During the last year, there has been a sharp revival of interest in educational reform. Everything which we thought was safely tied has broken loose from its moorings; and it is natural that we should be in desperate search of guidance in those fields of activity which promise us some measure of control over our future. I do not wish to suggest that there is any shortage of guides; on the contrary, they are presenting themselves in abundance, and they are all perfectly confident that they know precisely what we must do in order to guarantee that the next generation shall be well educated. But I do wish to suggest that there are at least two difficulties which prevent us from accepting their guidance. Not only are they at war among themselves concerning the way in which we should go, but they have failed to achieve the humility which is indispensable to genuine reform.
We have only to recall the recent literature of the subject in order to be convinced that these difficulties are real. Our experts are divided into two rival classes; and they are spending more energy in the pursuit of dialectical victories than in the search for truth. This battle of the experts has of course its amusing side; and we have been familiar with it for centuries under the name of the battle of Ancients and Moderns. But the public is growing weary of being amused. We want guidance; and instead of giving us what we want, such men as Mr. Abraham Flexner and Professor Shorey are exchanging eloquent abuse. That is the first difficulty; and it is serious enough. But if it becomes manifest that neither party to this quarrel has taken the trouble to found his programme of reform upon a confession of wrongdoing, then we shall have to request their resignation as guides, reduce them to the ranks, and proceed to think for ourselves.