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used for supplying a superficial instruction in the
last two years (in order that the institution might
be called a college), there is not a sufficient income
remaining, even upon the most meager calculation,
to do justice to the work of the lower years. This I
call an attempt to do higher work at the expense of
the lower, and this is one of the greatest sources
of .waste. Nor is this waste confined to the work of
states in the West and South. I could name more
than one instance of the kind in the state of New
York, and there are many such in Pennsylvania,


Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan. If the
money stolen from the students in the lower years
were sufficient to make good work possible in the
last two years, there might be some justification for
the theft; but, as a matter of fact, the effort to do
the higher work is a failure and carries with it failure
to do honest work in the lower years. Here then is
a waste which amounts to fraud.

We shall all agree, however, that the waste
which is gravest in character and the most detri-
mental in its results is that involved in the substitu-
tion of pretense for fulfilment. And I am not
referring to the so-called institutions, in some of our
great cities, which sell their degrees and diplomas
to those who are able and wiUing to buy them.
There is real honesty in this transaction. Every
man knows what he is purchasing and for how
much he purchases it. The institution makes no
pretense of furnishing instruction or of giving an
education. Its only proposition is to sell a parch-
ment at a high price, and it has the legal right to
make such sale. This, I repeat, is a fair and honest
transaction. There is no deceit; the purchaser gets
just what he bargains for. And, besides, this kind
of work does not fall within the field of higher
education. It belongs rather to the sphere of the
rag-gatherer and the rag merchant; for, when
reduced to its last analysis, it proves to be such a
commerce as this.

Of vastly more consequence, however, is the


deception practiced upon unsuspecting young men
and women by institutions which do give instruc-
tion of a sort, under the name of college instruction.
And these institutions put upon such teaching a
label that makes it pass for something which it
really is not. The victim is the student from the
country village or the farm, who cannot be expected
to know that he is being defrauded. Such institu-
tions will be found all through the Middle States,
the West, and South, and, strange to say, those
who most commonly practice this fraudulent waste
are the representatives of our rehgious denomina-
tions, who, for the sake of denominational pride,
stoop to call the institution, which is not even a
well-equipped academy, by the name of college or
university. Here is waste on a gigantic scale —
waste of time and energy, and, worst of all, waste
of character.

But I must make an end. It is stated in the
beginning of this paper that the remedies for these
various kinds of waste would be briefly suggested.
It is clear now that I can merely name them.

For the_wast.e.£onn€€^ed-with the work of prepa-
ration a ^r emed y will be JQiind^JLihe^. larger in-
stitutions will co-operate TfTlKe^'eff^^ unify
the requirements for admission; and if institutions
of higher and secondary education will co-operate
to do away with the^vils which now occasion waste.
This co-operation must, in order to be effective^.
'be a formal co-operation. The passing of harmless


resolutions at our various conferences will accom-
plish nothing; there is needed serious and systematic

For the waste connected with the external
machinery of our institutions the waste involved
in the present artificial division into four years,
I and into years of nine months' work and three
\ months' vacation, and in the dissipation growing
\ out of a lack of concentration, a remedy will be
1 found in abandoning, wherever possible, this tra-
I ditional arrangement; an arrangement which came
\ into use before the doctrine of individualism had
\ begun to be appHed to education, and which, that
\doctrine having once been introduced, now proves
impracticable and injurious. President EHot's sug-
gestion to allow men to graduate in the middle of
the year is a step in this direction. The organiza-
tion of work in the summer months, which is organ-
ically a part of the university work, is another step.
And in doing these things we are but forsaking the
hard and fast Hnes laid down by our ancestors
under a mistaken conception of what higher educa-
tion meant, and adopting the broader and more
liberal poHcy of the German universities.
fi I For the waste involved in the failure of the univer-
sity to deal specifically with each student, its failure
to use in every case the proper method of instruc-
tion, and, above all, its failure properly to correlate
•his work, a remedy will be found in the provision
of officers whose first duty it will be to make exhaus-


tive study of each individual student in some such
manner as a physician would study the case of his
patient; in the admission of no man to the position
of instructor whose ability to teach has not been
absolutely demonstrated; and in the furnishing of
such instruction as will, to some extent at least,
exhibit the organized structure and relationship of
the various departments of university work.
V) For the present waste connected with the admis-
sion of students who have no business in college,
with the working of the elective system, and with
the removal of students from one institution to
another, a remedy will be found in a closer pre-
liminary study of the antecedents of each student;
in making provision for a student's honorable
withdrawal at the end of the sophomore year,
with full recognition for the work he has done;
the establishing of a better system of advisorship
than any that has yet been arranged ; and in perfect-
ing arrangements between institutions whereby the
work of one shall be recognized at its full value in
another. Let advanced students who are so incHned
be encouraged to plan for work in at least two
institutions. Here again Germany's Hberal pohcy
is worthy of adoption.
^ For the waste which is incurred today in retain-
ing incompetent instructors, in requiring of each
instructor too much routine work, and in the failure
to make proper financial provision, the remedy is a
simple one — more money; more money for depart-


