To the Editor of the CRIMSON:
Since its inception, the tutorial system has been a focal point of attention, not only for those who are directly connected with the University, but also for education throughout the country. It has now successfully refuted much of the initial adverse criticism and in this achievement not the least valuable of its characteristics has been its inflexibility. Improvements in detail and advances in technique have been readily effected without necessitating change in the fundamental outline.
An alteration of this nature now seems advisable in the case of the tutorial work for the sophomore year. The admitted purpose of the sophomore tutorial work is to present a comprehensive picture of the field, to give the student a background for the specialized junior and senior work treated in this panoramic study. Furthermore, the last fact suggests the possibility of holding the customary tutorial conferences during the sophomore year not individually with the tutee, but rather with small groups of tutees, each group containing, say two or three men. The tutors would select men of about the same ability in determining the personnel of his various groups, to prevent less active students from being forced into the background. The opportunity of distributing tutorial assignment among two or three individuals plainly would allow a treatment of any topic to be at the same time more detailed and more comprehensive.
The contacts among the tutees in a group would prove mutually valuable in most cases, and an alert tutor could easily evoke friendly rivalry which would have a very salutary effect upon the mental activity of the participants. But indeed, from the point of view of more technical educational theory, the method of the small class is known to be more successful than the method of individual instruction when matters of general background, rather than of specialized detail, are to be discussed; and the sophomore tutorial work has precisely this object in mind. (Name withheld by request.)