Recitations or Lectures.
Although many things may be said in favor of the recitation system of treating courses; that it gives students a chance to express themselves, to tell what they know and keeps them from being mere passive agents in the class room; yet are there not many advantages more desirable than these which the talk of the Professor only can give? It surely seems plausible that for three hours each week he can give more information to the men in any course than they can ever obtain by hearing some of their own number repeat in a more crude way the things which they either know already or have written in their note books. Much valuable time seems to be unnecessarily lost, especially in the larger courses. There, each individual person ought to have a correspondingly shorter time, but that is a thing that but few instructors can guage. The object of the instructors is to tell men what they cannot find out elsewhere, except, perhaps, without a great waste of energy. Everyone who has taken careful and full notes of the lectures in any course knows how valuable they are to him at examination time; how many useful and terse things he has found in them that no number of text or reference books ever gave him! When boys are at school they prepare their lessons and go to the recitations and recite what they have learned. When a mind is very young, that system is necessary to increase the organ of memory and give the boy confidence; but when that mind is nearing the close of its scholastic cultivation it should know how to do its own work; what it needs then is knowledge, and here at Cambridge the school system should be reversed. The exercises of memory and the expression of thoughts should be done in the study. In the lecture room the student should get a fund of knowledge for future use; knowledge, that it is almost impossible to obtain except from an instructor. Why then, should time be wasted in asking questions? Surely all the instructors in the university are only too glad to help one who do nat understand, but there are other times and places beside the hours in the lecture room which should be devoted to the welfare of the class in general.