Dr. Meiklejohn, the former president of Amherst College, seems to arouse, among those who are interested in him and his doctrines, only two feelings--either violent enthusiasm or violent condemnation. He has, however, contributed an article in the current issue of Harper's Magazine--"The college and the Common Life"--which by its clarity and force should realign these two divergent feelings into sober admiration. In it he has set forth what to him is the teacher's credo and since he has had a wealth of experience from which to formulate the credo, one will do far better to listen than to sneer.
The teacher has two main articles of faith, according to Doctor Meiklejohn, and the first of these is that he must not be swayed from his own opinion by popular prejudice. Putting the thesis contrariwise, for the man in the street" to tell the teacher, the specialist in thinking, at what conclusion he must arrive is as absurd as for the patient to tell the doctor what kind of medicine to use. This doctrine is all right so long as the teacher remembers that he is the teacher and not the master of his pupil's mind. Let him advance his opinion together with the opinions of others on the subject and leave the pupil to judge. Than this nothing could be fairer.
The second article is that the teacher should not be special pleader for the beliefs correctly accepted by conservative opinion. His work is to investigate investigate moss-grown prejudices, his duty to present those solutions of fundamental problems which their fathers tested and rejected. For times change and new conditions may bring up to date what was once thought impractical.
In short the true teacher cannot pin his faith upon any theory or doctrine. He has faith in the mind of men alone. His sole aim is to fortify and develop the student's thinking processes, and if he does this he is a success.