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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 78

—Degrees Responsible for the Mischief—

—Degrees Responsible for the Mischief—

I am aware that these remarks of [unclear: m] will seem to many to involve an [unclear: alm] impossible ideal, inasmuch as they [unclear: am] nothing less than the abolition of our agree system altogether. But I am [unclear: c] vinced it is this degree system that [unclear: is] the basis of all the mischief, and that [unclear: th] mischief will continue, too, as long [unclear: as] degree system lasts. Universities [unclear: we] meant for nothing so petty as [unclear: th] but to qualify strong men and [unclear: women] their life's task. At present the [unclear: c] works in this way: The plan of the [unclear: p] fessor's course is mapped out for him [unclear: b] the University in the requirements it [unclear: is] poses on candidates for its degree [unclear: ex] nations; even the time in which the [unclear: pa] fessor shall traverse the course [unclear: is] prescribed for him; and he is in [unclear: con] quence obliged to hurry his [unclear: stude] through their work in the most [unclear: superfi] manner, to the disgust of the best [unclear: amo] them, who naturally want to learn [unclear: every] tiring thoroughly. The contrast [unclear: between] the methods of the University and [unclear: the] of the primary school in this respect [unclear: i] now very marked, and never fails [unclear: t] strike the competent student at the [unclear: co] mencement of his college course. [unclear: It] naturally in the mathematical class [unclear: room] that this evil is most felt. A great [unclear: po] fessor at a great university should be [unclear: a] liberty to draw up his own syllabus [unclear: o] study, and to take his students [unclear: over] at any rate he may deem fit. At [unclear: pres] he is really little better than a class [unclear: k] ter working under an inspector. On [unclear: th] other hand, I believe my ideal was [unclear: th] of the medieval universities, and even [unclear: th] of the Scotch universities until [unclear: recent] It is the enormous money [unclear: resources] the Oxford and Cambridge [unclear: Universitie] enabling them to offer so many [unclear: pecuniaz] prizes to the competition of [unclear: examination] that has done so much to deify the [unclear: es] amination system everywhere, and [unclear: si] page 13 brought about the prostitution of university study. Only recently in this colony [unclear: we] saw one able professor at Canterbury College driven from his chair because he could not bring himself to be the mere [unclear: slave] of the degree system in vogue at [unclear: that] college, as everywhere else—a mere [unclear: "erammer"] for examinations. The men[unclear: tal] life of many young persons nowadays [unclear: is] just one long succession of examinations, [unclear: as] if they were born into this world for [unclear: as] other purpose than to be eternally [unclear: "tested"] for a degree.