Faculty Crossroads

Above the sound and fury of the Battle of Tutorial, the voices of great teachers of the past seem to be heard asking way conscientious, able teaching no longer results in advancement and recognition for Faculty tutors. This question has gone-un-answered, despite its fundamental bearing on the success or failure of the entire tutorial plan.

Many heads of departments and full professors are actively engaged in research. As an inevitable consequence, the bulk of the tutorial burden has traditionally fallen on the younger men of the Faculty. The majority of them instructors, such men are either on a one-year appointment basis, or have succeeded to a five-year appointment. At the end of eight years in residence, they must make permanent tenure or go elsewhere.

President Conant's dictum is that the foundation of good teaching is creative research. The yardstick of the ad hoe committee, whose recommendations for permanent tenure are almost tantamount to election, has been the amount of published research done by the individual instructor. In so many words, this means that an instructor must, before his alloted time runs out, spend most of his time and effort in somehow culling sufficient material for a book out of the big research libraries of the country. This effort is made necessarily at the expense of his tutoring, no matter how implicitly he might believe in the tutorial plan.

But what of the instructor who, convinced that the way to be a good teacher is to teach, throws, himself heart and soul into tutorial work? The answer, given time and again across the past fourteen years, has been unvarying. He will almost without exception he dropped at the end of his temporary appointment.

Since the instructor is essentially the foundation on which the tutorial system rests, any question of a sufficiency or insufficiency of funds, or of the ability of some students to absorb anything from the tutorial method, is de trop without first a thorough overhauling of the guiding standards of the ad hoc committee. Unless a higher premium is placed on good teaching, the tutorial system can only continue to dissatisfy an increasing number of students and Faculty.