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DEAN GREENOUGH'S REPORT

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Dean Greenough's report on Harvard College for the academic year 1924-25, which was made public on Saturday, brings up again a very important matter that was discussed at some length in undergraduate publications two years ago. Figures show, as they did then, that the scholastic records of students from public schools are decidedly higher, on the whole, than those of students from private schools. At the same time, extra-curricular activities are being carried on almost wholly by the latter group.

"We must find out," says Dean Greenough, wheather these activities are an advantage or a disadvantage to scholarship. . . . If they are not a disadvantage, should not the public school men be allowed--and urged to take--a larger share in them, and must we not search further for some cause or causes to which we can trace the inferior showing of the private school men?"

The difference between the standing of these two groups in the college can be traced, it seems, to two entirely different conceptions of education which the public and private schools respectively foster. In the public school a student gets the idea that education is solely a matter of attending classes and obtaining satisfactory grades. He spends a given number of hours a day in school, and the remainder at home or elsewhere in an atmosphere entirely divorced from that of his education.

At private schools the student lives continually in the atmosphere of the school. Education is not something apart from his ordinary life. It becomes the very substance of his daily existence. For him, education--or culture and life are one.

It would seem, therefore, that students from private schools would be better fitted for college than those from public schools. For the former, college is a continuation of a mode of life to which they are already accustomed, while for the latter, college is a wholly new experience, a complete break with the past. But once the two groups find themselves in competition with each other in college, new influences arise which tend to emphasize the differences which already exist between the two.

The student from a private school lands in college on his feet; at least as far as the general tenor of his life is concerned. From the first he takes the lead in extra-curricular activities. He enters the various competitions and pears off the prizes. Thus he becomes a respected and much envied being among his classmates.

When the student from a public school comes to college he has to adjust himself to an entirely new mode of existence. One notion is uppermost in his mind. His business is to study. So he studies. In all probability, he does not even enter the competitions; and if he does, he lacks a certain savoir faire which is indispensable for success.

The results of these early tendencies are equally unhappy for both groups of students. If the public school man is normal, he grows sensitive over his social disadvantages. Then study becomes for him what the psychoanalysis call "a defense mechanism", an avenue of escape from his unsatisfactory relations with his fellows. He comforts himself by scorning those activities in which he cannot excel. He retreats to his room, studies with redoubled energy, and seeks satisfaction and justification in grades.

On the other hand, the private school man recoils from the one-sidedness of his classmate; and this recoil engenders an opposite one-sidedness in himself. He abhors the "grind", or anything that looks like one. As for himself, he has won social distinction. He is elected to a club, or to half a dozen and the effect is cumulative. Thus he tends to over-rate this aspect of his education and be content with a "gentleman's C" in his courses.

These tendencies, of which the above are extreme examples, are very unfortunate and constitute one of the very real problems of Harvard education. Instead of occupying their proper complementary relation, the social and academic aspects of education are thrown into seeming conflict. It is not that extra-curricular activities are a bad influence, as scholars are sometimes minded to think them. They are invaluable aids--nay, rather, integral and indispensable parts of-the educational system. But they call for a balance of attention and interest which it seems very, difficult for students to maintain.

The remedy seems to lie in a general recognition of the two-fold aspect of education by both faculty and students. All students should be informed of the double nature of their task at the very beginning, and faculty advice should be employed to check one-sidedness in either direction. It is a matter of particular interest at this time that the Report of the Student Council Committee on Education, which will be made public tomorrow, deals with this problem at some length and offers a number of concrete suggestions for its solution.

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