The plan which has been adopted in several courses in mathematics, of giving the new problems which are to be worked out upon each man's honor, and which are to count considerable in the year's work, has much to commend it to every earnest student. That an examination, written in a very limited time, is no test of one's knowledge or scholarship, is almost an axiom. This is especially true in mathematics where much of the work is original, and where it is perfectly possible for a man who has a firm grasp of the subject to be balked at the beginning by a simple problem. Examinations may, and doubtless do, have their advantages, but the idea of giving a man the mark for his year's work on what he can write in a few hours, is simply absurd. Such a system begets superficial study, which is death to all true learning. We are glad to see that all this is being recognized, and that instructors are encouraging original, independent work, especially in the way of theses. This is hard for the lazy man who comes to college for the sake of "culture," who takes "soft" courses, and boasts that he never studies except for a few days before examination. But one of the best features of this plan of giving outside work to students is not the amount of knowledge which is acquired, but the principle which is recognized of allowing men to do work outside of the class-room on their honor. The police and detective system in our colleges is altogether too prominent. The manhood of the students is not sufficiently recognized. We believe that this pernicious system fosters dishonesty, and that if it did not exist the moral sentiment of the college would be a stronger safeguard against the contemptible measures of a few unprincipled fellows-they do not deserve the name of men or students-than the most careful surveillance of an army of proctors. If a man is trusted he is ashamed to forfeit the confidence reposed in him; but if he is suspected and watched, it is but natural for him to seek to outwit those who distrust him. Let, therefore, the plan which has been adopted in certain courses be extended, as far as practicable, to all, and we feel sure that when the students find themselves treated as men, they, on their part, will do nothing to disgrace that name.
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May 06, 2017