The Spike or Victoria University College Review September 1927
Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor.
It is my humble opinion, yet one which I hold with great conviction, that there is grave reason to doubt the efficacy of modern education. A modern American statistician in a book on "Success" has estimated from statistical data that success in U.S.A. is determined 60% by heredity and family influence, 30% by religion, and 10% by education. I should imagine that the influence of education in New Zealand would take an even smaller place in estimating the factors leading to success here. How many students come to the University thinking it is merely an institution to set exams and grant diplomas which will give one a preference in applying for a position of some kind. How many find that this is almost true! The real value of a University education to them is nil. They have gained a smattering of technical knowledge on some subject or group of subjects, but as for real education they don't even know what it is. They have not learned how to think, but merely how to cram, and bluff an examiner that they know something which to-morrow they will have forgotten. They have no more idea of what are the real problems which New Zealand and the world are waiting for the thinkers to help them solve, than if they had never graced these noble halls of learning with their much grudged presence. They are no more interested in being of any use to their country or the world by using their faculties to assist in the struggle for progress and achievement, than they are in learning to speak, and debate or do anything that may help them to give a contribution to the advancement of this country in any sphere at all—education, politics, social harmony, or art. Dear "Spike," it is further my humble opinion that unless a few enthusiasts begin to realise that the real problem of the New Zealand University is not whether there should be day or night lectures, four Universities or one, an Agricultural College in Wellington or Auckland, or even whether there should be tomatoes at Tournaments—these are matters of no moment at all—but whether a student is any better as a citizen than if he had never seen our noble page 32 institutions, whether he is any better fitted to live and to face the difficulties of life from an enlightened viewpoint, whether he can ever be a leader of thought in some sphere, unless these few realize that these are the real problems we have to face, then I see nothing before our noble institutions but stagnation and failure. This is not the contribution a University ought to be making to the life of a nation. New Zealand is becoming more and more seriously affected with chronic "self-satisfaction" for lack of the pure blood of thinking students. The students we turn out seem in the large majority of cases to have no contribution to make to the life of the community at all. We seem to be afraid of thinking out our own problems now. Members of Parliament use as one of their most forceful arguments, "Great Britain is doing it." We sheepishly follow Great Britain in spending money on the Singapore Base, and in pledging ourselves to any treaty she does, without even wondering whether we agree with her action. The truth is that we have not yet developed a thinking community which can lead us in our thought and encourage us to develop a real national consciousness. It is only the outcome of a Government which nurses us still, which compensates us for the loss we suffer due to lack of thought or enterprise in our farming, which provides us with work or houses when they become scarce, which sells our raw products for us, and in short which does all it can for us except spend our income. All initiative and sense of responsibility obviously decay for lack of use in such a country. It is no wonder, therefore, that we show no initiative in our international relations. In fact most of us are so protected by our kind old Government that we do not even know there are problems that we should be facing in the international sphere. Surely it is the place of students to be the dynamite breaking through this self-centered, self-satisfied and comfortable attitude. Unless we find ourselves by learning that apparently lost art of courageous and honest thinking, and by being true to that ideal in our life after College, we will no longer be worthy of the name of students and will cease to fulfil a useful function in the community. Victoria has always given the lead to the rest of New Zealand in this matter. Are we going to let down this tradition so nobly passed on by those of the "Old Clay Patch"?
Your's with steam up,
Dear Sir,—I view with growing alarm the ever-increasing number of students who wear coloured glasses. Can you enlighten me as to whether this epidemic is a sinister organisation or purely a matter of coincidence?
[After careful enquiries by our Investigation Department we are sorry to be unable to allay your fears. A secret organisation (the I.C.U. But U.Can'tC.Me. Society) has recently been inaugurated. It is designed, according to our informants, to prepare successful alibis for its members in a career of crime, by en page 33 abling them to change the colour of their eyes at will. There are two stages—the novitiates, who wear horn-rimmed spectacles to accustom the eye to glasses, and the graduates, who wear darkly-tinted spectacles of different colours in succession, giving them their chameleon-like power. These are not to be confused with a totally different organisation which has adopted similar insignia . (Our informant thinks they are called the Hairee M'eye Association.) There is another class which invariably looks at the world through rose-coloured glasses, but they are quite harmless.—Ed.]