We believe that the plan which Harvard is to adopt, of offering certain half courses to be completed by a half year's work, is a wise one and is a movement in the right direction. The advantages it offers are obvious, and it is certainly to be hoped that the experiment next year will meet with complete success. If the plan does prove successful there would seem to be no reason why it should not be largely extended and made to include under its operations many other courses. Indeed, it is a question that may well be asked, why all our courses are not half-year courses? Such is the method pursued, we believe, with all electives at the University of Michigan, where the plan has proved very satisfactory.
There are some arguments to be advanced, it is true, in favor of dwelling for a longer period on certain subjects and of more thoroughly digesting them, which would not be possible under the new plan, but courses where this treatment is preferable are comparatively few in number and could easily be rearranged so as to harmonize with the new plan. At present, as a matter of fact, the majority of our courses are divided into two partially or completely distinct portions by the present system of semi-annual examinations. Why could not this division be carried one step further and all courses be made half-yearly courses? Such an arrangement, we firmly believe, would be likely to produce far more satisfactory results than the present one. If it were possible to give a more concentrated attention to any one subject, by means of a course extending over a half year or "semester" with recitations or lectures four or even five times a week, the result, it is very probable, would, in the majority of cases, be better than at present, where the attention is protracted and wearied by a long year's work with recitations often no more than once a week, where the interest of the learner is almost sure to flag before the completion of the course.
One of the worst features of the elective system, it must be admitted, is the opportunity it offers the student to spread his work over too wide a field - to dabble in too many subjects at a time. A system which would require concentration upon fewer subjects, we believe, is to be desired. This result the system of "semester" courses would seem to provide.