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AND NOW YALE

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

Just one week ago the University announced that henceforth Seniors in good standing would be permitted to cut classes at discretion; yesterday came world from Yale of the inauguration of a similar policy at New Haven. The correspondent of the Boston Transcript enthusiastically hailed Yale's new ruling as "the most progressive extension of its educational policy attempted since the establishment of the elective system."

This coincidence in policy between the two universities is strong evidence of the new drift today in matters educational. In this loosing of the reins of discipline--of discipline in the old-fashioned sense--lies perhaps the most encouraging single aspect of modern American education. It constitutes recognition of the competence of the average mature student to exercise his own discretion in regulating his conduct and of the immense educational advantage which derives from that exercise. And at the same time it presents to those students who enjoy the initial benefits of the new liberalism the grave responsibility of vindicating the soundness of the reasoning on which it is based.

When the Harvard announcement first went abroad there were not lacking fogies to cast doubt upon the wisdom of so unheard-of a departure from precedent. What becomes of discipline? they demanded. "The Harvard experiment, delightful as it may be as an academic departure," opined the New York Herald-Tribune, "is quite at variance with the workaday system which is sure to be imposed upon its beneficiaries as soon as they leave Cambridge and set out to earn their livelihood."

Precisely here is the issue involved. The new experiment patterns college discipline on that of life. The best discipline of all is liberty, the discipline of self. There is far more of freedom and individual responsibility in the "workaday system" under which men live than there is of time-clocks and rules of punctuality and attendance.

Nor in discussion of the benefits of discipline and freedom accruing to undergraduates should sight be lost of the benefits, perhaps indirect to be gained by the Faculty. When the responsible student becomes sole judge of the comparative advantages to himself of attendance or absence at a given lecture those lecturers on whom the verdict is unfavorable will suffer a sharp awakening from empty classrooms. In its tonic effect on dull and profitless instructors lies by no means the least promise of Yale Harvard's new departure.

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