In a detailed twenty-sevens page import to the Faculty, the Committee on the uses of English, headed by J. D. M. Ford, Smith Professor of French and Spanish, urges greater effort on the part of instructors to curb the use of poor English on examinations which the Committee feels in very prevalent.
The Committee has based its findings upon forty mid-year examinations in History I which were submitted to them by instructors as being representative of the style of English which is found in examinations.
"The quality of English," this report says, "revealed by these sample papers seeing to this Committies on the whole unworthy of Harvard Freshman and Sophomores. We are convinced that unless this problem is more generally recognized, the situation is not likely to improve."
The report recognizes the fact that the English department teaches competition and that students exempt from English A are expected to write clear prose, but the Committee recommends that "every other department should insist that ideas be clearly and correctly expressed before they are accepted are evidence that the student possesses an adequate grasp of the subject."
Pressure No Excuse
The Committee feels that because an examination is written under pressure is no excuse for poor English. Students who write badly on examinations probably also write badly when they have more time, is the belief of the investigators.
"We maintain stoutly that the ideas of History, of Economics or any other subject cannot be considered sound unless they can be communicated in understandable terms," the Committee says.
Standards of Clearness
"We hope that instructors will refuse to accept without protest examinations couched in a style which does not conform to 'reasonable' standards of clearness and correctness.
"It is not necessary that the instructor analyze to student's difficulties for him; dissatisfaction with a student's style is sufficient cause for reporting him to the Committee," the report concludes.