MUCH of the discussion respecting utility of college training is irrelevant, for success in life proves nothing on one side or the other. Every observing man knows that the qualities on which success depends are inborn. College instructors can not impart brains or common sense, can not convert the sluggard into a model of industry; can do little toward removing the vanity which resents advice. They can make only an honest effort to cultivate the material provided by nature.
The discussion has been too nearly academic, and the parties have been wary of coming down to definite issues. The opponent of college training is cautious about too detailed attack upon that with which he is not familiar; while teachers, though united in defense of their work, are not wholly agreed either as to its final purpose or as to the method of attaining it. The lack of consensus respecting the meaning of the term education, whether preparatory or collegiate, is a weakness which opponents have been quick to see and to attack. The purpose in mental training should be as definite as is that in physical training. The latter is a new branch of educational work and the instructors, fettered by no traditions, aim to make the man physically good all around, without any reference whatever to his future calling. In mental training there seems to be no longer any such clear-cut purpose. All agree, of course, in the abstract proposition that the aim is to make the man useful—but, for what?
The medieval theory of education looked to the utilization of the individual for himself. Education being for the privileged few, to fit men for the proper enjoyment of leisure, for the Latin priesthood or to expound Roman law, the relations and the duties of the few to the many were ignored. There resulted a narrow curriculum with close attention to detail, which gave accuracy, certainly very wonderful, but, like that of the microscope, in a very limited field. The modern theory, developing slowly after men were emancipated from the thraldom of the church, more rapidly after the study of nature by observation was born again, regarded the individual not as the whole, but as part of the whole, recognizing the basal principle that 'No man liveth unto himself.' It demanded that man be so trained as to be of the