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The volume was originally intended to be used in a collateral capacity with a formal textbook; but as the number and variety of selections increased, the need for the text appeared to grow less and less, until in my own teaching I now prefer to use the volume independently of a textbook. Much of the material in Part II has also been used in mimeographed form by an instructor in another instituțion with a similar result; in the first semester it was used with a text, while in the second semester the text was discarded. This experience has led me to believe that the book may find its greatest use in an independent rather than a collateral capacity.
The main purpose of a preface, I take it, is to reveal the point of view of an author, or perhaps, more accurately speaking, to disclose his hobby. My own "view" just at present is that if it comes to a choice between a volume of this sort and a formal textbook as the basis of a course in Money and Banking the advantage lies with the book of selected materials. If the reader will bear with me I should like to present the reasons for my faith.
If the purpose of education is merely to supply students with predigested information, then the text is eminently satisfactory. A student may, however, commit to memory the principles laid down in the text, recite them in class, and write them down in examinations, and still be not very much the wiser. For the usual text does not in itself provoke thought and discussion to any great extent or lead to careful analysis on the part of the student: these desiderata come only through a challenge to the intelligence; and this challenge is best made by means of the presentation, not only of conclusions, but of the materials necessary to the formulation of conclusions. To reach a full understanding of the principles of economics it would seem to be necessary that the student should evolve, with the guidance and aid of the instructor, his own conclusions and principles.
This does not imply an inductive method in the sense that the beginning student is to digest the vast data and raw material bearing on a subject like Money and Banking and reach his conclusions after a tedious process of analysis and synthesis. On the contrary, the readings in this volume contain rather less of raw material and rather more of conclusions and matured opinions of authorities in the field, together with the conflicting views of various groups or classes in society. The method may be called inductive only in so far as the student's own conclusions are made to result from an analysis and weighing of conflicting views, opinions, and arguments. This must, of course, be coupled with much deductive reasoning, and it is doubtless best to refer to it simply as the discussion method without raising the time-honored controversy over induction and deduction.
The presentation of varying points of view.and of the philosophies of different social groups, together with conflicting opinions and conclusions of experts in the field, appears to me indispensable to a genuine appreciation of the subject. A very serious problem in the complex life of modern times lies in the specialized or group points of view that prevail with reference to so many of our economic questions and the inability to rise above the narrowing influence of one's special interest. The formal textbook seldom has a place for the presentation of such conflicting points of view; and where it does, they are given at second hand, usually in condensed summary form and almost wholly divorced from any manifestation of the spirit and feelings of the groups or times that held such views. For example, in a chapter on the silver movement in the United States the text-writer usually summarizes the causes of the agitation, shows why the “Crime of 1873" was not a real crime, enumerates the main provisions of the legislative acts passed by the silver people, shows the results of such legislation in the troublous times of the early nineties, and concludes that the restoration of bimetallism at the ratio of 16 to I would have been unfortunate-a dull, uninteresting account of a movement that roused the passions of millions of people for a generation. It is impossible to give the college student of today who viewed from his nursery window the torchlight processions of 1896 any real conception of the nature of the silver movement or any genuine appreciation of the important social and economic lessons it taught without reproducing something of the spirit of the times, without showing by means of their own burning language and arguments the motives, impulses, and passions that influenced the men of that generation.
Again, the assembling of material from a large number of authors gives to a volume a richness of content that a single writer cannot hope to furnish. No individual author, however matured in training and thought, can possibly write on the entire field of a subject like Money and Banking with the precision or authority that he can on particular topics to which he has given years of special study. For a book of readings, however, one may draw on the writings of a hundred students of the question. Often a comparatively short selection will contain the one memorable contribution of an author to the advancement of the science. Incidentally, the collection of a large number of readings from a wide range of writers over a long period of time is an excellent introduction of the student to the literature of the subject. It may lead to further reading and study; but even if this goal is not attained, the student can hardly fail to realize that all of monetary wisdom and experience is not contained within the covers of a single book.
