The Student Liberal Club recently held a small meeting at which representative members of the faculty and of the student body were present, for the purpose of discussing the general methods of education employed by the University. No attempt was made to pass definite resolutions at this meeting; but it was decidedly the opinion of those attending that a careful consideration of all phases of education would be highly desirable.
From the discussion, it appears that a certain amount of dissatisfaction with the present system does exist. As examples, may be cited:
1. The lack of opportunity for contact with professors, particularly in the larger courses.
2. The fact that the tutorial system, as constituted at present, is at best a hybrid product; to a certain extent hampered by the lecture system.
3. Tutors and assistants are far too often incapable. They do not stimulate intellectual activity; neither do they inspire men to effective pursuit of their studies.
4. Compulsory attendance at classes and too frequent hour examinations, particularly in the Junior and Senior years, injure the tutorial system, insofar as it has been introduced. They also hinder consistent attempts at intellectual development outside of courses.
These faults and weaknesses cannot be remedied immediately; in the first place, because of the strict adherence to tradition at the University, which makes any change difficult; secondly because of the lack of funds necessary for any expansion or improvement in the teaching staff.
Undergraduates may be divided into two main classes:--Those who, either because they are planning to become teachers, or because they must obtain scholarships, are forced to aim for high marks; and those whose object is either a social or a liberal education. The more industrious of the latter class compose the greater number of the dissatisfied. Competition with the "professional" student puts heavy demands upon them, demands which interfere with their main purpose.
Some slight remedies are within the reach of these men themselves. They can seek out the professors they care to know outside of business hours; they can pursue an individual course of reading. The faculty itself is also attempting to improve matters, by broadening the scope and the privileges of the Dean's List. But, in spite of all this, there remains much that could be profitably changed. If anything is to be accomplished, there must first be a real recognition of the need of improvement, both on the part of the student and of the faculty. This can only be accomplished by constant discussion and consideration. Obviously those who have the power to perfect the suggested alterations must be satisfactorily convinced that change is necessary. And that conviction must be brought about by those who feel the need of improvement.