Southern Teacher Views Harvard Summer School
(Miss Morton is a Professor of English at Southern University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She has already received a Ph.D., so is studying here on a non-credit basis, and writes the following as an impression of Summer School.--Ed.)
Many have been to Harvard, and have had longer experience than I in its lore and renown. But I came with such an enthusiastic heart, and with such eager eyes that to me the meanest twig of Harvard is filled with awe and tradition.
And what does Harvard proffer one who for more than a quarter of a century has gladly learned, and gladly taught? It is my belief that Harvard hoards on its campus essential tangible and intangible values that renew and sustain one's faith in an institution of higher learning. A long period of learning and teaching has carried me to a multitude of college campuses. Some of them have been, and are, top ranking universities and colleges; but, reflecting upon the lot, I would pronounce Harvard the noblest campus of them all.
For centuries Harvard has connoted truth, scholarship, and culture. I find the connotation valid. Evidence of the institution's discovery of truth, and achievement of scholarship is so manifest in the history of the world that words are inept. I prefer, therefore, to use the allotted space in recounting an incident in the area of that somewhat nebulous realm called the culture of Harvard.
And now to my story. A group of young students and I had gathered in an office. (I paused to scan the bulletin board. When I had finished and turned again to the group, I observed the young men had casually grouped themselves on one side of the room, and the young ladies on the other side. I stood with the males. Feeling a little odd, I crossed the floor to be with the weaker sex.) Only two young women were seated. When the one nearest me perceived I was standing, she instinctively arose and tendered her seat to one older than she. Now, in a period when the elders are claiming that respect and consideration for older persons is a lost art in college youth, a Harvard coed stands as a living denial of the regrettable accusation. Such an act (coupled with subsequent deeds of kindness and graciousness on the part of students, faculty, and administrators) contributes to the feeling that there is something inherent in the culture of Harvard which has caused the Nation to place its trademark of approval on this famed institution of higher learning.
Such is my faith in Harvard. But I am not alone in my adoration for America's oldest college. One member of an English class, venting her enthusiasm for Harvard, remarked, "I just can't get the smile off my face. I try to close my mouth, but it breaks with a smile." Upon querying another summer student as to whether or not she was a regular member of the Harvard family, I received the prompt and concise reply, "No, I wish I were."
Although the institution's magnificent physical facilities do not head the list of Harvard's virtues, they are a powerful stimulus to mental activity. At this point of my stay, I have scarcely seen half of the buildings; but I know the colossal libraries alone lure one into a thousand intellectual vistas, and then tease him into endless ventures of the mind. And finally, the cool, green, quiet campus completes the University's cordial invitation to study in this academic Paradise.
I have left the glory of the professors for the last, because it is the essence, and the climax of my story. Many, like myself, have traveled a thousand miles to seek truth from these men of the ivory towers, because we believe in their mastery of subject matter. To date, I have been exceedingly gratified with their wealth of knowledge, and with their presentation. In the classroom I have found the professors effervescing with scholarship, and daily demonstrating that, to them, "The work is play for mortal stakes." Yes, they stand there in the heat of the day enjoying the salutary sweat.
By way of summary, Harvard's multiple virtues are inspiring, and they converge to form a spiritual reservoir in the pedagogue's life--a well from which he may draw cool water when he dwells in an arid land.