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A revolutionary movement away from the established form of college education is embodied in the proposal of President Robert Mayard Hutchins of the University of Chicago to divide the university into three distinct units by splitting the present college into a "collegiate" and a "university division, leaving the status of the graduate schools unchanged. The purpose of the projected reform is to eliminate the rigidity of the present system by abolishing Freshman and Sophomore classes as such by incorporating them as a single entity in a more or less preparatory "collegiate" unit where promotion to more formal educational pursuits of the "university" unit will be based not on credits secured by the completion of a prescribed curriculum, as at present, but by the student's ability to increase his "mental capacity" and by his "reaction to the university's opportunities."
The projected reform which is as yet only tentative, in theory would seem to be a progressive and worth-while move which would allow students to proceed in their education at a rate more in accord with individual mental capacities than is possible under present conditions. A difficulty present itself, however, in finding a more accurate gauge of qualities, as intangible as a student's "mental capacity", and "reaction to the university's opportunities" than exists under the credit system which President Hutchins wishes to supplant. Such a gauge is necessarily the foundation on which the new system must rest, and unless President Hutchins, in discarding the credit system in the early undergraduate years, has something more effective to offer as its substitute than the only apparent alternative, "intelligence tests" of some sort, he is working on extremely precarious footing.
Progressive educators in recent years have established numerous "experimental" schools, very few of them conspicuously successful. If, however, President Hutchins has any real contribution to make to the advancement of education, the University of Chicago, with its high scholastic standard and efficient faculty, is an ideal "guinea pig."
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