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ARTHUR TWINING HADLEY
MODERN CHANGES IN EDUCATIONAL
[Address by Arthur T. Hadley, President of Yale University from May, 1899 (born in New Haven, Conn., April 23, 1856; ), delivered at the fourth celebration of Founders' Day at the Carnegie Institute, Pittsburg, Pa., November 2, 1899. Assistant W. N. Frew, President of the Institute, occupied the chair.]
MR. PRESIDENT, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:—Many names have been applied to the Nineteenth century by those who have striven to anticipate the verdict of posterity. It has been called an age of steam, and an age of steel; an age of newspapers, and an age of societies. What will be its final title in the light of the calmer judgment of the Twentieth century, I shall not undertake to prophesy. But, whatever that name may be, I feel sure that it will be connected with the inward rather than the outward character of our age; with the fundamental ideas which have pervaded the life of the century, rather than with manifestations which are but incidents in its development.
If we seek for some underlying quality by which to characterize the years which have just passed, we find nothing more marked than the tendency toward expansion of things which were once narrow, and consolidation of things which were once separated. We may fairly call the Nineteenth century an age of synthesis—an age of putting together what previous centuries had tended to keep apart. In science and in art, in business and in religion, there is everywhere manifest this widening and consolidating activity, which does not rest satisfied with looking at some detail by itself, but makes it a part of some large and harmonious whole.
We see this exemplified on the material side in the progress of industrial consolidation. The wagon has given place to the railroad, the retail storekeeper to the department store. Separate workshops have been supplanted by large factories, and these factories have in turn consolidated their business operations in trusts which regulate the industry of the whole country. These facts are so familiar that they have become a commonplace theme of every-day discussion.
If we turn from the sphere of commerce to that of science, a similar change is no less apparent. At the beginning of the century we had many separate branches of human knowledge, each studied by its own rules and its own methods. To-day the different physical sciences have been consolidated into one. The law of the conservation of energy makes the phenomena of motion and sound and heat and light appear, not as separate isolated things, but as transmutations of a single force which is never lost and never destroyed. And in like manner, as we pass from physical to biological science, the application of the doctrine of natural selection has brought into one large and well-ordered whole those detached parts on which the naturalists of a century ago were compelled to concentrate their attention. No longer do we believe in the separate creation of thousands of species, each living for itself and by itself. We have attained to a broader conception of the phenomena of organic life as a whole.
But these transformations of business and of science are perhaps not the most important exemplifications of our principle which the Nineteenth century has witnessed. There is a transformation in our way of regarding human life which touches us all more constantly and more closely —an expansion of our ideas of education; a consolidation into one connected whole of parts of our life and our duty which were once conceived as separated and even antagonistic. No longer do we make the sharp distinction which was once made between the period of training and of performance. No longer do we find the antagonism which was once thought to exist between work and play. [Applause.]
In the old-fashioned view of life, each human being went through a period of preparation, which was followed by a distinct and separate period of life-work. When such a person left school or college he was thought to have finished his education and to have begun serious business. I think we have all come to see how artificial was this distinction and how evil were many of the results which followed from it. We now understand that well-developed men and women should allow their education to cease only when their life ceases. We no longer attempt to separate our years into two periods, one of training and the other of work. We hold rather that work should begin in the period of training and that training should continue throughout the period of active work.
What this idea has done for the schools we can see in the new interest which has everywhere been awakened, from kindergarten to university, through the introduction of exercises which teach people to do things instead of simply to learn things. What it has done for after life an institution like this can best bear witness. The education which the grown man or woman receives in the library is more independent and more self-directed than that which the boy has received in school, but it is none the less a training, a means of mental and moral growth, without which human life tends constantly toward stagnation. The modern library or museum supplements and carries to its logical conclusion the education which is furnished by the modern school.
In the first place, it furnishes a means of technical instruction. Each one of us in our life's business, whether in the office or in the store, in the factory or the household, cannot help feeling a certain narrowing effect from his daily routine. That same experience which makes him more skilful in what he does may render his vision of the possibilities of his business less broad. But the habit of reading books that deal with the subject which he pursues counteracts this tendency. Such books give him command of data a hundred times wider than his own. Science clearly developed and presented is but a summary of the world's experience in its several lines of observation. He who deals with the world's experience instead of his own broadens his work and his capacity for observation instead of narrowing it. [Applause.] But applied science is far from constituting the whole theme of a library; nor is the study of such science the highest object which it stimulates. We are citizens as well as wage-earners, sharing in the making of our institutions, in the government of ourselves and our fellow men. If we look only at the immediate political condition by which we are surrounded we tend to narrow our political ideas, as surely as the man who looks simply at his own business narrows his business ideas. To fit ourselves to be citizens of a growing commonwealth we must read history; we must familiarize ourselves with the record of the deeds of great men in other times and in other nations. The new problems which come before us in our territorial expansion only increase the necessity of knowing what others have done. The larger the world in which we live, the greater the demands it places upon us. But neither business success, nor even political achievement, constitutes the whole of a nation's life. The development of personal character is more important than either; and the study of literature, be it poetry or prose, drama or fiction, furnishes the needed stimulus for such development. There are, of course, some people who seem to be born great, whose character stands out grander amid unfavorable surroundings; but these are rare exceptions. In general, people who live only in the narrow world of the day will be narrow in their ideals and aims; while those who have felt the inspiration of great works of fiction and poetry, though they may not always be bettermen and women, will yet have far higher ideals of what life has in store. [Applause.] There is yet another distinction, and perhaps a more fundamental one, which the Nineteenth century is gradually obliterating, and in whose obliteration an Institute like this furnishes all-powerful aid—the distinction between work and play. In old times it was the fashion to divide our actions more or less consciously into two groups: on the one hand, those that we did because necessity or duty compelled us to do them, which we characterized as work; and on the other hand, those that we did because we liked them and enjoyed doing them, which we characterized as play. Actions of the former class were praised; those of the latter class were distrusted. They were looked upon with suspicion as being trifling things, unworthy of the attention of a serious-minded man, and presumptively guilty unless proved to be innocent. It is one of the glories of the Nineteenth century that it has discovered the falseness of this antithesis. That we like doing a thing and desire to do it is no bar to its good results, but rather a help. Whether in school life or in after life, work is better done when it becomes play; play most interesting when it has an element of work. The combination instead of separation of the two things makes the fulfilment of our own desires helpful to others, and gives the work which we do for others additional vigor and efficiency because it is a pleasure no less than a duty. We see this combination of play and work in the life of our schoolboys, where, to cite but one instance among many, the development of modern athletics has made the playground an unrivaled field for training in honorable self-denial. We see it at a little later stage in the daily experience of colleges and universities, where the old-time drudgery of student duties, unwillingly rendered, is, with our improved methods, giving place to an active interest in preparation for life which the student himself scarcely knows whether to call a labor or a pleasure. We see it exemplified still later and still more completely in the privileges and enjoyments furnished by a library or museum or concert hall. The education which these places give is play, in the sense that it contributes to the enjoyment of those who use them; it is work, and the very best sort of work, in that it makes those persons better fitted to serve their fellow men in every department of life. Of all the combinations and syntheses of the Nineteenth century, we have here the profoundest—that combination which does away with the distinction of worktime and playtime, and which makes of all life a harmony rather than a conflict between pleasure and duty. [Applause.] Nor is this its most wide-reaching consequence. Its effect on the life of the body politic is even more marked than its effect on the life of the individual. It establishes the foundations of true democracy more firmly than they