Teaching Quality Rapped
To the Editors of the CRIMSON:
I am frustrated by all the double-talk that has been going on over the General Education Program, because the University's most conspicuous failure has been tactfully ignored in faculty debate.
No Gen Ed program can alter, or even hide the fact that undergraduate instruction is often mediocre and occasionally frightfully poor. For such a condition to exist in the midst of the most brilliant Faculty and, more significantly, the wealthiest private University in the country is ironic and slightly outrageous. The problem is not unique to Harvard, of course. The University of Southern California recently sponsored a symposium of all of its senior faculty members in an attempt to persuade teachers to teach better and more often. Such discussion is conspicuously lacking in CRIMSON reports of Faculty discussions.
Whenever this fairly obvious problem is mentioned, the Faculty and Administration reply not by trying to solve the problem, but by trying to justify the existing situation. They point out that significant improvements have been made, and point with particular emphasis to the tutorial and freshman seminar programs. These are indeed steps in the right direction, but they are clearly not adequate because they do not affect every student in every course.
There are two obvious solutions to the problem. First, members of the Faculty might be made to devote their time exclusively to teaching. This suggestion arouses either panic or incredulous laughter whenever it is mentioned, and is in any case entirely impractical. If Harvard is to maintain its reputation the Faculty must continue to publish and win prizes. To this end they must be left to their laboratories, libraries, and presidential commissions.
The other alternative is that the Faculty be expanded or even better, a whole additional Faculty created. This would allow the Great Minds to engage in research unhampered by the necessity of reading their books in lecture balls. It would give all undergraduates close contact with experienced teachers and scholars in all courses.
I am fully aware that the problem has been stated before, and that my proposed solution is too radical and idealistic to ever be realized. It is my hope that if the problem is reiterated often enough: he Faculty and Administration will take notice of it and do something about it. If my proposed solution is preposterous, I am sure that someone will be able to think of a sensible alternative. Peter Coonradt, '68