A collection of carefully edited readings and materials also makes possible the presentation of a much larger volume of data by virtue of the elimination of extraneous and repetitional matter. In order to supplement a text most teachers assign to the student a list of collateral readings bearing on the topic in hand and chosen with the idea of showing the student what writers other than the author of the text have to say on the subject, and, so far as is possible, presenting to him various points of view. The teacher is usually handicapped in this because in the ordinary library there is a limited supply of material of the documentary and pamphlet variety, while in many libraries the problem of a sufficient number of the formal standard treatises is a pressing one. But even where the library material is adequate, there is usually a great and needless duplication of effort on the part of the student. It may probably safely be said that as a rule something like one-half of such readings are practically duplications, and that another 25 per cent is extraneous matter, so far as the problem in hand is concerned. Someone has remarked in this connection that the system is really based on the labor theory of value. A more probable explanation, however, is that it is the product of necessity, being used only for want of something better. In any event there appears to be little justification for such duplication in view of the wealth of valuable material that cannot be covered under the most favorable conditions.
It is recognized that various objections may be raised in this connection. It may be urged, for instance, that a certain amount of repetitional reading is of value to the student. Now, while this is doubtless true for a certain amount, it hardly holds for any amount or for the usual amount. A frank talk with almost any serious-minded student brings out the statement that the student is prone to acquire the habit of reading one assignment and merely glancing at or wholly passing by the others, with the comforting reflection that it is the same "stuff" anyhow. While a good part, indeed, is usually a virtual duplication, there are generally some paragraphs or sections which present new material of genuine importance. These the student all too frequently misses.
Again, it may be argued that "too carefully condensed and edited” readings result in the student's losing a valuable training in sifting chaff from the wheat. The analysis of a complete chapter or article either for the purpose of evaluating the whole or for picking out and making use of only such portions as bear on the topic in hand unquestionably gives a training that is of much importance. It seems to me, however, that the necessary training along this line may be gained without following this method exclusively, or even primarily. A considerable number of collateral readings of the type under consideration should certainly be used with a book of carefully edited readings and materials as well as with a formal textbook. Term papers or special reports may, of course, serve a similar purpose. Where the method is followed exclusively, however, the student frequently rebels or grows careless, with the result that he does not acquire the training intended.
The most serious obstacle to the independent use of a book of materials would seem to lie in a possible lack of unity in the volume. There is danger that the student may not see the relations between different chapters and divisions of the subject as well as when they are tied together by the thread of a formal treatise by a single author. In the present volume an effort has been made to overcome this shortcoming of the method by means of an introductory statement for each chapter which attempts to give a setting for the readings to come-to relate them to what has gone before and to indicate their trend and purpose. It is probable, however, that even with this aid the teacher will have more interpreting to do than with a formal text. But if the idea underlying the method is sound, he will find more than compensating advantages.
However, in all this pedagogical theorizing I recognize that I may well be in error. And especially do I appreciate that we are not all of the same pattern, and that what is a good method for one teacher may prove very bad for another. If, therefore, this volume does not commend itself for independent use, I hope there may be some who will find in it material that will prove useful in a collateral capacity.
In adapting the various selections to the needs of this volume I have endeavored to do no violence to the views of the various authors. In many cases, however, there have been substantial omissions of material regarded as extraneous so far as the purpose to be served here is concerned, while in numerous others but a few paragraphs of an article or chapter are given, the purpose being merely to express a point of view or to present certain factual material. I must, of course, disclaim responsibility for the views and opinions expressed in the various selections, for many of them are presented merely for pedagogical purposes. There are numerous contradictory readings and many others that contain faulty analysis, chosen to serve merely as the basis for classroom discussion out of which principles may be developed. The unsigned readings are of two kinds: those taken from documents, reports, etc., the references being given in footnotes; and those written by myself. My own contributions have been written because of inability to find concise or satisfactory statements by others on topics regarded as essential to the unity or completeness of the treatise. It has seemed unnecessary to prepare a voluminous index to the volume in view of the complete table of contents.
The great number of selections makes individual acknowledgments out of the question here, and I can only appreciatively state that, with a single exception, I have received from publishers and authors the most courteous permission to use the materials desired. I am under heavy obligation to my former colleague, Professor Walton H. Hamilton, of Amherst College, for many suggestions growing out of almost daily discussions on method and organization. Professor James D. Magee, of the University of Cincinnati, has given a number of valuable suggestions; and Professor Walter W. Stewart, of Amherst College, who has read most of the manuscript in Part II, has given many helpful criticisms on this portion of the work. Finally, I am deeply indebted to the spirit of co-operation and team play in the department with which I am associated, the numerous conferences and informal discussions on the many problems involved in economic instruction having been of the very greatest assistance.
H. G. M. UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO
April 1, 1916