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The admirably suggestive report of the Education Committee of the Harvard Student Council will afford material for helpful discussion, not only at Harvard but in other American universities. It represents the keen observation of a committee of students who are representative of the best undergraduate intelligence and character. The principal recommendation of the committee, that for a division of the Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors into permanent groups for purposes of residence--or, in other words, into "colleges" on the English plan is advanced with some very clear and cogent reasoning. It is of course, based on the present condition of unwieldiness, of dispersion, of separation and hopeless unacquaintance on the part of the great body of students. Harvard, in its present condition, cannot be a unit. It is too large to accomplish one of its main purposes. The plan of the committee of the Student Council is to split the upper class students (the Freshman, by that time, being all required to live in college dormitories) into six residential units, each having its common room and dining hall--the whole purpose being to supply an opportunity for social intercourse and a sort of integration which would go beyond the social pole and hopefully enter that of the intellectual. It is needless to say that this plan would in no wise affect the operation of the present academic system.
Beyond all doubt our great universities have, by their very size, to a great extent lost their grip on their students. Whether or not this plan of subdivision would enable them to regain that hold on the individual student is a question for our great educators to determine. Already there are signs of a drift toward English methods in dealing with the question. The two great English Universities represent more centuries of educational evolution than most of our own have dared to contemplate. Even a generation ago, Harvard University was a compact and easily handled college, a veritable cultural unit, compared with what it is now. The suggestion of the Student Council is at least well worthy of careful study.
Equally suggestive is the recommendation of the committee of the Council in the matter of instruction in philosophy. It is proposed that the philosophy course shall quite directly envisage the "current conflict between religion and science" not, apparently, in a matter which assumes to settle the question ex-cathedra, but in a way to present the vital elements of the subject. The report says: "The course should present the philosophy of Plato, that of Aristotle, of the Stoics, of Kant, of one of the Moderns, say Bergson, and possibly one or two others." Though the committee does not say so, in presenting this demand it is echoing the ideas of Professor William James, who with his philosophy is surely to be included in the "one or two others." No philosopher of modern times was more keenly aware than he of the "internal nature" which philosophy must recognize and study. The recommendation is significant of the demand which our serious youth are making to come closer to the fountain head of life. It reflects the conclusion of the younger generation, that physical science cannot be everything. --Boston Transcript, April 6.
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