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July 12, 1919 - Image 3

Resource type:
The Wolverine, 1919-07-12

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in Mortimer E. Cooley Advocates Study of
Latin, Greek, and Humanities in Preparation
For Entrance Into Scientific Professions

(Editor's Note: The Wolverine prints
today the first of two articles on edu-
cational problems by Dean Mortimer
E. Cooley, of the College of Engineer-
ing and Architecture. Dr. Cooley fav-
ors not only the continuance of the
study of Latin and, Greek in prepara-r
tory schools and universities, but also
urges the study of the humanities in
preparation for scientific professions.)t

cue Well tue comparison did not fail ex- ly short time. We in this country need
uept ma, Ln weapons of the chase ( to know these languages, for we are
wee ainereni, an i ere w s some now taking upon ourselves the prob-
slignt aiscrepancy in tue processes lems of the world. We can no longer
airougn wnicn the game was put be- remain provincial and sufficient unto
ore ueing served. .iut for tue wo- ourselves. They are being thrust upon
men the comparison tailed compieteiy. us whether we wish it or not; we must
Next i tought of my college town mix with other nations. We need to-
and the effort required to make both know Spanish because of our Span-
ends meet on the meagre salaries paid ish speaking neighbors to the south
to teachers. homes are maintained in of us-Mexico, South America and the
the utmost simplicity, often without West Indies-and in our own Spanish
any hired help-it cannot be had at all speaking possessions. We should devel-
except at wages which are prohibitive. op commercial relations with those
One young instructor I know with a people far more in the future than we
wife anu child had actually to do the have done in the past. We cannot in-
family washing. sist on doing business with them in

(By IDeau f3ortimer E. Cooley)
It is most unfortunate that in the
future education of our youth Latin
and Greek and the other so-called dead
languages are to play so little part.
It is particularly unfortunate at this
time when the world is planning its
recovery from t war and statesmen
are seeking to prevent recurrence of
Every thoughtful person is peering
into the future trying to see what the
world has in store for him-for us
Americans in particular. What little
we do see, or think we see, is vague,
unrestful and forces the more optim-
istic to fall back on their old biblician
triumvirate--Faith, Hope and Char-
ity. "But the greatest of these is Char-
ity," as the quotation runs, alld truly,
for without charity we may at times
have been inclined to think of Ver-
sailles as a place of sounding brass
and tinkling cymbols.

thinking of would also be the very best
training for college.
The dollege should follow along the
same lines, stressing in the early years
the things which make for general
training, leaving the special things for
a later period. Comparatively little
specialization should, however, be done
in the college. The work leading to
the bachelor's degree should in the
main be for general education. Fol-
lowing the college should come suec-
ialization in the field of one's life
This plan would add a year, perhaps,
two, but the delay would not really be
any handicap. It certainly would not
be so in engineering. One large em-
ployer of engineers complained that
college engineers nowadays were un-
satisfactory; that while they knew
special engineering things extremely
well, they did not know anything else;
that what employers needed were
young men of parts, those who could
take part in activities not of a strict-.
ly technical character; that more than
all else the world today needed eng-
ineers of imagination and vision to see
beyond the walls built up around them
in college.
For the young American going into
engineering, I would advise a thorough
preparation in fundamentals, eschew-
ing all fads, even manual training and
the practical things thought so essent-
ial to his success, and including not
less than two years of Latin, prefer-
able three or four years. Considerable
history, some political economy. A
good knowledge of English and of lit

erature. A speaking knowledge of at
least one foreign language, and if only
one, it should be Spanish. Some phil-
osophy and as much of art, music and
other things apparently having noth-
ing to do with engineering as possible.
This would bring to the world a type
of engineer now rarely met-one, who
besides being able to do the things re-
quired of him as an engineer, would be
able to do other things vastly more im-
portant it may be, and which only one
with an engineering training could do.
In a word, it would give to the world
generals of engineering-masters of
organized effort.
Charlotte, Mich., July 11.-The pro-
posed military academy to be estab-
lished at Olivet and to use the build-
ings of Olivet college will have at
least 150 students at the opening of its
first term next September, the trust-
ees anticipate. They also expect the
enrollment to grow to between 400 and
500 ultimately.
The buildings and college plant are

to be considerably improved
summer, changes to cost in the n
borhood of $6,000. The faculty fo
army school has a ady been cont
ed, it is stated.
Flint, Mich., July 11.-With the
tomobile and other industries, inc
ing the building trades, calling e
available man and offering wages
are declared higher than ever be
the city of Flint is finding difficul
keeping its police force recruited
to the needs of the town, it has
For this reason Chief of P
James Cole is advertising througl
"want" columns for men for his fo
Special inducements such as vaca
with pay and two days off each mo
are also offered.
Read the Wolverine for Car
Wolverine delivered at your
three times a week at $1.00 per t

