Half a Loaf
Several years ago Harvard inaugurated the plan of suspending classes for two and a half weeks prior to the final examinations in each term, in order to allow students freedom for review and collateral reading in their courses. At that time much skepticism was, expressed by outsiders on the extent to which such a carte blanche could be given to the traditionally irresponsible undergraduate without danger of abuse. However, judging from the continuance of these "reading periods," as shown by the Harvard Catalogue, the plan has proved a success.
The advantages this plan would entail if adopted at Princeton should command the attention of the faculty and administrative officers. Not only is it the logical accompaniment to the responsibilities already vested in the individual student by the Four-Course Plan, but it would assist materially the educational policy which is being pursued at Princeton. This policy, if we read it aright, is to introduce the undergraduate to the materials of various fields of knowledge and encourage him to take advantage of them, rather than to confront him with a a lifeless array of facts summarizing the subject; and care is taken to wood out as soon as possible those not capable of sustaining this intellectual freedom. It is, of course, a truism that concentration and interest in a field of study increases in proportion as interruptions are eliminated.
Surely the increased efficiency and sense of individual responsibility on the part of most undergraduates which these five weeks of self-determination would bring in their train more than compensates for its inevitable abuse by the few, who in any case will be found out in the final reckoning of examinations.
Some method of assuring the undergraduate's residence in Princeton during these reading periods would of course be necessary. This could be accomplished by a system of weekly consultations in the various courses, at which students would at least be required to report, with the additional advantage of guidance in reading and study if so desired. --The Daily Princetonian