Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 81.djvu/584

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to the ends of athletics, social functions or the pleasures of inertia, is not only justifiable but necessary for any worthy standard of educational work, and if acted on intelligently would go far toward getting rid of the greatest difficulties in the proper working of the college.

But with these drawbacks discounted, I do not believe there need be any great problem arising from the merely average, the naturally less gifted student, who comes to his work well prepared in fundamentals, and with enough of interest to lead him to exert his best powers. And it is to this class in particular that the college, if it is to have any reason for existing alongside the university, should, I believe, professedly aim to adjust itself, instead, as now, of accepting the situation as one that is forced upon it, while its heart is in the university ideal of making professional scholars and investigators. And the reason is, again, that the exceptional man in a democracy loses a great share of his social value unless there is a large public to which he can appeal, through reasoned judgment rather than emotional prepossessions—a public possessed of a maturer outlook than it is possible for the high school to insure. This is not to give countenance to the superstition that no one can be a sound philosopher and a good citizen without a college degree. And I am intending, too, to exclude a more debatable aspect of the matter which confronts us under present academic conditions. It undoubtedly is true that many men now in our colleges might well be advised that they are out of place; not, however, because such a training might not enhance for them the value of life and enlarge their own value as citizens, but because if they persist they are likely, owing to the common aristocratic conception of a college course which they share, simply to look upon it as a means of escape from the life work for which they are really fitted, in order to enter a more respectable line. It is this tendency to a resulting maladjustment, perhaps, which teachers have in mind when they deplore so frequently the ambition of certain students for a college career. But if, instead, they are setting up to say, on any large scale, that a man's mind is unimprovable, and that he is a fool to try to make of himself anything but the slow and stupid animal he is by nature, one can only attribute such a judgment to that other product of nature—an intellectual intolerance and superciliousness which should be educated out of the teacher, of all men, before he is fit for his job.

If this aim be accepted for the college, certain modifications of academic tradition might conceivably follow. It would suggest some change of attitude in the matter of conditions of entrance. The purpose would then be to encourage as many as possible to utilize the advantages which the college offers, whereas at present the chief concern seems to be to keep out the unworthy. Of course the justification for such entering tests, which are all the time becoming more rigid, is the