One-third of the college students in this country fall to reach the goal of a degree, said Professor Wood of Columbia in the New York Times yesterday. These statistics are no bomb-shell to Harvard alumni and authorities. They indicate that a college course is merely like any other occupation that there is always a percentage which, because of lack of earnestness, preparation, and for other reasons, is crowded out in the competition. A majority of those more fit survive.
This waste in modern education Professor Wood regards as abnormal and unnecessary. He claims that the first duty of the educator is not to teach, but to learn; to learn what the student can learn, to discover what he should try to learn and how he may be most efficaciously helped to learn. The point is not new. Educators have always spent a large part of their time in fulfilling their "first duty." Much has been accomplished, and with the development of the fields of education and psychology, much greater advances may be surely predicted.
But this is beside the point. Professor Wood fails to reach the core of the question--that this waste is inevitable until man approaches the Utopian, and that it is not, as he seems to imply, the fault of the educators. All men are not born equal, nor is their training equal; lastly, they do not work equally hard. Each freshman admitted to college is certified usually only by the fact that he has met certain tests--imperfect, and restricted to the intellectual. A college can take care of only those who can and are willing to meet its standards. Those who do not have no chance to survive, for they are neither worthy nor fit. Waste there is, of course, but it is the waste which accompanies every human and natural institution. It is a fault inherent in the material and not in the system.
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