And then it is fashionable to be in administrative work. Young men come to college asking for a course leading to the college presidency. Why not? The administrative officers are mentioned in the local paper oftener than any one else. The professor gets no notice unless it be the college green-goods man who sells intellectual gold bricks to the woman's club.
Consequence: Did you ever hear of a college fledgling whose supreme passion was to become a great scholar? Exhibit him, if you have, for he is a rarissima avis indeed. No, the premium is not on scholarship, as it is, for example, in the German universities. Thus it comes about that more and more rarely the really capable scholar does not go over to administrative work.
How shall we ever rear a race of scholars when there is neither pay nor honor in scholarship? The scant money compensation is patent, and honor is more than money to the idealist, and such, after all, the college professor is. There was a time when the highest ambition of every German youth was to be a poet. Why? Because two great world-poets were the most honored men in Germany. To-day it is different—every German youth burns to become a soldier, a politician—because these are the honored personages of the realm.
Who upholds scholarship as a great and valuable possession in America? Do we do it even in the colleges? In the smaller colleges the stimulus to scholarship is often wanting. The college library consists of some few thousand volumes of, in great part, antediluvian literature, presented perhaps by some alumnus of that early period, a few books for class readings, and a couple dozen journals. And should the faculty ask for more, the trustees answer them like they answered Oliver Twist: Why there's the Encyclopedia Britannica and the whole of the World's Best Literature: What more do you want, you snobs?
What shall Oliver, do? Oh, occasionally a lively one works hard during vacations and at other times to get something done. But more often he chokes down his intellectual hunger, gets to tinkering with real estate, rubber stock, subsides into nocuous desuetude, and chews his little denominational cud. This brings me to chapter the last, which relates to Rousseau's dictum that a slave can not educate free men.
Students, especially immature ones, will imitate and model after their teachers. I am aware that the present plan of college studies, which, like a hotel dinner, gives you a lot of scraps, the whole not amounting to anything substantial, precludes a student's getting really interested in any branch of study or in any professor. Nevertheless, students will emulate their teachers. The greater the model now, the better for your boy and girl, and anything or anybody that undermines the respect, dignity and worth of the teacher, that makes him "unfree" is a drawback to education.