AT A meeting of the Headmasters Association I sat down at a table for luncheon between two of my associates, both from Pennsylvania. Somebody asked them how things were going. "Never better," one of them replied. "We've got a long waiting list for next fall, our graduates are doing wonderfully at college, we're going to put up two new buildings, and the morale of the campus is perfect! "And how are you getting along?" I inquired of the other. "Couldn't possibly be worse," he answered gloomily. "We had to fire four boys last week for cribbing. I don't believe we'll be able to fill our dormitories next year. Our records on the College Board are rotten. I wish I were in some other job." As a matter of fact, both men were good headmasters, but their temperaments were different. I experienced both moods during my fifteen years in office.
When I accepted the position, I was well acquainted with Oliver Wendell Holmes's poem, "The School-Boy," read at the Phillips Academy centennial celebration in 1878, in which he described his impression of his own principal, John Adams:
Grave is the Master's look, his forehead wears
Thick rows of wrinkles, prints of worrying cares.
Uneasy lie the heads of all that rule,
He most of all whose kingdom is a school.
Strictly speaking, my term as headmaster began on May 17, 1933. I had had nine predecessors with administrations varying in length from two to thirty-four years. Starting as I did at the age of forty-seven, I had clearly no chance of breaking any records; but I was unwilling to go down in history as the headmaster with the shortest period of service. I admit that I counted the months, and when in 1935 I had lasted longer than at least one of them, Frederic W. Tilton (1871-1873), I was much relieved. When I retired in 1948, at the close of fifteen years, I stood about in the middle, the average being seventeen years. It was a trivial matter, and one about which I could personally do very little, for disability and death come in due season to all men. But it was interesting that when I did retire, I was the second oldest person ever to have been the head of Phillips Academy. Clearly the job was not one for oldsters.
Like all headmasters, I had my honeymoon era while the enthusiasm over my accession was still high. I took office at a moment when several deaths in high places had left the faculty uncertain about the future. My frailties were well known to my associates --- and generously discounted. Furthermore I seemed to be in reasonably robust health and not likely to fall apart too quickly. What the school community wanted most was some assurance of security and continuity. They were aware that I had been identified with the academy for over a quarter of a century, had written its history, and would probably not do violence to its tradition.
Having been very close to Al Stearns, my predecessor, I had learned from him some of the pitfalls and temptations of the position. He warned me of the five groups which a headmaster has to placate --- the trustees, the faculty, the students, the parents, and the alumni to which might be added the general public. A great English headmaster once observed, "Boys are always reasonable; masters sometimes; parents never!" For my part I found all of them ready to co-operate ---even the parents! Often the interests of one group ran counter to those of another, as in cases where the faculty had ideas which were opposed to those of devoted mothers. Some of the teachers tried occasionally to make me feel that the academy ought to be run to suit their convenience; but it was, and is, my conviction that a school must be operated with the welfare of the boys chiefly in mind.
When things were functioning smoothly, it was exhilarating to be close to so much male vitality and fervor. The cheers could be so lustily wholehearted when the undergraduates were pleased, and their singing in assembly had the thrill arising from energy transmuted into action. The large majority of the boys went conscientiously about their business ---with their gripes, of course, as with any body of segregated males, but with serious purpose. The proportion of those who were idle or recalcitrant or depraved was very small. Most of them, even when they made mistakes, had good intentions and in emergencies they were capable of real sacrifices. The human race as I saw it at Andover is in no immediate danger of physical or moral deterioration.
During my administration we tried several experiments in student government intended to give the older undergraduates more responsibility and thus to strengthen their self-reliance. In theory this seemed sound; indeed for short and favorable periods the system worked fairly well. But adolescents, except in rare instances, are not fitted to judge one another. It proved to be almost impossible to get them to act wisely in cases of stealing or cribbing or evasion of the rules. The schoolboy code which condemns tale-bearing was in itself difficult to overcome. Conceded a degree of freedom, smart-aleck undergraduates would publish irresponsible editorials in the school paper and thus give a wrong impression to the alumni. The truth is that boys of that age need and respect guidance. That is what teachers are for. So-called student participation in discussions of school problems is profitable, if only as a means of education, but student government is another matter. Most boys prefer to have discipline administered by some outside power. They do not object to arbitrary and even brutal measures provided they are just. All this I learned by the method of trial and error.
Out of seven hundred or more boys some are bound to be uncontrollable. As I stayed on at Andover, we expelled fewer and fewer students for disciplinary reasons --- largely because we gave each case more careful consideration. The long-established system had been to bring each infraction of the rules up before the full meeting of the faculty, but this often resulted in hasty action dominated by an aggressive teacher. Soon we established a so-called Discipline Committee, of which I was chairman, which investigated lawless acts, summoned witnesses, and made the final decision. I am sure that this system resulted in a more satisfactory meeting of the ends of justice.
Perhaps the most discouraging aspect of the matter was the frequency with which well-intentioned leniency produced no improvement. Some full-blooded and undisciplined youngsters need a jolt to make them law-abiding members of society. In my first year as headmaster a fine athlete and natural leader who had constantly been in hot water finally reached the day before his graduation. I had had many interviews with him, admonishing and encouraging and threatening, and on that afternoon, as I met him in the corridor, I said, "Now Bill, we've gotten you along this far without your being dropped. For heaven's sake, watch your step for the next twenty-four hours!" On the next morning he was reported for an offense which could not possibly be tolerated in any self-respecting school, and we had to send him away without his diploma. The lad was not a criminal. He merely felt that he could get away with anything. It would have been better in his case to have facilitated his departure earlier in the year. As it was, the parents blamed all his delinquencies on me!
Contributory to law and order, but especially to the wise treatment of each pupil, were the efforts made through various channels to study the individual boy. The school physician, Dr. Gallagher, began with a very thorough physical examination of each entering undergraduate --- an examination which often revealed hitherto undiscovered weaknesses such as diabetes or hernia or even defective eyesight. This was supplemented by intelligence tests administered in the dean's office, and later by a continuous succession of reports from teachers, housemasters, coaches, and others. This information, together with a small photograph, was placed on a card designed by the Registrar, Dr. Willet L. Eccles. From time to time through his course various people contributed their estimates of the lad's personality, achievement, and potentialities; and before long we often had more knowledge of the youngster than his family possessed. It was possible for me at a glance to determine in a rough way what the boy had done and was likely to do, and the files were extraordinarily useful when I was writing letters to parents at the end of each term. All this machinery was instituted within a short period as part of the business of understanding the boy. It would not be an exaggeration to say that more progress was made in five years in this field than had been accomplished in the preceding century and a half.
Necessarily some warning had to be given that this information should be used with caution. A few unimaginative or literal-minded teachers tended to overemphasize the importance of the psychological tests. It was most essential that an undergraduate should not be branded for life at a period when he was changing almost from month to month. Furthermore we had no objective means of testing what might be called the "moral" qualities, such as determination, and although we had grades for what we vaguely called "effort," we were only just beginning to comprehend the influence of "motivation." What we did have was a fairly complete picture of the boy as those who dealt with him thought he was at one stage of his development. What he became has often been surprising to those of us who knew him.
The medical program started in a modest way by Dr. Gallagher in the 1930's became eventually my pride and joy as headmaster and brought great prestige to the school. Through an annual grant of $10,000 over a period of five years from the Carnegie Corporation, followed by a similar award from the Grant Foundation, we were able to institute and carry on a very significant program of research and experimentation. One thing led to another. When we uncovered a case of mirror vision, we clearly had to do something about it, and soon we were forced to set up small courses in remedial reading. Strange new instruments appeared in the infirmary for testing reading speeds or brain waves or muscular reactions. We tried out the value of various preventive sera, with gratifying results. Especially important was the work done with athletic injuries, which were within a short period considerably reduced in number. Almost perforce the school physician and his staff had to enter the field of what might be called practical psychiatry --- which at Andover was usually a manifestation of "common sense." We set up shortly an advisory board of specialists who could be called upon in emergencies. During my fifteen years as headmaster not one undergraduate died of disease, and only one of accident.
Some features of the record gave me deep satisfaction. In the examinations for the V-12 and A-12 program during the Second World War Andover won special commendation from both the army and navy for the quality of its candidates. This, of course, delighted Colonel Stimson. The development of our unique courses in the appreciation of art and music and in creative art had shown that a so-called "traditional" school could be interested in unconventional subjects. I was especially pleased with our attempts to teach modern languages ---German, French, and Spanish --- through auditory as well as visual channels. For generations these subjects had been taught in the same manner as Greek and Latin, with much memorization of forms and irregular verbs and much vain repetition of grammatical rules and exceptions to rules. Our experimentation in this field had a considerable influence on the instruction in modern languages in other independent schools. One highly original project was a regular evening radio program over the Lawrence station WLAW, which allowed us to provide symposiums on current topics for a wider public. The members of the faculty may not always have been "the first by whom the new are tried," but they were alert, imaginative, and open-minded.
Phillips Academy, as I have suggested, was far from being an autocracy. The faculty included strong, intelligent, and independent men, proud of their freedom, and only a very foolish headmaster would have disregarded their expressed wishes without good reason. I had been a member of the teaching staff for a quarter of a century and could understand the attitude of its members. The staff of now almost ninety men represented many shades of temperament and opinion. Among them were instinctive conservatives who questioned any hint of change, and a few radicals who were all for toppling the towers of privilege. Some were cautious; others were adventurous; a few of the less experienced were naturally uncertain. Some were inclined to a rigid philosophy which emphasized the letter of the law; others were disposed to be more flexible. It was the familiar contrast between the strict and the loose constructionists. But discussion was uninhibited, and views were frankly and courageously expressed.
