Harvard is no exception to the general rule that institutions of higher learning feel it necessary to inoculate incoming Freshmen against the dangers of that ugly old monster--hygiene. A course in Freshman hygiene is a universal practice. The benefits of this mental vaccination can hardly be questioned.
A student should eat spinach and brush his teeth; he should go to bed early; and he should take a certain amount of exercise. Those are the simple and straightforward facts of the course in hygiene as it is given at Harvard. That is the nucleus around which the Hygiene Department must construct an informative and attractive course for Freshmen.
The situation at present not only encourages but fairly drives the first-year men to take all the cuts possible. The droning voice of the lecturers, inaudible at the back of the room, is the best selling point that the Saturday Evening Post and Ballyhoo can vaunt. The amount of actual information dispensed is quite as adequately covered in the syllabus.
But if the lectures are bad, the examination in January is absurd. Approximately twenty minutes are required to answer questions, which could have been answered without attending the lectures. The marks are not recorded and the graders are lenient. There is no incentive to interest. On the contrary there seems to be a deliberate attempt to instill lethargy.
Immediate improvement or abandonment are the only solutions. If the course were eliminated, there could be found machinery for substitution in the conferences which Dr. Worcester now holds in students' rooms. These conferences could be expanded and systematized, to meet the need for advice and information without the existing farce of lectures and examination.