Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 74.djvu/67
MR. ROOSEVELT'S OPPORTUNITY 63
subject but from the comparative interest of the teacher. Admiration and imitation are amongst the most potent of all formative forces. A young man, whether he knows it or not, wants a hero. This want may of course be supplied for him in very varying degrees and equivocal manners. But at all events he has an eye for such diverse points in his companions as physical prowess, genial manner, wit, leadership, distinc- tion of air, some of the best parts of character, wealth or money-making power — not to mention the grand item of elegant and gentlemanly attire. Now a professor, to the undergraduate, is a more or less amiable "grind" of riper years. Eiper, but still unluscious. He is in the center of the undergraduate's vision for an hour, let us say, three times a week; mainly under that lecture-system which, as it has been with fine accuracy stated, enables the student to lean back and observe at perfect leisure the personal peculiarities of the instructor. The student is to have a career in time himself, and dimly or consciously he looks forward to it. A general, a statesman, an explorer, an orator, a sportsman, a successful lawyer, an archmillionaire — or even an artist — is by no means without interest for him; but the amount of Lehenslierrlichkeit represented in a professor does not reach what psycliologists call the threshold of his appreciation. This fact colors the feeling of his class. To teach young men like themselves might appear a high calling were it not that to bore yoimg men like themselves seems a dingy trade.
Now it must candidly be confessed that the student's view is not without some elements of justice. A profession whose chief function is performed in the classroom and which yet so often leaves the class- room-hour on the whole such a lackluster memory does forfeit its claims to some portion of the glamour that might perhaps ideally attach to it. Not that the memory should be simply of entertainment. There is much in the saying of Epictetus that the lecture-room should often be, like a surgery, rather a place of beneficent pain than of pleasure. What is important is that it should be a scene of effective- ness.
In 1881 Phillips Brooks, then preaching at the full tide of his influence, was invited to become chaplain and professor at Harvard. Efforts were made by men of weight in Boston to induce him not to quit his work in that city. Mr. John Long, then governor, wrote in the course of a letter since published :
The Harvard boys do not need you so much. They have everything already. If they develop some wild oats, yet the general surroundings of their college life lead them to higher opportunities and standards sooner or later.
Mr. Henry Higginson wrote:
You can't work on those boys in the same way, simply because they are :.t the questioning, critical, restless age. The vporst of them are not bad, but frivolous or idle-minded. The best of them afe seeking for the truth everywhere.