The Primacy Of The Person In Education -- By: Henry Churchill King

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 060:239 (Jul 1903)
Article: The Primacy Of The Person In Education
Author: Henry Churchill King


The Primacy Of The Person In Education

Pres. Henry Churchill King

The numerous inaugurations of college presidents in the last three or four years, have necessarily called out extended discussions of educational aims. A late-comer in the field hardly feels at liberty to ignore, and he certainly does not wish merely to repeat, what has been already well said. To a certain extent he must probably do both; for he can hardly contribute more than his individual viewpoint, and may, perhaps, count himself fortunate, if, taking advantage of the discussions of his predecessors, he can by a single degree advance to greater clearness the exact problem of college education.

But he may still find encouragement to believe that the task naturally set him is not wholly useless, when he remembers, that, in spite of a considerable consensus of opinion on the part of college presidents as to what a college education in general ought to be, the problem of the precise place of the college in our actual educational system has perhaps never been at a more critical stage than now. That at least an increasing number of thoughtful observers feel this to be the case there can be no doubt. President Butler only voices the fear of many when he says: “The American college hardly exists nowadays, and, unless all signs mislead, those who want to get it back in all its useful excellence will have to fight for it pretty vigorously. The milk-and-water substitutes and the fiat universities that have taken the place of the colleges, are a pretty poor return for what we have lost.”

For the rapid changes that have taken place in college education in the last twenty-five years have carried with them, in many quarters at least, unforeseen and far-reaching consequences. The study of these consequences has brought to some of the most careful students of education, with whatever recognition of gain, a distinct sense of loss, most definitely expressed, perhaps, by Dean Briggs in his “Old-fashioned Doubts concerning New-fashioned Education.”

Other changes in other departments of education have greatly complicated the problem of the relation of the different members of our educational system. Revolutionary changes, that seem almost if not quite to involve the elimination of the college, are soberly, even if reluctantly, suggested by distinguished educators. And other changes of relations that appear at first sight less serious, in which the colleges themselves are acquiescing, may in the end make any adequate attainment of the older college ideal equally impossible. The result of the entire situation, therefore, is to press today upon American educators as never before these questions: Has the American college a real fu...

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