SCHOLARS OF THE WORLD
Before the war German universities played a very tangible part in the interests of student America. Like their great English rivals they served not only to supplement the work of the American colleges, but also to direct them, wherever possible, along higher paths of teaching. Oxford and Heidelberg were names of comparative importance. The lack of meticulous restraint, the scholarly enthusiasm, and the opportunity for intensive development in these universities was talked of with equal admiration by intellectual America.
War not only wrought great changes in the educational facilities of Germany, but it severed the bond of sympathy between the universities of the conflicting nations. Oxford still was able to lend its tutorial system to Harvard. Heidelberg dropped from sight. Nor could the chaos which followed peace in Germany prove any more tempting to foreign interests than the state of actual war. Sofa to say, that America would ever treat with importance the conditions extant in German universities while the mark was tied to a toy balloon.
It is fortunate that Mr. Bouton's article in the current Scribners, reprinted in part in this issue, is based on a Germany practical to the American student. His statements, combined with recent light thrown on the educational facilities at Nancy, broadens the entire field of foreign study. It should eventually result in putting the travelling fellowship on better than a pre-war basis and doing away entirely with that enormous prejudice in the mind of the graduate scholar in favor of the larger English universities.
The return of monarchial interests, of dueling, of odd theological beliefs prove that the universities of Germany have returned to an individualistic basis. The nature of college life leads a man to think for himself. The sum total of college is apt to disagree with the voice of the mob. Although American colleges may have favored Wilson's purpose to join the League of Nations, America itself went against that policy. Thus German universities in their revival of individualistic thinking show proofs of an escape from ruling contamination's. Hereafter their educational values will be as uncontrolled, as disinterested, as farsighted as those of Oxford and Cambridge.
Mayhap the universities of Germany have gained more from the war than they have lost. For with the natural poverty of a pation in defeat, there has come a desire for practical knowledge given vent to in the tremendous of "bread" courses. Doubtless the German universities have torn a leaf from the merits of the American Business College. But also the have torn foreign appreciation for abstract learning which is so scarce in America. It is hard to conceive of a field more attractive to scholar and student alike, crowded as it is with thoughts new and old, with precepts practical and otherwise.