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BEAN PORRIDGE HOT

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

"The Old Dog" has again brought Harvard before the readers of the Saturday Evening Post in an article entitled "Bean Porridge Cold" which appears in the current issue. When we first learned of it, the thought came to us that we would be delighted to cross swords once more with so able and so courteous an antagonist. But after we read the article. We saw that the duel was off, for "The Old Dog" is now on our side.

In his previous articles his denunciation of the undergraduate for his superficial cleverness and of the graduate for his shallow education, revealed a lack of sympathy for and understanding of college students, faced as they are by the baffling problem of acquiring an education. His latest article begins with the old unsympathetic note. He says "destructive criticism is the natural attitude of the youth of today." He may be pardoned for this hangover from his old point of view, however, since at last he shows a real understanding of the undergraduate's problem. What "The Old Dog" terms "destructive criticism" on the part of youth is aimed, he says, at "the cold-blooded methods of modern education." And then, at the risk of calling down upon his own head his premature judgment of the attitude of youth, he devotes four pages to a criticism of these same cold-blooded methods.

Most undergraduates will probably find "The Old Dog's" current article a fair reflection of their own point of view. This attitude, as he correctly says, is marked by "an ardent appreciation of the human element in teaching and a bitter hostility toward the pedantic." College students are tired of having knowledge interpreted to them wholly in terms of the classroom as something having little or no relation to life. The pedantic professor who treats facts as dry bones is tolerated by his classes with the same coldness as he himself radiates. Such a professor seems to have forgotten that all knowledge--science, philosophy, history, literature, religion--all had their origin in the problems of human life. Such a professor needs to learn that his facts become vital, and fraught with meaning and importance, only when they are thrown into relief against these problems.

Science, through its positive achievements in the phenomenal world, has come to dominate modern education. We are gone mad over the scientific method, and because it has accomplished so much in its legitimate field, we seem to think it the remedy for all our problems. In consequence, we apply it to matters that can never be reduced to formulas and cold logic. Human life is only partially rational. And by considering it wholly so, much of our education has become so much fact and circumstances dumped out of the dusty confines of some pedant's notebook and abandoned by him like so many blasted stumps on a sand-dune, completely severed from life and all things living. We are just awakening to the fact that by neglecting the imaginative and spiritual side of life, much of our education has reached an advanced stage of dry rot.

Student criticism is not directed against scholars, but against pedants who are not scholars enough. At Harvard, along with pedants whom any student might name, there are to be found true scholars also--rare men whom study has not ossified. The teaching profession today needs men, not walking dictionaries. True scholars, in addition to possessing profound knowledge, are eminently human and their knowledge is human. This human quality, moreover, can never be measured in terms of a Ph.D. And until American colleges abandon their foolish worship of a Ph.D. and substitute for it a combined standard of knowledge and personality, much of what we complacently term "education" will continue to be hollow inane, and futile.

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