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In the March number of the Harvard Monthly, which appears today, Professor Macvane contributes an article entitled "The Three' Years Course." It is in opposition to the proposed change, and is partly a reply to Professor James' article in the January Monthly upholding the new plan. Both sides, both the majority and minority of the faculty, are anxious that Harvard's friends shall understand and discuss the matter thoroughly, and they are taking every means to bring to them this knowledge. They want them to understand the real spirit which underlies the opinions on both sides.
We can give no comprehensive summary such as the articles spoken of furnish; but we present what seem to us a few of the chief points on either side. Those who urge the new plan must assume the burden of proof. They say: first, that the present age of entrance into college is too high; second, that the growth in our standards and efficiency and the contemporary rise of the graduate school have been so great as to make the A. B. degree no longer the limit of general culture; third, that in general the number of college-bred men in America in proportion to the population has been growing less, and that the too high standard has been the cause of this defection; fourth, that at present there is a tendency to idle away a year in a vain belief in the good effect of a dreamy culture; fifth, that lowering the degree emphatically does not lower the standard of education; sixth, that in considering the question, we should consider not merely our own part of college but the general effect on the system of national education.
The other side, opposed to the change, says: first, that as a matter of fact, Harvard's growth has been far greater in proportion than the country's; second, that if a lower standard and easier requirements are necessary to make more men attend college, why have the colleges who grant degrees easiest flourished least? third, that our country is capable of indefinite development. Why cut down the standard already successfully reached? fourth, that a fourth year is frequently necessary to bring out a man's best work; fifth, that the change would break up the traditions and systems under which American colleges, and especially Harvard, have so flourished; sixth, that the new plan tempts men to do elementary and limited work, so as just to pass the required examinations.
Such seem to be a few of the chief points on either side. We cannot pretend to decide in the matter, nor can any single man, graduate or undergraduate. The question is far too broad for that. It is of vital interest not alone to Harvard, but to our whole system of education. We have given these few statements simply with the hope of calling more earnest personal attention and study of our undergraduates to a matter which must affect so vitally their college and education in general.
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