The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21). rn VOLUME XVII. Later National Literature, Part II.XXIII. Education
§ 15. Samuel Johnson; William Smith
Though this programme was set forth by President Johnson, the chief advocate of these views before the public was Dr.William Smith, who was largely instrumental in the founding of King’s and who became the first provost of Pennsylvania. In 1753 he published his College of Mirania, a Utopian educational scheme containing the ideas advanced in the curriculum given above and in fact the germ of a reformed higher education. The underlying principle of Smith’s proposed reforms is one which has been repeated by educational innovators of many generations, the realization of which must be attained anew by each generation. “The knowledge of what tends neither directly nor indirectly to make better men and better citizens is but a knowledge of trifles. It is not learning but a specious and ingenious sort of idleness.” The most revolutionary part of his scheme was the proposal of a mechanics’ academy, as a counterpart of the collegiate school for the learned professions. This academy was to formulate an education for those “designed for the mechanic professions and all the remaining people of the country.” The essential features of the curriculum of this type of schools are what in present times we should call the sciences, theoretical and applied. Franklin’s scheme in the English academy was essentially the same.