Page:Introductory Address on the General Medical Council, its Powers and its Work.djvu/27

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
19
ITS POWERS AND ITS WORK

tions ought, we think, to be laid down; but we wish to record our opinion that nothing should be done to weaken the individuality of the Universities and Corporations, or to check emulation between the teaching institutions of the country." In other words, competition between a multiplicity of teaching bodies, as such, tends to the advancement of education. The institution which, caeteris paribus, affords the most efficient teaching will have the best reputation, and be the most resorted to. The interest involved in the competition is the interest of improvement.

As regards examination, to put it mildly, this interest is not so clear. I put it to the unregenerate instincts of the students before me. If, as they will probably be ready to declare, all examinations are essentially evil, would it not be wise to choose the least? Will not the most popular Examination Board be that which offers the easiest test? If the same hall-mark is impressed on 9-carat gold as on 22, why waste precious metal in working up to the higher standard? Reasoning of this somewhat crude kind commends itself to the natural man, and many of the criticisms that we hear are based on nothing more profound. It takes little account of other facts of professional economics, which are nevertheless of decisive importance. Thus, the supposed hall-mark is not the same in the two cases. Examining Boards, no less than medical schools, in the end depend for popularity on their reputation for efficiency. If a Board is notoriously easy-going, not students only, but their teachers, and their parents, and the profession, and the public, know it. The practitioner finds that he can only get a 9-carat diploma from that Board, and he pretty soon learns that he starts on his career with the stamp of a 9-carat man. Conscious as we are of each other's imperfections, we are all sure that our own merits deserve more than the minimum of recognition, whether in this imperfect world they receive it or not. And so the easygoing Board becomes the object of resentment instead of loyalty among those it has licensed, and loses not only its public prestige, but the corporate backing and support of