Amid Boston Overdose Crisis, a Pair of Harvard Students Are Bringing Narcan to the Red Line


At First Cambridge City Council Election Forum, Candidates Clash Over Building Emissions


Harvard’s Updated Sustainability Plan Garners Optimistic Responses from Student Climate Activists


‘Sunroof’ Singer Nicky Youre Lights Up Harvard Yard at Crimson Jam


‘The Architect of the Whole Plan’: Harvard Law Graduate Ken Chesebro’s Path to Jan. 6


Results in Artificial Separation of Various Forms of Knowledge--Suggests Study of Civilizations


The Crimson prints below the second half of Dr. Meiklejohn's speech at the N. S. F. A. congress on education. The first division appeared yesterday.

As to the course of study in an American college, I take it I have spoken so much on this and so often that I need to say but little. I am quite sure that as to the course of study, we have got to discard the elective system, if we are going to have a community of learning, and have a definite course of study. We must have all the members of the community engaged in the same intellectual enterprise. Our system as it is separates knowledge into parts and sends each member of the community to a collection of some of the scattered parts. We must bring them back together again, make some unification of preparation which shall bind us together as students. Various devices have been tried in recent years to establish unity among courses. WE have tried orientation courses for Freshman. We have been calling this orientation course an attempt to tell a Freshman what he is going to study before he studies it, as he goes into the field of social science, so that he will understand it, when he takes it, and I think they have done quite a little in the way of unification. More might be done by a senior course which would attempt to unify different courses after they had been taken. This was done formerly by the old senior course in philosophy. I think that there is one method that ought to be tried and that is the giving up of the division of knowledge altogether. Our election system is based on the division of the field of knowledge into subjects, and the student takes five at a time. I hope that, we are going to discontinue the attempt of studying a number of subjects, and study a civilization in all its aspects at the same time. I should like to get a group of Freshmen and acquaint them with Greek civilization as a whole; not separate subjects, but have a group of students who want to know the way of understanding a life and then take a great episode in human life and see what it looks like as a whole, and see if they can understand how a great people lived; not getting this or that special phase, but considering life as a single thing, for that is what they have to do with the life of today themselves; and I think we shall have to make this experiment of trying the unification by just doing away with the separation. But whatever we find, I am sure we have got to bring our course of studies together in some course of this kind.

Then secondly, this has become a commonplace view, what we must certainly do is to get the young American to take the responsibility upon himself of getting his own studies. Somehow or other we have fallen into a situation where the teacher is responsible for what happens to the mind of the student. Somehow or other we have got to get that relationship reversed. A student goes to college to learn and somehow he has got to start out learning for himself, and take the initiative himself, and whatever the teacher does must be by the way of guidance and a mere supplement to that which the student does himself. I think that the teacher can help the student, but can not do it for him and that is what we are trying to do with our lecture system and our scheme of instruction. We are trying to hand on to the students the work done by the teacher. Of course, that statement is too strong but there is too much of that. The thing that we find it hard to do, is to get the young American to stand on his own feet, we try to tell him, and so the result is that all he has to do is remember it. The proper relationship is that of master and apprentice, and the first duty of a teacher is to be a student, and then the teacher relationship comes when the young mind comes into contact with an older mind. It is very hard to get the young American to do it. You can not get a young American to play his own football games. They won't play it themselves. They have to get somebody else to manage it for them, someone to coach, for the young American does not care to play his own game; they want to furnish the bulk and they are run into the machine with someone else in charge. We all know who runs the games, who must be gotten rid of, if the games are lost. In all college papers we find editorials as to whether a certain individual should be gotten rid of or retained next year. It is easy to determine where the responsibility lies as to games, and the same applies to studies. It is terribly hard to get the young American to stand on his own feet, either in intellectual matters or other matters. All that is what we have to do. We have got to insist that the student take the lead, and if they want to study, they must do that themselves.

To sum the whole matter up: It seems to me in these various ways, all we have to do is to establish an intellectual community to bind a group of people together a community based on intellect. I think that it can be done only in a small community or group. Our colleges are altogether too large. The great trouble there is not that our student body is too large but that our faculties are large. The great difficulty in this is that the faculty are too numerous to have intellectual unity of their own. If we are to have a community dominated by some single unified point of view, what we need is a small group of teachers where they can know each other intellectually well, where they can get their education from each other, and keep on getting it all the time. I am looking

Want to keep up with breaking news? Subscribe to our email newsletter.