« ForrigeFortsett »
rigor and vigor. The old Puritanical made in our efforts to set up a representideal of strictness and severity has been ative government. The corruption of replaced by laxness and looseness. Lux- our politics has at times become a stench ury and extravagance have laid heavy in our nostrils. We take courage bepenalties upon virility and militancy. cause our tendencies seem to be in the Religious devotions have been replaced right direction. Socially, have by riotous dancing, and hard work by achieved results worthy of our demohappy play. Hugo Munsterberg, in his cratic aims. We have no actual class efforts to describe the traits of Ameri- distinctions.
distinctions. Men and women of ability cans, noted "everywhere the same wil- are freely given the chance to pass from lingness to do what the public likes, and
one group to another. Leisure classes nowhere the question what the public are rapidly becoming extinct. Respectaought to have.”
bility no longer attaches to social paraThis separation from the past arises sites. Industrially, the situation is far inevitably out of the conditions which less satisfactory.
less satisfactory. · Undoubtedly, our gave birth to our nation and which have paramount domestic problem centers in made possible its present prosperity. The a more satisfactory application of the one thing all Americans share is the principles of democracy to the production future. A common hope has lured them
and distribution of wealth.
No single The mastery of a great physical group sees this problem with greater empire challenged every atom of their clearness, nor with more concern, than strength and courage.
The establish- those who represent the community as ment of free institutions commanded a whole. The public will become articutheir best intellects. The creation of a late sooner or later. It will not permit new civilization required patriots, proph- its interests to be sacrificed to conflicts ets, and statesmen. However much they
However much they between groups, nor jeopardized by a may have loved the past, the logic of continued series of compromises. From events forced them to face the future. the standpoint of her artistic interests, No doubt, many a natural conservative, America is showing most hopeful progwho instinctively cherished the lessons of
In painting, sculpture, architecthe past, was compelled by his American ture, and the drama, there is every evienvironment to live in a city without dence of a deepening appreciation of foundations, whose main asset was its
aesthetic value. America is actually becertain growth and whose chief glory ginning to grow. The war forced her was its future. Any effort to appraise into the conscious stage of self-definition. America cannot neglect this remarkable Today she is groping about for the way fact that she has opportunity to become
to higher levels of living. Just now we whatever her citizens desire to make her. need the message which Lowell put into She is clay in the hands of the potter.
the mouth of Hosea Biglow, a message In a very unique sense she is free from reminiscent of the days of shallow, superthe past and attached to the future. ficial optimism, and crude, if not vulgar,
The chemist would say that America boasting: is in a nascent state. She is just begin- "Ef we're agoin' to prove we be growed up, ning to exist, to come into being, to 'Twun't be by barkin' like a tarrier pup, develop, to lay hold on her own. We have
But turnin' to an' makin' things as good made some show of political democracy.
Ez wut we're ollers braggin' that we could." We need not confuse ourselves today by In America, a modern prophet could a recital of the terrible mistakes we have truthfully proclaim, "My people are de
stroyed for lack of knowledge.” At first it will be found not in the superabunthought, it may seem that, above all na- dance of the things which she possesses; tions, America has a passion for educa- it will be found rather in the ideals and tion. We expend huge sums for the hopes which have animated us from the training of our youth. At the present beginning. We may speak of our marmoment, more than twenty millions of velous physical empire and boast of our children are being trained at public ex
fertile fields and rich mines.
Wę may pense. Today as never before the people allude to our great cities, our unsurpassed believe in the schools. The war revealed industrial development, and our material to literally millions of men that positions prosperity. We may rejoice in our colof leadership and opportunities for ser
leges, universities, and cathedrals. These vice go to the men of training and knowl- things have value, however, just in proedge. But America suffers today from ig- portion as they express the soul of norance more than from any other single
America. tyranny. Our children may have knowl
The very essence of Americanism is edge of the facts necessary for individual the supreme value which we place upon living Our youth may acquire profes- the individual. When we talk about sional training of high degree. Their
Their freedom, equality, and opportunity, this minds, however, have not been focused is what we really mean. We are attemptupon those truths which are so essential ing actually to say that every to a democratic community.
woman, and child is infinitely valuable. nitude and diversity of our country accen- We are insisting that nothing in all the tuate the problem.
universe can be compared to or should
be given in exchange for a human being. The multitude of our concerns smothers
We know that “a spark has distrubed our social instincts. Preoccupation with
clod.” We are among the final personal affairs dulls our interest in com
values of the universe. This confidence munity problems. Intense competition
in the individual comes to practical exin business dealings tends to blur our
pression in our national life. Every pervision. Marvelous possibilities for the
son is actually given a chance to become promotion of basic enterprises of all sorts
as large and useful as he was intended to in widely separated areas, compete with
he. This is Americanism. This is the public mindedness. The disorganization
promise that America makes and keeps. arising out of a period of readjustment tends to erase ethical distinctions.
