ing them. The crux of the problem is in the teaching. And in regard to the teaching, if perfection is still unattained, substantial progress has been made, and professors continue to wrestle with the problem. The general plan is that of lectures by the professors and regular recitations and laboratory work under instructors. But here, as elsewhere in the University, the student does not always get as much personal attention and supervision as the best individual training calls for. Occasionally too a teacher who delights in advanced work and investigation may look upon this drill as a mechanical task, as a drudgery he would gladly be rid of in order that he might devote his attention to investigation or more advanced instruction. Such an attitude, if it exists, is deplorable and really unpardonable. A teacher has no higher duty than to give freely of his best to the students before him, be they beginners or graduates. Another criticism on the instruction given by professors of science to students in the technical colleges is that they sometimes fail to adapt it to the technical point of view and are too apt to accentuate what is of interest to themselves or what is related to their own investigations. This criticism, however, is now heard at Cornell much less frequently than in former years. Through conferences between professors of science and professors of engineering and other technical subjects a general agreement seems likely to be reached as to the scope of the scientific instruction needed. Certainly the largest departments of science can now truthfully say, as one of them reports :

“We shall continue to get nearer to the technical colleges, and to understand and appreciate their needs, and meet them in the best way possible. Our teachers are so experienced that this can be done without impairing the educational value of the work, or lowering our standards."

How fares it then with the remaining function of the departments of science, the instruction of beginners, of those undergraduates who seek science as a means of general culture and who, as a rule, will not take more than a single course in any one science.

First of all, it should be noted that there is an abundance of such courses offered. They are furnished by the departments of astronomy, physics, chemistry, botany, zoology, physiology, geology, and physical geography. Only one serious gap exists. There is no elementary course on general biology. And there is a demand, alike among students and professors, for a course in which not only the theories about evolution can be systematically treated, but in which the organic living body can be adequately defined and discussed as a whole. The living organism is a constantly changing body. Its phenomena are expressed in the cytogenesis of cells, the growth and development of embryos and individuals, and in the evolution of races of which the paleontologist is the student. The zoologist, botanist, and paleontologist are all concerned with these phenomena as well as the microscopic embryologist. The physicist reduces the organic phenomena to modes of action ; and the chemist reduces them to changes in chemical composition, -what is needed is a man to give an elementary, but thoroughly scientific course on the evolution of living organic bodies, a course which would treat of their change of form, substance, and behavior, while retaining their identity as living organisms.

But pending the addition of this new course to the curriculum it behooves the University to make the most of the great wealth of elementary courses already offered in the physical and natural sciences. What of them? Are they adapted to the end in view ?

The President believes that, speaking generally, these elementary courses are for arts students the least satisfactory offered by the departments of science in Cornell University.


It would appear, however, that this is not a condition peculiar to Cornell. And the President is relieved to find a description of it in another university written by another hand. The report of the faculty committee on improving instruction in Harvard College contains the following passage:

"It is noticeable that the students regard English and other modern languages, philosophy, history, geology, and some other studies as culture subjects in a higher sense than mathematics, the classics, and most of the sciences. The Committee believes that such a distinction is unfortunate, and that, so far as possible, every Department ought to provide courses for students who are not to be specialists in it, and that such courses should require as much systematic work as other courses in the Department. A course of this kind should familiarize the student with the conceptions of principles on which the subject is based, with the methods of thought of those who pursue it, and with the tests of truth that are used in it. Such courses, which teach how men of letters and men of science, philosophers and historians, regard the world and its problems are of value to specialists and non-specialists alike. At present it would appear that in the Departments where work is done mainly in the laboratory the descriptive courses are apt to be weak. The Committee appreciates the difficulty of the problem. Instructors who want excellent work from their students can get it more readily aniong those to whom the courses mean a part of a lifelong career; and, on the other hand, the easiest way to induce students to take a subject for culture is to make it not too difficult. Hence one course tends to grow harder and more specialized, and another, because recognized as a culture course, softer and more general. These tendencies are dangerous to the character of an institution such as ours.”

In a previous section of this Report mention was made of the need of elementary courses in science for students in arts. Agassiz's description of the character they should assume was quoted. They should be general and comprehensive, not microscopic and intensive, as the specialist is too apt to make them. A model will be found in the elementary textbooks written by Huxley. Students in these courses of science should be required to do regular and systematic work ; "soft" and "snap" courses in science are a desecration of the name.

And the President believes that no course in science should be given in which the student is not required to do laboratory work for himself. The

chance to stimulate mental activity and to give training in the estimate of evidence and in inductive reasoning by means of experimental investigations, which offers itself in no other field than science, is too valuable to be lost. A mere course of lectures on science appeals to the same faculties as a course of lectures on any other subject; there is nothing peculiar or distinctive about it except the subject-matter. This of course is of great value to a student seeking to understand the world in which he lives. But science can do more than that for the student. It can acquaint him with new methods of investigation and a new spirit of inquiry as well as with new principles and facts. The reorganization of elementary courses in science so that they may furnish to undergraduates who go no further the peculiar sort both of culture and training they are capable of yielding is the most pressing educational problem now confronting the science departments of Cornell University.


The College of Law has just completed the twentieth year of its existence, and the Medical College is entering upon the tenth. The former has extended the course of study from two to three years, and both have steadily raised the requirements for admission. Both now find themselves confronted with the problem whether in the future higher requirements for admission shall not be demanded than the high schools, whose graduates have hitherto been accepted, are able to satisfy.

It is a serious matter for a professional school to restrict its members to persons who have had some college training in the arts and sciences. But the motives and reasons for this improvement in the preparatory education of candidates are not only cogent in themselves but they gain additional force from the demonstration which each successive year affords of the unsatisfactory results of the present arrangement. These results are prejudicial alike to the profession, to the student, and to medical and legal science. A college training in arts and sciences, when it is not baulked of its legitimate fruits, gives a man a range of ideas, a habit of reflection and reasoning, a training and mastery of faculties which, as it were, brings him into full and energetic possession of himself and all his powers. Deprived of this training a student of law or medicine, unless he be exceptionally endowed and self-educated, is not at home among the sciences which constitute the curriculum and cannot derive from them the full advantages they are intended and qualified to yield. Nor, of course, can these sciences be successfully cultivated by him, much less enriched or enlarged. Furthermore, he is pretty certain to be ignorant of literature, history, economics, and the like; to be untrained in logic and speculation ; and even to lack the indispensable art of expressing himself easily and correctly either in speech or writing. Such men lower the tone of a so-called learned profession. Nor, except in rare and happy instances, can they ever expect to occupy its higher ranks.

These melancholy facts emphasize the need of a remedy. Yet the solution of the problem is far from simple. For it is the State which controls the practice of law and medicine, and no state either in America or indeed in the English-speaking world ever has required, or seems likely to require, a degree in the liberal arts or sciences as a prerequisite to the study or practice of law or medicine. The great majority of candidates will in all probability, therefore, continue to go to professional schools on the completion of a course in the high schools. And these candidates, from the point of view of the public, ought certainly to receive the best professional training they are capable of

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