design or expectation of making them exclusive; but as their intellects have been developed, and their desire for knowledge strengthened, they have successfully grappled with difficulties, every new struggle giving them additional power, until the highest means of education have been reached, and they have gone forth into the world to grace the most honorable and responsible positions in society.” The academies of the State of New York fulfill a double function. They are at once schools of elementary training, and schools of superior culture. In the advantages of elementary instruction which they offer, all their pupils more or less participate; the higher instruction benefits a more limited number. Were they restricte dsolely to this superior function, they would occupy the grade and perform substantially the work of the German gymnasia. And that portion of their pupils who pursue the higher course of study correspond approximately in respect to age with the student body of the college as we may presume it to have been from fifty to one hundred years ago. We find, in fact, that of the total number of pupils who were, at one time or another, in attendance upon all the academies of the state, in 1869, (the year embraced in the last published report of the regents)—a total exceeding thirty thousand—about one-third part, or over nine thousand, were engaged in pursuing classical or higher English studies; and the average age of this portion is given at sixteen years and four-tenths. This is the average age of students in a college in which the course of study covers four years, and the students enter as freshmen between fourteen and fifteen. The total number of the academies in the State, according to the report just cited, is two hundred and twenty-four; but of these there were only one hundred and ninety-eight from which returns had been received. The numbers given above ought perhaps, therefore, to be increased about one-eighth. But these numbers, being the aggregates for the year, should be checked by the reports of average daily attendance. The average daily attendance in one hundred and ninety-eight academies was thirteen thousand three hundred and eighty-two; and the average daily attendance of the higher class of pupils would accordingly be reduced to four thousand and fifty-seven; so that if allowance be made for academies not reporting, it may be stated, in round numbers at forty-five hundred. The existence of a class of schools of this high character, in which perfect freedom is allowed in the choice of studies, can not but have something to do in turning away students from the colleges which (in their programmes) profess to teach nothing more, but in which the choice is completely fettered. It is in this manner only that a satisfactory explanation can be found of the fact that the State of New York furnishes to the regular colleges of the country a very exceptionally small number of undergraduate students in proportion to the aggregate population. From the returns of the ninth census of the United States it appears that the population of the State of New York amounts at present to 4,374,499. From the collected catalogues of the principle colleges of the Union, amounting to more than one hundred and fifty in all, it appears that the total number of undergraduate students in the department of Arts in these, from the same State, is thirteen hundred and seventy. The State furnishes, therefore, only one undergraduate student to the colleges for every three thousand one hundred and ninety-three inhabitants; while New England furnishes at the same time, one to every one thousand nine hundred and fifty-seven. Now of the forty-five hundred students of the higher class in daily attendance in the academies, at least a fifth part may be assumed to be pursuing the advanced studies of the programme, such as correspond to the later years in college. And if we increase the actual number of undergraduates found as above for New York by nine hundred, the fifth part of forty-five hundred, the result will be to give a proportion of students to population of one to one thousand nine hundred and twenty-seven, very nearly the same as in New England. There is, moreover, additional evidence that the attractions of the academies sensibly affect the attendance on the colleges, to be found in a more particular examination of the returns of the several academies taken separately, in regard to the ages of their advanced pupils. The average age of all these pupils, in all the academies, is as above stated, sixteen years and four-tenths. But the average age of this class is very different in the different academies; and it is by no means to be presumed that all these institutions, any more than all the colleges, are of one uniform grade of excellence. Accordingly it appears that, whereas in a large number, the average age of the pupils reported as belonging to the advanced class is as low as fifteen or lower, yet in many it is above eighteen, in some above nineteen, and in several even above twenty. Thirty-nine of the academies, in fact, have an aggregate attendance of pupils pursuing advanced studies amounting to two thousand two hundred and eighty-seven, return the average age of these students as above eighteen years. Of this aggregate, two thousand and sixty-nine are between eighteen and nineteen; one hundred and twenty-six between nineteen and twenty; and ninety-two above the age of twenty. The ages of these students correspond to those of college students, and the studies they are pursuing are similar in character to those which are pursued in college. It can not be doubted that some of this large number have chosen the academy rather than the college, on account of the greater freedom which they find there in the selection of their studies. It is not to be presumed that the teaching of the academies in the higher branches of study can in general compare favorably with that of the colleges, as it respects either method or thoroughness; but it would be unjust to apply this remark universally. That there is great inequality among them, both as it respects efficiency and as “it respects the instrumentalities of instruction, is distinctly stated. by the regents in their report, in which they say, “if with our present experience, we were to commence our academical system anew, there is little doubt that seventy-five or one hundred academies properly distributed through the state, would, by their strong staff of teachers, their considerable libraries and well selected apparatus, do more effectual service in the cause of education than the present large number of institutions; as many of these, from their want of sufficient endowments and adequate support, are compelled to do much of their work imperfectly.” But many