Hesperian student / (Lincoln [Neb.]) 1872-1885, May 01, 1879, Page 108, Image 12

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Wo were once amused by seeing, in
Harpers' Weekly, a cartoon which carica
lured the work of our colleges. It de
pictured in a very suggestive manner the
exit of a class of graduates. Each one
were astride a Greek or Latin lexicon, to
which was attached the appendages of a
horse's head and feet. Each student wore,
as a helmet, an open volume of some clas
sical author ; another volume served as a
breastplate, and a third as a shield. At
the foot of the page were these sarcastic,
vol significant, words: "Commencement
Day. Students equipped for the batlleof
This caricature, by a deservedly influ
ential journal, expressively indicates the
popular estimate of classical training.
But the people in general are not alone in
their distrust of this type of college work.
The conflict between the partisans of the
classics and those who contend for new
methods in higher education, has drawn
into the ranks of the latter an increasing
number of educated men.
But, as in the case of Brutus at Philippi,
there ever and anon rises before the mind
of the ultra-advocate of classic lore, a
phantom of hideous aspect and threaten
demeanor. This apparition, to him so
full of fright, he dubbs by the euphonious
title of "utilitarianism." Now it is about
lime to demand an abatement of the
gloomy prophecies respecting this mod
ern individual. The reaction against
classical education is irresUtably on the
increase. The advocate of this relic
of mediiuval times can hardly preju
dice his course in a worse manner than
by obstinate and unyicld'ng ndherence
to his idol. None but the most radical
of our present educatois will contend
for an entire abolition of classical studies.
Then what signifies all this talk about
tlii aforesaid nightmare V The tendency
ol modern ideas demands, as one of lu
requirements, a reformation in the system
of higher education that lias hitherto pre
vailed. With changed ideas, new require
menls come. Higher education lias al
ready fallen into partial disrepute, and it
cannot long maintain that place in the
public estimation which it is vitally im
portant that it should hold, unless its old
methods undergo a marked change.
A decadence in collegiate instruction
is to be deplored. And yet there is a
strong undercurrent in American life
which tends to this end. It cannnot be
choked and the best way is obviously to
diminish its strength. Lcsf time must be
spent on the classics, and more on the
summarily treated topics of the latter
part of a college course. Only a few frag
ments a. best of the old authors are ever
read, and the most defensible plea for the
classics is their connection with the
structure of the English language. Why
waste one's time in gleaning an inaccur
ate idea of an oration of Cicero, and a few
chapters of Herodotus, through the origi
mil, when, if that purpose is the chief end,
all the orations of the former and the
history of the latter may be more profita
bly read in (lie sume time? If the age is
"practical," why not let the fact bo admit
ted, and courses of study shaped in ac
cordence witli its needs? The despised
"business school" need not supplant the
college, but there is hcic as elsewhere a
golden mean to be observed.
Before another number of the Student
will appear, the excitement of Commence
ment exercises will be over, and the per
formers oftlie annual exhlhitionsof the Lit
erary societies, will be resting upon their
honors, confident of their past success.
Hence wo take this early opportunity, to
make the usual suggestions ani duo an
noucements of these accustomed enter
tainments. It seems that both societies have finally
decided upon a programme that meets
the approbation of all respectively. The
usual number of performers are to appear