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AN ENGLISH THEME

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

In the provisional catalogue of courses for 1926-27, one finds English composition bedecked with restricting stars or devitalizing brackets. save for the elementary leviathan, English A, and its half brother, English E, coordinated guidance in writing is unavailable to men not on the Dean's List. Rightly enough, the Sophomore course in composition which had proven a refuge of the indolent was abolished; but no substitute was provided giving average mortals the practice and criticism indispensable to the development of a tolerable style.

Among the men thus deprived are not a few of persistent caliber who would appreciate and benefit by the training. In theory, there seems no objection to furnishing a course in composition which will satisfy their needs. In practice, however, it is difficult to set standards which can not be evaded by the seeker of sinecures. If theme writing is to rise above the grammatical stage, a considerable latitude has to be allowed the individual. That this freedom may degenerate into license is amply proven by the suspension of English 6 in the crusade against the iniquity of case. Before a composition course is again opened to C students, some method must be found of maintaining a suitable measure of industry.

The requirement of an ample quantity of manuscript and the strict enforcement of a time limit on assignments would in all probability stimulate the student to the degree of effort demanded by the faculty. Such mechanical rules have proven successful before in driving the low-ranking undergraduate to the Pierian spring. For success over and above the minimum necessary to place a composition course on the standard level, an able instructor is prerequisite. Such a teacher would soon discover which of his pupils sought to shade the indispensable C close to its lower margin. For these men, administrative rigors of quantity and time are available.

To the more energetic members of the class, the instructor might well permit that freedom which characterizes the restricted composition courses. Thus without introducing a haven for the somnambulant, it seems possible to establish a universal opportunity for practice in writing, the principal medium for developing facility of expression.

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