Full text: Problems in eugenics

F. C. S. Schiller. Education and Eugenics.169 
What other reforms of the Scholarship System should we ask for ? 
Would it, for example, be a real reform to restrict scholarships to the 
poor? This view is plausible, but fallacious. For (1) it would do nothing 
to improve the education of the rich, which we have seen to be the great 
social crux. On the contrary (2) it would lower the educational standards 
in several ways. It would diminish the inducements there are for the able 
among the rich to go in for intellectual exertion. It would diminish the 
social respect for intellectual achievement. For whereas at present 
the winners of intellectual distinctions are admitted to have won a certain 
distinction in a sportsmanlike fashion, it might come about that the 
acceptance of a scholarship would affix a certain social stigma, as tends to 
be the case in American universities. It would enhance the predominance 
of athleticism, which is probably already excessive. (3) Wealth is a 
relative term, and the practical difficulties of deciding when a father could 
afford to send his son to an expensive school or college without a scholarship 
would be considerable, and could not be solved without considering the 
total circumstances of the family. As it is, a father can sometimes pay for 
one son, but not (unaided) for two or three; but he is enabled to do so by 
the scholarships won by the first. But even if he could afford it, it does not 
follow that he would. The winning of scholarships has extensively come 
to be regarded both by parents, teachers, and the children themselves, as a 
sort of test of whether the minds of the latter are good enough to be worth 
cultivating by an expensive education. Schools and colleges, therefore, which 
confined their scholarships to the poor might find that they had cut off the 
source of the supply of most of their ability and diverted it into ‘ ‘ business ’ ’ 
or technical education, that they had deprived themselves of the chief 
stimulus to intellectual exertion, and had gained in return merely a not very 
valuable and despised class (for all those really brilliant are already enabled 
to win scholarships) of not very able minds, who could not be educated 
into anything but laborious dullards and whose artificial hoisting 
was a very dubious benefit to the community. (4) But eugenically 
the chief objection to this supposed “ reform ” is that it is 
devoid of the eugenical value of the existing system. As things are 
the system holds out to parents of good ability a reasonable probability that 
their children will, by their cleverness, win for themselves the means to the 
best and; most expensive education. Hence, whether the parents themselves 
succeed in their profession or not, the future of the children is secured. 
So there will reasonably be less reluctance to produce them. It may well be 
that 15 or 20 years later the parents can well afford to pay for their 
education themselves. But it will then be too late to produce the children. 
If poverty, and not brains, is made the basis of selection, the competition 
will be so severe that the prospect of a scholarship will not enter into 
parental calculations : for, unfortunately, poverty and ambition are much
	        

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