Page:Catalogue of St. John's College 1945.pdf/14

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.
38
39
catalogue of st. john's college

program provides allow detailed and comprehensive recommendations of individual candidates both for graduate schools and for business positions. Such individual recommendations will always be our most effective communication with the academic and practical worlds into which our students graduate; we deal with other institutions on the basis of a common recognition of the realities of the learning process and the exigencies of the war and revolution through which the world is passing.

There is no question about the fitness of this program of studies to meet the explicit requirements of law schools, theological schools, business schools, schools of politics, and economics, and schools of education. There may be some doubt in the minds of the small business man and the craftsman about the utility of a liberal education for earning a living. One who shares these doubts should read the early American State Papers and follow the current discussions of the fundamental conditions and principles of American society to get free of the prejudices which we inherit from societies that base themselves on invidious class distinctions. The worker and the tradesman in this country belong to a liberal society that demands a liberal education of all its members.

The professions that base themselves on specialization in the natural sciences have set up graduate departments that actually need more liberal education in their preparatory stages than is at present available in the elective system. In failing to get students who have that minimal general education, they have been forced to turn to a second best, a more intensive specialized preparatory training. In some cases they take the student into the graduate school before he has graduated from college, and in some engineering schools, graduate physics, chemistry, biology, and medicine, they have imposed heavy pre-professional requirements on the liberal college. In effect, they ask the liberal college to anticipate professional work. We refuse to accept this imposition wherever it would force us to sacrifice understanding to professional rote and rule of thumb. In place of these we emphasize basic concepts, basic techniques of measurement and experimentation, and general skills of the laboratory, in short those starting-points which make the rapid acquisition and revision of scientific knowledge a matter of habit and second nature. In terms of this fundamental training, our work in natural science more than meets the genuine requirements of pre-professional education.

The medical schools, the sources of the heaviest pre-professional requirements, have expressed willingness, in some cases enthusiasm, to consider our graduates as candidates. Their faculties realize the importance of the liberal education of the physician, see that we require more hours in the laboratory than they ask for, and believe that this basic instruction will lay a good foundation for professional training. On the other hand, a warning should be given that the St. John's student is running the risk that radical innovation entails. The medical schools are subject to many increasing demands, which they are finding difficult to meet: rapidly growing knowledge relevant to medical uses, the public need for more medical services, and the large number of applicants for admission. These pressures may force arbitrary consideration of candidates, and the literal application of rules of admission. In view of this problematic situation, students who come to St. John's with the intention of going on to medicine are advised to make special arrangements for fulfilling the literal requirements for admission to medical schools. Arrangements for extra work for this purpose can be made at St. John's or at other institutions. In view of the great scientific and social problems facing the medical profession it may be wise to plan a year of graduate work in mathematics and physics between graduation and entrance to medical school. Medical schools are not asking for such additional preparation, but the needs of medical wisdom are great beyond the power of liberal education alone to meet.