Don't Libel Teaching Fellows
To the Editors of The Crimson:
In his February 26 editorial, Mark N. Templeton presents the interesting proposal that professors teach one section in the Core. This is not a bad idea. However, in an attempt to make his proposal seem more urgent, Mr. Templeton takes a cheap and unsubstantiated shot at teaching fellows. He writes, "They usually regurgitate the professors' lectures, they grade arbitrarily and they have been known to teach classes outside their specialty." Who grades arbitrarily, Mr. Templeton? All teaching fellows? The majority of them? All of your teaching fellows? Who? And why? When you brought this to the attention of the course professors, what did they say?
Additionally, Mr. Templeton writes, "Undergrads...would work harder if they thought they might be embarrassed by their professor. In the process they would learn more and improve the quality of class as a whole." Do you really believe, Mr. Templeton, that Harvard should work to increase the fear of embarrassment in a section? Is that the environment most conducive to real learning? Perhaps students want a non-threatening environment where they are not afraid to ask dumb questions. Maybe students don't want to be in a section where everyone is fighting for his chance to impress the professor, thereby assuring a good letter of recommendation.
The idea of an option to enroll in a section taught by a professor is a good one. However, the tactic of libeling teaching fellows to make the point is unkind and not constructive. I believe that you owe teaching fellows an apology, Mr. Templeton. Jay Phelan Graduate Student Organismic and Evolutionary Biology