Curriculum Pipe-Dreams

The gentle art of "cramming" knowledge into the heads of dull and backward students was developed to a high degree by the "Widow" Nolen. . . . He flourished largely because he was able to do what so many instructors could not do--present the substance of a course in an orderly and systematic manner. Tutoring is an old custom, and there will always be laggards or dullards who will turn to tutors for assistance. But if the dull and backward profit from a "boiled down", presentation of a subject, does it not follow that the brighter students would do likewise? As a matter of fact, is not the entire system built up by the "Widow" Nolen a reflection on the ignorance of how to study which is the heritage of most students?

There is little doubt that the average undergraduate is sorely handicapped by his lack of training in systematic application. It is taken for granted that he knows how best to use his time, how best to take notes, to read, to review. As he generally knows none of these things, he wastes much time and effort. To the suggestion that a course in "How to Study", be given to all freshmen it has been objected that no definite system can be prescribed which will meet the needs of every one. But help could be given to many students by teaching them even such elementary things as the merits of a loose leaf or a card system for lecture notes, the advantage of classifying notes from the assigned "readings", making outlines of subjects, the use of diagrams and the general distribution of time. Many a college graduate who has learned in a business office how to concentrate off a given task has looked back with regret to the times which he wasted because he had not learned how to apply himself while in college.

No mere teaching how to study will enable the dullards to get by. Many who go in for "cramming" retain their acquired information only just long enough acquired information only just long enough to use it in the examinations. It has to be hammered into their heads, and without such a drastic process would never get in at all. But it more attention were paid to helping students learn how to organize their studies, how to systematize and analyse their work, fewer men would resort to "cramming" schools and undergraduates would get out of their studies more than they do now. New York Times.