Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Business Men in Control of American Colleges

Evans Clark, a professor of history and politics and Princeton, lamented the increased influence of members of the business community on American universities in 1917. Clark perceived these board of trustees or regents as often lacking either familiarity or best interests of the school they represented:

Princeton University, however, is legally not the Faculty and students, the community citizenship, but a group of twenty-nine men in no way responsible to them, and none of whom lives or functions at the university. These twenty-nine men at Princeton, and other small groups like them in every college and university community, are in law rulers whose power is absolute.

They have the legal authority to employ and dismiss whomsoever they wish in the service of their institution — the President, the professors, administrative officers, janitors, and day laborers. And no one of these, it is well to note, has any more constitutional security of tenure than another. They can discharge a janitor who complains that his wages are low, or an instructor who makes the fact known to his classes.

That Trustees and Regents to not exercise in practice every one of the powers granted to them by law is proof not of any lack of authority, but merely a lack of desire to do so.

It’s an increasing issue now: according to a 2015 Atlantic article, “Twenty percent of U.S. college presidents in 2012 came from fields outside academia, up from from 13 percent six years earlier, according to the American Council on Education.”

Business Men in Control of American Colleges: Member of Princeton’s Teaching Force Criticises Condition Which He Regards as a Baneful Autocracy in Higher Education (PDF)

From Sunday, June 10, 1917

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Written by Jesse

June 8th, 2017 at 3:26 pm

Posted in Business,Education

Real Democracy’s Need Is Discipline of Youth

Why was everything going to hell in 1917? Ralph Philip Boas, Associate Professor of English at Whitman College, suggested a large measure of blame should be placed on young people:

The danger of democracy is never that it will be too stern, too rigid, too intellectual, too conservative. No, the danger of democracy is that it will be too easygoing, too soft, too emotional, too fickle.

The weaknesses of democracy show nowhere more clearly than in its attitude in America. Our country is the paradise of youth; here we think only of our duties toward our children, never of our children’s duties toward us. An American works himself to death for his children — happy not in their respect and their love, but in their success. Everything is done for the American youth.

Look at his education. Schooling is free from the kindergarten through the university. The State taxes itself willingly that its boys and girls may have the best education which it can give them. And what does it ask in return? A sense of responsibility? A sense of gratitude? Service in the army? Service in civil life? No. It asks nothing in return.

It is pathetically proud of the advantages its youth enjoy, never once realizing this fundamental danger: If you train up young people to be soft and luxurious, to expect everything as a right and to give nothing in return, to absorb unthinkingly all the advantages of civilization without adding anything to those advantages, are you training up young people who can help in the great decisions of a democracy?

No.

Of course, this has been an age-old complaint — indeed, Aristophanes was complaining about “kids these days” back in 419 BC. And the same youth who Boas criticized in 1917 went on to become the adults who would lament the rise of rock ‘n’ roll a few decades later.

As Dick van Dyke asked in Bye Bye Birdie, ‘What’s the Matter With Kids Today?”

Real Democracy’s Need Is Discipline of Youth: A Land Where Responsibility Harmonizes with Freedom, Not a Mere Paradise for Children Without Sense of Obligation (PDF)

From Sunday, May 6, 1917

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Written by Jesse

May 3rd, 2017 at 1:26 pm

Posted in Education,Life,Politics

Pan American University Planned for Panama

The concept of a university linking both North and South America was already off the ground by 1917.

“Now comes Dr. Edwin Grant Dexter, President of the Instituto Nacional de Panama, with a tangible suggestion and plan for the doing of this very thing. He would establish a point of academic, cultural contact between the two continents by means of a Pan American University at Panama, the middle place of the hemisphere, a rallying point for fellowship and a common endeavor for the welfare of all the twenty-one republics, both North and South.

“Such a university already has been authorized by the Republic of Panama, seven acres of land bordering on the United States Canal Zone are immediately available for the purpose, a million dollars’ worth of school buildings and dormitories already in operation…”

What happened? A search for ‘Pan American University’ reveals both the University of Texas – Pan American (a defunct Texas college founded in 1927) and also Panamerican University (a Catholic school in Mexico City founded in 1967). And searching for information on Edwin Grant Dexter doesn’t seem to reveal anything insightful. If anybody knows what happened with this plan, please reply in the comments section.

