English C. A Rejoinder.

To the Editors of the Crimson:

I notice in this morning's (Saturday's) issue that Junior does himself and us the justice to claim his article under his right name. I notice, also, that the tone of his second communication makes amends for that of his first; its courteous seriousness is not susceptible of misinterpretation. He had originally overlooked the fact that an anonymous letter directed against the methods of any single person is sure, without extreme care, to carry with it personal implications.

If Mr. Endicott found my reply too severe he must remember that I was then dealing with an unknown being, more or less in ambush and in the dark. Now, however, when he is plainly himself and in the day light, it is my duty to consider him a man.

I desire, nevertheless, to indicate two additional refutations to his general charge of severity; two so palpable that I had hoped he would not overlook them. First, that, however rigid or lax any system of marking may be, two different instructors can not, in the very nature of things, mark the same kind of work in the same way; we can not eliminate from them that excellent peculiarity called "the personal equation." Second, that the twelve o'clock section of English C (of which I am a member) is less in earnest than Professor Baker's sections; the reason being because of natural selection. Just as two years ago the more serious students of Economics I desired to enter Professor Taussig's section rather than those of any sub-instructor, however competent; so the really diligent students of argumentation have, for the most part, enrolled, so far as their hours of recitation would permit, under the head of the department, and, in the main, just because he was the head. Personally, I have no doubt that there is as great a difference in the standard of work of the two sections as there is in their standard of class conduct.

The system of marking in English C is strict, I admit; but so is that of the other composition courses; so is that of the German and classical department. If the one course is subject to criticism on that score, so are most of the other collegiate courses. It can hardly be urged that the standard of English C should be more lax than that of the other prescribed courses just because English C is very distasteful to many of us. For an instructor to give men D who deserve E, is to attempt to right one wrong by doing another. I say "to right one wrong," for is it not really an injustice to make so new and experimental a thing as the brief-and-forensic scheme a compulsory model to students who honestly believe that method of composition harmful to them? If we criticise the course let us do so fairly. Again, since some departments of the University mark lightly, others severely, is not the whole Harvard system of grading with its thirteen unlucky steps from A plus to E flat absurdly minute and impractical?


I should like, in addition, to refer to these words in Mr. Endicott's letter: "I have not the slightest desire to convince any one who has not agreed with me from the first." Who then does he seek to convince?

To do Mr. Endicott justice, however, I shall say that, by acknowledging his first letter, and by carefully explaining his real intentions, he has aided to discourage the method of guerrilla warfare so prevalent in this column. That is, I think, a great benefit.