Mr. Lamont has written a very telling article for the current Advocate on "Who Runs Harvard and Why." He proves once for all, if there was ever need for proof, that the private school man "runs" extra curriculum activities and that the public school man ranks higher in scholastic work.
This situation, so he argues, is unhealthy and both groups of men are missing their best opportunities, for the former group, so he believes, would train itself better by devoting more time to the curriculum and the latter group needs the development of personality derived from outside activities. Mr. Lamont, unfortunately, takes this assumption for granted and contents himself largely with establishing the existence of a condition which is generally recognized.
Certainly there will be many who will object to Mr. Lamont's apparent contempt for the value of extra-curriculum work. There are those, who stirred to exaggeration, will repeat the old saying that a man who fails to study in professional school is as much of a fool as the man who really studies in college. Others will claim with greater seriousness that the real value to be gained from college is the ability to meet and handle other men and that this is best acquired outside the classroom. Still others will trace the emphasis on practical achievement in college to the materialistic basis of American civilization and will contend that college men are best preparing themselves for life by the very means which Mr. Lamont condemns on the part of the private school men. Moreover, so it is claimed, they are forced to concentrate when studying and are gaining as much from a few hours as they would otherwise from many.
The article is weakened by its failure to prove the assumption that the present situation is unhealthy. But, waving further objection it is reasonable to admit that it probably would be better both for the private school men themselves and for the country as a whole, if they spent somewhat more time on the curriculum rather than on other pursuits.
There can be no question, on the other hand, that the public school man would profit from greater extra-curriculum work.
Granting, then, the existence of an evil, what are the reasons and what are the remedies? Mr. Lamont believes that the private school man has the money, the training, the leisure and the inclination to spend his time on extra-curriculum pursuits. But there is something more fundamental. The average under graduate knows that "success" in college is not attained by scholastic records and he believes that the same is true of life. There is no reason for him to wish to belong to the Phi Beta Kappa; ambition will inspire him with every desire to succeed in extra-curriculum work. And so the private school man being generally better equipped by personality monopolizes the chosen field.
The remedy, of course, is two-fold. It is necessary to convince America in general and American leaders in particular that scholastic success is worth-while. It is necessary to convince the under graduate that America is convinced. Such organizations at the recently created Committee on Choice of Vocations can do much to accomplish these ends.
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