DRIVE-WHEEL OR OIL-CAN?
The mystery of President Lowell's University Business" abroad is at last explained and curiosity satisfied. A decade of the tutorial system in certain departments here has shown that it is still far from its possible perfection. There is still room for doubt whether the other departments will want to adopt it. With the purpose of answering this doubt by bringing the existing system to its best efficiency, the President has arranged the exchange of tutors between England and the University.
The well-running English machine has been our tutorial model from the start. Our representatives, by going to work as eggs in the original machine, will become adjusted to its workings and bring back first-hand knowledge of how it operates. At the same time, English mechanics will be here to help adjust our own makeshift contraption.
Two defects, already discovered are the operating expenses and the difficulty of finding enough men with the proper qualifications for tutors. The cost, great as it is, will somehow be met, once the system's full desirability is proved. The President's new scheme is an answer to the second problem. The English exchange will bring capable men from Cambridge and Oxford to help train an efficient personnel here; while the possibility of being chosen as one of the exchanges, as well as the increased prestige of the office of tutor, will encourage more good candidates.
There is one further profit to be had from this scheme. The tutor theoretically, is the one agent in the educational outfit who can, through his personal contact encourage interest in the better sort of scholarship and eventually lessen the false emphasis on marks. At present, that power remains mere theory. In our machine, the tutor is simply an accessory; the lecture system, with frequent examinations, is the framework, to which he has to attach himself as best be may. In England, on the contrary, he is one of the drive-wheels, the only person to whom the student is responsible until the final examination for his degree. It may be that the tutor can be adapted to our program without radical change. Or it may be that our whole plan should be thrown over in favor of the English one. The exchange of tutors will help to determine which is the better alternative.