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A recent communication to the Alumni Bulletin by a graduate took Harvard instructors to task in rather vigorous terms for their faulty lecturing technique and enunciation in the classroom. The correspondent objects to the haltings and stammerings of some teachers in their discussions; but pays his respects in particular to the annoying habit of filling in these gaps "with a meaningless 'uh'." The complainant is doubtless right to a great degree. There are always some men whose busy minds team with so many ideas at once, that expression must halt and waver while the thoughts struggling for expression fight it out among themselves. The "meaningless 'uh'" is of course merely the far-off echo of that wordless mental battle.
But the instructor is not always the only offender in the matter of oral expression. Those who have attended the voluntary mid-year conferences in large courses, can testify to the seeming faintness and vocal impotence that appears to come over undergraduates who before entering the room were making a very respectable conversational din. In section meetings, also, vocal incompetency is all too evident. Those in the front of the room especially put their questions in a muffled voice as of one about to expire, so that those in the rear are left to guess the subject under discussion from the "Yes" or "No" of the answer.
For lack of smoothness of oral expression, the student can plead inexperience as an excuse with better justice than his instructor, since the latter has more opportunities for class-room practice than the most talkative of his students. But on those few occasions when the student must make himself heard in the class-room, he can plead no excuse except inadequate lungs when he fails to make his utterance, if not vociferous, at least audible.
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