The abolition of all formal recitations in Yale College from January 10 to January 22 in order to provide an undisturbed reading period is a notable step in the right direction. No classes in any course will be held, and department heads who think particular courses not adapted to the reading period method will permit students to spend their time in reading in other fields.
Like most forward steps in education, the Yale plan still leaves something to be desired. For a man who is taking four courses, two weeks are certainly not long enough to enable him to track his pet subjects to their sources. The innovation is going too far if, as the administrative announcement implies. Freshman courses are also to suspend class-meetings for those two weeks. The essentially unorganized and undirected work of the reading period can do little but lose valuable classroom time in the elementary and survey courses which make up the Freshman curriculum. First year men, moreover, are having a difficult enough time in acclimating themselves to the college lecture method without suddenly being subjected to a system so radically different from that of the preparatory school.
The new plan at Yale will, with these exceptions, not only give all of the recognized advantages of the reading period as in use at Harvard, but will in one way be in distinct advance of the system. A great part of the value of the Harvard reading period is lost for the reason that students enrolled in one or more courses in scientific or mathematical subjects must interrupt their mornings and afternoons of reading by attending classes and preparing work in those subjects. The Yale plan eliminates this disadvantage and, by permitting students in such courses to spend their time in doing reading in other fields, will enhance the general value of the reading period.