Increased participation by senior members of the Faculty in tutorial, less emphasis on concentration, required courses on Great Authors and American Civilization, and more time spent by each professor in relating his courses to the rest of his field, were the salient points of a detailed discussion of tutorial and concentration, written by Gabriel Jackson '42 and Adelbert Ames '43 for the Student Council Committee on Education, and accepted by the Council at its meeting last night.
The 29-page report deals at length with the problem of what constitutes a liberal education, and will be submitted immediately to the Dean's Office and to the Faculty for consideration.
"Even though it is impossible to know all there is to know," says the report in discussing the liberal education, "the liberally educated man should at least know what there is to know. He should strive to arrive at the state where more knowledge is merely a matter of facts to be added to an already attained skeleton of understanding." An "a la carte" selection of courses will no more provide the general picture of all knowledge necessary for a well-rounded education than an over concentration in one particular field.
Phillosophy Basis of Knowledge
In a graphic analogy, the Committee represented knowledge as a tree of which philosophy was the trunk, with the various fields as branches and the facts themselves as minute leaves. Harvard professors were criticized because many of them "seem to believe that then job is only to present as many as possible of the important facts in their field," without attempting to integrate these facts into more general material.
The tutorial system, it was felt, can do much to fill the gaps in the educational program, but its importance must not rest on mere automatic preparation for divisionals. Tutors have the responsibility of showing the tutees how their own field fits into this tree of knowledge. Thus a liberal education consists of a broad perspective of all knowledge.
The Committee held that by breaking down barriers between the fields, Harvard graduates will have more of what is known as the "common content" in a liberal education, so that a chemistry major might feel perfectly at home in discussing sociology with a music concentrator. "A widely recognized shortcoming of modern education is the lack of interrelationship between courses outside the field of concentration," the report says.
Thesis Writing Good
The report emphasized the frequent lack of intellectual stimulation, which is essential if the tutorial system is to work properly. Thesis writing was considered to be an excellent method of helping the student express and develop his own ideas on a particular subject. "The challenge of different methods of treating similar materials, the challenge simply of dealing with a great mind rather than with charts and textbooks, should contribute immeasurably to this emancipation of the student from his specialty."
It was deplored that many students leave Harvard without ever having formed lasting personal relationships with members of the Faculty. An increased mingling of teachers and students, the Committee felt, would not only be an intellectual stimulus to the undergraduates, but would also serve to keep the older men from climbing too high into the very tower. One of its main criticisms of the present tutorial system was that many in the lower ranks of the Faculty are more concerned about tenure and promotion than they are about teaching individual men.
The Committee also warned against destroying the flexibility of tutorial by applying course ratings, as has been suggested by some members of the Faculty. It further approved the proposed measure to require no more than five courses for concentration in any field, and to credit no more than six for concentration; the Council, however, voted that men taking concentrated war courses be permitted to over concentrate if their war program called for such a move. The projected courses in Great Authors and American Civilization were also endorsed, with the suggestion that they be required