So far as I am aware, no member of the teaching staff was ever hindered in expressing his views or suffered in any way when he opposed the headmaster's ideas. Nor, indeed, was any teacher ever questioned for what he honestly said in the classroom or on any public platform. Some of my best friends on the faculty were men with whose educational opinions I could not possibly agree.
Andover's faculty represented secondary education at its best. Many of them had outside interests which carried them into the broader world. They joined scholarly associations, contributed greatly to community welfare, wrote significant articles and books. But they never forgot that classroom teaching was their main business. I am not maintaining that they were all educational leaders. Like bankers or manufacturers or physicians they had their idiosyncrasies and sensitivities and prejudices. But I have never seen in academic or collegiate circles men more devoted to their jobs. They were eager for their pupils to do well and made many personal sacrifices in order to help them. On their enthusiasm, their patience, and their loyalty the reputation of the school largely depended.
Not for long was I free from criticism. As every administrator knows, any executive is bound to lose popularity when he makes promotions. One of the few serious mistakes made by Mr. Cochran in his philanthropies was the establishment of several "name foundations," with salaries disproportionately higher than those allotted to other members of the teaching staff. When I myself was appointed to one of them, I naturally rejoiced, but I quickly discovered that the attendant publicity was not relished by some of my colleagues. When, as headmaster, I had to fill a vacancy in these foundations, I was obliged to choose among seven or eight men, all friends of mine and all well qualified. After some long deliberation, I announced my decision, and then and there learned a fundamental truth --- those who lost out thought that I was unfair and the man who was selected, feeling that he deserved the honor, was not really grateful. The trouble with the foundations was that I couldn't change them, although more than once we consulted counsel to see whether we could not use the income in a more satisfactory way. My own idea was to turn the money into a general fund and then make promotions step by step, instead of jumping an instructor from a salary of $5000 to one of $7000, with the news given publicity in all the newspapers. This would have avoided many heartaches and saved me a large amount of grief.
Naturally not all a headmaster's appointments turn out to be satisfactory. When I took over in 1933, one of my colleagues was obviously unsuited to his position and I was obliged to call him in and tell him so. When I gave him the sad news, he raised no objection, but merely asked, "Did you ever know how I happened to get this job?" "No," I replied, "I supposed that you applied for it." "Not at all," he explained. "Two years ago I was taking a trip to visit some of the private schools in New England and came to Andover. I thought it was polite to call on the headmaster and was ushered into his office. He asked me some questions about my teaching experience and finally said, 'Well, I have a vacancy in the Latin Department, and I can offer you $2500 a year, with board and room.' I was so much startled that I could hardly speak, for the salary was more than I was earning in public school, and I had never dreamed of getting into a place like Andover. But when I started to teach the next fall, I felt right away that I wasn't up to it. I just didn't know enough. I'll be glad to get out." I arranged with our trustees to give him $1000 to study in the Harvard Graduate School. He did well there and has since been a successful public school teacher. More than once he has thanked me for relieving him so gently from an embarrassing situation.
When I had been headmaster for ten years, a problem which had long been smoldering burst into flame. On the campus were the houses of eight secret societies, the oldest of which had been founded in 1874. They had been modeled in a general way upon the Yale senior societies, of which many Andover graduates were members. Although they held formal meetings on Saturday evenings, their chief function was social. Outside the regular recitation and study hours, the members could (quite legally) sit around in their comfortably furnished rooms, smoke and play pool, and by tacit agreement enjoy privileges denied to the undergraduate nonmembers. Undeniably these societies had long furnished pleasant diversion to those fortunate enough to belong, and many enduring friendships had been formed within their walls. To them many alumni had sentimental attachments of an agreeable nature.
By the 1930's, however, although many of their graduates did not realize it, the societies had become almost anachronistic. With the institution of Saturday night school movies a large proportion of the members preferred to see Ginger Rogers or Clark Gable rather than enjoy the traditional bull sessions. The groups were small, and the members would often develop disconcerting cases of snobbery and complacency. As for the unlucky ones who did not get elected, they and their parents often became embittered. I was never quite sure just what qualities were stressed for admission to a society, but the "smoothie" politician type predominated. With some rare exceptions the scholastic records of society members were lower than those of the "barbarian" undergraduates.
Sporadic efforts at reform produced occasional but temporary improvement. But the faculty, who knew the situation, were growing impatient with the abuses, and their protests could not be ignored. The evils were inherent in the system, which set aside certain groups as more deserving than others of special privilege and protected them in concessions which they did not earn. The situation had been well solved in colleges like Amherst by offering all the upper classmen the opportunity of joining a fraternity. Suggested steps to this end were not welcomed by the Andover societies, which blindly refused to recognize the handwriting on the wall.
Having been myself in college a member of a fraternity, Alpha Delta Phi, and later for two years its national president, I was not prejudiced in any way against secret organizations as such. As I watched them in Andover, however, I could find little to justify their continued existence. The initiations lasted a week and were often physically and psychologically cruel. When in the autumn of 1933 a candidate was killed in an automobile accident while he was being driven back in an ice storm from an initiation, the faculty took decisive action, limiting the time and nature of the initiatory procedures. This for a while improved matters; but two or three instances of flagrant violations of the school rules led me to consider whether the hour had not arrived for abolishing the societies. I had met with too many cases in which a fine boy had undergone emotional disturbances because of failure to make the right society. Furthermore I was told by the admissions office that the Academy was losing each year many promising lads whose parents refused to allow them to enter a school where such institutions were tolerated.
After discussing the matter with several leading members of the faculty, I finally presented the trustees at their meeting in April 1943, with a memorandum outlining the principal arguments against the societies. The discussion was very frank, and the trustees eventually passed, without a dissenting voice, a resolution to the effect that "the existence of secret societies at Andover is not to the best interest of the school." This was implemented by a formal vote that after the close of the current year no boys should be allowed to belong to or join any social organization not authorized by the faculty.
When the former Treasurer, Jim Sawyer, heard what had happened, he wrote me, "I know you have plenty of courage, but I hope you realize how much you're going to need!" I was soon to find out how great a matter a little fire kindleth. The undergraduate officers of the societies had met to tell me that they approved of the action of the trustees, and both faculty and student body were ready to stand behind it. Within a few hours, however, the news spread to the alumni, and then the storm broke. Telegrams and telephone calls urged the undergraduate members of the societies to "hold everything." At an alumni meeting of protest it was openly asserted that the rights of the faculty had been disregarded. Thereupon the faculty held a meeting on their own initiative ---at which I was not present ---and voted, with only two dissenters, that "the existence of societies with restricted membership is not to the best interests of Phillips Academy."
Meanwhile the alumni reaction, heated by a few agitators, had become in some quarters both vocal and violent. Having learned of the feeling of the faculty, they changed their tactics and now charged that even though my objectives may have been good, my methods had been wrong. It soon became apparent to me that I had made a mistake in judgment --- not in urging the abolition of the societies but in not consulting certain alumni members before suggesting or taking action. On the fundamental issues I undoubtedly had a majority of the graduates with me, as a huge pile of letters and telegrams proved. Representatives of newspapers and national magazines called on me to say that they would support me in what they pleased to call my crusade. The faculty continued to be behind me almost to a man. But to me the welfare of the school was all-important, and I did not wish to alienate some very honest and loyal graduates who were disturbed by the action of the trustees. Accordingly I consented to what was frankly a temporizing policy and agreed to a rescinding of the original vote until more time could be given for a study of the situation by everyone involved. The situation was tense in the late spring of 1943. Two or three of the more irate alumni made a direct attack on me at an open meeting of the trustees, alleging that I had allowed the discipline to become soft and demanding a return to the inflexible punitive rules which "had made Phillips Academy what it was." The trustees, however, took my part and defended me and what had come to be called "my policies."
Encouraged as I was by newspaper and magazine editors and by a host of friends in the educational world, I might have decided to fight the issue out then and there to the bitter end. At that moment, however, my wife's chronic illness became critical, and she died, on July 26, 1943, in the Massachusetts General Hospital. With her on my mind I simply did not have the nervous strength to carry on the battle. Furthermore Colonel Stimson, to whom I was then very close, advised, "Jack, I'm sure you're right; but I don't think that it would be wise, merely to gain an immediate victory, to risk splitting the alumni at this moment. 'Why don't you drop the matter for the present and give the advocates of fraternities time to get educated?" It was sensible advice, and I am glad that I followed it, even though for the moment I seemed to be yielding to pressure. More than once during the next few years the trustees and the faculty reaffirmed their original conclusions, but the time never seemed ripe for taking the drastic steps necessary for the elimination of the societies. Almost by common consent the controversy was temporarily allowed to lapse, although the faculty put into effect much stiffer controls, and even the most resentful alumni behaved as if they were resigned to the eventual abandonment of the society system. The fact that the Phillips Exeter Academy had meanwhile abolished somewhat similar organizations on its campus was being used cogently as a lever by those who realized how detrimental to Andover the continuance of the societies was turning out to be. Finally under my successor, Dr. Kemper, and after a continuing period of publicity and education, the societies were abolished. The number of those who opposed this action when it was taken was very small indeed.
While this dispute was going on, I was occupied almost without respite with the demands of the war and later with the reconstruction of the postwar period. The termination of World War II and the resumption of normal school operations made me feel that my contribution to Phillips Academy had probably been made. The fact that Principal Lewis Perry, of Exeter, had announced his retirement in June 1946, led me to think very seriously of following his example and returning to the biographical researches which meant so much to my career. I found myself, in the happiness of my second marriage, wishing for a life less restricted by routine. I must add that, as a very personal and sensitive matter, I had been growing gradually deaf, so much so that I often could not hear what was being said in faculty and trustee meetings. I was informed by a supposedly competent specialist that I had a progressive deterioration of the auditory nerve which could not possibly improve. I experimented, not altogether successfully, with hearing aids, and found myself very unhappy over my infirmity.