ments, that the proper facilities and the requisite
number of instructors may be provided; more money
for the salaries of instructors, that they may live
lives of greater service to the university; and more
money for the pension fund, without which an
institution is at best only half an institution. Per-
haps there is something which many institutions
now have with which they could dispense, and the
waste be greatly reduced; I mean that thing called
influence — influence of relatives and friends; influ-
ence of politicians; influence even of wives of rela-
tives and friends and politicians.

For the waste which is incurred in connection
with institutions themselves a remedy will be found
in the organization in every state of the Union of
some such agency as that of the Regents of the
University of the State of New York, to which shall
be committed a general oversight of the educational
affairs of the state; and, second, the reduction of
many of our colleges to the rank of academies, or
of colleges doing in addition to the preparatory
work only the work of the freshman and sophomore
years. This would accomplish several important
results. It would mean that the money now wasted
in doing the higher work superficially could be used
to do the lower work more thoroughly; that the
pretense of giving a college education would be
given up, and the college could become honest;
that the student who was not really fitted by nature
to take the higher work could stop naturally and


honorably at the end of the sophomore year; and
that many students who have not the courage to
enter upon a four-year course would be wilHng to
do the two years' work before entering business or
the professional school; that students capable of
doing higher work would be compelled to go away
to the university — a change which would in every
case be most advantageous; and, finally, that stu-
dents Uving near the institution, whose ambition it
was to go away to college, could remain at home
until greater maturity had been reached — a point of
highest moment in these days of strong temptation.
This remedy, the substitution of a six-year
institution (including the academy or high-school
course) for the present four-year institution (without
preparatory work), would at one stroke touch the
gravest of the evils of our present situation. I am
not pessimistic. I know, and we all know, that the
cause of higher education has made mighty progress
in the last decade. We are on the eve of great things
— greater things than our nation has ever known.
In all national progress the work of the college and
university is an essential factor. It is our duty,
therefore, to see that this work is performed in such
a manner as to produce the greatest possible results
with the least possible waste.


Some of us live too exclusively in the past. Its
ideas and its institutions are so sacred to us that to
separate ourselves from them, to allow other ideas
and institutions to be substituted for them, or to
be placed side by side with them, seems almost

In Hke manner, some of us live too exclusively
in the present. Such of us do not deem it worth
while to study the past, that which is at hand being
more than sufficient to occupy our attention. To
spend one's time groping about in the darkness
of antiquity, when one might work with the fullest
satisfaction in all the brightness of midday, or to
occupy oneself in putting forth with reference to
the future conjectures which at best must always
be something hazy and indefinite, seems to be a
waste of energy, an expenditure of time worse than

And, then, there are some of us who Uve too
exclusively in the future. Ignorant of the past,
or forgetful of it, blind to the environments in
which we have been placed, lacking sympathy
with everything that surrounds us, we permit, nay

I Read at the dedication of the Library of Colorado College,
Colorado Springs, March 14, 1894.



force, the mind to occupy itself with that which is
far distant. In this field no limitations present
themselves. Difficulties, we persuade ourselves,
may be left for consideration when they actually
arise. With no dead past to haunt us, with no
anxious present to disturb, we revel in the future.

But the world of today does not recognize true
manhood in that person who thus commits himself,
whether the committal be to the past, the present,
or the future. The modern man, whether scholar
or practical worker, whether statesman or business
man or educator, must know the past, must be in
touch with the present, and must anticipate the
future. To know the past is a duty; to be in touch
with the present, an imperative necessity; to have
constantly in mind the future, a privilege which
will prove the source at once of comfort and of
inspiration. Every movement has its history, its
present struggles, its future ideals. It is not easy
to make a satisfactory collection of the statistics
of the past. It is more difficult to organize the
elements which compose the present. It is still
more difficult, though for some more fascinating,
to indicate Hnes of future development.

I may now be pardoned if I ask your considera-
tion of one or two factors in educational work which
were almost unknown in the past of twenty-five or
fifty years ago; which today may be said to constitute
the new in education; of the full significance of which
in the days that are coming we dare not even dream.


