Изображения страниц

Kingdom of God, to give religious instruction; but I think a careful study of the conditions and the arrangement of our courses will force us to admit that we have done very little in the higher spheres of our religion, and I believe that when we admit this candidly that will be the beginning of the end for the evil which we deplore. I congratulate the College Department in this awakening, an awakening to the needs of religious instruction, and I congratulate the members on having their first inspiration in the scholarly paper which has just been read for us.

Rev. Francis CASSILLY, S. J.: As I understand that we may comment on the paper which has just been read, I should like to say a word on a practical point of religious instruction, that is on getting the students to frequent the sacraments. In fact so important is this practical phase of religious training that it might profitably form the subject of a special paper in some future meeting of the Association. The Holy Father is deeply interested in the spread of frequent Communion, and especially in schools and colleges. Wishing to "restore all things in Christ,” he is making every effort to promote the reception of the sacraments, and his efforts are being nobly seconded by zealous priests and pastors. As a consequence this revival of devotion to the Blessed Sacrament is being felt everywhere, and nowhere more, perhaps, than amongst the youth of our Catholic schools. Some time ago, I met the chaplain of a convent boarding school, who told me that the pupils were nearly all daily communicants. On my asking what effect this practice was producing, he replied that a great change had come over the pupils, and that their good behavior and love of study had become a source of great delight to the teachers. In a great many schools, even day schools, the children are now receiving Communion weekly or oftener. In the college with which I am connected, nearly all the students are weekly communicants, and during the month of May, this year, seventeen of them received Holy Communion daily in their own parish churches, before coming to college. This is merely an instance of the awakening which is going on in most Catholic colleges. In schools it may sometimes happen that teachers are slow to encourage the practice of frequent Communion, wishing to throw all the burden on the priest. Of course the teacher's efforts have to be approved and seconded by the priest, but at the same time, it is well to remember that the priest often waits for the initiative and cooperation of the teacher.




Heretofore our institutions of higher learning have held aloof not only from State and non-Catholic institutions but from one another on all educational matters. Each has been a law unto itself. The educational problems which have been forced upon us in the last quarter of a century, have broken down the barriers of our isolation, and in the Catholic Educational Association, wherein the awakening has found expression, there is great promise of that union which gives strength, of that cooperation which begets mutual advantage, of that organization wherein will be found the perfect articulation of the various units of a complete educational system. Much has already been done by the Association. It has created a healthy public opinion in favor of higher education. Its friendly scrutiny has brought to light our merits and laid bare our defects. By honest and earnest discussion, based upon the experience of experts, it has opened the eyes of our educational leaders to the conditions which confront us. It has made us feel that we have nothing to fear from hostile criticism as long as we have for our fundamental standards, honesty, sincerity and thoroughness.

In the present paper it is my purpose to build upon the foundations already laid, and should I add anything to the solidity of the groundwork or the beauty and utility of the superstructure, I shall feel repaid by the thought that the cause of Catholic education has been thereby advanced.

My subject has a direct bearing both on the college and the high school. The number of units required and elective for college entrance cannot be intelligently discussed without taking into consideration the interests of the high school as well as those of the college. Without surrendering its ultimate rights, the college may well concede the wisdom of modifications and the necessity of a cooperative policy. In this way the high school will be recognized, and it will be given sufficient freedom of action to fulfill with efficiency its primary function, the preparation of the majority of its pupils for the business of life, while promoting with a like efficiency the interests of its minority, who resort to it to prepare themselves for college. In order that the high schools may fulfill this office with dignity and profit, there is need of uniformity in college entrance requirements.

Any college worthy of the name, requires of its students a standard for entrance, a standard for promotion and a well defined standard for graduation. The high school alone cannot solve the problem involved in its secondary function, the preparation of students for college. It needs first a clear statement from college men on the subject of entrance requirements. State and non-Catholic colleges have long since recognized this, and by acting accordingly have emphasized the preparatory function of the public high school to such an extent that it has almost ceased to be the poor man's college and has become a feeder for colleges and universities.

