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The Curriculum of Study at Harvard in Early Years.

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

Among the points worthy of attention in this curriculum are: (1) The course of study was for three years and was arranged for the so-called first, second and third classes. The first classics was of third year men. Second, the attention of each class was concentrated for an entire day upon one or two studies, with "theory" in the forenoon and "practice" in the afternoon. Third, Monday and Tuesday were devoted to philosophy, including logic and physics for the first year, ethics and politics for the second year, with arithmetic, geometry and astronomy for the third year. All this work was done in the morning hours. In the afternoon came philosophical disputations for each class in its own field of study ("every one in his art"). Four, Wednesday was Greek day for all classes. First-year men studied etymology and syntax in the forenoon and practiced the rules of grammar in the afternoon; the second class studied prosody and dialects from 9 to 10 a. m., and practiced in "Poesy" after dinner; third year men did likewise in the theory and practice of Greek composition, prose and verse. (5) Thursday was devoted to the "Eastern tongues," with the theory of Hebrew, Chaldee and Syriac grammar in the morning, and practice in corresponding Bible texts in the afternoon. (6) Friday was given up to rhetoric. All students were taught the principles of rhetoric and were required to practice English composition and once a month declaim. (7) Saturday at eight o'clock in the morning, all the students were taught "Divinity Catecheticall" and at nine o'clock "Common Places." These latter were common topics of scholastic discussion and digests of doctrine, argument or opinion. (8) The last place in the curriculum was given to history and nature. At one o'clock Saturday afternoon, immediately after the twelve o'clock dinner, the students were taught history in the winter and the nature of plants in summer, Historia civil is and Historia natural is were close companions in all early academic courses, and they have remained associates in some American colleges down to the present day. (9) The absence of Latin from the entire plan of study is noticeable, and is explained by the fact that students were required to speak Latin in the class-rooms and in the college yard. Latin was the main requirement for admission to Harvard College. The rule was: "When a scholar is able to understand Tully (Cicero) or such like classical Latin author extempore, and make and speak true Latin in verse and prose suo ut aunt Marte, and decline perfectly the paradigm's of nouns and verbs in the Greek tongue; let him then and not before be capable of admission into the college." Such classical preparation was given to boys by the ministers in and around Cambridge, who were well educated Englishmen and talked Latin with their pupils. There was also by the college "a faire Grammar school, for the training up of young scholars and fitting them for academical learning," (10) The relative importance of the various branches of academic discipline, as indicated in this original curriculum of Harvard College, appears to have been as follows: First, philosophy (logic and physics, two hours; ethics and politics, two hours; disputations, six hours); altogether ten hours a week. Greek came next, occupying, with New Testament Greek, seven hours. Rhetoric (the writing and speaking of the mother-tongue) enjoyed the third place of honor, employing six hours. Oriental languages held the fourth place, occupying five hours a week. Mathematics stood next in order, with two hours. The catechism and "common-places" were equally favored with an allowance of one hour. History and botany were put on half allowance, each with one hour a week for a half-year. (11) Altogether in the scholastic week at Harvard College in 1642 and 1643 there were thirty-three hours of theory and practice, averaging eleven hours a week to each class. (12) Saturday afternoon was a half-holiday, except that the first hour of it was improved by the college, possibly with the hope that, after an introduction to history in the winter and to the nature of plants in the summer, students would further improve these fields of study during the remainder of the afternoon. Ability to translate passage of the Bible from the Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic into Latin, and to expound biblical texts, were the main requisites for the Bachelor's degree. A scholastic digest of logic, ethics, physics, mathematics, etc., with ability to defend theses, superceded to the above-mentioned biblical training and approved piety secured to the candidates the degree of Master of Arts.

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