Pan American University Planned for Panama: New Bond Between North and South America Outlined by Dr. Edwin Grant Dexter — Twenty-one Republics Are Interested (PDF)

From Sunday, April 22, 1917

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Written by Jesse

April 20th, 2017 at 7:38 am

Posted in Education

Where College Boys Prefer Study to Baseball

Reed College in Oregon, which held its first classes in 1911 only six years prior to this article, undertook several unusual initiatives among colleges at the time to created a student body excelling in academics. Among them was a mandatory senior thesis for undergraduates, not just graduates, and a lack of official intercollegiate sports teams. Both the undergraduate senior thesis and lack of NCAA sports teams still exist to this day.

Where College Boys Prefer Study to Baseball: Reed College of Portland, Oregon, Now in Its Sixth Year, Has Emerged Successfully from Unique Experiment in Education (PDF)

From Sunday, April 15, 1917

 

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Written by Jesse

April 13th, 2017 at 9:02 am

Posted in Education,Sports

Not Convicts, Graduates of Sing Sing University

 

New York’s notorious prison Sing Sing added a vocational training school in 1917.

“It is my hope, entirely outside of the work of this commission,” said Mr. Hubbell [Charles Bulkley Hubbell, Chairman of the Commission on New Prisons of the State of New York], “that the time is not far distant when prison extension work will be just as formally recognized as university extension work.”

Even a century later, it doesn’t seem that development has quiet happened. Those who have been arrested or incarcerated still face disproportionately more difficult job prospects upon release. (Of course, many tough-on-crime advocates would argue that’s exactly as it should be.)

Sing Sing prison still exists in New York today as a maximum security facility, though several inmates have successfully escaped, most recently in 2015 when two murder convicts broke out. Approximately 1,730 men are imprisoned there.

Not Convicts, Graduates of Sing Sing University: Plans for the New State Prison Are Based on Giving the Inmates a Useful Education That Will Fit Them for Honest Work (PDF)

From Sunday, February 25, 1917

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Written by Jesse

March 9th, 2017 at 6:56 am

Posted in Education,True Crime

Princeton’s Anti-Club Fight Stirs the University

Princeton's Anti-Club Fight Stirs the University

Princeton is known for their “eating clubs,” private institutions not officially affiliated with the university, which are something of a hybrid between a dining hall and a social organization, where most juniors and seniors eat the majority of their meals. There are 11 eating clubs, for which six involve a selection process and four which use a lottery system. This tradition goes back a long time, going back to 1879. In 1917, some wanted to abolish the system, by refusing entry even if they were accepted. Explained one faculty member:

“Election to one of the clubs has come to have altogether too great an importance in the estimation of the students. Club election was not a reason that brought the boy to college, but once he is matriculated election to a club becomes the overshadowing feature of his freshman and sophomore years. It constitutes a great disturbing factor in his college life.”

Did it work? No. Today, 11 Princeton eating clubs exist, all of which existed as of 1917 as well. However, several that were in existence during 1917 have since gone defunct: Elm, Campus, Key and Seal, Dial Lodge, Arch, and Gateway.

Why did the clubs persist? Likely because of the counterargument that even those who wanted to do away with the clubs back in 1917 acknowledged:

“But while we deplore it and earnestly wish to do away with it, it none the less brings us face to face with the other side of the question — the natural and ineradicable tendency of people of demonstrated congeniality to associate more or less exclusively. It was this instinct that brought about the organization of the clubs, and that is the reason for their continued existence.”

Princeton’s Anti-Club Fight Stirs the University: Refusal of a Group of Sophomores to Accept Election in Any of the Clubs Brings Up a Perplexing Problem for Solution (PDF)

From Sunday, January 21, 1917

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Written by Jesse

January 19th, 2017 at 7:32 am

Posted in Education,Recreation

Birth Rate Declining Among College Men

birth-rate-declining-among-college-men

Even today, the gap between fertility rates between those with and without college degrees is statistically significant. The big difference between now and then is that the “college-educated” constitutes women as well, with women starting in 2015 attaining more college degrees than men.

Birth Rate Declining Among College Men: Statistics for Harvard and Yale Show Steady Decrease in Number of Graduates’ Children and More Childless Marriages (PDF)

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Written by Jesse

December 15th, 2016 at 7:12 am

New System of Physical Training in Schools

From October 1, 1916

New System of Physical Training in Schools: Not Merely Gymnastics and Athletics, But Medical Inspection and the Teaching of Health Habits Involved in Dr. Finley’s Plan (PDF)

new-system-of-physical-training-in-schools

Instituting physical education requirements was all the rage around 1916, with 97 percent of four-year universities having a physical education requirement in 1920. By 2013, according to Oregon State University researcher Brad Cardinal, that number had declined to an all-time low of 39 percent.