In the Catholic system great confusion prevails on this point. The quantity and quality of instruction imparted, the time necessary for the process of assimilation, the method best adapted to intellectual development, during the period which intervenes between the grammar school and the college, have all contributed their share to the problem of compound confusion which finds an unintelligible expression in our college catalogues. A careful study of these catalogues seems to indicate a wide divergence of opinion on requirements for admission, which I believe does not really exist. The confusion springs primarily from the lack of a common unit. The comparison of our colleges with one another, and with other colleges, on the basis of entrance requirements, involves a process of computation which calls for no mean mathematical ability. However, when, by a laborious process, the data has been extracted and the least common multiple found, by a manipulation of division, multiplication and addition, we arrive at the conclusion that we are much nearer to uniformity than appears at first sight. Hence in this paper no effort is made at standardizing, but its purpose is to make clear the entrance standards of the colleges, so that a natural and significant junction may be established between the high school and the college.

Before taking up the problem implied in the title of this paper we must first consider a condition which demands a readjustment of the American school system. All our colleges admit students from the fourth year high school to their freshman class, either by examination or certification. This means eight years of elementary and four years of secondary education before taking up that of college grade. The average student, according to this, would be nineteen years old before entering the college. Adding to this the four years of the college course, he would be twentythree before specializing or taking up professional studies. That the student has been detained two years too long before beginning special work is evident from the arrangements which are made by technical schools and universities, whereby they try to overcome this time handicap by combining the first two years of technical and professional courses with the last two years of college work. The distinct entity of the college is endangered as long as this condition prevails and this condition will prevail as long as students are forced to lose two years before completing their general education. The difficulty will not be solved by the expedient unfortunately resorted to by some of our colleges, of allowing bright students to finish a four year high school course and a four year college course in six years. Less injury would be inflicted upon our colleges by holding out this inducement to dull students, for they will never rise above the dead level of mediocrity, the state to which bright students are reduced by this miserable expedient. We need four years of secondary education in addition to the elementary training of the grammar school as a preparation for college and we need four years to round out the liberal education which our colleges profess to give. The fact that two years are lost in the elementary schools is no reason why we should make our students forfeit two years from the high school and the college.

The conviction is forcing itself more and more upon every true student of educational conditions in the United States, that time, even to the extent of two years, is lost in the elementary or grammar schools because there is no clear conception of what


these schools should teach, as is evidenced in their attempt to teach too many things to the detriment of the fundamental intellectual training common to all education. We cannot remedy this by reducing our high school and college to a lower plane. As long as the high schools and colleges follow the policy of railroading their students through at an accelerated.rate, to make up for lost time, so long will our higher institutions of learning be diminishing their efficiency to their own and their students' detriment. There is but one remedy and that is a clearer comprehension of purpose and a more simple and thorough curriculum in the elementary schools. Whether the juncture between the high school and the grammar school be made in the sixth, seventh or eighth year, the pupil beginning secondary education must have as much capital to start with, as the average student who leaves the eighth grade of the present day elementary school. Hence the ultimate solution of the reorganization of the grammar school should have no effect upon the requirements which the college should place upon the high school.

The preparatory curriculum of the Catholic high school, according to a resolution presented to the Catholic Educational Association some years ago, should lead up to the curriculum of the Catholic college and be at least equivalent to its entrance requirements. In order that we may have a definite conception of what constitutes this high school curriculum which is equivalent to college entrance requirements, we must agree upon some unit of measurement.

In admitting students to college the questions are asked: In addition to the grammar school course, what subjects have you studied? How long have you pursued each? In answer, English, mathematics, history, science and language are usually mentioned, and the number of years for each usually varies. Now, in order to be definite, in order to have a common standard, a norm according to which we can measure our institutions and name them aright, in order that the cause to which we are devoted may not be injured by pretense, insincerity or deception, we must go further and know whether English means a course that started with the fifth reader and ended with Lamb's Tales. or a course that took the student out of the elements and carried

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »