An Ideal College
Everyone has or should have an idea; something which he can look forward to, of which he may dream, and for which he may strive. In our colleges, we come across many defects or limitations. We often discuss these among ourselves. And in course of these discussions, and as a result of them, we come to cherish a vague notion of what would be an ideal college, at last, what we would regard as an ideal. Here, of course, I speak mostly for myself.
An ideal college, in my opinion, should consist of a building with well-lighted and spacious rooms, an extensive playground, well-equipped libraries and laboratories, and learned teachers. These are essential, and so I will discuss these first.
On the academic side, an ideal college should have two kinds of rooms: lecture-rooms and tutorial rooms. Lecture-rooms should be large enough to accommodate even two to three hundred students without crowding. In these days of amplifiers, large classes should offer no real difficulty. Only three must be plenty of light and air to prevent stuffiness. The acoustic arrangements must be such as to put no undue strain on a lecturer’s voice. Tutorial rooms should be spacious enough to accommodate small classes of ten or fifteen students. Too many lectures are apt to become monotonous and boring. It would be ideal if the ground covered by a lecture broadly is once again reviewed in the tutorial classes in greater detail and with an eye to individual difficulties of students. This means that attached to a lecture hall or around it there should be some smaller rooms for tutorial classes. Each of these should be in charge of a tutor, who will not only take a few classes but help and guide the students under his charge, in their students.
It is needless to say that libraries and laboratories are indispensable in a modern college. The library must have, of course, an attached reading-room where students can read journals or consult books or references. There should be arrangements for the regular issue of books. For science students, the laboratories are as necessary as tutorial classes are for students of the art subjects or ‘the humanities’. Here also, there must be no overcrowding or absence of sufficient instruments and appliances. Botanical departments should have proper herbarium. A biological department should have refrigerating arrangements. A small observatory is a useful adjunct of the mathematical department. In an ideal college, there must be small worship, oven for machine-minded students, a museum, and even an art gallery, where students can exhibit their handiwork.
Of course, a college must have a highly qualified staff of teachers. But the teacher must have ample leisure to prepare their lectures and to give proper guidance to their students. There must be a personal relationship between the teachers and the taught, and this is not possible unless a teacher has to deal with a small number of students.
Next, to the classroom, a college should have an extensive playground as well as a well-furnished gymnasium. If the mind is formed in the classrooms, the ‘body beautiful’ is built in the playgrounds. But not only is the body, character to build up there. One learns discipline and comradeship; one acquires habits of co-operation and the need for subordination the interest of self to those of a community. The strong man alone is able to control his limbs and never let them be dominated by his passions. In a word, we can become manlier, both physically and morally, if we participate in games like football, hockey, or cricket.
A good college needs certain other departments a good common room is a real necessity. Some think it to be as indispensable as anything else. We regard it usually as a secondary need because if there is a good library, a good reading-room, and a spacious playground, the common-room many waits for the time being ‘Student’s union.’ By participating in the various activities of the Union students would have the opportunity and scope to acquire the capacity for administration and organization. Above all, a modern college should be provided with a canteen where healthy refreshments may be had. Modern education is a strenuous affair, and students have often spent long hours at the college. Something more, perhaps, than a cup of tea and a snack is required to keep the body fit for studies.
I feel that a college like this will ensure the all-round training and development of young people. They will be better and more useful citizens of the state if they have their training in a college like this.