REPORT DISCUSSES READING PERIOD
Leaves 24 Weeks of Instruction in Term of 37 -- Two Reading Periods Aggregate Seven Weeks
In continuation of the publication by the Crimson of President Lowell's Report of the Board of Overseers for 1926-1927, the following section which concerns the Reading Period is given:
The president of another university remarked some time ago that one of the impediments to be avoided by such an institution was that of traditions; to which the reply was made that there was one tradition of which the speaker would doubtless approve, and that was the tradition of frequent change. We certainly have that tradition here, for we have been continually making experiments, and we hope wise ones. We have, indeed, some reason to suppose so, because they are being made in a definite direction with a constant object. That object, so far as the students are concerned, is to provoke an ambition and cultivate a habit leading to self-education,--the only education that is later self-starting and self -propelling. For this purpose another departure has now been made, a some what surprising one, yet designed for the benefit not of the students alone, but also of the instructing staff. In last year's report it was pointed out that the tutors' time was so absorbed by their pupils as to make it difficult for them to pursue their own studies and research and a danger was felt of losing our best men if they could not be given a better opportunity for these things. They were asked whether limiting the time when their pupils might confer with them to certain hours of the day or certain days of the week would give relief, but they replied that, so long as the regular routine of the college proceeded, their relations of friendliness and helpfulness to their pupils would be marred by any thing that resembled closing their doors. It was then suggested that certain periods of the term should be marked off in which instruction of all kinds would cease. The same problem, indeed, arose in regard to all members of the staff. whether engaged in giving courses or in tutoring. With the rising of the quality of instruction one giving of courses has become a more laborious matter than in the past. The students are more keen, more ready to criticize and discuss, and a course given one year cannot be repeated the next with as little preparation as formerly. As compared with European universities our periods of lecturing are nearly half as long again, and the vacations, in which the professor has a full chance to do his reading and writing, are correspondingly shorter. The Division of History, Government and Economics, which has had the problem of the tutors longest, discussed this matter, and presented to the Committee on Instruction a plan which that Committee, as a whole and through a sub-committee, worked over and presented to the Faculty in a slightly modified form. It was adopted by the body in February, and later approved by both governing boards. Almost all the departments have, with some adaptations, voted to put it into operation at once for all the courses not of an elementary nature. Its object is to create during the academic year two reading periods aggregating seven weeks, in which there shall be--except for Freshmen, for elementary courses and other peculiar conditions--neither instruction in courses nor tutoring. The teaching force will be relieved thereby, and the student will be engaged in educating himself by assigned reading, to which he will be held by subsequent examination. These periods are to be integral part of the academic terms, in which neither students nor instructors are to be away without special leave of absence. The concrete recommendations were as follows:
"I. As Respects Calendar.
The academic year shall begin and end as at preselit: but the spring recess shall begin with the end of the ninth week after the opening of the second term.
"II. As Respects Courses.
"(a) Instructors in charge of courses shall discontinue lectures, or other classroom exercises conducted by the Intructor who is in charge of the course, during the interval between the Christmas recess (approximately two and a half weeks) and the midyear examination period, and during the interval between the second lecture period and the final examination period (approximately three and half weeks): but any Department or Division may designate courses to which this suspension of lectures or other classroom exercises shall not apply, and it shall in no case apply to courses regularly open to Freshmen. Furthermore, courses in which section-meetings or conferences are held many continue such sections or conferences: and courses which are conducted largely by the method of classroom discussion may continue such exercises as the instructor in charge thinks wise.
"(b) For the intervals when lectures are suspended, instructors in charge of courses shall make appropriate provision for work on the part of their students, It being understood that the suspension of lectures shall involve no diminution in the total amount of work required either in courses or for the General Examinations.
For Seniors concentrating in the Divisions that adopt the proposed plan attendance on courses in the Division shall cease at the Christmas recess in the case of those graduating in February, and May I in case of others.
"(c) The midyear and final examinations in courses (to be held at the