Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 31.djvu/28

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18
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

years since the requirement of Greek for this degree and that of Ph. D. (with which the A. M. is always given) was dropped in Prussia; and although some of the German professors would like to see Greek restored to its place in the list of requirements, hecause it would reduce the number of students at the universities, and some others would like to see it restored for the same reasons which affect the opinion of some American educators, there is no more probability of its being restored than there is that the study of Hebrew or Sanskrit will be made compulsory.

It is a very significant fact, indeed, that the deepest students of the art and science of education in Germany are opposed to the requirement of Greek. A recent work by Professor Paulsen, of the University of Berlin, on the history of university education in Germany since the close of the middle ages, has some exceedingly significant remarks on this topic. He shows in a masterly way how prevailing ideas change in regard to the value of Greek and the proper method of its study from decade to decade. He pictures also how this language has been slowly slipping away from the position Which it held fifty years ago, and how surely one can draw the conclusion as to its ultimate fate. He assigns to it, indeed, a much more subordinate place than any one here demands. He says that the course of development points to the irresistible conclusion that Greek must disappear altogether from the list of studies common in the preparatory course—must become like Sanskrit, Hebrew, Arabic, etc., a language to be studied by but few persons—chiefly those who expect to make a profession of preaching or teaching language. He recognizes certain difficulties in the way of the speedy realization of this end, most of which are not pedagogical at all, but social and political—i. e., difficulties which are entirely extraneous to the merits of the case.

The amount of Greek still required for the simple A. B. or M. A. at English or Scotch universities is ridiculously small when judged in the light of the wonderful results in the way of liberal education which are claimed for them, and there can be but little doubt that just as soon as the modern party can make itself felt and pedagogical considerations secure the weight which is now accorded only to social and political prejudice, the requirement of Greek in these pass-examinations will go the way that many other old regulations of the university have gone, which were vigorously defended by lovers of the old when they were attacked, and which would now find absolutely no apologist.

Of course, all this is independent of the merits of the question, and I have proposed simply to describe actual facts in regard to present conditions, and to call attention to what seems to be the inevitable drift of events. Very few who belong to the so-called modern party desire to belittle the study of Greek properly pursued, or would think of classing Greek in the same list as Sanskrit relative to its importance to our culture or civilization. They simply recognize the fact that