Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 81.djvu/247

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241
OLD LAMPS FOR NEW

men, artists, executives or business men, to whom the college offers four years of broad cultural training, new points of view, and contact through literature with the best of the world's thought. Such a student is prepared by these four years for no special vocation, and perhaps not so well for any vocation as if the training had been for some special end.

The strong-minded and mature student appears the exception to this statement, but in general will be found to be pursuing a self-imposed curriculum with a definite vocation in mind. The prospective ministers, lawyers, doctors and teachers were excluded from consideration because their college course is not necessarily a broadly cultural one, but a selected vocational training. For the same reason must the mature student be excluded. A college instructor can separate his class into three groups, those who set the pace, those who follow, and those who fall. Of the first two groups some few are "grinds," some few "out for honors," and the rest with rare exceptions interested vocationally in the subject-matter. In every class prospective teachers help to set the pace; in English courses, writers; in biological courses, doctors; in chemistry, manufacturers. In other words, for the average students there is no broad cultural college course, but rather many individual vocational courses.

The essential differences, however, between the vocational college course and the technical-school course are both of degree and of kind. The difference in degree is due largely to the existence on the one side of a fixed required curriculum and on the other of a free or group elective system. In a fixed engineering curriculum are many closely related courses, those of one school year being immediately prerequisite to those of the next year. In the better and larger technical schools a failure in a prerequisite course, besides calling for a repetition of the course, prevents the progress of a student with his class and delays graduation one year. In arts colleges, under an elective system, the severe penalty of a year's delay in graduation need only occur in case the failure takes place in the last term of the senior year. Given students working under these two systems, beneath equally eager and requiring instructors, the pace of the average in the technical school will exceed that of the average in the colleges. The result of this difference reacts upon the atmosphere of the institutions and leads to cumulative effects. Thus in recent years athletics, as well as many other school diversions, have steadily decreased in prominence in technical schools and increased in colleges. This decrease in engineering schools has resulted in more time and energy for study and admitted of a still harder pace, while in arts colleges the increase has diverted the students' energies and slowed the class room pace.

A further difference in degree resulting from the close correlation of courses mentioned above may best be shown by illustration. Mathe-