News

Former Defense Department General Counsel Appointed Harvard’s Top Lawyer

News

Democracy Center Protesters Stage ‘Emergency Rally’ with Pro-Palestine Activists Amid Occupation

News

Harvard Violated Contract With HGSU in Excluding Some Grad Students, Arbitrator Rules

News

House Committee on China to Probe Harvard’s Handling of Anti-CCP Protest at HKS

News

Harvard Republican Club Endorses Donald Trump in 2024 Presidential Election

SOCIETY METHODS OF STUDY.

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

We have in this university some half a dozen societies devoted to the interests of the different branches of study. These societies are supposed to be composed of members who have shown an interest or have obtained distinction in some particular department; and an election to such a society is regarded as an honorable notice of this prominence. In one way the existence of these societies is to be deplored. The membership list is considered to represent the leaders in the special department to which the society is devoted; and such an arbitrary ranking as the society makes creates a somewhat false standard of merit, and is likely to do injustice to those who have been left out of the society by mere chance or carelessness or by the prejudice of individual members.

For these societies there are two methods of work. One of them is the method used in those much-lauded societies of the German universities-the seminars. According to this plan the society meets at frequent intervals, and has a discussion on some question assigned beforehand. Each member is expected to prepare something to say, and to ask for information regarding any points unsettled in his mind; and every meeting is made profitable in a high degree to the members.

Such a method would in this university suit the Finance Club. The instruction here in political economy is given in three courses, and with such a meagre amount of time devoted to each of the many problems of that subject, it is impossible for us to have a satisfactory explanation of all of them, or to become acquainted thoroughly with the details of those that we comprehend perfectly. The Finance Club has a splendid field of usefulness before it. It ought to fill out the work of its department by having frequent and active discussions on different questions in political economy. It is impossible for each man by himself to work up fully the questions that arise from time to time, and the combined investigation and discussion of a society does exactly what individual workers cannot do.

The Historical Society also might follow this method of work; for, no matter how numerous the courses in that department, in almost every chapter of history there are plenty of questions and controversies that can profitably be discussed. If I knew whether the Art Club was formed for the encouragement and patronage of amateur artistic talent, or for the advancement of archaeological researches, I should know whether to recommend to it this method of work or not.

In other departments of study we find a different state of things. In Natural History there are eighteen courses, in Philosephy ten courses, in Greek and Latin twenty-eight courses; so that, taking also into consideration the nature of these branches, there is hardly any opportunity for profitable discussion outside the lecture room.

Of the Philological Society I wish to speak more particularly. This society has decided that the first method of work is not suited to its department; and its plan is, first, to superintend a course of lectures that shall stimulate an interest in classical subjects; and, secondly, to bring about an acquaintance and an interchange of experience between those interested in Philology, by having social meetings at different times during the year. Work of this sort is all that can be done in departments where the regular courses of lectures practically exhaust the subjects of study.

The Finance Club and the Historical Society have one work to do; and the Philosophical, the Natural History, and the Philological societies have another work; but the responsibility of the former is greater, and the scope of their work is larger.

W.

Want to keep up with breaking news? Subscribe to our email newsletter.

Tags