A quarter of a century ago the library in most
of our institutions, even the oldest, was scarcely
large enough, if one were to count the volumes, or
valuable enough, if one were to estimate values,
to deserve the name of library. So far as it had
location, it was the place to which the professor
was accustomed to make his way occasionally, the
student almost never. It was open for consultation
during perhaps one hour a day on three days a week.
The better class of students, it was understood,
had no time for reading. It was only the "ne'er
do well," the man with little interest in the class-
room textbook, who could find time for general
reading. Such reading was a distraction, and a
proposition that one might profit by consulting
other books which bore upon the subject or subjects
treated in the textbook would have been scouted.
All such work was thought to be distracting. The
addition of one hundred volumes in a single year
was something noteworthy. The place, seldom fre-
quented, was some out-of-the-way room which could
serve no other use. The librarian — there was none.
Why should there have been? Any officer of the
institution could perform the needed service without
greatly increasing the burden of his official duties.
Is this statement overdrawn? Let me produce the
evidence: The late hbrarian of Newberry Librar}^,
WiUiam Frederick Poole, to whom more than to
any other belongs the credit of the existence of the
new regime, so far as Ubraries are concerned, in


an address delivered a few months before his death
made this statement :

To those of us who graduated thirty, or forty, or more
years ago, books, outside of the textbooks used, had no part
in our education. They were never quoted, recommended,
nor mentioned by the instructors in the classroom. As I
remember it, Yale College Library might as well have been
in Weathersfield, or Bridgeport, as in New Haven, so far as
the students in those days were concerned.

It was only in comparatively recent times that a
Hbrarian was appointed at Harvard or at Yale who
should give his entire time to the care of the hbrary.
There are today many institutions, which rank high in
their particular communities, in which one will find
the same hbrary conditions as those which Mr. Poole
described as having existed at Yale thirty or forty
years ago. I know of a college having an enrolment
of a hundred and fifty students, which each year
"graduates" certain of its students, and yet in a
room ten by twelve bearing the name of hbrary
has not two hundred and fifty volumes! To find
the oldest and most primitive bounds of civihzation
we must go to the heart of Africa, or the frontiers
of our own country occupied by the Indians! But
for the old in education it is only necessary, one might
say, to step across the street.

But the stage of development attained must be
determined from the study of the highest, not the
lowest, class, and although the old is all about us,
there is also the new. Today the chief building of
a college, the building in which is taken greatest


pride, is the library. With the stack for storage
purposes, the reading-room for reference books, the
offices of delivery, the rooms for seminar purposes,
it is the center of the institutional activity. The
director of the library is not infrequently one of the
most learned men of the faculty; in many instances
certainly, the most influential. Lectures are some-
times given by him on bibliography, or classes
organized for instruction in the use of books. The
staff of assistants is often larger than the entire
faculty in the same institution thirty years ago.
Volumes are added to the number of 3,000, 5,000,
10,000, or 20,000 in a single year; the periodical
literature of each department is on file; the building
is open day and night. It is, in fact, the laboratory;
for here now the student, and Hkewise the professor,
who cannot purchase for themselves the books which
they must have, spend the larger portion of their
time. A greater change from the old can hardly
be conceived.

But you will allow me to say a word about the
future of the library. The time is coming — it has,
indeed, already come — when, in addition to the
general Hbrary of the institution, each department,
or each closely related group of departments, will
have its separate library. This will include the
books in most common use, and the maps and charts
of special value. The departmental Hbrary, now a
feature of a few institutions, will be estabHshed
everywhere, not alone for advanced students, but as


well for the undergraduates. It is true that the cost
of administration and the danger from loss of books
are great; but the advantages are also great, and
must be gained at whatever cost. The time is
near when the student will do little of his work in
the study; he must be in the midst of books. No
ordinary student can afford to own one book in a
hundred of those which he may wish at any moment
to consult. As the scholar, though having thousands
of volumes in his own library, must find his way to
the great Hbraries of the Old World when he wishes
to do the work of highest character, so the university
student, though having hundreds of volumes in his
own room, must do his work in the departmental
library of the institution. The reference room is
not sufficient, here only books of a general character
are open to him. His table must be where, without
a moment's delay, without the mediation of the
zealous librarian, who perhaps thinks more of the
book than of its use, he may place his hand upon
that one of ten or twenty thousand books which he
desires to use. In the address already cited, Mr.
Poole said:

None of the universities named [these were Johns Hop-
kins, Yale, Hansard, Cornell, and Michigan] have as yet quite
come up to the high standard of having a professor of bibHog-
raphy, but they are moving in that direction. .

