Professor Kuehnemann has had the happy idea of writing two articles for a German review on President Eliot's administration at Harvard. These articles have been translated in advance and are now published in the form of a book.
The College in 1869, says Professor Kuehnemann (who evidently has only the formal instruction in view), was like a German gymnasium, surrounded by a group of professional schools with low standards of admission and "merely practical aims." The work of President Eliot, he continues, has consisted in turning these schools into places for graduate and theoretical study; in leading the College from "the easy-going pursuit of prescribed courses" and "the drill system" to "a thoroughly scholarly training, befitting the dignity and importance of the learned professions"; and finally, in inducing the preparatory schools to raise their standards, diversify their teaching and catch the spirit of the elective system. On this Professor Kuehnemann observes that "discipline and liberty in the realm of education bear to each other the relation of premise and conclusion. Hence misgivings will be stronger in a country which, in respect to its school-system or systems, has not yet ceased to betray its character as a land of pioneers."
Many striking quotations from President Eliot's writings show that his policy has been inspired from the beginning by a singularly clear and comprehensive ideal of what education should be in a democracy. It should be open to all, it should foster individuality, it should produce experts and respect for experts, it should secure co-operation, and it should stimulate public spirit. These quotations from President Eliot, expressing his profound faith in a democratic society trained and enlightened as he would have it, are, I think, what will strike German readers most in the articles. They are also what will most interest the American public. A short account of the official arrangements at Harvard naturally contains much that is commonplace to us here, while on the other hand it passes over many things which belong to the true inwardness of the situation and which we think essential to the life and value of the place. But it is impressive to be reminded of what have been the national and humane ideals behind President Eliot's work. Professor Kuehnemann has presented these ideals fairly and enthusiastically. The presentation would gain if we could translate the German English back into his real German. Professor Kuehnemann misses in President Eliot "what might remind us of Kant," and he, or his translator, supplies it abundantly. Yet the exotic style marks well enough the peculiar character of the book. It is no treatment of the subject, simply for its own sake, such as an especially qualified person may some day undertake. It comes "as an homage of Germany to President Eliot . . . and at the same time to America in the person of her representative educator." It "should be regarded as a fruit of the intellectual exchange movement between Germany and America."