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Written by Jesse

October 2nd, 2016 at 10:53 pm

Posted in Education,Recreation

What Is the Matter with the Modern Boy?

From September 24, 1916

what-is-the-matter-with-the-modern-boy

What Is the Matter with the Modern Boy?: He Is Less of a Boy, But Not More of a Man, Than His Father Was — The Reason and Cure Outlined by One Who Knows Him (PDF)

In the words of the musical Bye Bye Birdie, “What’s the Matter With Kids Today?” They’ve been asking that question for ages, and in 1916 a boys’ school headmaster named Thomas S. Baker continued that storied tradition. He laid the blame for the modern boy at several primary culprits including the rise in popularity of sports and movies during the previous generation.

On movies:

What effect is the indulgence in this form of imaginative debauch going to have upon the minds of American boys?… The boy gets his sentiment and his imaginative excitement in big ladlefuls from the moving pictures. They certainly are not stimulating to his mentality, although they may have a very exciting effect upon his emotions. The unrealities which are laid before him cannot fail to give him a distorted view of life.

On sports:

I have been frequently asked what sort of things the boys of today like to read… The greatest element in their reading is the sporting pages of the newspapers. This is the boy’s favorite hunting ground. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of sports before he develops any interest in the other portions of the newspapers. If his school work demanded an examination in the biographies of athletes or the condition of contemporary athletics, he would receive a mark that would make a strong contrast to his other averages.

Alexandra Petri wrote a great humor column for the Washington Post a few years ago about how every generation thinks the subsequent generation is just the worst, going back to at least Ancient Greek times. Worth a read, if you want a laugh with a serious point:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/compost/wp/2014/05/15/millennials-are-going-to-be-less-narcissistic-than-ever-suggests-new-study/

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Written by Jesse

September 25th, 2016 at 3:41 pm

Why Not Educational Experiment Stations?

From July 9, 1916

Why Not Educational

Why Not Educational Experiment Stations?: Nobody Yet Knows the Best Way to Teach Public School Children, Says Dr. P.P. Claxton, Federal Commissioner of Education (PDF)

Today the issue of federal versus state control looms large over the issue of education. For example, some states mandate teaching intelligent design or creationism in which God created the world in seven days during public school science classes, while others forbid the practice. (Here’s a state-by-state map.) Meanwhile, the Common Core curriculum adopted by most states in the country is being attacked by Republicans as “Obamacore,” a parody on “Obamacare” meant to voice their displeasure with what many conservatives perceive as unwarranted government intrusion into education.

In 1916 the country was having the same debate. The U.S. Department of Education wouldn’t be created until 1979 under President Jimmy Carter, but there was a position titled Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Education in the Department of the Interior, at the time filled by P.P. Claxton. The bureau’s powers were incredibly small compared to the Education Department’s powers today, as the 1916 article explained:

His Bureau of Education has no authority whatever over the schools of the country, save those in the Territory of Alaska and a few Federal land-grant colleges. It cannot bring about uniformity, for example, by formulating a national program and then telling the States to adopt it. It has no authority over teachers or textbooks. It can do nothing to give to the country a certain sense of unanimity of thought by providing that at a given age all the children in all the States shall be studying the same things in about the same way,.. Those are only samples of the ways in which the United States cannot help.

Yet Claxton opposed an increased role in federal involvement. Keep in mind while reading the following quote from Claxton that he would have likely been the frontrunner to take on a role like current Education Secretary John King if such a position were made available:

“You mean if this country were France and we had a central, administrative control of its public education. No, I do not think it would be better than what we have. It would not be flexible enough. The State or the county administration is much closer to the actual work than the Federal Government could ever hope to be. It is true, of course, that in this or that section the schools might be better under Government supervision than they are under local control and management. But the accumulated experiences of all the local and State school bodies of the country will give us a better understanding of what we need than could be obtained from any scheme of national administration. The local democracy will make our schools stronger than central control ever could.”

Some politicians today agree. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said he would consider eliminating the Department of Education entirely. As did fellow Republican presidential contenders Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Carly Fiorina, and Mike Huckabee. Ronald Reagan tried to in the 1980s but failed.

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Written by Jesse

July 6th, 2016 at 5:37 pm

Posted in Education,Politics

Start Closer Pan-American Intercollegiate Ties

From June 25, 1916

Pan-American - cropped

Start Closer Pan-American Intercollegiate Ties: Mackenzie College of Brazil and Union College of the United States Have an Academic Connection for Exchange of Students (PDF)

William Waddell in 1916 argued for something akin to the modern-day foreign exchange programs at colleges and universities. According to the Wall Street Journal, international students made up their largest-ever percentage of the U.S. student population last year at 4.8 percent, up from 1.5 percent in 1975. Brazil, the focus of the 1916 article, is currently the country sending the sixth-most students to the U.S. by percentage, behind China (in first place by a mile), India, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Canada.

