Mr. John Jay Chapman, writing in the December "Atlantic" on "Our Private Schools," finds that college entrance examinations have done more than anything else to destroy education in the secondary schools. Hardly less important as a contributory cause, he thinks, is the shift in emphasis from teacher to text-book.
Beginning with the modest assertion that the earliest surroundings of the sons of well-to-do people are nonliterate, Mr. Chapman adds that the private school is looked upon as a sluiceway to college. All through their life in the private school the boys are so oppressed by the spectre of the college entrance examination, marching upon them with a chastising text-book, that they cannot "find the leisure to be truly interested, truly absorbed in any thought." The remedy--Mr. Chapman uses the teaching of English as an example--is the reading of good books, learning poetry by heart, and practising composition under the eye of a talented man of letters.
To over-emphasize text-books instead of teachers is a mistake. But the thought of college entrance examinations as an oppressive spectre, keeping the secondary school boy away from all knowledge, is absurb. If anything, the private school man inclines too much to underrate them. It is true that because of the general "speeding-up" of colleges, private schools have had to shift from the task of educating to that of preparing. Whether the private schools can educate and at the same time prepare for college, and whether colleges really educate, are questions on which one man's opinions are just as good as another's. Mark Hopkins, sitting on one end of a log with his class of one at the other end, would have said that he was doing the only real educating--but Mark has been dead some years.