agency
that produces it, is the only safeguard against that
which is demoralizing and degrading. Education,
therefore, in connection with religion, becomes a
factor in securing for democracy the very food on
which its life depends.

With so much for definition of terms, let me
now pass to the question I desire to answer: What
relation does the university sustain to democracy?
It may be considered either from the point of view of
the university or that of the democracy. What part
then is the university to play in the great drama of
co-operative government ? What contribution toward
its growth and further evolution may self-govern-
ment expect to receive from the university?

I trust that I may be pardoned at this point if
for a moment I digress. As a student, for many
years, of the Old Testament, the thoughts and the


forms of thought of the ancient Hebrews have made
deep impressions on my mind. In the course of
their long-continued history they passed through
nearly every form of life, from that of savages to
that of highest civilization, and they lived under
nearly every form of government, from the patri-
archal, through the tribal, the monarchical, and
the hierarchical. The history of no other nation
furnishes parallels of so varied or so suggestive a
character. I beg the privilege of drawing my form
of expression from their history; and I do so with
the more interest because, to all men who have
religious sympathies, whether Jew or Christian,
whether Roman CathoHc or Protestant, these forms
of expression are familiar, and by all they are held

Democracy has been given a mission to the world,
and it is of no uncertain character. I wish to show
that the university is the prophet of this democracy
and, as well, its priest and its philosopher; that,
in other words, the university is the Messiah of the
democracy, its to-be-expected deliverer.

The university is the prophet — that is, the spokes-
man — of democracy. Democracy, if it continue,
must include the masses and maintain their sympa-
thy and interest. But as a system it is the product
of a long period of evolution, and, as such, is not
a simple system. It is, indeed, already somewhat
cumbersome and complex. The principles which
underhe it need constant and repeated statement by


those whose statement will make deep impression.
Although intended to be the expression of the popu-
lar mind, it is the outcome of movements which
have been in operation fifty centuries or more. It
is the result of the operation of laws of life which
antedate the existence of man himself. Of the
history of these movements and of the character of
these laws the popular mind is for the most part

Online LibraryWilliam Rainey HarperThe trend in higher education → online text (page 1 of 24)