Uncollected Prose, by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Harvard University

On the subject of the University we cannot help wishing that a change will one day be adopted which will put an end to the foolish bickering between the government and the students, which almost every year breaks out into those uncomfortable fracases which are called ‘Rebellions.’ Cambridge is so well endowed, and offers such large means of education, that it can easily assume the position of an University, and leave to the numerous younger Colleges the charge of pupils too young to be trusted from home. This is instantly effected by the Faculty’s confining itself to the office of Instruction, and omitting to assume the office of Parietal Government. Let the College provide the best teachers in each department, and for a stipulated price receive the pupil to its lecture-rooms and libraries; but in the matter of morals and manners, leave the student to his own conscience, and if he is a bad subject to the ordinary police. This course would have the effect of keeping back pupils from College, a year or two, or, in some cases, of bringing the parents or guardians of the pupil to reside in Cambridge; but it would instantly destroy the root of endless grievances between the student and teacher, put both parties on the best footing, — indispensable one would say, to good teaching, — and relieve the professors of an odious guardianship, always degenerating into espionage, which must naturally indispose men of genius and honorable mind from accepting the professor’s chair.

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Last updated Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 20:37