Wailing from a Park Avenue Presbyterian pulpit, Dr. Meiklejohn, director of the experimental college of the University of Wisconsin, covers himself with his usual sackcloth and ashes and vainly questioning, beats the un answering dust. Utterly discouraged with the futility of all educational institutions, this fiery and pessimistic crusader bitterly cites the Chinese famine, the disarmament conference, and the sordid evils of industrialism and finally points an interrogatory finger at the student, idle and ineffectual, at the teacher, cynical and discouraged. Inert ideas, learning unrelated to life, dullness in the classroom are some of the charges brought against modern education. "I leave the question with you" challenges this saddened educator, hoping but little.
Though some of these charges have some bearing on the truth, on the whole, this kind of criticism is more spectacular than constructive. Those who regard the college years from the point of view of the academic cloister and the hearth will be somewhat aghast at this new crusading function of the University. Crusading youth has generally been treated with a tempered skepticism by the older generation. The legendary children's crusade to rescue Jerusalem found a watery grave. Only in sheer revulsion can youth completely overstep the examples of those older and often self-styled the wiser. Protests from students against new educational experiments are received with as much indifference by educators as, according to the sighs of Dr. Meiklejohn, educators receive from students.
However, whatever as the function of the University and whatever value may lie in the adolescent intervention in national affairs, this crying in the wilderness is rather interesting in the light of Harvard's recent petition to Stimson and Hoover in regard to the management of the disarmament conference. Undergraduate publications in practically all American colleges bear witness to an interest in other problems of national and world significance. If in the face of these facts Dr. Meiklejohn still insists on the indifference of the students, he will run the risk of becoming a male Cassandra, prophet only of evil.