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The flood-wave of anti-intellectualism which has been inundating American university life during recent years will find an adamantine dike in its way if President Conant's experiment in study- as-a-hobby is carried through to its logical conclusion at Harvard within the next few years.
According to this plan, Harvard will attempt to inoculate students with the habit of independent reading and intensive study apart from courses to prevent the after-the-degree forgetfulness of "intellectual and spiritual growth." To Dr. Conant it seems "a hopeless task to provide a complete and finished liberal education suitable to this century by four years of college work." In other words, he believes that "the only worth-while liberal education today is one which is a continuing process throughout life." Accordingly, by this "extra- curricular study" the university at Cambridge will instill that educational virus which alone retains its potency in three score years and ten -- "the virus of self-perpetuating liberal education."
That the inoculation will not be a mere injection of the needle is obvious in the nigh-failure of the independent reading system here at Princeton. The success of this month's reading period will prove to a degree whether or not Princeton may be compared with Harvard in the realm of intellectual curiosity and integrity.
If we are to live up to Nicholas Murray Butler's requirement that education should be the "gradual adjustment to the spiritual possession of the race, with a view to realizing one's own potentialities and assisting in carrying forward that complex of ideas, acts and institutions which we call civilization," Princeton must instill in us that habit of intellectual growth, in order to improve "the big American disappointment" the man educated in the university. --The Princetonian
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