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management in this way? Or is it one of the systems, which, alas! are too numerous in our schools and colleges, of which much is said but very little realized? That there are very grave difficulties in the way of making student labor successful, no one having experience in its management will have the presumption to deny. That these difficulties are so great that they cannot be overcome, I do not believe.
Our College has been almost, if not quite, alone in maintaining a distinctive labor system, that makes it compulsory upon all students to devote three hours of each afternoon to labor upon the farm or garden. Other colleges have adopted this system, but have found so many difficulties in the adjustment and supervision of student labor that they have given it up after a brief trial. True to the spirit of its founders, and I believe in accord with the public sentiment in our State, those in charge of this College have steadily persisted in holding to the grand idea that the practical and the theoretical of agriculture shall here go hand in hand; but while this is true, it by no means follows that the difficulties have all vanished after the experience of more than a score of years. How to manage this large force of students, for this brief time each day, with the least possible loss (they cannot by any management be handled with profit to the departments), and so that they shall retain their sympathy with labor and the laborer, gain correct notions of farm methods, economy and practice is the problem which meets us daily.
The objects to be reached by our system of student labor are as I understand them:
First. To keep hands and mind in sympathy with labor. This is paramount to every other consideration. The young man who in his college course imbibes, as so many do, a sort of contempt for manual labor and the man who performs it, and who gets very stilted notions about culture and the exalted character of the work he must do, because, forsooth, he is a graduate, is not calculated to blossom out into the common-sense, aggressive, enterprising young American who is ready to do anything honorable, until something better offers, and who is sure to make his way in the world. The influence of putting on a work dress and engaging in manual labor a part of each day has a tendency to fix the habit of labor, if real work is performed (if it is a sham, a make-believe work, it is only a curse), and the effect is salutary upon the student. It gives him a kind of right self-reliance and independence if he is honest with himself and his work, that he would not be likely to secure in any other way, and that is of incalculable value in the formation of character.
Second. The labor system gives students the privilege of earning a portion of the necessary expenses incurred in pursuing their college course, thus enabling many to enjoy the benefits of study here, who would not feel that they could do so without this opportunity of defraying their own expenses in part. I may say in this connection that those students who have found it necessary to be doubly diligent in their college course to secure needed funds, have usually graduated with honor, and to-day are among the most honored of the alumni of this College.
Third. Out-door labor promotes bodily health. "A sound mind in a sound body" is as essential in agricultural pursuits as in any other, and there is nothing more desirable as a health preservative than plenty of work in the open air.
Fourth. The labor system was designed to accomplish all I have named, and it has always been and is the first thought of those in charge, to so arrange the labor and secure such competent supervision that, while for the student's sake it was paid labor, it should be as far as possible educational in its character, affording the student ample opportunities for observing the manipulations of farm work in all of its details, and to have more or less of actual practice in them all, thus giving him the privilege of familiarizing himself with the best methods of tillage and stock husbandry, of gardening and horticulture. A moment's thought will convince any reasonable critic that it is much easier to plan and indicate on paper how all this shall be accomplished, than to execute and carry to successful issue such plans. The College is sometimes criticised by those who think that every young man who graduates here should know all about practical farming and turn out a farmer, and because some of our graduates seem to know little of the details of farm work, and engage in other occupations after graduation, they brand system, management, and all as a failure. Now, I am happy to say that a good per cent of our graduates are farmers-not all. Many young men come to us who have fully decided to follow some one of the professions. We do not expect to change their plans during their course; but we do hold most strongly to the idea that the practical instruction our work system gives will quite likely be of great value to them in after life.
Two of the great difficulties we have to contend with practically are, finding work for so large a force, especially at those seasons of the year when the farm does not offer much out-of-door labor, and the lack of competent supervisors of student labor. Men of skill, energy, patience, good nature, coupled with firmness and tact, quick to see and prompt to decide, are needed for this work. To keep competent men for this work only, supervising students three hours in the afternoon, would entail a large additional expense upon the departments. What work could be given them profitably when not engaged in supervision I am unable to say.
I believe the only practical solution of this question is to train students for this work. Make those who have always been attentive to labor duties, and have acquired some skill in the practical details of farm cperations, overseers of gangs and allow them extra compensation therefor. The thought of some preferment of this kind is something of a stimulus to students, makes them more thoughtful of and attentive to labor duties. Such supervision requires constant attention and oversight from those in charge, but given some of the conditions I have suggested, it proves an advance method if not an absolute success. Then the marking of the labor performed by the overseer in charge the same as a recitation, is found advantageous. We find this plan works very well. We began it as an experiment some two years ago.