Then came the next thought and I
wondered if it were not the answer.
Are we not trending toward the days
of our forefathers when families had
to do all their own work. But in these
days families consisted of more than
man and wife and a poodle dog.
. But let me return to Rome. It's a
safer subect. We don't know so much
about it. Think for a moment of the
reign of Augustus Caesar towards the
end of which the Hun swept down,
destroyed civilization and shrouded the
world in darkness. Who could not
find a possible parallel in the condi-
tions today with Bolshevism so ramp-
ant? May we not be approaching an-
other dark age? Certainly all civiliza-
tion is in danger of being destroyed.
Are we conscious of these things, or
are we like Nero, fiddling while Rome
was burning?

What we all lack, in our efforts to
see clearly, is perspective. We have
no background or too little back-
ground. Our eyes are riveted on the
future and no one thinks of looking
backward in order to see forward.
When tAught to reason by analogy, we
were given as an example that because
the sun rose yesterday and has been
rising for ages, it will rise tomorrow.
Th the same way we may reason that
because there have been wars since
the world began there will be wars in
the future. It is a primal instinct tor
animals to fight for food, for their
mates,. for their young; and man is
but an animal. Civilization' cannot
eradicate that primal instinct. It may
control it, to be sure, the same as in
the hrse and cow, but who wants to
be a horse or a cow? Some philosoph.-
er said that civilization is but a coat
of varnish, scratch it and the animal
is revealed beneath.
But what has this to do with Latin
and Greek you are asking? Let me
tell you if I can. In these languages
we can read first handed about wars of
the past. We can get a/knowledge,of
the people who fought these wars,
their attithde of mind, their point of
view. We can also get first
hand knowledge of the civilizations
of early times - what was ac-
complished . in science, art, let-
ters, commerce and the industries.
We are constantly being surprised to
find how advanced those eary civiliza-
tions were even when compared with
our tremendous achievements. We
learn from these old writings, so far
as we can see backwards, that the
world has been moving in cycles. And
who will dispute that the same was
true in prehistoric times, and who bold
enough to say that such cycles will not
recur until the end of time?
Readers of history and of the old
languages cannot fail to find striking
resemblances between the present
times and those early times. Why
does not some one write in parallel
columns the decline of the Roman em-
pire and the history of the world in re-
cent years? It would be most illumin-
ating. True, we do not have entrees
of peacock tongues, but we have other
things equally bizarre and extrava-
I recall an illustration in point here
in. New York two or three years back.
Coming out of the Woolworth building
one evening, I saw a breadline of wo-
men with children in their arms in
front of the mayor's office. Dropping
into the subway I reached in fifteen
minutes an uptown hotel, in the din-
ing room of which sat women-with-
out children-bedecked and bedizened,
with food in abundance before them,
but eating sparingly either from lack
of appetite of fear of being overnour-
ished and spoiling their lines of sym-
metry. There were flowers, draperies
and gilded decorations. Soft music
contributed to a voluptuous atmos-
phere. It might have been a scene from
an old Roman palace.
And I noticed the men, and thought
of them in pursuit of the chase down
on Wall Street, only a few hours be-
fore-their hunting garb replaced by
the black and white of evening attire,
making a brave effort to a forget the
chase ofth -dollars they were now
- aj~ l1u'iailu' AAnd immdiatelyv

