In recent years, Harvard has displayed a growing tendency to lend her instructors to the state run extension courses. These courses meet in the evenings and provide an opportunity whereby those men and women, who have been forced to go to work on the completion or their high school training, are not deprived of a higher education. In cases where students take courses given by Harvard instructors, the University grants regular credit toward an Accumulative Arts degree.
However, while these state-operated courses are doing excellent work, Harvard could render a far more valuable service by incorporating within her own curriculum a system of education along the lines of that now in effect in Columbia. There, about 10,000 students, not part of the undergraduate body, are educated each year. With care and patience Harvard could develop and maintain a system of this kind which would be far more valuable than lending out instructors to a separate institution.
In the first place there is a large and growing demand for this sort of training from those working in or around Boston, and who have not the money nor the time to take a full college course. These people want a specialized education along certain lines and Harvard is well equipped to fill this demand.
Secondly, higher education is not the true function of the state. Like government in business, it is an anomaly which now and then comes to life until the natural course of events or man-made legislation can restore the accustomed order. Higher education is primarily the ward of the universities, and as such should be under their control.
Finally, such a system would provide a superb training ground for the younger instructors. Not only would they learn to conduct and address a group of students, but they would have a heaven-sent opportunity to replenish their regular salaries as members of the university staff. The chance to add to their wages and at the same time make them far more valuable in their connection with Harvard by means of this training would be a striking solution to a problem long in the minds of the corporation.
The details of a scheme of such proportions would naturally require care and much preparation. Although at first glance the difficulties in the way might appear numerous, the whole problem must be considered in the general light of this question--Will the result attained be worth the pains and effort spent in achieving the desired end?
The answer is obvious. Harvard should begin without delay to break the ground and to set about planning for the day when, with this scheme under way, she will be able to render a very real service to both the city and to the commonwealth of Massachusetts.