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Two American university presidents were quoted in significant comment on education in yesterday's papers. Mr. Frank of the University of Wisconsin offered the interesting criticism that American university lag behind all the rest of the national educational structure and that the reason thereof is the pernicious influence of the elective system. Mr. Angell of Yale declared in Chicago that important changes in undergraduate fashions have taken place and that "it is now good form to study."

In essence President Frank's statement constitutes a brief for the liberal college. He sees the elective system as the symbol of the confusion which has befallen education and society alike with the increasing complexity of civilization. Unable itself to sift the mass of new knowledge the university shifts to the student the onus of selecting his own studies. The modern institution of learning thus becomes a vast intellectual cafeteria at which the immature student orders a la carte and suffers indigestion for his folly. In remedy President Frank suggests abandoning the elective system and the futility of smatterings, and teaching, to underclassmen at least, a single subject which has wholeness, and the meaning and interest which flow therefrom.

President Frank's analysis comes naturally from the new administrator of one of those immense educational factories which have grown up on the federal grants in public land states. It is here that curricula have been littered with every branch of information known to man. The liberal college has held to the doctrine that not matter but method counts, that the study of renaissance architecture or romantic literature, the classics or a science, may sharpen wits and awaken wisdom more effectively than technical training in the tools of the trade itself. Even at Harvard the elective system broke down, without a counterbalance and concentration and distribution were introduced. But the ultimate upshot has not been that chaos of curriculum tinkering of which President Frank complains, and in consequence there is no place for that sharp prescriptive retrenchment which he advocates.

It is here that President Annuli's observation enters in. The outburst of intellectual interest which has been a concomitant of the recovery from war hysteria is in part the cure of the evil which Mr. Frank distinguishes and in part the evidence of a cure already achieved in institutions whose curricula remain uncluttered with foreign substance. For it is in liberal colleges that the change in undergraduate fashions in study originated and in which it has developed farthest. It was not strange Saturday that the President of the University of Wisconsin should attack in Boston the abuses of the elective system while the president of Yale in Chicago was proclaiming the advent of a new renaissance of study.

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