Coupled with this reverence for per
Absence of actual contact with other groups
sonality is the ideal that work is noble.
Here is America's contribution to the and interests makes for narrow minded
world's understanding of culture. We ness. Experience alone can banish provincialism.
Positive lack of knowledge actually proceed upon the hypothesis that of American conditions is chiefly respon
work is sacred. Every citizen is expected sible for the continuation of some evils.
to do something. To be idle is unthinkFailure to be intelligent upon public is
able for a sane and healthy American.
This sense of the worth of work extends sues accounts for much of our weak
in all directions. It commands not serThe people need knowledge .
vice merely, but achievement. It requires Back of these various aspects of Amer- not only dull plodding, but courage. It ican life lies the source of our unbounded demands that simple routine be transconfidence in the future. If we search fused with heroism. For toil and thought, for the possible greatness of America, it substitutes militancy and imagination.
It was personified in our generation by this year indicates, in a measure, the Theodore Roosevelt.
scope of our activities. Here, then, is a hint of what America is.
Very soon, however, we discover that She must bear grievous burdens. She
our vital interest is in the personnel. We lacks unity. She has thrown off the lim
are conscious 'of the enormous advanitations of the past, and cast in her lot
tages accruing to the state, the students, with the future. She is just coming into
and the university, from the fact that her own. She is terribly deficient in
the students come from every state of knowledge and experience. She is rich
the Union and from thirty foreign counin faith and imagination. She believes tries. A national, cosmopolitan atmosin human beings, and worships work.
phere is essential to broad culture and
the development of a true sense of values. II.
No greater service can be rendered to We have said that the function of the Michigan students than to give to them state university is to serve the state, and these opportunities for contacts with felthrough the state, to serve the nation and
low students from all sections of the the world. It was essential for us,
country and the world. To make the therefore, even in a very incomplete way, state of Michigan known intimately to to ask ourselves what the state and
groups of well-trained leaders in all the nation are, and what they need. Thus nations must inevitably produce immeasfar we have attempted to interpret our urable benefits for the industries and national life. It now becomes necessary commerce of the state. One of the eleto make a similar appraisal of the univer
ments of greatness in this university is sity. We shall then, and only then, be the unique way in which she has served in a position to venture some suggestions an ever-increasing world constituency. regarding the forms of service which Moreover, the University of Michigan the university can render to the state and enjoys the reputation of possessing one nation.
of the largest groups of living alumni What then is
is the university? A and former students, numbering about stranger visiting this or any other insti- fifty thousand, and scattered throughout tution of higher learning naturally begins the entire world. Our deepest interest, by inquiring about the size of the campus, however, must center in the teaching and the number of buildings, the equipment investigating staff. To be told that they of the laboratories, and the facilities of number six hundred and fifty is enlightthe libraries. Very soon, however, he is ening. To remember the work they have asking about the size of the budget and done, to appreciate the contributions they the sources of income. To say that the have made to learning, and to recognize University of Michigan has a campus the powerful stimulus that they have of two hundred and sixty-one acres here been to all that is highest and best in our in Ann Arbor, and for forestry, engineer- civilization, help us to realize why Miching, and biological purposes owns in addi- igan believes in higher learning. It is tion forty-two hundred acres, may sug- only necessary to add that just as the gest the magnitude of our work.
state is an integral part of the nation, realize that approximately eleven mil- so too this university occupies a dignilions of dollars are invested here in build
fied place in the republic of letters. The ings and equipment, is informing. To
casual, superficial observer might pause state roughly that the university budget here and say these facts tell us what the reaches almost four millions of dollars
If our visitor were to remain for a intricate and complex thing which thrives semester he would doubtless replace upon this campus. Sooner or later he these facts by his impressions of what would assay a mental venture to which really goes on here. He would begin to there would be no ending. Especially if he note the various forms of actual work should interrupt his visit at the univerin which men and women are engaged. sity by a trip out into the “real world,” At first he would be impressed with the he would be compelled to think upon this teaching load which the faculties carry. subject. He will discover upon the camTen thousand and more students attend- pus a most powerful and enigmatic in
fluence. He will never be able to fathom ing hundreds of different courses mean hard work for the teachers.
