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Representative Britten's resolution providing for a congressional investigation of the educational system at the West Point Military Academy is of interest to those who have the safety of the nation at heart as well as to those who have this safety directly in their care. Whatever individual opinion may hold as to the efficiency of West Point graduates in the science of war there can be little doubt that on the whole the work of the West Pointers was not thoroughly satisfactory to the army in France nor to the nation at home.
Army men, and particularly those army men who represent West Point either as graduates in regular military service or as instructors, must face possible error in the academy's methods as they would face error in the actual conduct of a battle or campaign. They will do much better to heed a warning and correct errors from within than to wait until a congressional inquiry or public opinion forces a less well considered change of methods.
Dr. Charles W. Eliot, president emeritus of Harvard University, whose criticism inspired the Britten move, asserts that "no school should have a completely prescribed curriculum, or have its teaching done almost exclusively by recent graduates of the same school. West Point breeds in and in, a very bad practice for any educational institution."
Dr. Eliot might well have added that such a practice is especially dangerous in military education. It tends to develop a fixity of mind and method in a science in which flexibility is essential. Probably in no other line of human activity is the pressure and need of new ideas so great as in war. Upon combating the old and developing new methods and material depends victory or defeat.
If West Point sees this and acts in accord with its vision, it will be taking the greatest step possible to insure its own future and the country's safety.--Chicago Tribune.
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