On January 10, 1947, Henry W. Hobson, the Bishop of Southern Ohio, was elected to succeed Colonel Stimson as President of the Board of Trustees --- a very happy choice, for not only was he a religious leader with a national reputation but he also brought to the school a vigor and a vision which in the confused postwar era were tremendously important. Before the meeting of the trustees in April I had made up my mind that I ought shortly to retire; and luckily I could talk over matters with Bishop Hobson, my close personal friend, without embarrassment. Meanwhile, however, the trustees and alumni had made plans for a financial campaign, in which, of course, I would have to play a conspicuous part. It would have been unfortunate for me to leave until that project was on its way to success. Finally, on April 19, 1947, after talking with Bishop Hobson, I wrote him a formal letter, asking to be permitted to resign on and as of July 1, 1948, on which date I should have completed forty years of connection with the school and fifteen years as its administrative head. The trustees, in turn, accepted my resignation in a series of very flattering resolutions.
My final year was a busy one. The school was soon deep in the job of raising $3,500,000 for teachers' salaries, general endowment, and a new gymnasium. During the winter the campaign was launched with a coast-to-coast radio hookup, with Bishop Hobson, Dr. Stearns, and me speaking in Andover, Boston, and New York respectively, and alumni listening at dinners in many different cities. On December 17, 1947, Bishop Hobson was able to announce the name of my successor, Lieutenant Colonel John Mason Kemper, a graduate of the United States Military Academy in 1935, with a fine record behind him. Still under forty, he was a man of high intelligence, genuine culture, and tested administrative ability. I was proud to be allowed to propose the motion electing him and gratified to have the school carried on under a gentleman of his personality and character.
The commencement in 1948 was naturally for Lulie and me a very moving occasion. The school in my final year had opened with 740 students, the second highest enrollment in its history, and 75 full-time members of the faculty. Its reputation had not fallen off in the educational world. The Andover Fund was doing well. 1 had just published with Mr. Emery S. Basford, Head of the English Department, an anthology of literature on education called Unseen Harvests. I could still, at sixty-three, do a full day's work; indeed my speaking program for the last week in May was almost staggering. I was glad to be able to leave the scene without many too obvious symptoms of decay.
As our departure drew near, the community was very kind to us. Gifts were made to fulfill our hearts' desire: Orvis fishing rods for both of us, with a magnificent assortment of tackle; a Smith-Corona typewriter; a silver platter from the KOA Society and a very beautiful cigarette box from my fellow trustees, with their names engraved on it; a swank leather golf bag and set of matched woods from the undergraduates; and from my fellow townsmen a painting of the headmaster's house together with a leather-bound book with the signatures of hundreds of our friends. I said my farewell to the alumni at the luncheon and then to the faculty the next morning at a final meeting. I left the faculty room as they all stood and applauded, and have never since returned to it.
Within a few weeks we had moved our furniture and my precious library out of the headmaster's house. Already I had new work to do. I had been commissioned to write the biography of a fellow Amherst man, Joseph B. Eastman, who had been Interstate Commerce Commissioner and Director of Defense Transportation during the Second World War. I had been asked by the selectmen to prepare a history of the town of Andover, and I had been urged by my publishers to write my reminiscences. I was also a trustee of several schools and colleges. So for me it was a transition from one satisfactory job to another. I was eager to resume my career, such as it was, as an author.
Before we settled down again, however, we wanted one more adventure. After an autumn spent in Washington, my wife and I started on a motor trip across the continent --- to Louisville, and from there to Memphis, Little Rock, Dallas, Tucson (where we had a wonderful two weeks at the Rancho de la Osa), Indio, Palm Springs, Pasadena, Santa Barbara, Monterey, San Francisco, and back by way of Bakersfield and Phoenix to San Antonio, Houston, and the Mardi Gras at New Orleans. From there we proceeded through central Florida to our always attractive Hobe Sound, and then motored leisurely back north by way of St. Augustine, Savannah, Charleston with a week at Yeamans Hall --- Baltimore, Princeton, and then to Chestnut Hill, near Boston, which was to be --- and is --- our permanent home. Alternating at the wheel about every two hours, Lulie and I covered more than ten thousand miles without mishap to either of us in our Buick. In two momentous days we drove the full 1006 miles from Dallas to Tucson --- for us a record!
Meanwhile I had consulted another eminent aurist, who took a less gloomy view of my deafness. A combination of wise treatment and rest in sunny climates restored my hearing so that it was in better condition than it had been in twenty years. I was told that one important factor in my recovery was relief from nervous tension and the strain of unceasing responsibility.
It would be untrue, not to say ungrateful, to deny that it was a wrench to tear myself away from Andover after living there forty years. That school community as I saw it intimately was an almost ideal society. Although nobody had very much money, most families had enough to keep them contented. Social rivalry, jealousy, and malicious gossip were rare. The men and women enjoyed their pleasant minor vices, but they were high-minded and there were no private scandals. Children were well brought up, and the people were happy in their home lives. Furthermore everybody was ready to help everybody else. If anything, the community was too seductive, and it was perhaps easy to lose one's ambition in the solid comfort of day-by-day living. I know several exceptionally gifted teachers who preferred to stay in security at Andover rather than undertake a calculated risk in a college. For a man who liked intelligent companionship, good concerts and lectures, the solace of books and outdoor exercise, it was a perfect environment.
But even while recognizing all this, I was sure that the good of the school required that it be administered by men who had not passed the Grand Climacteric. In any institution comes the hour when a change is desirable --- when one can almost hear the visiting alumni asking, "I wonder who'll take the Old Man's job when he leaves?" Following the war came a deluge of new problems which needed to be handled by a relatively young leader. I shall never regret that I "got out" while I was still able to walk off the scene. Fortunately I have since been so much occupied that I have had no idle hours in which to indulge in laments. But even though I do miss the school, I am still sure that my decision to leave when and how I did was sound. My work on Andover Hill was done, and I was ready for "fresh woods and pastures new."
IN his Notes Toward the Definition of Culture, T. S. Eliot, surveying the first half of the twentieth century in these United States, summarizes his conclusions as follows: "We can assert with some confidence that our own period is one of decline; that the standards of culture are lower than they were fifty years ago; and that the evidences of this decline are visible in every department of human activity." This is a dogmatic, comprehensive, and discouraging indictment, especially to those whose post-adolescent careers, like mine, have covered almost exactly this allegedly decadent segment of time. It is a trifle difficult to see how Mr. Eliot can substantiate these obiter dicta so far as preventative medicine, surgery, sanitation, and communications are concerned except by maintaining that these are not departments of human activity. But education, on any level, is assuredly such a "department," and I am therefore compelled to consider, thoughtfully and candidly, whether with the best of intentions as a schoolmaster, I have been the ally, perhaps the unconscious agent, of deterioration and decay. Everybody knows that there have been changes since 1901, but has there been any real change? Has there been advance, or just ebb and flow, or possible retrogression?
The half century under discussion has been in the independent schools ---and it is these alone that I am considering unquestionably a period of experimentation, with little tendency, except on the part of a few isolated "diehards," to cling like a leech to tradition or to emulate Walter de la Mare's Old Jim Jay, who "got stuck fast in yesterday." On the contrary, many educators have too readily accepted novel ideas before their worth was fully manifested. I tried recently to list the trends, some obviously good, others quite clearly bad, which to my mind have been particularly noticeable. Among them, capitalized for convenience, are the Liberation of the Curriculum; the Mania for Military Preparation; the Formations of Small Sections and of Fast and Slow Divisions; the Rediscovery of Interest as a Motive; the Apotheosis of the I.Q.; the Glorification of the Aptitude Test; the Popular Demand for Individual Attention; the Rise and Decline of Progressive Education; the Relaxation of Discipline; the Concessions to Student Government; the Cumulative Menace of the Movies, Radio, and Television; the Falling Off in Voluntary Reading; the Multiplication of Records; and finally the Training for Citizenship. Doubtless others will suggest themselves readily to my pedagogical contemporaries. I have merely jotted down those which, as I look back over my career, seem most significant.
Thinking only of the curriculum, I have in my time seen the course of study dominated successively by the classics, by English, by the social studies, and by mathematics and science. Each in its golden prime enjoyed the perquisites of vested interests, and each in turn has yielded primacy because of circumstances beyond its control. Just which group is now in the saddle I am not quite sure; but if a large-scale fighting war develops, it will be the mathematicians and the scientists again---and a truly fine job they did in World War II!
Discussions over the curriculum will always be a perennially engrossing pastime for teachers. For my part, I am sure that the curricular diet has, over the past fifty years, been made more palatable and profitable. In one field especially, that of English, the substance has been vastly enriched. The school requirements in 1901, when I was a candidate for admission to college, included for intensive study Silas Marner and "The Ancient Mariner" (the titles of which were invariably confused in the pupils' minds), The Vicar of Wakefield and The Last of the Mohicans (strange juxtaposition), Burke's speech "On Conciliation with the Colonies," Shakespeare's Macbeth, and Milton's minor poems. Much of this fare was ill-suited to adolescent tastes; and gradually some of us by sheer persistence managed to persuade college admissions officers and later the College Entrance Examination Board to permit a wider selection. Especially was there reluctance from conservatives to tolerate the use as texts of any literature less than a century old. The mere suggestion that any fine contemporary novel or play might be assigned for reading was disturbing to the Old Guard. But before I had done with teaching I was asking my classes in senior English to study Hardy and Galsworthy, Masefield and Frost, as well as Dickens and Thackeray, Tennyson and Browning. By 1932 the entire atmosphere and aim of English teaching had altered for the better. We had boldly challenged the assumption that the only good book was an old book. Furthermore the modified requirements of the colleges allowed teachers to select within broad limits the literature which they liked. Consequently English classes actually became rather exciting through the substitution of choices for fixtures. The material, without losing quality, has gained in freshness and vitality.