Some of us will see the day when in every great
division of the university there will be professors of
bibliography and methodology, whose function it


will be to teach men books, and how to use them.
It is pitiable to find that many graduates of our very
best colleges are unable, upon taking up the more
advanced work in divinity or in graduate courses,
to make good use of books. They can find nothing;
do not know how to proceed in order to find any-
thing. No more important, no more useful, train-
ing can be given men in college than that which
relates to the use of books. Why do so many col-
lege men give up reading when they leave college ?
Because in college they have never learned the use
of books. The equipment of the library will never
be finished until it have upon its staff men and
women whose sole work shall be, not the care of
books, not the cataloguing of books, but the giving
of instruction concerning their use.

The library of the future has, however, still
another function to perform. It will come to be,
not simply a collecting agency, the house of storage,
but also an agency for pubHcation and distribution.
It may seem that I am now confusing the work of
two distinct agencies. I answer, No. The pub-
lications of the future which are to exert the great-
est influence for good upon mankind at large will
be endowed pubHcations. The pubHshing houses
of our country will always restrict themselves to
the pubHcation of works the financial returns from
which are reasonably certain. The scientific works
in every department must be issued through the
munificence of private gifts for university endow-


ments; In time these private gifts will for the most
part come through the university. The university-
press, therefore, is strictly a part of the university
library, and through it, even in our day, we shall
see the influence and power of the library greatly
increased. That factor of our college and univer-
sity work, the library, fifty years ago almost unknown,
today already the center of the institution's intellec-
tual activity, half a century hence — with its sister,
the laboratory, almost equally unknown fifty years
back — will, by absorbing all else, have become the
institution itself.

But this equipment includes also the laboratory,
just mentioned. The old regime may be said to
have had no laboratory, for the laboratory is an insti-
tution altogether modern. Those of us who left
college from twenty to twenty-five years ago scarcely
knew such a thing as a laboratory. The library had
a small place in college life ; the laboratory had
almost none.

A little farther back the situation in Germany
was the same. I quote a few statements from an
address delivered by Professor Ira M. Remsen:

Liebig, the noted chemist, says of the teaching of chemis-
try in Germany about 1820: "It was then a very wretched
time for chemistry in Germany. At most of the universities
there was no special chair of chemistry. It was generally
handed over to the professor of medicine, who taught it, or
as much as he knew of it — and that was little enough — along
with the branches of toxicology, pharmacology, materia
medica, and practical medicine." Referring to the equip-


raent of universities for the teaching of chemistry, he says: "I
remember at a much later period Professor Wurze, who had
the chair of chemistry at Marburg, showing me a wooden
table drawer which had the property of producing quicksilver
every three months. He possessed an apparatus, which
mainly consisted of a long clay pipestem, with which he con-
verted oxygen into nitrogen by making the porous pipestem
red-hot in charcoal and passing oxygen through it. Chemical
laboratories in which instruction in chemical analysis was
imparted existed nowhere at that time. What passed by
that name were more like kitchens filled with all sorts of
furnaces and utensils for the carrying out of metallurgical
processes. No one really understood how to teach it."

At a later period Liebig, appointed professor of
chemistry at Giessen, built the first chemical labora-
tory. Of the school established by him Professor
Remsen says:

The foundation of this school made an epoch, not only in
the history of chemical science, but in the history of science.
.... The scientific method, as it has been called, has been
spread among men, and has changed the whole aspect of
things. The influence of the laboratory is felt in every branch
of knowledge. The methods of investigation have changed,
and everywhere the scientific method has been adopted. The
laboratory has impressed upon the world the truth that, in
order to learn about anything, it will not sufiice to stand aloof
and speculate, and that it is necessary to come into as close
contact with that thing as possible. When the old philosopher
wished to solve a problem, his method was to sit down and
think about it. He relied upon the working of his brain to
frame a theory; and beautiful theories were undoubtedly
framed. Many of these, probably all of those which had
reference to natural phenomena, were far in advance of facts
known, and often directly opposed to facts discovered later.


Minds were not hampered by facts, and theories grew apace.
The age was one of mental operations. A beautiful thought
was evidently regarded as something much superior to knowl-
edge. We have not learned to think less of beautiful thoughts
or of mental processes, but we have learned to think more of
facts, and to let our beautiful thoughts be guided by them.

Today, therefore, the laboratory, unknown half
a century ago, occupies the position of honor next to
the library. It may be said that the laboratory has
outstripped the Hbrary. With but few exceptions,
institutions have but one Hbrary, though many of
them have several laboratories. These laboratories
are not yet, even in the better institutions, what
they should be. Still, as has been said, we may
determine the stage of development by the highest
types. A distinct laboratory, though not always a
separate building, will now be provided for each
of the departments of natural science, physics,

Online LibraryWilliam Rainey HarperThe trend in higher education → online text (page 8 of 24)