The young people of today do not
know. They cannot know. They have
no background. The means of obtain-
ing that background has been largely
eliminated and nothing has been sub-
stituted in their education. What has
apparently been substituted? Fads,
modern stuff, anything believed to fit
them' better to make their way in the
world, the keynote being money. That
alone, our boys and girls are taught
is the measure of success. No one
seems to connect such education with
wars in the future. The fact is over-
looked that greed and gain and power
and supremacy are the chief causes of
wars. And yet our modern education
all tends to develop those qualities
which make for greed, gain, power and
But why have Latin and Greek fallen
so swiftly in our estimation? Mainly
the fault lies, I think, in the fact that
teachers of these languages have not
kept apace with modern requirements.
They have taught the same old gram-
mar in the same old way for so many
years that there is no wonder they are
called "dead languages." If taught dif-
ferently, or as I think they could be
taught, they would be live enough and
teachers of these languages would not
.be casting about for. a new vocation.
Why should not the effect of such
teaching be deadening for the chap
whose eyes are riveted on his own
future success measured in dollars?
The same mistake has been made in
the church. Until recently, the same
old hell fire and brimstone was preach-
ed that our forefathers brought over
in the Mayflower. What the churches
have needed these many years is just
now being comprehened. The war has
helped to open the eyes of pastors.
The renaissance in religion is close at
The old languages and the old relig-
ion are in themselves as good today
as they ever were. They only need to
be taught in a more modern way; or
rather they need to be taught with
more modern application. Old times
and conditions should be compared
with the modern times and conditions.
Just think what a wise teacher could
do in pointing out to the youth of to-
day the things that happened thous-
ands of years ago and directing their
attention to the existence of the same
conditions. Vitalize the subjects.
Make the dead alive.
We should not overlook the fact that
our modern languages are based on
these ancient languages largely. In
them we may find the roots of most of
our words. Nor should we overlook
the egoct of study in these old lan-
guages upon the character.
The scholarly men and women--
scholarly in the old sense-are fast
disappearing. They could talk in a
language not now comprehended.
Their successors talk in a new lan-
guage-a language chiefly filled with
dollar signs.
They consider a knowledge of Latin
as a preliminary to the study of the
Romance languages, not to mention
the English language. Three years of
Latin makes it possible to gain a prac-
tical knowledge of French, Italian,

our language. We "must do business
with them in their own language.
We need those foreign relations as a
means of promoting our own peace
and prosperity. If only we had a for-
eign trade we would not have our per-
iods of business depression which seem
to come in cycles. Foreign trade would
act for us like a fly wheel-keep us
stable and moving at a more uniform
And so the story could be unwound.I
The great need in our colleges and un-
iversities is young men and women
prepared to do real college and univer-
sity wdrk. They should come prepar-i
ed to think and reason, their minds3
developed to a point which enables
then to absrb and collate the more
advanced things taught.
There is all too little absorption.
This is evidened on examination,
when the answers to questions asked
come as reflected light rather than
from a light within.
Even as a preparation for engineer-
ing I have for years considered that
there was no better training than Latin
and Greek. Most of the big engineers
of today went to college when Latin
and Greek were prime in the curri-
cula. They were classical students,
many of them. There was compara-
tively little of engineering science in
those days and therefore plenty of time
for something else than mere tech-
nical training.
Why, then, give our youth a smat-
tering of this and that so-called prac-
tical thing as a preparation for col-
lege? How much better to give them
something not only preparing them
for college but starting them off in life
so as to be of maximum use to them-
selves and their fellow men. Most
young men have only four years in
college; they have forty years after-
ward in which to learn and practice
the bread and bumtter part of their life.
The one great need today from our
educational institutions is training for
responsible citizenship.
Starting back in the grade schools, I
would eliminate all fads and stress
those things which make for an under-
standing and appreciation of natural
things surounding us. Our boys and
girls should be able to see things by
the roadside to which they are now
blind. The hills, the fields, the forests
and the streams should not be sealed
books for them. I would not teach
them too much from books in the
schoolroom. They can read books for
themselves when they have the incen-
tive. The incentive can be given them
in the schoolroom. Stories should be
toldthem,-not fairy stories alone, but
stories based on historical facts.
Fortunate indeed is the child who
has a teacher who revels in the work'
of teaching, who -watches the child's
mind develop with the same delight
that a sculptor or painter sees his
creation grow. Unfortunately too
many of our teachers in the lower
grades teach because they must make
a living. They teach for the dollars
and not for the love of teaching.
Toward the end of the grades and
before the high school period I would
start in with Latin, giving to it the
importance that it formerly had, but
teach it not as a dead but a live lan-
guage; and along with it take up his-
tory and the natural sciences, all in
preparation for later study of these
subjects. In case there is no later
study-the boy and girl having to go to
work--they would carry with them
into life something they would other-
wise never have known anything
In the high school I would still keep

away from fads and hammer away on
the fundamentals, stressing all those
thigs which fit one to live one's life
better and getting out of it enjoyment
for oneself and those with whom one
has to live. I would develop in them
love of country rather than of self.
This period could be made of vast use
to the nation and should be, as it is
the finishing school of most young men
and women. Such a training as I am

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