The Oxford tutorial system has been discussed as an ideal for so long that it is difficult to dispel the notion that it is ideal. As Americans have learned more and more of its operations, however, they have found out that a bodily transference of the English institution to Harvard and other American universities is not possible. There are aspects of English University life which would never be tolerated here, for example the rigid rules and regulations governing the daily life of the student. Then, too, the educational system of Oxford and Cambridge is based upon an excellent preparatory school training, a feature almost if not entirely lacking in this country.
That President Lowell and his assistants have been able to take an institution which finds its roots apparently in the very core of British educational traditions, and have adapted that system to meet the needs of a newer and different civilization, is a real triumph of administration. As facts become better known it becomes obvious that such adaptation demands the finest educational skill and technique.
Dr. Brinton's article brings out defects in the Oxford system which have carefully been avoided here. The English university student comes in contact with only one trained mind in the course of his term, that of his tutor. Under the present system here the student may still come in contact, if only through well prepared lectures, with the most distinguished members of the Faculty. When the tutorial system is extended further at Harvard, as seems highly probable, some provision should certainly be made to perpetuate this contact. To allow the lecture system to drift into the state in which it finds itself at Oxford would require a sacrifice of considerable advantages. A wise blending of the two is the present and doubtlessly the future course.
Dr. Brinton's article also makes clear the fact that the problem of obtaining good tutors is one common to both Harvard and Oxford. Here the taste is more difficult because there is no tradition of tutoring. The impatience of undergraduates with the slow development of the tutorial system is but natural; yet it must be admitted that development has been almost as rapid as the solution of the problems of adaptation and tutors has admitted. To press boldly for great changes, however, is often the quickest means of obtaining some advance. Undergraduates, therefore, will probably insist more and more that the tutorial system be extended, that it receive a proportionate emphasis in the administration of scholastic discipline and honors, and that course requirements be greatly reduced.