of them are schools of very superior merit and efficiency, and these are doing, at the present time, a great part of that work of disciplinary education which has been so much insisted on as being the proper work of the colleges. It is by these schools that the colleges are principally fed, as in Germany the universities are fed by the gymnasia; and it is to be presumed that, in progress of time, by the strengthening and elevation of both, these two classes of institutions, thus independent of each other but still intimately related, may create upon this continent a system of superior education practically parallel with that of continental Europe. All our colleges, it is true, can not become universities. If the change here anticipated should go on, some will continue to maintain but a secondary rank, some will probably be absorbed by others, and some will perhaps at length become extinct. It is true already of these institutions, as the regents have found it to be of the academies, that their number is greatly in excess of the wants of the country, and that the efficiency of the system would be materially promoted, if it could be reduced. The principle objection to the elective system of study has always been that which is derived, as above stated, from the theory of a liberal education considered as demanding a well-rounded development of the faculties. We have seen that the force of this objection rests upon an assumption which can no longer be admitted—the assumption, namely, that the college student is throughout the course of that tender age in which educational influences may do a great deal more than merely to brighten and invigorate such faculties as he has ; in which such influences may in fact actually give them shape and form, and evolve or repress them at pleasure. Other objections have been suggested of less apparent weight, which still should not be permitted to pass without examination, nor without an attempt to provide securities against the dangers which they indicate. If the choice of studies is free, young men, it is said, will exercise it capriciously, and will possibly pass from subject to subject without continuing long enough at any one to derive from it substantial advantage. By granting freedom of choice, however, it is not to be presumed that such a freedom is intended as would permit a student to change from day to day, or from week to week. The study which is chosen must be chosen as a whole, and must be pursued to the end, or to the end, at least, of some branch of it which is complete in itself. This rule will prevent capricious changes, and will secure at least as much continuity of attention to particular subjects as the ordinary curriculum allows; for the very fault of the ordinary curriculum is that, during the later years at least, it presents so large a number of subjects that long continued study of any one of them is impossible. But it is further objected that the free exercise of choice permits a selection of such studies as present the fewest difficulties; and thus plays directly into the hand of the careless and inefficient student. To this it may be replied, as the result of a pretty long observation, that the incorrigibly idle are not perceptibly improved in diligence by being compelled to pursue difficult studies. In every considerable body of students there will always be some such. And it is truly marvelous to remark how very closely such individuals manage to run to the very minimum of attainment required to save them from being dropped from the rolls as hopelessly deficient. Now the benefit which such individuals can derive from being compelled to pursue what they call “hard studies,” are insignificant in comparison with the harm they do to others, who, being yoked with them in the same classes, are hampered in their progress by their dullness or their willful neglect of study. It is one of the great advantages of the principle of election, that these drags upon progress are effectually eliminated by it; so that the strong men and the willing men can go along together and turn their strength and their zeal to substantial account. The man who, at the age of nineteen, which in Columbia College is the age of entering upon the junior year, can be so indifferent to his own improvement, and so averse to mental effort, as to choose his studies deliberately with a view of getting rid of work, can hardly be constrained to work upon studies chosen for him. And the experience of our own college, which, though brief, is still worth something, indicates that facts are not likely to justify the apprehension on which this objection is founded. It may be regarded as nearly certain that, in the case of every student as to whom it is of the slightest consequence one way or the other what he chooses, the choice will be determined not by caprice nor a pitiful desire to shirk labor; but by a natural taste or liking for one subject rather than another, or by an honest desire to know. The preliminary and more elementary part of the course furnishes the opportunity to compare different subjects, so far as to enable the student to judge what he is likely to pursue in its larger development with the greatest satisfaction and therefore with the largest substantial results; and upon the basis of this knowledge his choice will be made. That this is true is made almost demonstrably evident in the selections of elective studies made at the beginning of the last academic year by the members of our senior class; when the study commonly reputed to be the most difficult (metaphysics) was chosen by two-thirds of the class; while that which passes for the easiest, and to many is the most fascinating, (chemistry) was chosen by fewer than one-fourth. That the elective system is not at present more largely adopted in American colleges is owing, in good degree, to the fact that it increases considerably the number of exercises which the officers are required to conduct; and imposes very soon the necessity of enlarging the academic staff. The question is not therefore purely an educational one; but it is complicated by economical considerations. It is not possible that the system should be introduced into all the colleges; and out of this circumstance is likely to grow, sooner or later, a classification into grades. Out of the higher grade, embracing the smaller number, will probably be developed the universities, if we are to have such, which are to rival those of continental Europe. The lower will remain what they are or will disappear. It is now about eighteen months since the elective system was introduced into Columbia College to a limited extent and applied to a portion of the studies of the senior year. The results of the

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