DOWN FROM OLYMPUS
A young Harvard graduate of the Class of '79 recently commented on the close association of the great professors with their students in the days when there were only two hundred students in each class. Today many of the bright lights of the faculty are cut off from the student body by the exigencies of the lecture system. Not only is the intellectual development of the students left pretty much to the tutors, but in large courses the examination books are corrected very often by assistants who are unknown to and do not know their pupils.
The effect of this sort of lecture-course teaching is unfortunate, though it is probably inevitable that classes of hundreds cannot be known individually by their professors. There is no reason why the course assistants should hide themselves away in peaceful anonymity, however, for when students have questions to ask it is disconcerting and discouraging to genuine intellectual adventure to find that assistants are hard to track down. Another reason why the subordinates should be available is to go over examination papers with students who want to fine out the why and wherefore of their grades.
It is not too much to ask that those who correct the blue books in courses should set aside office hours to discuss the papers. Students who have difficulty can often gent hints how to improve their examination technique by seeing their past errors. Others might feel that injustice was being done: even "crabbers" have some right to be head. Furthermore, it would be desirable for examinations to be open for discussion before the grades are turned in, for it takes a vote of the faculty to alter a grade once it ahs reached the records in University Hall.