No instructor in his right mind would ever maintain that the English classics should be ignored in the schools. Shakespeare and Wordsworth are still timeless figures in drama and in poetry. But one of the chief purposes of an English teacher should be to convince his pupils of the durable satisfactions that come from reading. Radio and television have already done their sinful best to kill the love of books; and for the instructor, through inertia, to prescribe dull material when poems and novels which are both entertaining and stimulating are available is to misuse the tools of education. Furthermore for American boys Stevenson is surely a better model for prose writing than Sir Francis Bacon or even Joseph Addison.
If the teacher has the right qualities and is willing to exert himself, he can make any subject interesting. The decline of the Greek and Roman classics has been due largely to the fact that they have too often been regarded by pedestrian instructors as a medium for drill in "forms," which has about it nothing that is inspiring. It is still true that the pedagogical artist can make even Cicero's rhetorical orations glow with light and color. I do not, however, regret the gradual abandonment of Greek and Latin in our schools, nor do I regard the movement as evidence of deterioration. For selected groups of boys and girls these ancient languages are valuable, especially for those with a linguistic aptitude. But to compel every college candidate to take Latin always seemed to be psychologically unsound. I think I am aware of all the arguments on the other side. I have certainly heard them often enough, and they have been, in my judgment, effectively refuted. For me the present trend is not regrettable, provided that the student learns one foreign language well, whether it be Latin or French or German.
Since 1901, the teaching of nearly every subject has been improved by the informality which small classroom sections of twelve or fifteen permit. Many a parent has decided to send his son to Andover or Exeter because of the excessively large classes in the local public school. In a division of fifty the average student is likely to be called upon only once, and is seldom allowed to comment or ask questions. The so-called round-table system has made each pupil an active participant in the educational process. This is particularly the case in English and the foreign languages. I am not too young to recall the old-fashioned classroom with its fixed desks and drill-hall atmosphere, where each individual student "recited," usually from memory, and then settled back, his job for the day done. At Amherst, Professor Elwell, in Greek, followed each day a mathematical figure, a square or alternate rows or the letter X, and when the members had discovered the formula, each one knew when his turn would come and conducted himself accordingly. When I was a visitor at the United States Naval Academy, I was astonished to see that a similar rigid method was in operation even in that excellent institution. Nowadays in the reputable independent schools the recitation room has become a conference room, in which teacher and taught sit at ease with one another, like the directors of the First National Bank, and discuss freely the topic of the hour. The burden upon the instructor is heavier, but in practice he has been equal to it, and the results have been gratifying. The pupil, encouraged to think as well as to repeat from memory, develops self-reliance, and even finds it difficult to go to sleep.
All this is tied up with what I earlier called the Rediscovery of Interest, as an incentive to achievement. The traditional idea was to say to the victim, "You do this --- or else!" Unfortunately it was often the "else" that had to be invoked --in the old days the rod or the ruler, in those somewhat more recent, various other types of compulsion. In my experience the prizes are usually won by interested students. This is true not only of the classroom but also of life. Once a human being anywhere acquires a strong motivation, he will work his head off. To create this desire, the teacher must employ every legitimate device, unashamed to become an actor or a salesman and not disdaining the arts of the Pied Piper or the Fuller Brush man. I will back in any intellectual competition the lad who is passionately interested against one who is there because of fear ---even the fear of failure. This is one of the few positive convictions which I acquired during my years of teaching. Mr. Dooley, in his discussion with Mr. Hennessey on the education of the young, quoted Father Kelly as saying, "I don't care what ye larn thim so long as 'tis onpleasant to thim." To me this is just as shocking as the more familiar "spare the rod and spoil the child" --- and just as out of date. Not without physical revulsion have I stood by while certain teachers of my acquaintance undertook to pound first-year Latin into the skulls of lads whose resistance was as instinctive as it was stubborn. All that was accomplished was the creation of a bitter, lifelong hatred of it.
The sorting out of people on the basic criterion of intellectual ability or native aptitude is relatively a modern conception. The theories originated by Binet and Simon were put into large-scale practical operation in this country during World War I, where I watched the first crude experiments. The army never went further than making a very superficial appraisal of a soldier's potentialities. Later, however, when the movement had spread into the schools, a tendency developed among teachers to accept the I.Q. as an almost absolute measure of a boy's mental endowment. When once the fatal score was recorded on a card, the poor fellow was labeled for the remainder of his course, if not for life. It has been like blood pressure, about which so much that is ridiculous has been said by half-baked physicians. Nowadays the specialist knows that blood pressure may be the consequence of various factors, some of them negligible, and that to condemn a patient to an early demise solely because of his record on the sphygmomanometer is often to commit a colossal blunder. Although aptitude tests are constantly improved, they are still far from infallible. Shrewd teachers learn to spot a moron in the offing; indeed one wise headmaster once remarked, "I don't need to give any examinations to prove I'm dealing with a damned fool!" Nevertheless aptitude tests have been useful as a means of ascertaining what may be expected of a candidate for admission to school or college. As a basis for predicting future success, they still have their shortcomings.
There are so many factors which as yet cannot be accurately measured. How is a researcher to determine the relative importance of interest, already mentioned? Physical deficiencies and emotional disturbances must be considered. The vagaries of the human will cannot be ignored. The whole question of motivation needs further exploration. At one period even a modest trial of practical psychiatry was viewed with suspicion by many otherwise reasonable men. I recall how Horace Taft, dear old conservative that he was, used to poke fun at the psychologists. Once at the Headmasters Association, a spokesman for Teachers' College, generally regarded in those days as a Home for Foolish Causes, read a paper which bristled with exotic nomenclature and technical jargon. When it was over, one of the muscular Christians in our midst rose, smote his chest, and orated, "Mr. President, this is one of the most erudite articles I have ever listened to, and I move you, sir, that it be published at the expense of this Association!" That body was in its habitual state of impecuniosity. Furthermore it was not its practice to authorize the printing of papers read before it. For these and other reasons, audible moans of protest came from the audience; and Uncle Horace, sitting by my side, leaned over and ejaculated, "Why is it, Jack, that when one damned fool reads the most absurd paper I ever heard, some other damned fool has to move that it be published?"
Psychiatrists would be the first to admit that theirs is not by any means an exact science. Nevertheless one of the outstanding achievements of the last half century has been the more thorough examination, in schools, of the individual student. The Phillips Academy to which I came in 1908 was rather proud of its ruthlessness. Although admission was deceptively easy, standards were intentionally kept high. If a boy failed in his studies, little effort was made to ascertain why he was flunking. The fact was enough ---and out he went! The situation is, of course, very different now. While the mesmeric slogan "Individual Attention" is too glibly used today by certain schools trying to attract patrons and I am always a bit cynical when I come across it in italics in a catalogue, I am sure that it connotes an approach which is highly important.
Compare what happens now with what happened fifty years ago. Today, when a candidate is admitted to a good independent school, we secure the fullest possible information regarding his family background and inheritance; we insist on prompt and complete physical examinations; we detect at an early date signs of deafness, of poor eyesight, and of various bodily weaknesses; we are on the watch for emotional blocks, childish inhibitions and frustrations, and delayed adolescence; we know what harm can result from unhappy conditions at home. How can a boy of sixteen concentrate on his books when he knows that his mother is in Reno getting a divorce? How can he win A's when he cannot hear what the instructor is saying? The advent of the guidance officer, under whatever title he is called, is one of the striking phenomena of our times. The chapel and the infirmary have become adjuncts of the classroom.
Some skeptics feel that we have pushed a theory too far. But in spite of complaints in some quarters that education is growing "soft," I feel that we have not gone far enough. Having seen the miracles which can be accomplished in remedial courses, I know how rich the salvage can be. Many mysteries are still to be explained and dark corners of the human mind and heart must be illuminated. The more a physician knows of his patient's history and reactions, the more reliable will be his diagnosis and the more efficacious his drugs. The relation of teacher to pupil is analogous. It is the business of some expert to find out what kind of material is entering the school and give what prescriptions are needed. We have learned that by merely "firing" a troublesome customer, the problem is not solved. Somebody, somewhere, should or must do what the institution has failed to do.
Pampering must, of course, be avoided. On every campus will be found the lazy loafers, the show-offs, and the spoiled brats --- usually the flabby inheritors of special privilege --who need a literal as well as a figurative kick in the pants. The psychiatrist who spends his time prowling about in quest of possible victims can be a menace, as I have some reason to know. But educational psychologists, though they have been criticized, have made their constructive contribution to pedagogy, and the schools are better administered because of them.