What do graduates say of the value of the practical work of the course? While it is true that the management of practical work at all agricultural colleges, as well as class room instruction, is a subject for the criticism of students, it does not follow that it deserves either praise or censure from such criticism. Students are very likely to have their judgments warped by their inclinations, more frequently by their companions. One sinner destroys much good applies to the members of college classes as well as to other people. The students that don't care for the agriculture and horticulture, that intend to
evade work anyway, are usually most critical. Our graduates almost without exception, I think, favor our work system. A few years of active experience in a profession or business proves the value of practical training to them. They are better able to judge of the value of their college course. They learn perhaps that they over-rated the value of the studies in which they took a special interest and under-rated others for which they did not have the same interest. Their evidence on this question is the most conclusive testimony that can be offered of the value of this practical training in a college course.
In this connection it gives me pleasure to quote from a recent report of Prof. E. M. Shelton, Professor of Practical Agriculture at the Kansas Agricultural College. Prof Shelton is a graduate of the Michigan Agricultural College and thoroughly conversant with our work system, and therefore peculiarly qualified to speak of its value:
"In regard to my course of instruction in agriculture, I am free to say that it is far from satisfactory to me. Lecturing on agricultural topics is not agriculture, and will not necessarily awaken an interest in agricultural life, however practical and intrinsically useful the instruction may be. Ought not his Agricultural College to be able to give its students something more than he theories and principles underlying agriculture? is a question well worth he attention of the friends of this College. I have no particular remedy to uggest for the condition of things, although it has seemed to me that a reguar system of labor upon the farm, which shall embrace every male student, is Indispensable to the successful teaching of agriculture. I am aware that this iidea has long been fiercely combatted, but I am confident that this principle has to-day a stronger hold upon the minds of educators, and particularly the teachers of agriculture and horticulture, than ever before. I had, during the last vacation, the pleasure of attending a meeting of the teachers of agriculture and horticulture of the United States, held at the Michigan State Agricultural College. At this meeting the question of paramount interest and importance was the employment of students in the manual operations of the college farms.
"Among the teachers there assembled there were wide differences of opinion as to means and methods; but the absolute necessity for a systematic course of labor upon the college farm was confessed by all those teachers who believe that the agricultural college should send back to the farms of the State not merely good citizens and thoughtful farmers, but skilled agriculturists. The growth and general acceptance of this idea is strikingly shown in the case of those agricultural colleges of recent organization. The Colorado Agricultural College compels all students to work, I believe, three hours per day, that of Mississippi the same,-thus following very closely the plan so long and so successfully practiced in Michigan,-while the Ontario (Canada) Agricultural College compels all students to work five hours daily upon the college farm. It must not be inferred from this that students are not employed in the operations of our own college farm. They are thus employed, and in considerable force; but our system, or lack of system, is complicated by the numerous other industrials and extra-college exercises, which seem likely to be increased in the near future, but which now make work upon the college farm most unsatisfactory to both teachers and students."
That the labor system, as inaugurated by the Michigan Agricultural College and held to persistently by those in authority from the beginning, has been
one of the crowning distinctive features of the institution which has given it a national reputation and prestige will not be questioned by those conversant with its reputation abroad. I believe the best interests of students demand that the system should be maintained and impartially administered; but while I thus believe I am not led to the conclusion that the best results will be secured to students (which is the only right measure of the value of our methods) by a blind observance of the strict letter of the law on this particular point; but rather by such obedience as the modified conditions of the college demand. The law for its government was enacted when the college was located in a wilderness, when everything had to be hewed from the stump. Then labor was in demand on every hand-much to be done, few to laborbut to-day, with improvements made, the order is reversed-less labor, more laborers. The law enacted for the child does not fully apply to the man. It is to cramp and pervert the design of those who planned and organized the college. Rather by a liberal and generous interpretation of its provisions let the privileges and benefits the fathers contemplated in its establishment be continued to all who may seek its halls for a practical nineteenth century education.
WHAT SHOULD BE THE PLAN OF MANAGEMENT OF A COLLEGE FARM?
