Image provided by: University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries, Lincoln, NE
About Hesperian student / (Lincoln [Neb.]) 1872-1885 | View Entire Issue (Jan. 1, 1889)
Powered by OpenONI
mitted, of course; "but when committing is done it
ought to be for life.
The examination gives prominence to text-boolc
memorizing, rather than to "breadth of "knowledge.
If a student thoroughly acquaints himself with his
subject by independent reading, it Tarely affects his
grades in the slightest degree. Yet a broad and in
dependent view, of any subject is by far superior to a
servile submission to the words of any -man.
The examination, again, encourages the substitu
tion of appearance of knowledge for knowledge itself.
This tendency is too evident to require a word of
proof or illustration.
Then there is an inherent injustice in any arbi
trary measurement of the products of a mind. No
one would think of looting through the poems of
Homer, Shakespeare, Dante, and Browning, and
then giving to each a grade on the scale of one
hundred. We are not Shakespeares or Brownings,
of course, but we are human, and the products of our
minds are just as peculiarly our own, whatever be
their merit. They are not to besubjected to a math
ematical 'comparison with the mind-products of any
With the system of class-instauctionnowin vogue
it is difficult to suggest any method that wall take the
place of examinations. Such a method may in time
be found, however. But even now there are improve
ments upon the old system. For example, we un
derstand that at the Illinois State University a stu
dent mating a class Tecord of eighty-five or over may
receive his grade as term standing, without talcing
the examinations. If he is ambitious and desires to
raise his standing, he is given the privilege of at
tempting it. To those who fall below eighty-five,
the examination is compulsory. This is certainly an
improvement, and it deserves some thought, at least.
Elsewhere in this number we hnve given expression to
some of 'our views on the subject of examinations. Now it is
contrary to flic custom of this paper to admit reprint, but -we
think ithc cause justifies violation of the custom. A few sen
ttences from recent articles by eminent British educators .are
We do not wish it to be understood that we think the
examination in America is more than the shadow of the
monslei that the Englibh examination is; and a very little
observation will show that the TJuiversity of Nebraska is less
a slave to the practice than the average American university.
And yet the system is, unfortunately, becoming more popu
lar even in our own country, and it is time for people to do
some thinking on the subject before too much injury is done.
Professor Mueller says: "From what I have seen at Ox
ford And elsewhere, all real joy in btudy seems to me to have
Ibeen destroyed by the examination as now conducted Young
-men imagine that all their work has but one object to enable
them, to pas5 the exam;inaUon, Every 'book they '.have la
read, even to the number of pages, is prescribed. No choice
is Allowed; no choice is left to look eithcrright or left. What
is the result? The required number of pages is got 'up under
compulsion, therefore grudgingly, And after the examination
is over what has been got up is got rid of Again like a heavy
And useless burden. Nothing is converted in saccum etsan-
jpdnem. The only thing that seems to Tcmain is An intellect
ual nausea a dislike of the food swallowed -under compul
sion.'" "The mischief done is, I believe, most serious. It will
poison the best blood of England, if it has not done so
Professor Freeman writes as follows; "I have deeply to
thank my Oxford undergraduate course for causing me care
fully to read several books, Aristotle's Ethics At their head,
which I otherwise might not have Tcad at all or might "have
Tead less thoroughly. But 1 do not thank it at a11 for examin
ing me in Anything.'"
"I read with very little comfort or pleasure, while there
was before me the spectre of an examination, deadening
everything and giving a -wiong motive for one's -work.-"
And here arc some of the -words of Professor Frederic
Harrison: "At least nine-tenths of Any over-pressure on
students arises from examinations and not from simple study.""
"Above All trust the student. Encourage him to study
for the sake of knowledge, for his own sake, and the public
Arc these men Avasting words? C F, A.
Many people have said that General Wallace wrote Ben
Hur because he realized the field for popularity which that
novel contained, but most of his readers resented the Ascrib
ing of mercenary motives to him. However that may be
General Wallace has certainly not given much cause for An
exalted idea of his motives in -writing, by his tragedy "Com
modus" in the January Harfers. A glance At the illustra
tions will show the moral tone of the production, Of course
it is no worse than indeed not as bad as the times which it
portrays. The foot notes, with which it is Abundantly sup
plied, will clearly demonstrate that. But is there Any good
reason to bring up such eminently corrupt life for inspection
again, or will good taste permit it? The charge that Gen
eral Wallace wrote Ben Htir fromjmerccnary motives, though
it shatters the sympathetic jegard -which one is Apt to have
for the author, is not grave- but if we have to admit and it
seems as if there was no good .reason to deny it-that Gen
eral Wallace is following Amelie Rives, and is reduced to a
selection of salaceous materials for what he writes, we have a
bad state of affairs indeed. Why not jeturnto Wycherley
and Congreve at once.
What the author's motives in writing -were is, after all, of
little consequence We would ignore that question, as-many
did in the case of Ben-Hur, if the production was mexi,
torious, as is that novel. But it is a genuine surprise that
the man who -wrote the "chariot race" andthe Vgalley fight"
could write so inspired a play, and particularly if indeed it
needs any further emphasis when furnished -with such ex
cellent material, diamatically considered. If there isa strong
line in the play I have failed to find it The situations are
there, in beveral caseb, particularly in the scene at the baths
between the wife and the mistress orCommodus. But school
gills, -with nothing more important than their little everyday
Jealousies, would have made as forcible work of the dialogue,