Cornhill Magazine,  4 (1861), 692–712.

Competitive Examinations

[J Fitzjames Stephen]




Education, Universities, Mathematics, National Efficiency

    Advises that a system of competitive examinations will 'directly hamper and discourage a love of knowledge for its own sake pursued by an independent mind', and can only ever 'test the fact that specific knowledge in prescribed subjects has been attained'. It will 'no more enable a man to work a mathematical problem neatly and correctly [...] than it will enable him to draw a spirited sketch, or to compose an air'. (696) However, competitive examinations may be valuable in the 'scientific branches of the army' where 'special definite knowledge is indispensable, [and] its presence may be tested' (709).

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