All this leads naturally to a weighing of the part played by the so-called "Progressives." In April 1933, I published in Current History an article entitled "The Promise of Progressive Education." This was just after I had become acting headmaster, but my investigations on the subject had been carried on during the preceding autumn, when I visited several "progressive schools" and read rather widely what the leaders had to say. The Lincoln School, probably the earliest organized protest against traditional practices in education, was established in 1917, by a subsidy from the General Education Board; and by 1933 the Progressive Education Association had more than 7000 members and had for a decade published its own magazine, called Progressive Education. I did not doubt then, nor do I now, that the movement was a badly needed and useful crusade, particularly when it advocated, in the words of Dean Henry W. Holmes, "a substitution as far as possible of interest, enjoyment in work, and a sense of the real value of study for all ulterior motives and rewards and punishments." The Progressives at their sanest only reaffirmed the creed of the great Edward Thring, Headmaster of Uppingham School in England, when he said, "The primary object of education is to call out thought, not to load the memory --- to strengthen the mind and give it versatile power --- not to crush it under an accumulation of undigested facts." They insisted that the educational process need not necessarily be repellent. Jacques Barzun recently pointed out that, at the close of a thoughtful life, William James believed he had found what philosophers most wanted --- it was praise! And American boys --- who are certainly not all philosophers ---want the same thing, or at least the opportunity to earn and deserve it. All education today has profited by the evangelism of the pioneer Progressives. Because of them the techniques of teachers everywhere have changed, and usually for the better.
Progressive education, however, has been in my judgment more successful with preadolescents than with boys and girls beyond the age of fourteen. I suppose that everybody, no matter how young or how old, is the better in character for being obliged once in a while to carry through a task which he may not like, or may even loathe. Former pupils in progressive schools have explained to me rather apologetically that they were so much entertained that they made little effort to correlate, themselves, what they had learned. The Progressive Movement unquestionably attracted a group of fanatics who by their wild utterances threw the more intelligent leaders into disrepute, as if they were guilty by association. It has been responsible for much loose talk, some preposterous ideas, and not a little sheer quackery. But it must be granted that its philosophy has profoundly affected secondary education. Unconsciously, even unwillingly, the conservatives have accepted some of the fundamental principles of the progressive doctrine, just as the Republicans have accepted several of the fundamental principles of the once despised Populist party of the 1890's. The chief reason why progressive education is so silent today is because its critics have taken over the best it had to offer.
Progressive education has been very influential in its recognition of the fine arts. The Andover of 1908, like its rival schools, was scornful of "fads and frills," such as painting and music. Now nearly every independent school has its own departments of art and music, suited to its size and budget, and several of the art galleries, like the one at Andover, are of major importance. The annual group of singing sponsored each spring by several New England schools in Boston's Symphony Hall is almost professional in quality. I am sure that thousands of boys and girls find today the most satisfying outlet for their emotions and aspirations through the channels of the fine arts.
As a corollary, participation in these pleasing activities is no longer regarded as the prerogative of sissies. One may see a muscular discus thrower posing for his mates in the art studio or the captain of the wrestling team playing the violin in the orchestra. Undergraduates boast of their collections of phonograph records, read the "Recordings Section" of the Saturday Review, and obviously enjoy listening to a sonata or a symphony. I do not deny that much of the evidence as we see it in the Museum of Modern Art or listen to it from the juke boxes in Howard Johnson's restaurants rather justifies Mr. Eliot in his pessimism. But the American schoolboy should not be blamed for these aberrations.
Some laudators of the Good Old Days deplore what they describe as the current relaxation of discipline in the schools and maintain also that manners have deteriorated. I cannot myself honestly say that I have noticed any marked falling off. The eating habits of boys, except when they are under unremitting supervision, tend to lapse into the barbaric. When not compelled to appear properly dressed the average undergraduate prefers sloppy clothes, as he did when I was an undergraduate. In morals we have learned that an indiscretion is not necessarily a sin. Rules about smoking have been modified because they could not be enforced. When at Andover in 1913 the faculty decided by a close vote to permit the boys to play tennis on Sunday afternoon, one kindly old teacher warned his associates that the school was on the direct road to hell. He lived to tell me that he had been wrong. Even he perceived that the national mores had changed.
As for discipline, I gladly concede that it is less rigid than it was, but I personally feel that the trend towards a just flexibility is a step in progress. We still have with us advocates of clearly stated rules arbitrarily enforced, without regard for explanations or excuses, and I respect them for their consistency and sincerity. But when headmasters begin to consider the real function of a penalty like expulsion, they are confronted with paradoxes. After we began at Andover to consider each disciplinary case "on its merits" and therefore to use the extreme punishment less freely, the number of offenders actually dropped off. Much of campus misconduct is the consequence not of a sinful nature but of high spirits, and must not be confused with depravity. The headmaster of one of our most famous schools confided to me that on the night before his graduation from school he deliberately went out of his dormitory without permission --an offense for which "firing" was the recognized penalty --- merely because he "felt good." Fortunately he was undetected, and went on his way rejoicing, with his diploma in his hand. If he had been expelled, he might never have gone to college, and the Headmasters Association would have lost one of its brightest luminaries.
Some of the worst undergraduate hellions that I ever knew have later turned into the most exacting of parents, just as some of the poorest scholars constantly harass their offspring for not making cum laude. Once when I was chatting informally with the Student Council in my library, a boy showed me a letter from his father, almost vicious in tone, castigating him unmercifully for his faults. "I taught your father," said I, "let's look up his record in his class yearbook." The young fellow began turning the pages and suddenly started to laugh. "What's funny?" I asked. "Look here, Mr. Fuess," he replied. "Dad had the largest vote for Biggest Bluffer in the Classroom. I've got him now!"
Student government, or student participation, is much more widespread than it was fifty years ago, and I wish I could be certain that this trend is for the better. The practice varies greatly, depending on the school. In one small academy with which I am acquainted, the Student Council sits in on all cases of discipline and has a voice in the final decision. In others, the council serves as an intermediary between the administration and the undergraduates, in a sense of interpreting one to the other. The dangers of granting students power over their own number are considerable. Boys between the ages of fourteen and eighteen are seldom qualified by experience or habits of thought to form judgments on such matters. The student code of morals and conduct is often different from that of the faculty, and the establishment of common ground is difficult. The success of student government is likely to depend on the quality of the undergraduate leaders for any one particular year, and also on the attitude of the faculty representatives, which may be narrow-minded and uncompromising.
In comparing yesterday with today, older teachers tell me mournfully that the reading of their pupils has fallen off. Instructors cannot count now even on a knowledge of the exploits of David and Samson, to say nothing of Ivanhoe and Robinson Crusoe and Jim Hawkins. The fascination of the movies and radio, and more recently of television, has lured boys and girls away from books. Even upper-class families no longer possess libraries, and the young peoples' periodicals are much inferior to The Youth's Companion and St. Nicholas and others of their type which flourished in my childhood. The normal grammar school boy, forced to stay indoors on a rainy day, used to seek solace in the printed page. If his rugged tastes disdained the Rollo stories and Little Lord Fauntleroy, he might pursue adventure with those thrilling individualists, Diamond Dick or Frank Merriwell or Nick Carter; but at least he was forming a good habit. Some of my friends see no great harm in our more modern diversions. However it is difficult to persuade a confirmed bibliophile that the old recreations were not, on the whole, more beneficial than the new. It was certainly better for a robust lad to get excited over The Three Musketeers or The Master of Ballantrae than to waste an evening watching female wrestlers or the slapstick comedy of the screen. My younger readers may charge this off to senile prejudice --and forget it!
The needs of military preparation have not operated steadily in recent years, but the schools have seldom been allowed to forget them. For boys who must expect to serve their country in the armed forces, mathematics and science seem indispensable. The ability to repeat the magical lines of the "Ode to a Nightingale," commendable though it may have been in the peaceful 1900's, is in wartime not so much needed as skill in mechanics or an understanding of atomic energy. This is the tragedy of our present younger generation --- they must for their own preservation focus their minds on the instruments of destruction. This need did not exist fifty years ago, nor was it paramount until the Kaiser and Adolf Hitler started their mad careers and tore down the walls of our western culture. Here practical considerations, including the matter of personal and national safety, have effected a new arrangement of values.
One by-product of our more detailed study of the boy has been the multiplication of records, until a boy's dossier at eighteen may be almost a volume. Schools are top heavy with administrative officers, who unfortunately usually receive higher salaries than the teachers. English headmasters who visit us are astounded by the amount of paper work, the infinite number of memorandums, the thick files of directives, the rows of typists sitting at their desks, the throng of deans and assistant deans and secretaries. Things were simpler, and certainly less expensive, in the days when the teacher and his pupils had it out together, off the record. When I was a headmaster and rang for a student's file, it might be two inches thick, filled with one report after another, with comments from instructors and house masters and coaches. Then I realized that, with perfectly good intentions, I was responsible for this avalanche. I wanted to know all about the boy, and these people were telling me, each in a different way and from a different viewpoint. Was I wrong or right in helping to create such a mountainous weight of evidence about a youngster just escaping from his teens?
To turn once more to the credit side, perhaps the most significant and fruitful development of the last half century, in both public and independent schools, has been what might be called vaguely "training for citizenship." This begins naturally with sound instruction in American history and in the processes and purposes of government. This historical background is supplemented by frequent references to current problems, events, and personalities, with stress on debating and the discussion of live issues. Another aspect is the encouragement of community responsibility, granting as much self-government and freedom of decision as the maturity of the students will justify. The social conscience is aroused through charity drives, work in boys' clubs and camps, and active participation in philanthropic organizations. Through church and chapel and assembly as well as through talks by authorities in their respective fields the best schools try to bring their students into touch with the complicated society which they will soon join as workers, and it is to be hoped, as contributors.
