The third reading period has come and gone, and it seems to be time to take stock of its usefulness. To some professors it was a holiday from academic duties; this, perhaps, justifies its existence. Yet, difficult as it is for the CRIMSON to take the undergraduate pulse, it seems fairly clear that the majority of undergraduates feel that the Reading Period falls far short of its purpose. To the outdated remnants of an older educational regime, such as hour examinations and weekly quizzes, they feel that it has added a new, and rather unpleasant burden.
There are various reasons for this; many of them in all probability are due to the temperament of the students themselves. But a reading period of fourteen days' duration can hardly allow sufficient time, after the student has recuperated from the holidays and before he has begun preparation for exams, for the accomplishment of any substantial amount of reading. Some large courses, therefore, merely expect preparation for the midyear; others assign sporadic reading, which only scratches the surface of the subject. And of course many science and elementary courses continue in full blast right up to the examinations, preventing the undergraduate from obtaining that feeling of leisure and repose which is the prelude of real self-education. Again, the Philosophy department, among others, straddles the fence, assigning outside reading while retaining the pre-vacation routine.
One solution, is to make the Reading Period longer in duration as well as more universal in practice. Either by starting the Period before the Christmas holidays, or by pushing the mid-year examination period further, into February, abolishing the inexcusable institution of April hours, or by having but one reading period a year, it should be possible to allow the student time to correlate his knowledge of a course or to plunge deeper into some aspect of the subject. Perhaps, as the College is now organized, the difficulties in the way of extending the Reading Period are insurmountable. In that case the experiment should be abandoned.