Education for War
Beneath the confusion of indefinite statements and competitive bidding, the Army and Navy's blueprints for the utilization of the country's colleges in wartime present what is essentially an unavoidable contrast in purpose as well as in provisions. Properly coordinated by the War Man-power Commission and executed by the trainees, they can still provide the long-sought solution to the national quandary of how colleges can best serve in a nation at war.
While each branch of the service is formulating its program with regard to its interests alone, the Army has the misfortune of facing circumstances which inevitably make its a concentrated technical education, in which a man is a soldier before he is a student and where there is but little place for the liberal arts. The Army is facing a severe manpower shortage; it must plan to train as much officer material as possible in the shortest feasible time. Three months' basic training will be obligatory under its program: once at college, military students will follow a prescribed curriculum. Three courses will probably be technical, the fourth a syllabus of what the Army regards as valuable in a liberal education, probably prescribing the outlines if not the attitudes which professors must follow. With soldiers apparently quartered in barracks, under military discipline, often with "no time" for extra-curricular activities, the only thing collegiate about the plan as it stands will be the professors and the equipment.
The Navy, on the other hand, need fear no immediate shortage of officer material. They claim that the Navy depends on individual action in independent units, and hence requires officers on whom greater responsibility can be placed. They therefore can and will offer their students their idea of a liberal education, with naval trappings, yet prescribing no boot training, no barracks, and giving their students freedom of extra-curricular activity, they are coming as close to a liberal education as is consistent with their own needs.