If in a multitude of counselors there is safety, surely those in charge of such farms need have no fears. But what a diversity of opinion, even from those who are known as the staunch friends of such farms. One thinks the farm should pay a good profit on the investment, another that a paying farm is evidence of inability on the part of the manager-a perversion of means and facilities to a wrong end. A great many people in these days urge that these college farms should be devoted to agricultural experiments, but do not stop to think of the expense and labor of carrying on careful experimental work, and such can only be of real value. A large farm cannot in its entirety be devoted to experiments successfully. Such work must necessarily be confined within comparatively narrow limits. (As an illustration of this statement take the New York Experimental Station farm, embracing about 125 acres. "Of this 15 acres is devoted to experimental work proper. The rest of the farm is under ordinary management and cropping. Twelve workingmen and laborers are required to carry on the work of the farm and the experiments, in addition to the director and his assistants.") Some advocate the keeping of herds of the different breeds of cattle, sheep, swine and horses, while others would limit to a herd of a single breed and specimens of the others for illustration; while others recommend the fattening of stock for the markets as a source of pecuniary revenue, and would leave the introduction and improvement of stock to private enterprise. Some think the students should perform the farm labor and be paid for it. Others hold that paid labor is only a detriment to college and student. Some advocate the purchasing and testing of agricultural implements on the college farm and that the authorities then should stamp with the seal of their approval those deemed best suited to the farmers' wants -forgetting that most farmers prefer to exercise their own discretion in such
Some claim that the scientific atmosphere there prevalent should so modify natural conditions that the corn on the college farm shall tide over a season of drought or shall pass unscathed through the frost that cuts and damages the fields about us, or that the clouds shall part and leave the shocked wheat dry
on the college fields, while it soaks that on the fields of our neighbors, causing it to sprout and grow.
We, however, lay no claim to such providential interposition in our behalf. The rain falls on the just and the unjust as well, on college or private individual's farm alike, and in either case all that can be done to meet the contingencies resulting from natural laws, is the action prompted by the discretion born of knowledge. Our pastures suffer from drought, our cattle are not always sleek and fat. In short, we are subject to the haps and mishaps that are common to farming under similar conditions.
WHAT SHOULD BE TAUGHT ON THE COLLEGE FARM, AND HOW?
A great many nice schemes, impractical and visionary, however, have been promulgated in recent years on this subject. They emanate very largely from those whose zeal is far in advance of their knowledge or from those who desire to learn without doing; who seek a short, easy road, a royal way, without labor, to secure the details of farm practice. Such plans may deceive for a time, but they most surely come to naught. He who builds on such an idea rests his hopes and practice on a very flimsy foundation. Knowledge of farm practice, as every farmer knows, is the fruit of years of actual labor and experience on the farm. It cannot be gained in any other way. With some it is a favorite theory that an agricultural college student or graduate should be versed in all the details of all kinds of farm work. In a purely agricultural school more of detail can be taught than in a college where only a small portion of time can be devoted to this work. It is not possible in a crowded college course. Is it not well that it is so? It seems to me that the student will be best served during his college course, if he has the opportunity to gain, by instruction and labor, the general principles that underlie agriculture, with some knowledge of details. Is it better to give a boy or young man drill in all little details of farm practice, and cram him with just knowledge enough of these to pass that august ordeal, an examination, which some instructors regard as the ultima thule of a student's life, the prima facie, absolute evidence of knowledge gained? Is it not better to teach him by precept and example the need of observing closely for himself, of learning by seeing as well as doing, of the value of system, order, economy, promptness in all farm operations? It may be said these things ought ye to have done and not to have left the other undone. It must be borne in mind, however, that the time allotted to this work during the entire college course is only about 300 days of 3 hours each, or say three months' full time. Where is the skilled, intelligent farmer -the best in Michigan-who will take one young man and in three months' time turn him out skilled in all of the little details as well as general principles of farming? How much more difficult with 60 or 80 young men. The wonder is, to an impartial, unprejudiced observer, how so much is accomplished. It is the fault of our educational systems that we undertake too much. Would it be wise at an agricultural college to fritter away the brief time given directly to the practice of agriculture in magnifying little details of labor practice almost obsolete-the mint, anise, and cumin, and neglect the weightier matters of the laws and principles relating to this art? To illustrate: Would it be desirable for the State to keep a number of cows to be spoiled every season in teaching 60 or 80 boys to milk? Could they by any plan of instruction im that part of the three months devoted to this work, become skillful? Failure to do this is mentioned as a great lack. The critics invariably overlook, or at