Criticized For Emphasizing Practicality, Declares Lake
Former Bible Professor Indicts Much of American Education In Talk at Brown
By the Brown Daily Herald
Providence, R.I., Mar. 3--Declaring that he had been criticized at Harvard because he insisted on teaching a course with emphasis on its modern practical aspects rather than on its purely factual and historical content, Kirsopp Lake former professor of History at Harvard, delivered an address on American education to the Rhode Island Alpha of Phi Beta Kappa last night.
Much of the American system of education was indicted in the talk. Discussing his connection with education in Holland, England, and the United States, Lake said that the Dutch system was superior to the others in that it avoided both the dangers of the tutorial system and the mass-production technique of American education.
Against Idealization of Degree
The most serious part of Professor Lake's indictment was directed against the idealization of the degree--especially the Ph.D.--in American education. He advocated awarding the bachelor's degree at the end of the second year and the devotion of future educational time to graduate work.
He also flayed the American practice of taking certain courses for credit and claimed that in most cases the student, five years after college, failed to remember anything significant about them. In the matter of preparatory education he said there was no reason for teaching elementary language courses in colleges and that the contemporary method of teaching English composition was open to serious criticism.
"Silly Little Essays"
Professor Lake claimed that the best method, speaking from his own experience, was the requirement of classical education that only the best English be used in the translation of the classical languages. He characterized this statement by pointing out how ridiculous it was for Harvard students to write "silly little essays on the sunset over the Charles River."
In the matter of graduate degrees, he said, students wrote theses not because they had anything new to say but merely because it was required of them. Excepting the field of natural science he described this activity as being like "The gyrations of an intellectual squirrel in an academic cage."