Our newspapers, except for the always welcome Christian Science Monitor, assign large amounts of space to juvenile delinquency and teen-age gangsters, and "hot-rod" adolescents. But even these menaces existed at the turn of the century, although their weapons and their methods may have been different. Vandals desecrated graveyards, hoodlums broke into schoolhouses, and the Andover and Exeter undergraduates burst out into occasional riots. I am inclined to think that in this respect the times are really better. My predecessor, Dr. Stearns, once rashly remarked in morning chapel that the boys of that period (the 1920's) were tamer than those of his own childhood in the 1880's. They had, he complained, lost their initiative, their imagination, their vitality. His words were received at the moment with exquisite courtesy. But within the next twenty-four hours more hell was raised on Andover Hill than had taken place within the memory of the oldest inhabitant. Curbstones were shifted; signs were torn down; the skeleton was removed from the biological laboratory and suspended from a tree. The next morning Al, whose sense of humor never deserted him, stood up and said, "All right, boys, let's call it off! I take back my rash words. The present generation has vindicated itself --and now we'll go back to peace." There was prolonged applause, and the incident was closed.
It is charged intermittently by superpatriots that the faculties and undergraduate bodies of our independent schools are "shot full of communism," or "tinged with pink." I am not sure that I should recognize a Communist if I met one, although I have conversed with two or three who have been labeled as such by other people. We had on the Andover teaching staff several Democrats --- which I know is very bad ---even some who voted for F.D.R. ---which apparently is worse. I have even heard of some headmasters who don't like Senator McCarthy. But as I have watched teachers through two world wars, as I have listened to their talks in chapel, as I have heard them on the public platform, I doubt whether we have, even in the Senate of the United States, a more genuinely loyal group.
In a school not very far from Boston a real-live Communist was invited by an undergraduate organization to come and speak to them. He delivered his address with a good deal of noisy eloquence. Then the boys bombarded him with questions. They refuted his arguments, proved that he had misquoted his authorities, and sent him back discomfited, with the remark, "Those damned kids are just like a swarm of mosquitoes." That's the best way to deal with communism, or indeed totalitarianism in any form. It cannot long stand up against the truth.
I am always troubled, on the other hand, when the undergraduates are too conservative, too much ruled by the politics of their middle-aged fathers. It is good for human beings to be liberal in their youth. I have never forgotten Robert Louis Stevenson's comment: "It is as natural and right for a young man to be imprudent and exaggerated, to live in swoops and circles, and beat about his cage like any other wild thing newly captured, as it is for old men to turn gray, or mothers to love their offspring, or heroes to die for something worthier than their lives." It would be no sign of progress if the boys of today were staid and hidebound and unrebellious. Mental ossification before twenty is a paralyzing disease which no antibiotic can eradicate.
We oldsters must beware of forming the habit of complaining about the Younger Generation. The recent revival of the books of the late F. Scott Fitzgerald has recalled memories of the 1920's and of what Gertrude Stein called the Lost Generation, symbolized by the obnoxious John Held "flapper" and the coonskin-coated "Joe College." At the time they were denounced by moralists as degenerates. Where are they now? They have recently been celebrating their twenty-fifth reunion and contributing liberally to the college till. The "Prom Girls" of This Side of Paradise are now plump matrons in middle life, sending their children off to summer camp, doing their own work in their kitchens, and often teaching in Sunday School; and the former raucous flask-toters are now cheery members of Rotary Clubs and pass the collection plate in the First Presbyterian Church.
Obviously we haven't reached the millennium yet, nor is it even visible beyond the horizon. I wish that the better independent schools could keep their tuition rates within the reach of professional people --- the lawyers and doctors and clergymen and government officials who transmit such rich culture to their children. I wish that we could find a way to subsidize very promising boys and girls from poor families through preparatory school and college. I wish that parents would demonstrate by their own examples the manners and morals which they expect teachers to impress upon their offspring. I wish that all teachers were as self-sacrificing, and as stimulating, as some of them are. I wish, above all, that we could have a wider acceptance of the doctrine that the independent school is run primarily for the benefit of its pupils.
We shall reach these and other desirable objectives in due course, if we strive hard enough for them. Taking the long view, I just cannot be pessimistic. Many of my contemporaries in business or law or government have less hope than I do. They feel that one constructive era of human society may have reached its peak, and that we are entering with tragic inevitability and unawareness on another Dark Age. Having been so long surrounded by youthful minds and located in the midst of youthful vitality, I cannot share their gloom. Boys are, after all, impulsive, inexperienced animals, in need of guidance, although they may not admit it. It is the task of the teacher to find out what they are like, encourage their aspirations and implement their dreams, sympathize with their growing pains, and lead them on the slow path to maturity. The thoughtful teacher is bound to take a long-range view of man's gradual evolution from the brute.
Most "isms" are to be condemned, but there are two --altruism and optimism --- for which I have a liking, and we could do with more of both. Even as we grope out of darkness, let us count our blessings. Gazing from my sexagenarian pinnacle, I can look back and perceive that, on the whole, American education is better than it was.
SOME danger is inherent in either judgment or prophecy, but most of all in prophecy. Writing in 1905 concerning John Hay's record as Secretary of State, Henry Adams said, "For the first time in fifteen hundred years a true Roman pax was in sight and would, if it succeeded, owe its virtues to him." In the closing sentences of his great Education, Adams expressed the desire that Clarence King, John Hay, and he might return to earth in 1938, their centenary year, and "perhaps then, for the first time since man began his education among the carnivores, they would find a world that sensitive and timid natures could regard without a shudder." Actually in 1939, when Adams had been dead only two decades, Adolf Hitler, already on his aggressive march, had absorbed Austria and carried out his Czechoslovakian coup, and a new global war, far more devastating than that of 1914-1918, was inescapable. Adams, if he could have stepped from eternity into time, would doubtless have resumed his philosophic pessimism as the only logical attitude towards the world and its future. No Golden Age could have been in sight.
In this example of mistaken prediction is a warning which any schoolmaster would do well to heed. Since Adams wrote his words, the Idea of Progress, so widespread among the Cheerful Victorians and so well expressed by Tennyson and Browning, has been discredited. It has been a long time since any Pippa has sung at dawn:
God's in his heaven,
All's right with the world.
Writers like Arnold Toynbee have made us feel that what has seemed like advancement has been only oscillation, and that newer civilizations will rise and fall like waves, as they have done in the past. It may literally be true of our own western culture that
The cloud-ca pp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yes, all that it inherit, shall dissolve
And like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind.
With us, portents have not been lacking. The populace of Egypt and Babylon and Rome knew little of earlier centuries and probably went illusioned to their doom. We in the twentieth century, with our wealth of archeological knowledge and our acquaintance with recorded history, may be consciously watching our gradual disintegration, as the passengers on a launch might observe their drift towards some loud-heralded Niagara, partly in disbelief, partly in stupefaction, and partly in resignation to the inevitable.
It is the unwillingness to struggle which is so disturbing. It looks as if the ruin of two world wars had taken the heart out of humanity. Over the half century through which I have lived, many of the leaders of my generation have lost the racial will to survive. This gloomy mood has been expressed in much of our art, our music, and our poetry, to say nothing of our philosophy. Under these circumstances, what can one whose life has been spent in schoolmastering have on his mind?
H. G. Wells, in the closing chapter of his Outline of History, says in one of his characteristic obiter dicta, "Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe." This was written just after the First World War, before Mussolini and Hitler and Stalin had shown the full horrors of totalitarianism. Now we know, if we did not before, that everything depends on the type of education and that education misused may be the prelude to tyranny. A regimented education, directed and employed by a dictator, is not only of no value in averting disaster, it may even create disaster. Only when education produces free citizens does it become a possible protection against the destruction of our civilization.
One of the perils in the United States today is a sinister form of chauvinism which would regiment our education in what it conceives to be the interests of the state, as Hitler did and Stalin is doing. "If I had my way," said a man in my presence at a club table in New York last winter, "every growing child would be taught the evils which FDR brought upon this country." Whatever we may think of the New Deal, it is easy to see what secondary education in America might become in the hands of a dogmatist like that. Even now, in small communities, loud-mouthed demagogues cause trouble. If the control were national in scope, the opportunity for rabble-rousing legislators in Washington would be unlimited.
I may as well say at once that after living for more than forty years in the midst of young Americans from all levels of society, I am not afraid to trust them with ideas. If good ideas cannot hold their own in open debate with allegedly bad ideas, the bad ones deserve to win. We shall never produce leaders by bringing up our youth ignorant of communism and fascism and nihilism and all the other pernicious doctrines which thrive on misery as buzzards grow fat on carrion. It is the completely cloistered boys and girls who succumb to vicious propaganda. The surest way to keep a young man straight is not to fence him in or wrap him in cotton wool but to teach him how to think. In this way he builds up a defense within himself. He may fumble, he may make foolish mistakes, but through his blunders he will gain strength. When I hear that communism is gaining ground in our schools, I do not believe it. Tell the pupils all the truth, and let Communists do their worst. Children who have been trained to weigh evidence are in little danger of corruption.
In a democracy like ours education can outrun catastrophe, if only we proceed on right principles. Clearly most of the work must be carried on in the public schools where such a large proportion of our children must be trained. In this field others can speak with far more authority than I. The public school system in the United States has been subjected to close scrutiny, and its weaknesses have frequently been exposed. I am more impressed, however, by its extraordinary accomplishment against many obvious handicaps. Generalizations over such a vast area can have little real validity. Some public schools, like those in Newton or Scarsdale or Winnetka, have high standards; others, in industrial centers, find it difficult to assimilate the heterogeneous population. I have, however, met a considerable number of high school principals and school superintendents and believe that as a group they deserve high praise. They are not, as a rule, too well paid; they are subject to a kind of community scrutiny which can be most annoying; they have in some cities too little personal freedom; and they have no choice in the selection of their pupils. Nevertheless each year they turn out a body of Americans who have at least an acceptable intellectual foundation on which, with the right motivation, they can build useful careers.
