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American and German Universities.

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

Professor Francke of the German department has a long letter in the last number of the New York, Nation on a "Difference in German and American University Methods." Prof. Francke calls attention to the German Private docent wesen, an institution which is perhaps the most destructive of German scholarship. The private docent is a young man who has just won his doctorate, who has convinced the faculty of a German university that he is an independent searcher after truth. He is at once admitted to the same kind of teaching as the oldest members of the faculty, but assumes only self-imposed obligations. He receives no remuneration, and many of his duties are far from enviable; yet the proportion of private docenten to the total number of the university teaching force during the last fifty years has been about 25 per cent., and the last five years show an increase even over that number. Professor Francke gives comparative tables showing the percentage of work done by regular professors and privatdocenten in "general" and "special" courses compared with that of "full professors" and "instructors" at Harvard and Cornell in elementary and advanced courses. He shows that the tendency is in Germany "to let the older men do the bulk of fundamental instruction-to entrust the special investigation and research mainly to the younger men. On the other hand, at Harvard there is no fraction, at Cornell a very small one, of professors who teach elementary subjects only, whereas more than half of the instructors at Harvard, and nearly three-fourths at Cornell are engaged in just that kind of work exclusively; finally in both places the majority of the professors and a minority of the instructors are giving both elementary and advanced instructions. Professor Francke adds that the German system is considered an absolute success there. It is felt that the professors are best adapted to represent the foundations and the system of their science, that the enthusiastic privatdocenten are best fitted to reach out into new fields and to train investigators, that competition of one with the other furnishes a source of rejuvenation to the university.

In view of all these arguments, Professor Francke earnestly recommends the adoption of a similar system in American universities.

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