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cake recipe; the foreman who explains to a group of workmen how to do a given piece of work; the man who tells a joke or story, or argues Government ownership of railroads,-all are making use of informal oral composition. In each instance, their aim should be to speak their thoughts so clearly that the person listening comes into as full possession of the original thoughts as human differences will permit.
We may, then, define oral composition in a general way by saying it is an uninterrupted, informal communication of thought by means of oral speech.
Below are given specimens of four ways of expressing thought: 1. A Written Composition; 2. A Public Speech; 3. A Conversation; 4. An Oral Composition. The aim is to illustrate the differences among the four, and especially between each of the first three and the fourth. A moment's reflection will convince you that it is impossible to illustrate accurately on a printed page the differences between written and spoken speech, or between informal and formal spoken speech. What is given by word of mouth has individuality and meaning added to it by voice and gesture. Yet in reading the selections given here, you will notice that the sentences of the con. versation and of the oral composition are, on the average, shorter and simpler than those of the written composition and of the public speech. The sentences of informal speech are spoken very much as they come to the mind. As a result, they have less balance, parallel structure, or other studied qualities. Similarly, the diction is less chosen and precise. Read each specimen carefully, and compare it with the one following it; then compare the four, and note any differences not already mentioned above.
1. A Written Composition
Back in the days of Grecian supremacy men sat under the trees, on the plazas and under the towering arches of the Agora, and listened to the wisdom of great teachers. Men gathered for love of knowledge, for love of higher education, for pure love of learning things they did not know. The universities of old were sacred things-sacred to the thoughts and arts of high civilization. Then there was no need of coercing men with a plea for spirit. Their spirit was the love of their work—the love of learning for learn. ing's sake. That was 1,500 years ago.
Today with our highly developed civilization, our marvels of science, our careful and specialized branches of education, we sometimes stop to wonder what it is all for. Is the average college student studying for the love of education, from pure desire for knowledge! Unfortunately education seems to be making a losing fight. Education is no longer directed towards the development of men's minds that they may call themselves well educated. It is directed
* From the Daily Illini (Illinois University).
towards that perfection of an efficient mind which shall earn for the educated one, not more intellectual satisfaction, but more dollars. People educate them. selves to make more dollars, and then send their chil. dren to follow their footsteps—that they may make more dollars.
What does success in the university or college mean? Does it mean whether a man has acquired knowledge, whether he can talk intelligently on sciences and philosophy and literature and languages ? No; success is measured by popularity, by office-holding, by activities. If a man belongs to a dozen organizations, is active in politics, is a social lion and is known as a good fellow, he is accounted a success. He may have attained his goal, but that goal has been a mercenary, pleasure-loving goal, rather than the goal of true education.
We work to pass a course not to learn what is in the course. Whether our minds absorb anything or not is immaterial—the object is to pass the course. Again we see the mercenary end. We think a college diploma may get us a better job, may introduce us to better society which will bring worldly promi
Self-centered motives—all. The old days have passed before our time. Now we are hounded with the cry of efficiency. There is no end beyond it. The material end is the end sought. Men's minds are no longer storehouses of knowledge; they are machines for coining money. So drink a toast to the departed knowledge
to an education greater than
the sordid conception of men's minds today. The age of true knowledge has gone. In its place we find the rasping call of grades, a college diploma, efficiency, money and all for what?
2. A Public Speech
ADDRESS AT SWARTHMORE COLLEGE*
By Woodrow Wilson Your Excellency, Mr. Clothier, Mr. President: That greeting sounds very familiar, and I am reminded of an anecdote told of that good artist, but better wit, Oliver Herford. On one occasion, being seated at his club at lunch, a man whose manners he did not very much relish came up to him and slapped him on the back and said, “Hello, Ollie, old boy, how are you?” He looked up at the man somewhat coldly, and said, “I don't know your name and I don't know your face, but your manners are very familiar.” The man. ners exemplified in that cheer are delightfully familiar.
I find myself unaffectedly embarrassed today. I want to say, in sincere compliment, that I do not like to attempt an extemporaneous address following so finished an orator as the one who has just taken his seat. Moreover, I am somewhat confused as to my identity. I am told by psychologists that I would not know who I am today if I did not remember who I was yesterday; but when I recollect that yesterday I was a college president, that does not assist me in establishing my identity today. On the contrary, this very presence, the character of this audience, this place with its academic memories, all combine to remind me that the greater part of my active life has been spent in companies like this, and it will be difficult for me in what follows of this address to keep out of the old ruts of admonition which I have been accustomed to follow in the role of college president.
* Delivered October 25, 1913.
No one can stand in the presence of a gathering like this, on a day suggesting the memories which this day suggests, without asking himself what a college is for. There have been times when I have suspected that certain undergraduates did not know. I remember that in days of discouragement as a teacher I gratefully recalled the sympathy of a friend of mine in the Yale faculty who said that after twenty years of teaching he had come to the conclusion that the human mind had infinite resources for resisting the introduction of knowledge. Yet I have my serious doubts as to whether the main object of a college is the introduction of knowledge. It may be the trans
. mission of knowledge through the human system, but not much of it sticks. Its introduction is temporary; it is for the discipline of the hour. Most of what a man learns in college he assiduously forgets afterwards. Not because he purposes to forget it, but because the crowding events of the days that follow seem somehow to eliminate it.
What a man ought never to forget with regard to