Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 14.djvu/91

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81
PLACE OF ENGLISH IN HIGHER EDUCATION.

which like the fruit but cannot destroy the seeds. In Asia wild, seed-bearing plantains are usually found growing in groups. In America, which has a much greater area of wilderness, the plantain must have spread far and wide, seeing that it has persisted in the wild state in the far more densely-inhabited East Indies. Therefore, it appears that in America the plantain has always been a seedless, cultivated plant, which can only have been introduced from Asia in preglacial times, through northern zones, for in that way alone was the immigration at all possible.—Ausland.

 
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THE PLACE OF ENGLISH IN THE HIGHER EDUCATION.[1]
By A. B. STARK, LL.D.
PRESIDENT OF THE LOGAN FEMALE COLLEGE.

I SHALL begin with an unequivocal statement of my position: the study of the English language and literature should occupy the central place—the place of honor—in every scheme of higher education for English-speaking men and women. This primacy I claim for two principal reasons: first, the knowledge obtained from this study is of most worth in the practical affairs of real life; second, the right study of English may be made the instrument of the highest culture of the mind.

All educators, I believe, are agreed that a thorough knowledge of our mother-tongue is of supreme importance to every educated man or woman. The friends of classical studies urge, among their strongest arguments in favor of Latin and Greek, that through a careful study of these languages is the shortest and surest way to a thorough knowledge of English; while, on the other hand, the advocates of the new education magnify the importance of studying English. I think it unnecessary to dwell on this first proposition, and shall, therefore, pass at once to a consideration of the educational value of the study of English.

In my first advocacy of the importance of studying English—in a quarterly review article printed seventeen years ago—I concede "that the study of the vernacular is almost valueless as a means of education, or as an instrument of intellectual culture and discipline." I hope I am wiser to-day; I certainly hold a very different opinion. In that article I reviewed all the important books on the subject then published, and yet all those works, with the exception of Marsh's "Lectures" and Latham's "Handbook," have been forgotten. A course of real study

  1. A paper read before the National Educational Association, Louisville, Ky., August 15, 1877.