I feel much more at home in discussing the part which the private, or independent, schools can play in averting catastrophe. Here again, however, generalizations, though tempting, are hazardous, but I should like to indulge myself in a few observations based on experience. The independent schools are few numerically and take care of only a fraction of the population. It is disconcerting to a headmaster who thinks that his school is a great American institution to discover that it is completely unknown to citizens of Memphis or Des Moines. They do, however, vary widely in size and procedure, and there are enough to satisfy almost any taste or demand, even though it may be unusual. We have in the East the traditional democratic academy, the boarding school on the English model, the parochial school, the country-day school, the tutoring school, and others created for special requirements. The range in cost is extreme, from $700 at Mount Hermon to $2100 at Lawrenceville. Some are small, with a local or limited constituency; others are large and national in their outlook. Some draw their students almost entirely from the so-called upper classes; others gladly admit poor boys and offer them financial assistance. Some send virtually all their graduates to college; others prepare their students chiefly for business. A glance through Sargent's indispensable Handbook of Private Schools will leave the reader amazed at the lack of homogeneity and the almost infinite variety displayed. The institutions mentioned differ in their internal organization, in their codes of discipline, in their curriculums, in their religious affiliations, in the salaries they pay their teachers, and chiefly in their headmasters.
Nearly all of them were originally established from the worthiest of motives and are operated not for profit. Usually public-spirited benefactors furnished the necessary funds, and their only reward could come from the conviction that their schools were providing exceptional training for individual students and thus making a contribution to society. The private school developed in an atmosphere of laissez-faire which made its survival dependent on its ability to meet a need and allure customers. The analogy with storekeeping is not far-fetched. In any community there is bound to be competition among shops. Those which have a pleasing array of commodities, a tactful staff of salespeople, and a reputation for giving satisfaction are bound to do better than those which are sloppily managed. If the service is poor or the supply of goods inadequate, the store will ultimately give up the ghost. The independent school is in precisely the same situation. No matter how large its resources, it must have students. The school which draws nobody to its classrooms has no reason for existence.
The private schools through their individuality offer a healthy corrective to overmuch standardization and allow parents to choose deliberately the type of education which they wish for their children. One can never be quite sure what leads a father to select a school for his son. Obviously if a boy wishes to study Greek, he will seek out an institution where Greek is taught. If he is interested in the fine arts, he will examine catalogues to discover what instruction is provided in that field. Once at Andover a charming senior named Fred Hudson came to the headmaster's house for tea. My wife, to make conversation, inquired how he happened to come to Andover. Fred thought a minute and then replied, "I don't see why I shouldn't tell you. My father read an article in Fortune on famous American schools. Andover and two other schools were mentioned first, and my father thought, therefore, that they must be the best. Then he studied the photographs of Mr. Fuess and those of the other headmasters and finally turned to me and said, 'Son, you're going to Andover!' My curiosity was aroused, and I asked, 'That's all right with me, but why did you pick Andover over the others?' My Dad came right back, 'Because this man Fuss has a gentler face.' " It was indeed a strange reason for making a crucial decision, but it enabled me later to announce that although mine was not "the face that launched a thousand ships," it did bring at least one boy to Phillips Academy. Hudson went to West Point, made a brilliant record as a soldier, and died fighting gallantly in Korea.
The private schools which are not equipped for competition have plenty of troubles. Many of the old New England academies, conceived in hope, had a few promising years and then perished of sheer inanition. Their abandoned buildings may still be seen, the shingles falling off, the grass and weeds growing tall around the porch, and the brick mottled by many a winter storm. Of the scores of independent schools in this country a considerable number are usually on the borderline financially between black and red, and are liable to be wiped out by any sudden drop in revenue. The old established ones, with adequate endowments and strong bodies of alumni, can sit tight, confident that they need no showy advertising. But there are many which, on August first, are never quite sure whether they will be full for the coming year.
While the headmaster is always an important factor, the larger schools like Andover and Exeter rely on efficient organization. In the smaller ones the personality of the head may make the difference between success and failure, and an autocracy, if it is reasonably benevolent, may be the most desirable form of government. Horace Taft used to tell with a chuckle the story about the old fellow who started a rural academy in Connecticut in the far-off days when the little red schoolhouse had no discipline and if the boys could thrash the teacher, it was regarded as a good joke. This new principal had his own conception of how a school should be run. On the first day a big bully started to make trouble and was promptly warned that if he did not subside he would be expelled. The next morning the boy repeated the offense and to his astonishment was told to go home and stay there. The irate father then appeared and protested. The principal never yielded an inch, and finally the exasperated parent burst out, "As far as I can see you expect to do what you damned please with this school." The old pedagogue blinked and replied, "Your language is coarse and your manners offensive --- but you have grasped the idea!" Legends of this kind indicate that individuality in a headmaster is regarded as a virtue.
From time to time somebody accuses the independent schools of being snobbish or complacent or provincial. It would be foolish to assert that these disagreeable characteristics do not exist, but I am sure that they are diminishing year by year. Even the most aristocratic schools cannot now afford to be socially exclusive. As for smugness, it carries with it its own penalty.
The independent schools can provide educational facilities for only a small proportion of the population. Considerations of space would in themselves prevent any such possibility. To some extent, then, and without intending to do so, they convey the impression of an aristocracy rather than a democracy. But any charge of special privilege can have little to sustain it. Even if they could afford the additional cost, many parents would not choose an independent school for their sons. Furthermore college admissions officers have made it clear that not all their preferred candidates come from private institutions.
The independent schools enjoy certain cherished privileges. They are relieved, like hospitals, from various forms of taxation, and they are exempt in most cases from community control. They can set and maintain their own standards without interference from any outsider. They can require attendance at religious exercises without any penalty except the withdrawal of pupils whose consciences are disturbed. It may well be asked by the general public whether these schools have deserved their immunities. Have they really, through the education which they provide for their pupils, been in any sense a bulwark against catastrophe?
Have they done as much for America as the famous public schools like Winchester, Harrow, and Rugby have done for England? Probably not --- for the proportion of British statesmen trained at the public schools has been amazingly high. The tradition that Waterloo was won on "the playing fields of Eton," whether valid or not, illustrates the attitude of many intelligent Englishmen regarding the old school tie. No such myth has ever grown up in the United States.
On the other hand, the independent schools have no cause to be ashamed of their product. When a writer in Fortune magazine wrote categorically that our independent schools "have failed to arouse the admiration of the American people because the number of famous Americans who have sat in their classrooms is so small as to be embarrassing," he stirred up a nest of sensitive educational hornets. Andover retaliated with Samuel F. B. Morse, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and Henry L. Stimson; Exeter spoke proudly of Daniel Webster, Edward Everett, and Thomas W. Lamont; Groton, in existence only since 1884, mentioned Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dean Acheson, and Averill Harriman. An investigation of Who's Who in America for 1934-1935 showed that one Andover graduate out of thirty-five was listed in that publication while the ratio in the nation at large was one out of four thousand. The defenders of the independent schools on the basis of these statistics alone had a strong argument.
It is not essential for my thesis that I should prove that our private schools have turned out an exceptionally large number of cabinet members and Congressmen and judges. The list could be made impressive and perhaps astonishing. But the important fact is that the best of the independent schools, with their interest in the development of character, have been turning out good citizens. Among their graduates are drones --- men who loaf through school and college, inherit wealth, and then spend their days in club windows or on Florida beaches, railing at the government and doing nothing to improve it. But the percentage is extraordinarily high across the continent of persons who in their communities are identified with good causes and are proud to serve the state. I think I know something of the heads and the faculties of these schools and what they are trying earnestly to do. In sincerity, perseverance, enthusiasm, and idealism they can hold their own with the representatives of any other profession.
In the long run the success of a school will be determined not by its buildings or its playing fields or even its library or chapel but by the quality of its teachers. It is axiomatic that we cannot expect in our somewhat sophisticated society the motivation which in the early nineteenth century led boys to walk a hundred miles to enter a school like Andover or which arose from the belief that a college degree necessarily means power. Nowadays teaching must be more than the presentation of ideas. It is the kindling by one glowing spirit of a flame in those who are under him. If the fire is already laid with kindling ready for lighting, so much the better. If it is not, the instructor must do the warming himself, and if he fails to try, he has not performed his duty.
A bored teacher will obviously have a bored class. On the other hand, vitality is infectious and acts like yeast to make dullards rise into animation. The young are quick to recognize and respond to any signs of essential humanity in a teacher. He can do little if his pupils do not perceive in him a person constructed like themselves, somewhat older and more scarred, but still struggling in the toils of half-truths and doubts, and still seizing every opportunity to learn. Cases may exist where austerity and studied aloofness make a teacher seem like a demigod, with the aura which comes from remoteness. But in the end he will accomplish more if he displays the attributes of a common man and not of a "very superior person."
Dr. Stearns was once conducting an opulent industrialist over the Andover campus and on the way introduced him to several of the masters. As his visitor was saying good-by at the Inn, Stearns asked a conventional question, "What impressed you most about the school?" The reply was entirely unconventional, "I was struck by the fact that several of your teachers looked as though they could earn a living in some other job." The answer was indicative of the businessman's attitude towards what he is sometimes pleased to call "starry-eyed idealists," and therefore is worth quoting. But there is no question that the average undergraduate likes a professor who could have been successful in journalism or banking or insurance, but who preferred to teach. An exceptionally gifted teacher once told me --- in strict confidence --- that if he could not get a salary for his services he would be glad to pay the school for letting him retain his position. This crusader would have set an example of which, as a former practitioner, I cannot publicly approve, but it must be admitted that such a glorious missionary spirit is as commendable as it is uncommon. No profession requires such consecration, such long-continued and unfaltering devotion. A teacher without this dedication is as uninspiring as a flat tire.
