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Progress is a fearsome thing for it leads from well-charted highways to unexplored paths which may end in some dark forest or municipal dump. As a result, it is easy to understand why Professor Rand feels that Latin is an essential part of a gentleman's education. It explains too, why so many of the Faculty join him in his attempt to retain the classics requirement. If motorists did not desire to visit new and fast growing settlements of learning, there would be no need to leave this main artery for the unexplored paths.
There is little to dispute about many of the merits which are boasted for Latin. It gives one a valuable knowledge of ancient times; it opens the doorway to several fields such as Medievel History and the Romance Literatures; and it lends cultural and relaxing possibilities to the student in later life. On a similar basis, however, we think that History is more essential than Latin. Other groups believe just as sincerely that English 28, Physics C, and Fine Arts 1b are indispensable to an education. Is it fair that Latin should continue to receive preferential treatment from the College? If it does, we see no reason why Mr. Conant is not open to lobbying from all these vested interests.
Educaion has developed so much during the last decades that several fields may treat a subject from different angles. Yet a student at Harvard finds it immeasurably difficult to take advantage of these opportunities today. For instance, if a man becomes interested in color through Philosophy 6, he may desire to learn what Physics Psychology, and fine Arts have to say on the subject. How many men are able to surmount the hurdles of requirements at present to do this? If Latin is required, a man may have to sacrifice one of these other courses which would be of more value to him.
Harvard will never sneer at Latin. Its value as a subject is apparent to almost every educated man. Nevertheless, the time has come when Latin must stand on its two feet and enter into fair competition with other fields of education. To convince students of its value, supporters must do more than praise its worth, they must exhibit the characteristics of which they boast. Three hundred years ago, the Faculty required that Latin be spoken on College grounds. We doubt if even Mr. Rand would advocate this now. Since the turn of the century Greek has been omitted as a requirement. Despite a bitter struggle, few people today dispute the wisdom of the step. No, the tide is sweeping on, and it is encouraging that it should. Latin's approaching defeat is not an insult to Caesar, but a salute to those educators who have definitely broadened the horizon of scholastic activity.
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