Professor Barrett Wendell '77 delivered the first of a series of lectures on "Impressions of Contemporary France," in the Fogg Lecture Room yesterday afternoon, treating the special topic of "The Universities and Education."
The University system in France, Professor Wendell said, resembles a Dante picture, with its exact place for every individual. This system is as centralized in France as the public school system is centralized in one of our cities. At the head of it is the Minister of Public Instruction, who is a member of the Cabinet and ex-officio, Rector of the University of Paris. The duties of this office, however, are borne by a vice-rector, aided by the directors of the departments of primary, secondary and higher instruction. France is divided into 15 districts, each with its University, ruled by a rector and by the four faculties of Letters, Science, Law and Medicine. Not only are reports on all the actions of their university, sent in by these rectors, but investigations are always being carried on by special inspectors, and the complete record of each teacher and official is field at the Central Bureau in Paris.
Another peculiar feature is that no one is allowed to teach in state universities or schools, and almost all schools and universities belong to the government, who does not hold a degree which corresponds to the admission certificate of an American university. Many civil offices, moreover, are open only to men who have this degree.
Primary school education consisting of reading, writing and arithmetic, is compulsory for everyone in France. The student may then pass through the lyceum or college, and finally, perhaps, try for the degree of doctor, a distinction rarely won before the candidate is 35 years old.
Unfortunately, all traces of organized student social life are lacking in France and appalling formalities are ever present.
Professor Wendell will deliver the second lecture of the series on "The Structure of Society," in the Fogg Lecture Room at 4.30 o'clock tomorrow afternoon.