Then he it. It never congeals. It is subtle, irriwould begin to observe the very worthy tating, and withal extremely delightful
It has occasioned more discussion, done and commendable emphasis placed upon
more good, and wrought more harm than investigation. He would discover here
any other single influence. It is the that if a man is to retain the real respect "academic mind.” I shall attempt no def of his colleagues, he must occasionally inition of it. If you know it by experiat least give some tangible evidence of
ence I can not add to your knowledge. his mastery of his own field. Ultimately If you do not know it you are to be conhe would come to appreciate why the gratulated and commiserated. All in all, problem of vital research lies so close
I should prefer to defend rather than to to the heart of the real university man.
attack the academic mind. I should not He would understand why such sacrifices
want to be the president of any univerare made in the name of learning and
sity which did not suffer from this disthe advancement of science. He would
case in chronic form. It makes for staconclude that no institution can lay claim bility, for sound weighing of evidence, to the title of “University” unless it is
for scientific scholarship, for the absence making contributions to the world's
of sentimentalism, and for a frank recogknowledge.
nition of the power of the mind. Moreover, he would gradually recognize that the activities of the university delightful and confusing results. To be
On the other hand, it is guilty of some are not limited to teaching and investi- delightful and confusing results. To be
a scholar, a man must put the emphasis gation. He would find that the institution is rendering the greatest variety o
on his own special field. Difficulty arises, service to the state through its hospi
however, when this emphasis becomes
excessive, when there is no adequate tals, clinics, laboratories, museums, and extension service.
planning of curricula and when little if He would finally sense a clear determination to have the anything is done to help the student really university actually meet at every point The bewildered student apparently is
understand that knowledge is a unity. the demands of the state. He would rec
never able to re-unite the disjecta memognize limitations due to inadequate
bra of his thought-world and fashion equipment and funds, but few arising
them into the living reality we call life. from failure to understand our primary
It is because of these results that the obligations to Michigan.
academic mind is berated. It inevitably If this visitor remained for a year he engenders aloofness, occasions the lack would find himself going deeper and of a general sense of humor, and mindeeper into university life and sensing imizes those plain, humble, human charmore and more fully the marvelously acteristics that we look for in all men.
I am inclined to believe that we must method of killing intellectual curiosity charge against the academic mind much
and a genuine spirit of inquiry, we have of the dead formalism and mechanical been diabolically successful. If our aim externality of American education. I is to convince the student that knowlshould dislike to tell here all that I think edge comes in chunks, that if it starts to of the various systems of admission which
melt or evaporate it must be confined have been in vogue in our universities. in water-tight or air-tight compartments, Surely by these methods we have not and that knowledge consists of separate intended to find real college material, fields bearing no relationship to the fasbut rather to encourage the accumulation cinating reality of life, then our methods of credits which will serve as a ticket of justify the procedure. If to become eduadmission. At any rate, we have not cated is to center one's interest on acencouraged intellectual interests and rec
quiring enough credits to receive a diognized vital facts which do not appear ploma, then we have succeeded in quantity in record sheets. ' Character, purpose, and production beyond even the experts of spirit are more important than the skill
the industrial world. If education is to pass examinations, or the ability to completed at Commencement, then we secure a diploma.
are dealing with a real paradox, which I When the student is once in the uni- understand to be something that is apversity, he is face to face, though he parently absurd, yet true. If a man ensees through a glass darkly, with the gages in study for the purpose of chargacademic mind. The atmosphere of the ing his mind once and for all, and if on average classroom is not stimulating and Commencement Day he disconnects intelinspiring. Henry Adams gave an accu lectually from the source of power, then rate portrayal of the situation when he again there is occasion for just pride. It said, referring to the Harvard students: is not strange that the word "academic" "All were respectable, and in seven years has come to stand not for broad culture of contact, Adams never had cause to and vital activity but for a general aloofcomplain of one; but nine minds in ten ness from life and a theoretical detachtake polish passively like a hard surface; ment from the world of action. Some only the tenth sensibly reacts." Doub such results as these may, with justice, less a variety of causes produces this be attributed to the academic mind. As general situation, and it is manifestly un. we have already intimated, there is much fair to attribute it all to a single force. that might be said in its favor, but the But we cannot deny the fact that the emphasis is doubtless where we have enparty primarily responsible for the entire deavored to put it. situation is a frequent victim of the
But our stranger would, if he remained academic mind.
long enough, endeavor to find out what Surely the examination system now goes on inside the head of the average employed in American universities is a undergraduate. By adopting this method symptom of the same ailment. We ask in his effort to appraise the university, the student to pursue a variety of courses he would come very close to the actual and then submit to a series of examina- facts. He would discover that the stutions. If he is reasonably successful he dent lives in his own world of reality. piles away his credits" like so much wood And it is a very fascinating and chalthat he has sawed. He repeats the proc- lenging world! Instinctively sensing the ess eight times and we give him a di- unreality of the academic world, the stuploma. If we have been searching for a dent promptly builds one of his own. Like