Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

dent has much practice in written work throughout his training, and in future years a large part of the activities which he manifests will find expression in the same form. In relation to such production, the mature scholar differs from the young student as much in possessing a serviceable knowledge of the sources of information concerning any given topic as in having an acquaintance with its general facts. But it is not sufficient that this knowledge should be docketed in reference books; it must be systematized and available, so that the student may be an intelligent exponent and debater under circumstances in which no leisure is afforded for consultation of authors or written preparation of his views. I am of the opinion that a valuable aspect of the scholar's preparation has been lost sight of in proportion as the method of training involved in oral discussion and examination is allowed to lapse. Sixteen universities of those already cited include an oral examination in their requirements for the doctor's degree, to which number a large addition should probably be made, since in twenty-six cases of the forty-four institutions which set examinations the character of the test is not specified.

For completing these examinations in many institutions a knowledge of one or more foreign languages is necessary. The bearing of this requirement is sometimes misunderstood. The point of view which it embodies is wholly distinct from that purpose which in the college commonly fosters a study of the classics and modern languages. To the undergraduate these disciplines are of value chiefly for the new range of stimulations which they afford in presenting to him other types of civilization and expression than his own, and for the resultant enlargement of his intellectual horizon, and the quickening of his sympathy with human experience at a multitude of novel points. For the university student, on the other hand, the enriching of character and deepening of enjoyment in life form no part of the significance which these linguistic attainments possess. They are purely instrumental to scholarship, and are important, nay, indispensable elements in his equipment, for the reason that without the knowledge of more than his own tongue the student will inevitably be shut out from sources of information concerning his material, the lack of which must lay the results of his work, and even his method itself, open to grave suspicion. Of the fifty American universities above quoted twenty-nine require a knowledge of both French and German, seven require Latin in addition to the foregoing, one requires German only, and in the case of twelve institutions acquaintance with foreign languages is either not required or not specified.

Of the wholesomeness of this linguistic demand there can be no question. The work of each scientific scholar is becoming ever more intimately dependent upon the labors of all others as the nations draw into closer communication with one another, and we look for the swift approach of uniformity of opinion in regard to this requirement when no graduate of a university in good standing shall be without a reading knowledge of at least two modern languages in addition to his own tongue.

Some Thoughts on College Entrance

Requirements

FRANCIS RAMALEY, BOULDER, COLO.

HAT is college preparation? Some years ago the high school course actually prepared the student to take up his work in college ; in other words, the college work was a continuation of that given in

the high school. Latin, Greek and mathematics formed the main part of the course of study in both high school and college, and the students entering the higher institution without a thorough grounding in these subjects could find very little to do. At the present time the subjects of Latin, Greek and mathematics form only a very small part of the work done in the college or university. Aside from these branches, practically every subject taught there can be begun without previous training. A student of good ability might enter the university with but one year's high school preparation, stay four years, and complete satisfactorily the various courses which he might elect. Thus we see that the high school course no longer actually “ prepares” for college.

” for college. Many subjects may be begun in the college or university, since the elementary courses are actually given there. Let us see if we can find the meaning of the preparatory

Is it intended to fit the student for certain special branches, or is it merely to insure a trained mind? I believe that a study of entrance requirements in state universities at the present time will lead to an affirmative answer to the second part of our question. Thus we find that many of the more progressive universities no longer have rigid requirements for entrance, but simply ask that the applicant have a thorough four-year course in the secondary school.

What foreign languages should be required? Great stress was formerly laid on preparatiou in foreign languages. Now, however, these subjects are no longer considered so essential.

course,

Students are permitted to choose among the various foreign languages, and carrying out the elective principle the student is allowed to present other subjects in place of part or all of the language. At the University of Michigan, for example, Greek and Latin are not required for entrance, and in fact only two years in foreign language is required. At the University of Wisconsin, for certain courses the student must present credits in Greek and Latin ; but there are other courses open to those who have had only modern language, or even to those who have no language but English. At the University of Minnesota no foreign language of any kind is required

kind is required for entrance. At many of the other state universities but two years' work in foreign language is required.

We may well ask why the student should be required to study foreign languages in the high school and then be required to continue the same in the university. The so-called “ tool value" of languages, especially modern, is often exaggerated. It is true that a student who expects to become a professional man of science, as a chemist or botanist or physicist, should have a good reading knowledge of French and German and also know something of Greek and Latin. Still it is not necessary to require him to pursue these subjects in the high school. If he does not elect them there he will elect them in the university. The student who intends to become a teacher of language will prepare himself by the study of one or more foreign languages. The student who expects to teach history or philosophy or any other branch in the university will do the same.

But how many of our students actually look forward to such careers as we have suggested? The great majority of them will not pursue in college any subject for more than two years or perhaps, at the very outside, three years. In order to carry on this work there is little need for the study of any foreign language. However, a certain knowledge of Latin would surely be of very great value in any line of study.

Have we been following a wrong principle? It seems to the writer that we have been making a great mistake all along in our requirements for admission to the different courses in the universities. In order to enter the scientific course students must present high school credits for about three years' work in science. When these students reach the university they are for the most part put into classes along with others who have had no high school training in these special branches. If they enter the more advanced courses they are not likely to be so well prepared as those who have had the elementary work in college. The high school courses in science are well adapted to the needs of students who do not pursue these subjects farther. They might well be required for entrance to the classical and philosophical courses in the university, but not to the scientific course. If the applicant for admission to the B. S. course has had “preparatory” work in science, well and good; but if he has not it is no matter. If the student wishes to make a specialty of modern languages in the university he may begin these subjects in the high school, but this is not necessary. The young man or woman with training in science should be welcomed to the language courses.

If, as is generally supposed, the function of the university is to give the student a liberal education, then what we should require for entrance to the scientific course would rather be subjects not directly related to science. The same principle holds good in regard to the classical course. Students enter this course with a large amount of preparation in Latin and Greek and frequently with no science and little work in the new humanities. Would it not be much more sensible to require science and history and modern language for entrance to the classical course, and reduce somewhat the requirements in the ancient languages?

It happens at the present time that students in the scientific course do have considerable training in languages and the new humanities, and so they receive a general all around education. The classical course, as now given in most colleges, is really the only one-sided course, for in that students have practically no training whatever in science. Their whole course is of such a nature that they are not likely to elect work in the sciences to make up for the meager entrance requirements in those lines.

What of the future? Just as the universities have been able to make their own courses of study largely elective, so they will

« AnteriorContinuar »