The Growing College 291
possible task; he did not accomplish in his classes what he planned,
but by dint of hard work was often able to give a respectable number
a passing grade, after a year of hard drill, and the neglect of the abler
students in his
class.26
It is well to record the fact that until long after the close of the last
century the colleges of the State and the South had not yet learned the
present rules on grading and passing students, under which a certain
per cent of the members of a class must be given the highest grade, a
certain per cent the next highest, and so on, and a certain per cent
must be reported failed. The college teachers of that day felt a
responsibility for the development of every student in his classes, the
unprivileged as well as the well trained and most able, and tried to
stimulate every one to an interest in the subjects taught and help him
get a knowledge of it. If the teacher succeeded he gave the student a
passing grade, never having heard of the monstrous system of
percentages which requires that a certain proportion of every class
shall be marked failures. President Taylor, a master teacher, used to
say that he considered it a reflection on his ability as a teacher as
often as a student in his class did not learn enough to enable him to
pass. Most members of the faculty rated their work as teacher in much
the same way. And results showed the wisdom of that policy.27
Of course, many students from lack of native ability or application
failed in some of their courses, but not because the instructor had
previously determined on a formula which rendered it impossible for
them to pass. Not a few under the poor in-
―――――――
26 Often, however, there were a number like the wag who answered all questions
in his first Latin test after entering college "E nilo nihil fit; didn't know Latin, and
haven't learned a bit."
27
A year or two ago the president of one of the greatest educational institutions
in the South told the writer that he owed his success in life to his teacher of Latin
during his first year at Wake Forest. This student had come to Wake Forest with
poor preparation, and he was almost ready to give up and go home, but his Latin
teacher helped him get rid of his diffidence and enabled him to discover himself.
Under the present method of percentages he would have failed, and would have
gone back home, but he won a passing grade the first term and after that he proved
one of the ablest students in all departments the College ever graduated.
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