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Written by Jesse

June 24th, 2016 at 6:01 pm

Posted in Education

“Most Of Our Music Teachers Incompetent” — Frank Damrosch

From September 3, 1911

MOST OF OUR MUSIC TEACHERS INCOMPETENT -- FRANK DAMROSCH

MOST OF OUR MUSIC TEACHERS INCOMPETENT — FRANK DAMROSCH: Well Known Conductor Deplores the Condition of Musical Instruction in This Country and Tells Why It Is So Bad. (PDF)

Frank Damrosch was a German-born American conductor, and director of the New York Institute of Musical Art. In this article, he bemoans the state of music education in America:

“Ninety-nine per cent of the music teachers in the United States are totally incompetent to teach music… Thousands of so-called music teachers are not in any way qualified to teach,” he continued, “because they have not been trained to teach, nor have they received even a rudimentary knowledge of music.”

“Many so-called music teachers have had only inferior instruction on the piano and have learned to play a few pieces after a fashion. Such persons start to teach for a livelihood on this slender foundation because it seems to them to be the easiest and pleasantest way to earn a living. The general ignorance of the public in matters musical makes it possible for such teacher to get employment…

“And this has a bad effect on society in general. It places society on a low plane of culture. It affects the music in the churches, and causes those who cater to the amusement of the public to provide an inferior class of music.”

Thirteen years later, the Institute of Musical Art became the Juilliard School of Music, still today one of the most prestigious performing arts conservatories.

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Written by David

September 2nd, 2011 at 10:00 am

Posted in Education,Music

Government Is Investigating Fake Universities

From August 27, 1911

GOVERNMENT IS INVESTIGATING FAKE UNIVERSITIES

GOVERNMENT IS INVESTIGATING FAKE UNIVERSITIES: Degrees Given Practically for a Few Dollars — Institutions That Sound Big on Paper but Shrink on Investigation — The Oriental University’s Odd Curriculum. (PDF)

These fake universities, sometimes called diploma mills, or degree mills, are still around and are still a problem. I occasionally see people in the news who have been exposed for their fake diplomas, like this guy in Philadelphia who used a fake degree to commit fraud. There’s even a blog about diploma mills in the news.

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Written by David

August 23rd, 2011 at 10:00 am

Posted in Education,True Crime

The American Student Acquiring A Uniform Face

From July 9, 1911

THE AMERICAN STUDENT ACQUIRING A UNIFORM FACE

THE AMERICAN STUDENT ACQUIRING A UNIFORM FACE: Mayor Gaynor’s Statement to That Effect Starts a Discussion — A Distinct American College Type Being Developed, Unlike the European University Man (PDF)

The two faces in the middle of the page are composites of 25 boys and 25 girls, to create the “typical” student face. In modern times, this has been done digitally to interesting effects. I wonder if this is the earliest known example of such a composite.

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Written by David

July 7th, 2011 at 11:30 am

Why Music May Be A Luxury Few Can Afford

From June 25, 1911

WHY MUSIC MAY BE A LUXURY FEW CAN AFFORD

WHY MUSIC MAY BE A LUXURY FEW CAN AFFORD: An Item in the High Cost of Living That Has Far Reaching Results (PDF)

Before MP3s, DRM, Compact Discs, and before the phonograph was very popular, people enjoyed live music in their homes. And that meant vocal lessons.

Time was when the middle-class dweller on Manhattan Island could take vocal lessons or send talented members of his family to the studio without fear of bankruptcy. But that good time is of the past. To-day the young man who would like to study vocal culture after office hours, hoping to follow in the footsteps of a Bispham, has scarcely the ghost of a chance.

I wonder how the average cost of voice lessons in 1911 compares to the average cost today, when I suspect the demand is much lower, and it’s more of a niche occupation.

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Written by David

June 21st, 2011 at 11:30 am

There Is Too Much Waste In Our Educational System

From June 11, 1911

THERE IS TOO MUCH WASTE IN OUR EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM

THERE IS TOO MUCH WASTE IN OUR EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM: Business Principles of Factories Should Be Applied to It, Says Leonard P. Ayres, of the Sage Foundation. We Don’t Demand Definite Results and Don’t Know What We’re Aiming At. (PDF)

I don’t have time to write more comments on this article because I’m a brand new dad and need to focus on that for a bit. But please feel free to read the article and make your own comments.

