Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 79.djvu/156

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152

THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

as an end of education something just as fundamental as lies in the meat and kernel of these old shibboleths and at the same time more specifically and functionally related to modern social life and needs as they actually are. We need the classic virtues the moralists of all times have loved to dwell upon, but we need much more. We need the trained capacity, the knowledge and perspective, to turn these virtues to social account, to leaven them with a social consciousness, to render them effective by social insight. Goodness does not suffice. We demand efficiency. Meaning well is not enough. We know that hell is paved with good intentions, and that too often they are put to that uneconomical use through lack of knowledge of this poor earthly earth. We demand, therefore, significant knowledge—we will not tolerate the ignorance of prudery or the mere pride of erudition. Both these have been baneful influences in the college world. Ignorance we shall have to hold to be positively immoral, socially unproductive, and sometimes actually criminal. We are going to insist upon the productive life. We want moral valuations as well as economic valuations to be sound, and we are on the verge of discovering that we can not have one without the other. We want institutions, beliefs, social processes to stand on their own merit. Unswerving loyalty to authority no longer suffices. We demand rational, responsible, thought-out action.

But the small college, slow to catch the new spirit, or to sense the moral growth of the times, sticks to "character" as the ultima thule of education. Tucked away in some secluded and protected nook of geographical isolation, sequestered in pleasant preserves of philosophical individualism and theological conservatism, many a small college has felt, until comparatively recently, only the eddies of the great stream of social and intellectual unrest. While the world is painfully going through the throes of the birth of a new Zeitgeist, college faculties have been content, not uncommonly, to drone away on philosophies of forgotten epochs—afraid, apparently, to venture into the present lest it make dangerous demands upon old faiths—faiths educational and ecclesiastical, faiths economic and moral—faiths tried and true in great measure, and in their essence capable of meeting any critical test, but not as yet fully subjected to such a trying and purging fire as twentieth-century rationalism and scientific opportunism seem to some timid souls bound to prove. More than this, to pioneer an institution or a constituency into the undiscovered future means work, calls for exceptional foresight and circumspection, vigor of purpose, openness of mind, and strength to drag along those who, through fear or inertia, lag behind. To think along new lines, to cast overboard old habits of thought, to acquire new viewpoints, is a painful process; ho mind likes to be remade; few have the power to keep themselves continuously in repair and in tune with the times. Yet these are the capacities essential to college presidents and to college teachers.