I once tried to paint a word portrait of the ideal teacher as I have seen him functioning in an independent school, and I venture to repeat it here because it sums up what I have to say on the subject:
He should be intelligent but not pedantic, dignified but not pompous, firm but not intolerant. He should be young enough to remember his boyhood but old enough to have put aside childish things. With all his scholarship, he should be aware that it would be a one-sided world if all his pupils turned out teachers, like himself. He should not be ashamed to possess or disclose his ideals, but should temper them with practicality. He should be able, outside his own bailiwick, to mix with other people on even terms, without superciliousness, self-consciousness, or timidity. He should be able to maintain at all costs his patience, his sympathy, and his sense of humor, and be willing to laugh first of all at himself. If, in addition, he has energy and optimism, he should be able to secure and hold a position and leave behind him a place in the memories of the alumni. It will make little difference where such a man functions, whether in a gorgeous lecture hall or in an ancient classroom, with the desks carved by generations of undergraduates. He may never be awarded a medal or an honorary degree, but his spirit will remain alive long after his body rests in the local cemetery.
It will have been discerned that I have little faith in the efficacy of a "cloistered virtue." One of the objections to certain phases of modern education is that they have little relationship to life in the twentieth century. We should send our sons and grandsons out from school equipped to cope with the problems of the world of Eisenhower and Stalin and Winston Churchill and Nehru --- not merely for those of some picturesque Utopia or imaginary Golden Age. There should be no course in the high school curriculum which cannot be fitted into a pattern for living.
But I am equally dubious about strictly vocational training. It is a truism that education should teach a boy not so much how to make a living as how to live. Einstein expressed this well when he said, "The school should have as its aim that the young man leave it as a harmonious personality, not as specialist." And added, "The development of general ability for independent thinking and judgment should always be placed foremost, not the acquisition of special knowledge." At a recent symposium at Kirkland House, at Harvard, a young Grotonian declared that his father had complained because Groton had taught his son nothing which would help him to become financially independent. "How can I answer him?" he inquired. I went through the appearance of solemn meditation and finally replied, "Remind him that life is still more than meat and the body more than raiment." "But he won't understand that," commented the young man. "Very well," I could only conclude, "he's the one that needs educating---not you!"
Most independent schools have openly and ardently stressed the development of character as their chief objective. The written constitutions of the two Phillips Academies at Andover and Exeter declare as a basic principle that "Knowledge without Goodness is dangerous," thus anticipating the great Dr. Arnold by many years. Furthermore these schools have always emphasized the importance of the social as well as the moral and ethical qualities in prospective citizens. The type of undergraduate in whom I used to put the most confidence was the one who had brains enough to secure A-plus grades if he devoted himself exclusively to the business of winning high marks, but who chose instead to spend some time in gregarious pursuits ---athletics or journalism or debating --and therefore got only B's. If this seems heretical, the agreement of many of my contemporaries has made it almost orthodoxy. I do not believe that intelligence alone, unsupported by spiritual motivation, will enable education to outrun catastrophe.
Nevertheless it is also my conviction that the independent schools could do much more for the Bright Boy --- the student who, under the right conditions, is capable of advancing faster than the average lad of his own age. We have done, and are doing, much to reclaim the mental outcasts and strengthen the weaker brethren. As a corollary of the democratic process, educational theory and practice, particularly in the public schools, have been adjusted to the needs of the so-called normal child; and no enlightened sociologist can doubt the importance of giving the future voter the foundation for forming his opinions. Unfortunately, however, the abler boys and girls are frequently held back, with serious danger to their morale. Psychologists have long been convinced that, allowing for the inevitable and dramatic exceptions, the child of high mentality is also likely to be the one with the most sensitive conscience and the best behavior. In spite of the antisocial character of an occasional Bright Boy, it is the more intelligent men and women who will save us --- if we are destined to be saved. The independent schools, if they choose to do so, can do much through fast divisions and other devices to stimulate the student who wishes to go farther and faster than his fellows.
It is gratifying to find the Ford Foundation interested in reducing the waste of time in our American schools. President Lowell, of Harvard, always insisted that the Bright Boys were the young boys. Every teacher knows of countless cases where quick-witted lads of sixteen can answer glibly the questions over which the husky eighteen-year-old football players stumble. I certainly would not wish to see these slower pupils neglected, particularly because their steadiness and social maturity are so valuable in an undergraduate body. But any time saved in the period of formal education leaves the beneficiaries so much more opportunity for actual living.
Without laboring the point, let me suggest that a boy of superior ability graduating from Andover or Milton often finds himself repeating quite unnecessarily in his freshman year at Harvard or Yale the work of his senior year at school. Even with average boys and girls, a year could be saved by more careful dovetailing and an avoidance of repetition and duplication. Just a little co-operation between headmasters and freshmen deans is all that is required to enable physicians to start practice at twenty-eight instead of twenty-nine, without in any degree lowering the quality of preparation. Our schools could well install a high gear as well as a low one.
I have a deep-rooted respect for what the independent schools in the United States have done to protect and improve our civilization. I wish, however, that the privileges which they enjoy would lead them to more experimentation. The great virtue of our people in the early stages of their development was their pioneering spirit, their willingness to accept a calculated risk. The danger that we may now have reached a premature conservatism is greater than we realize. The American has always been at his best in blazing trails and broadening roads, not in standing firm and shouting:
Come weal, come woe,
My status is quo.
I am reminded also that education does not always have its source in schools and colleges, however excellent they may be. Books and lectures are important, of course, but so are travel and hardship and worship and love and all the diversified phenomena of our earthly pilgrimage. Some cynic has contributed the definition, "Education is that which remains after one has forgotten everything that he learned at school." But we are literally, I suspect, a part of all that we have met, although why one impact should be soul-shaking and another infinitesimal has never been fully explained. Towards the formation of a mature personality many elements may combine --- not only the reminiscences of the classroom but also, perhaps, a movement in Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, a portrait by Velasquez in the Prado, a sermon by Bishop Oxnam on the text, "At midnight, Paul and Silas sang," a play like Gentleman's Agreement, a view from the Gorner Grat towards the Matterhorn, the Saint-Gaudens statue of Nirvana in Rock Creek Cemetery, a vesper service in King's College Chapel, the national anthem played at Arlington on Armistice Day, the smile on the face of a dying friend. Trifling items survive by some miracle when those which have been overemphasized are forgotten. Words uttered thoughtlessly have echoed down the ages. Whatever character we possess is a composite of experiences blended and unified by a power over which we have no control. And in the end we are what we are, and can only wish that we might have been better.
As I drew near to the close of my active professional career as a schoolmaster, I tried to sum up some of my conclusions, which were eventually published as "The Educational Creed of Phillips Academy." Because I am still prepared to stand by it, I shall beg nobody's pardon for quoting again from myself:
Andover wants each boy in its charge to know the world around him, its history, its material structure, its problems. Andover tries to help him to carry on effectively his business affairs; to collect and weigh evidence, to think logically, to reach impartial conclusions, and to express them with some degree of clarity, precision, and force; to sympathize in more than a sentimental way with the poor, the sick and the oppressed of all lands; to comprehend the motives, the desires, and the hopes of men; to understand and practice the duties and responsibilities of good citizenship; to appreciate and love beauty in all its varied forms; to develop a sense of values so that he can distinguish the trivial from the important, the ephemeral from the durable; and finally to enter and explore the mysterious realm of the spirit, to move from the temporal to the things that are eternal.
For this statement I claim no especial originality. It does, however, represent the philosophy which, after many years of learning and teaching, I was attempting to carry out. If I were to amplify it at all, it would be to add that education must include religion. I do not mean necessarily creeds and dogmas, although I have for them much respect. I do mean, however, a faith in God and Man, such as that expressed in the Great Commandments, on which hang all the law and the prophets. I suppose that I was so filled with the Idea of Progress that I cannot abandon it. I believe, almost in spite of the evidence, that man is working upward from the brute and that this cannot be a meaningless universe. Perhaps Tennyson was right when he declared that the Golden Age of man's desiring lies neither in the past nor in the future, but that
Unto him who works and feels he works,
This same grand year is ever at the doors.
Nor does it weaken my faith to read the gruesome crimes publicized in our newspapers or to listen to the devil's advocate as he introduces the arguments for pessimism. As I type this, ninety cadets at West Point have been expelled for cribbing, and more scandals have been uncovered in the "basketball racket." Even a retired headmaster knows that many Americans are selfish and corrupt, and that the New York taxicab driver was right when he described our national motto as "Hurrah for me! To hell with you!" Teen-agers are performing as they always have performed since Cain and Rameses II and Augustus Caesar were adolescents. Sexual degeneracy is receiving wide publicity. Literature and art are said to have reached a new low in frankness and vulgarity. There is ample material for a satirist ---as there was in the days of Aristophanes and Juvenal and Swift.
Of all this I am not unaware, but I am sure that in our discouragement we are merely repeating a perennial human mood. As a schoolmaster I saw another side of the picture. Here were young men who were not lewd or cynical or perverted; who honestly, if not too articulately, were trying to help their fellows; who enlisted in wars to save the civilization that they knew; who very humbly had resolved to devote themselves to some form of public service. It is no shallow optimism which leads me to believe that leaders trained as these and other young Americans have been may win ultimately the race between education and catastrophe. If they with their inherent fine qualities and training can't do it, I fear that we are lost indeed.