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Professor Charles E. Rugh of the University of California has given an old saw a picturesque rebirth. The colleges, he asserts "heap knowledge upon a student like hay" and then say "stack it yourself." This complaint is nothing but the platitude, dear to all educational declaimers, that method is more essential than fact, reason than memory. Still admitting the great age of this truism, one cannot but be glad of an occasional restatement to refresh an ideal.
The ideal is that education may be free from pedantry, that the facts necessary for scholarly reputation in a subject be not forced upon the casual student caring only for its cosmic position, at the expense of an understanding of its scope and color. All students, save those with professional intent are casual as compared with their instructors; wherefore the instructor must assume two distinct beings, the scholar and the teacher. In the one he must be thorough systematic; in the other he must own a genius for stepping outside of himself to correctly apportion, emphasize, and attract.
It is a task for a mental colossus as long as scholarship and instruction retain their Slamese relationship. Nor do standard curricula always assist toward the desired end. They sometimes spring from separate departments and emmesh the student, without being subject to correlation by a whole faculty.
But these things are recognized throughout the educational world. It is a question of their maximum application through slowly changing practice. And it must be remembered that there is no such thing as an educational process that teaches method in the abstract. Method works on and through facts as inseparably as energy exists through matter. Moreover, there is some intrinsic value in specific facts. Each aye has its environmental permancies: To learn of them, though the process he simply memorizing, is even necessary.
Men and institutions are as far a why from the just balance, the true proportion here as they are in other questions of social benefit. One can but remind that the minutiae of no one or even several subjects should be allowed to obscure a complete and philosophical out took; that memory work should never consist of transient facts and should never outrun the capacity and training aimed at their utilization. The student should not be competled to stack his has in too overflowing forks-full.
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