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It has often been remarked that the important thing in education is not the doctrine taught but the awakening of the student. The tutorial system is a recognition of this truth. The most important benefit conferred by the direct contact between a student and a tutor is just this: that the student may receive a new stimulus to intellectual development and respond to it by what is truly an awakening of his more or less dormant powers. The tutorial system not only is a powerful instrument for effecting such a transformation, but is helping to bring it about earlier in the student's career than was formerly possible.
But it is just at this point also that a weakness in the tutorial system, as at present organized, becomes apparent. Tutors are, for the most part, young men. The natural enthusiasms of young men and their capacity for sympathetic understanding of students often makes them the best agents to effect the needful awakening. But once this is accomplished, a new problem arises.
The old adage has not yet been proved false that the best method of education is to sit at the feet of the wise. And young tutors, whatever else they may be, are rarely wise in the old meaning of the word. A young tutor may be scholarly. He may be brilliant. He may have that fine enthusiasm which dazzles and captivates. But he lacks experience, the experience which comes from long contact with the world, and which mellows knowledge into wisdom.
When the student is once awakened, then more than ever he needs guidance by a mature mind. Then the services of professors as tutors become more than desirable. The Department of Mathematics, the most recent to adopt the tutorial system, has, in recognizing this problem, surpassed the other departments by providing that each professor shall also be a tutor. It is to be hoped that this provision will soon be universal. Only by such cooperation of tutors and professors will the tutorial system achieve its greatest usefulness.
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