THE FIFTH WHEEL
When Mr. Conrad Aiken titles the present tutorial system at Harvard a "fifth wheel" he is not entirely condemning it. He is commenting on the difficulty in cataloguing the value of the system, not emphasizing its demerits. No one realizes better than the tutor, unless it be his tutee, how delicate is the machine of operation, and how extremely intangible are the aims of the tutorial system, especially in its bloom of youth. One vaguely refers to it as a helping hand, a coordinating influence, a personal guide; and it is all of these things, but it is also the bone and marrow of a great educational theory.
In introducing the new tutorial regime the government of the University faced its most arduous task; acclimatization of an unfamiliar public to a strange order of things. It is fair to say that this initial opposition has been successfully broached and now the word tutorial is significant of a cooperative and not a one-side effort. The second barrier is that stressed by Mr. Aiken--the unification of the results of the tutorial system. As matters stand now the tutorial assistance offered students meets with no adequate appreciation until the Senior year, when it is brought to bear on the incipient graduate with such force that he cannot help but realize its usefulness. Mere attendance on courses could hardly have equipped him for such a bird's eye view of his college career as that required by Divisional Examinations. Some binding force must have entered into his scholastic work and that force is, in by far the greater number of cases, the tutorial work which for three years has seemed to be only an additional interest and which in its fourth completely redeems itself. The desired "checking up" mentioned by Mr. Aiken is to be discovered at the end of the student's final year; there it lies in wait for him in the shape of examinations calculated to test the worth of the theory itself, the tutee and the capability of his tutor.