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Written by David

June 9th, 2011 at 10:00 am

Mrs. Belmont Training Girls To Be Agriculturists

From May 14, 1911

MRS. BELMONT TRAINING GIRLS TO BE AGRICULTURISTS

MRS. BELMONT TRAINING GIRLS TO BE AGRICULTURISTS: Nine of Them in Overalls Learning ‘How to Become Farmers and Landscape Gardeners on Her Estate at Hempstead, and They Are Only the Advance Guard. (PDF)

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Written by David

May 10th, 2011 at 10:00 am

Sectional View Of New York’s New Public Library

From May 14, 1911

SECTIONAL VIEW OF NEW YORK'S PUBLIC LIBRARY

SECTIONAL VIEW OF NEW YORK’S PUBLIC LIBRARY: Some Idea of the Size and Completeness of the Structure May Be Had from the Accompanying Drawing. (PDF)

I love this illustration. I like to imagine that the cutaway walls are really like that, and you can go up to the roof of the library and slide down them.

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Written by David

May 9th, 2011 at 10:00 am

Babies Sacrificed To The Ignorance Of Mothers

From April 23, 1911

BABIES SACRIFICED TO THE IGNORANCE OF MOTHERS

BABIES SACRIFICED TO THE IGNORANCE OF MOTHERS: Mrs. Frederic Scholl, President of the Mothers’ Congress, Laments the Lack of Preparation for Parenthood, and Says Infant Mortality Can Only Be Checked. (PDF)

Is good parenting a natural instinct, or something that is learned? It’s probably a bit of both, and in 1911 the Mothers Congress sought to train mothers in good parenting practices. They wanted to cut rates of infant mortality, and reduce the number of kids who grow up to be criminals.

I had a talk with Mrs. Frederic Schoff, who… is perhaps, best qualified to speak [about parenting] for she is President of the Mothers Congress, a body of industriously thinking women who have turned their industry of thought especially upon this subject of the possibilities of motherhood carried to their utmost.

“Child welfare,” said Mrs. Schoff enthusiastically. “It is man and woman welfare; it is nation welfare, really. Let me tell you what trained motherhood can do.”

“I thought motherhood,” I interrupted, “was instinctive. I thought it alone, of all things, needed no training. I supposed it came quite naturally to the woman, as it comes to animals. Mother love! That certainly does not need training, and the mother who loves her children will take care of them, won’t she?”

“You are like the vast majority of men,” she answered. “You yourselves known nothing thoroughly through instinct. You expect far more of us than of ourselves. You wouldn’t trust your fancy dogs to untrained care, no matter how devotedly your groom loved dogs, et you would trust your children, and have the world intrust its children, to unskilled hands because their touch was loving, to ignorant brains because they were affectionate. That this, since time began, has been the way, is one of the great handicaps beneath which humanity has staggered. That things are bettering now is scarcely to your credit — they should have bettered long ago.

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Written by David

April 22nd, 2011 at 10:00 am

Posted in Education,Life

Moving A Million Books Into The New Library

From April 16, 1911

MOVING A MILLION BOOKS INTO THE NEW LIBRARY

MOVING A MILLION BOOKS INTO THE NEW LIBRARY: Transfer of the Lenox and Astor Library Contents to the Beautiful New Building at Forty-second Street and Fifth Avenue a Big Undertaking. (PDF)

The worst thing about moving is all the books. They take much longer to pack than you think they will, they fill more boxes than you guess they will, and they’re a lot heavier than you remember them being. The last time I moved, I probably had a few hundred books that came with me. That’s about 0.02% of what had to be moved into the new library.

At the Forty-second Street entrance to the new building there is always a long line of moving vans, and sixty men from the establishment which is handling the job go in and out, bent under the weight of learning, like frugal ants stocking their hill for the Winter. At the entrance a lady in a sheath skirt, with her hair done in the style of 1860 and her finger poised under her chin, watches the laborers. Even though she is marble, she seems to grow daily more bewildered at the endless procession.

To any oen who has ever moved from one abiding place to another, the mere statement that 1,300,000 pieces have had to be packed, transported, and unpacked is enough without elaboration. When to this is added the fact that many of the volumes are old and of great value and that two picture galleries have had to be moved as well, there is room for amazement that the readers of the city are not going to be deprived of their books for a longer period.

I hope they remembered to lift with their knees, not with their backs.

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Written by David

April 15th, 2011 at 11:00 am