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of scholarship and culture penetrates science and specialization, in as far as scholarship and specialization combine, in so far our higher education will come to its true ends. Science sans conscience n'est que mal à l'âme, “Science without conscience only harms the soul,” said François Rabelais more than three hundred years ago, and Montaigne added that les plus belles âmes sont les plus universelles, “the finest souls are the most universal.” Systematization, specialization, quantity, speed, idiosyncrasies, practicality, we have. But the spirit blows whither it will and is after all the only master of its destiny.
The scholar, as I have said, is an optimist; he has full confidence in the future of education, of scholarship and culture in this great country, the land of Channing, Emerson, Theodore Parker, Lowell, William James, Horace Mann, Henry Adams, Royce, and many others, all fine types and specimens of humanity, vigorous characters, clean-cut personalities, citizens of the United States and of the world, models of broad culture, of keen intelligence, of liberal moral sense, realists and idealists, pluralists and monists, contemplators and actors, all efficient to contribute to the welfare of mankind.*
* Annual Phi Beta Kappa address, delivered at the University of California, May 10, 1921.
FRESHMAN ENGLISH AND A CAREER OPEN TO
The University of California's share of the post-war flood which has descended upon the state universities is reported by the Recorder to be some nine thousand five hundred students. With this inundation the problem of the large lower division courses has become acute. At the moment when a new administration demands scholarship, research, and a fresh emphasis on advanced and graduate discipline, an entering class of twenty-two hundred cries aloud for teaching. To drown its cry there is talk of a limitation of enrollment, of the elimination of the unfit, of shifting the burden to the high schools, of establishing separate junior colleges. But it is a safe wager that a generous, expansive, democratic spirit will prevail, and that the cry will not be choked at its source.
To answer this cry the University has hitherto organized two types of course, the lecture course of unlimited enrollment, which got its impetus and its breath of life from the work of men like Gayley, Stephens, and Setchell, and the standardized course in small sections indefinitely multiplied, which derived its ideal from the personal teaching of the liberal college. Freshman English has always belonged to the second type. But it is now a question whether in this particular subject the point of diminishing returns in the process of multiplication has not been reached. Fifteen years ago a New England college like Williams with an average freshman class of one hundred supported an English department of four men. Five years ago an eastern university like Yale with an average entering class of seven hundred and fifty supported an English department of thirty men. By that ratio the University of California this year should maintain an English department of ninety men.
To increase the crew thus in mathematical ratio as the flood rises has been the course chosen by some universities. The rolls of members of the English departments at Wisconsin and Illinois look, in length at least, like the roll of our College of Agriculture. (But there aren't so many professors!) The University of Minnesota is reported to have sent last spring to a single eastern graduate school a demand for fifteen doctors of philosophy to teach freshman English.
The plan followed by these universities is beset with difficulties. It swells the budget of the department of English to great dimensions. At an average salary of $3000 the University of California's needed ninety men would cost $270,000. Moreover, even if the money were at hand, doctors of philosophy do not grow like the flowers that bloom in the spring. The graduate schools are not crowded with candidates for that career which has been said to demand the elegance of a diplomat on the salary of a postman. Finally, it is not conceivable that a single department could offer a real future to ninety men or to half that number. To the neophytes a professorship would be as attainable as a glimpse of the Holy Grail. In a ponderous mill of wholesale teaching they would grind laboriously for two or three years, a floating population, advancement cut off, looking for escape to small colleges or to business.
If some universities have believed that with numbers they can breast the stream, others have dropped the oars and floated with the current, which, in a flood, as at other times, has a way of running downhill. They have turned over the instruction in the fundamental
freshman course to untrained tutors. Any graduate student with a bachelor's degree and a scanty purse has been welcomed, snared with a wage probably below the California state minimum for women, and placed in charge of freshman sections. At this University, in the spring term of 1920, the exigencies of the situation brought the English department dangerously near this expedientor shall we say surrender? At a large middle-western university, which had better be nameless, the freshman work in English is now substantially in the hands of graduate students. That the current, under such circumstances, will set faster and faster downstream, is as sure as the law of gravity. The freshmen will fall under raw recruits, missing in their instruction the breadth, soundness, and stimulus they have a right to expect. The graduate students will incur a tedious delay, an increase of the already intolerably numerous years of poverty that separate them from a decent self-supporting life. Instead of standing at the opening of a career for their talents, they will find their morning exercise humiliatingly prolonged toward noon.
Of course one may climb Ararat, fold his arms, and await his destiny. There are colleges, mostly in the far East, whose heads, and feet too, I suspect, are in the clouds. They teach their freshmen Shakespeare, Tennyson, and Carlyle, and believe that God will take care of their grammar. I envy these mountain dwellers. They have a right to their heights, and it may be that they will not be ffoated off. In their population birth and the private school have instilled some respect for everyday correctness. Their students are few; the tides of democracy do not yet rise cubit by cubit up the flanks of their Ararat.
But here at California no such respite is allowed. If we cannot conscientiously struggle for our ninety men or form our battalions of graduate students, we must find another plan. Perhaps in the nature of the work done in freshman English lies the hint of another, and a middle way. That work, it seems clear, puts the course between the lecture courses of unlimited enrollment and the standardized courses of unlimited multiplication. As it deals with the principles of effective expression, as it finds room for reading and for the discussion of ideas as the basis of composition, it is properly a lecture subject (witness Barrett Wendell!). As it seeks to diagnose and correct the weaknesses in the writing of the individual student, and to enforce in him habits of logical thought, it is properly a personal and disciplinary subject. If it is no more than the former, it had better be an upper division lecture course; if it is no more than the latter, it had better be transferred to the high school or to the Extension Division. In the synthesis of the two it has its reason for existence.
Cannot this synthesis be attained by a division of the work into lecture and discussion in groups of one or two hundred students and into individual practice and criticism in small recitation groups or in private conferences ? The lecture work will naturally be primarily in the hands of professors, the recitation and conference work primarily in the hands of teaching fellows and readers. Such a plan, as contrasted with the small section method, will, while allowing an increase of fifty per cent in the salary of the professor, reduce the cost of instructing each student by the same percentage.
For the professor this division of the course opens a career of work more amply paid, of work done under the stimulus of a considerable audience, of work no longer darkened by the deep shadow of excessive theme reading. With the decrease in the number of lower division sections, he has some prospect of refreshing himself by teaching in upper division and graduate courses. He may even be able to call his soul his own enough to study for himself in the hours that formerly, because of his duty to the university, he gave to themes, and, because of his duty to his family, to summer session and extension teaching. He holds a professorial rather