Two vital points may be deduced from the Tory tactics of the Physics Department. First, that Harvard is trading upon its tradition in order to progress without nurturing it; second, that the teaching function of the tutors in the field of the sciences is consciously put into the hands of rabid specialists.
Importation of culture can never produce the intellectual morale that is bred by the slow internal growth of an integrated department in any field of knowledge. Mr. Conant can afford the university a plethora of great names, but unless the upward trend of the curricula is such as to foster their development within the ranks of the undergraduate and graduate body, the situation admits of defeat. Great benefit is obviously derived from collected outside talent, but greater benefit would accrue from creating at least some few of the giants by from within. Aside from the patently mechanized deficiencies of so many of the larger science courses, the callous, conveyor-belt system of teaching, and the bedraggled mentalities of their overworked instructors, no single issue requires so acid a reform as the rapidly strengthening custom of using up men rather than generating scientists.
Aptly illustrating this depraved attitude is the inability of the tutorial staff to synthesize the course-work to the undergraduates in the field of the sciences. Many of the tutors are brilliant men; some are far advanced in their chosen rut; but when the tutor can escape to tutoring from beneath the Danioclean threat of research and then more research, he does not appear to be required or to even feel the need of establishing in his tutee's mind some coordination among the roiling details of the student's incipient techniques.
The one thesis is part and parcel of the other; if a firm and longsighted tradition of building students into graduate workers, graduate workers into scientists, was followed through its broader cultural implications, the teaching morals and the tutorial function in the Physics Department would become an inspiration instead of a vulgar failure.