Increasingly it becomes evident that college faculties and administrations will no longer view with intense alarm such experiments in undergraduate scholastic responsibility as the new Reading Period Plan.
Professor Edgell, in his article published by the CRIMSON today, makes the same point as that around which Professor Robert Morss Lovett of Chicago University built in his recent article in the New York Times on the college undergraduate. "A generation ago," says Professor Edgell, "I should have regarded the experiment as suicidal. Nowadays, however, it seems to me that undergraduates are far more mature and on the whole do their work in the same matter of fact way that grown men do their work in business or the professions."
The teacher has come to recognize that the undergraduate is a student as well. The explanation of the turning back toward a more serious interest in the curriculum proper and away from the extra-curriculum activities in recent years would be a fascinating and enlightening subject for careful study. For the moment it does not matter. The swing is actually going on. In its broad sweep it was discussed and approved by Professor Lovett. Quite happily Professor Edgell has placed the Reading Period Plan in its proper relationshiup with the general tendency.
Viewed in this light the criticisms offered by the Student Council Report appear to be a little off-key. While serving a useful purpose in pointing out the difficulties in the way, difficulties which are very real, it is so full of little things that it has overlooked the big thing.
Half a century or more ago Harvard was under the kind of leadership which could feel and understand the broad sweep of educational history before it was made. So Harvard made history herself. She was in the forefront of the great metamorphosis which freed the American university of the eighteenth century and pushed it ahead into the twentieth within three decades.
Today Harvard is again fortunate in her leadership. She again is making history. As yesterday it was classical dogma which was to be beaten down, so today it is the dogma of the nursery, that dogma which demands the professorial apron strings, face cloth, and Ivory soap. That dogma has turned undergraduate energy and responsible initiative into the great field described so often by the word collegiate. It has lead to a condition where a certain Southern university, which is still holding its classes in a discarded hotel, is campaigning vigorously for a million dollar stadium. Undergraduates and Faculty-alike have aroused to the danger. The former is demanding, the latter is providing, opportunities for scholastic freedom, initiative, and responsibility. Why quibble, when Harvard leads the way?