NECESSITY OF ACADEMIC CHANGE.
Whatever the source of the ideals before a nation it is important to know that the men who form or interpret them are the leaders of its people. Their responsibility is so enormous that a false ideal set up by them may carry the work of a whole generation to no advance. The opportunity of a university lies in the training of these men. If the university insists upon interesting itself primarily with the culture of the past, a culture which was as new in its day as the present culture which the university ignores is today, then men will ignore the colleges since there is no apparent connection between them and every day life. In so doing they will miss as well the study of history and literature which is the foundation of our present order and the key to an understanding of it.
Such a situation is far from actuality, yet its possibility must ever be kept in mind by educators. The university, acquainted with men's ideals and mistakes from the dawn of history, is the only qualified trainer. When the university produces the leaders, the chance of setting up false gods is reduced to a minimum.
But to maintain a curriculum in harmony with the times requires constant attention to changing conditions. Obviously no system is permanently good. Something corresponding to a standard has been established by the universities and colleges, but a departure from this "standard" should not be condemned because it is a departure. When, for instance, some institution, as Yale, makes a change in her system, as she did by abolishing a four-year Latin training for entrance, the only telling argument which can be brought against it is to show that the plan is out of harmony with the times.
The elimination of Greek from Princeton's entrance requirements will open her doors to many more students. However pleasurable to many Greek is no longer necessary to an appreciation of contemporary problems. Translations answer the purpose well. This innovation seems to be in harmony with our times. In like manner, Yale's move will open her doors to many more students. But is Yale going too far? Is not Latin so closely bound to our language and those of the European continent that a knowledge of it is essential to an understanding of modern speech? Can the mental training derived from the study of Latin in preparatory schools be substituted by any other course? This innovation may remove Yale from her place as a maker of leaders of men as thoroughly as though she had reinstated Greek.
While the university's place is in the van of progress, her work is advisory not directory. She can maintain her high place only by the careful notice of change and appreciation of conditions. If she is sluggish, men will go elsewhere for their ideals; if she caters too readily to the impatient haste of the day, men will no longer be inspired by her. The importance of keeping their curriculum in complete accord with the temper of the age merits this arduous task before the universities.