‘Deal with the Devil’: Harvard Medical School Faculty Grapple with Increased Industry Research Funding


As Dean Long’s Departure Looms, Harvard President Garber To Appoint Interim HGSE Dean


Harvard Students Rally in Solidarity with Pro-Palestine MIT Encampment Amid National Campus Turmoil


Attorneys Present Closing Arguments in Wrongful Death Trial Against CAMHS Employee


Harvard President Garber Declines To Rule Out Police Response To Campus Protests


Learning Must Be Made Dramatic Like Football System--System and Spirit of Teaching Must Be Changed


"Methods of instruction are at present worse in our colleges than anywhere else in our whole educational system," President Glenn Frank, of the University of Wisconsin said in an interview with a CRIMSON reporter. "The elective system has changed our colleges into something that reminds me strongly of an intellectual cafeteria For as in a cafeteria there is nothing to guide the inexperienced in his choice of food; he should have a skilled dietitian to see that he doesn't eat all proteins or all starches. The average Freshman who comes to our colleges is utterly incapable of choosing the courses of instruction which will best serve his future development.

Grave Peril In Elective System

"The elective system had its origin in the tremendous growth of knowledge in the last century. The fund of facts in an increasing number of fields finally became so great that the educators, completely overwhelmed by it, had to turn the task of selection over to green Freshmen, who were not qualified to make wise choices. This burden of knowledge which is threatening to crush education under its weight is analogous to the structural overloading of our civilization. Perhaps this increasing pressure of our civilization on itself, and the overloading of education by our civilization. Perhaps this increasing pressure of our civilization on itself, and the overloading of education by our unwieldy store of knowledge are both indications of an inevitable evolution, which is leading them to destruction.

Leading To Specialization

"At present our unmanageable burden of knowledge seems to be leading us to a superficial, general knowledge or to increased specialization. While a certain amount of specialization is desirable and necessary in our complex civilization, it has certain important dangers. In the scientist and teacher it is almost sure to lead to such narrowness as that which has done more than anything else to kill interest in the clas- sics. And of even wider significance than this, intensive specialization destroys perspective and an ability to correlate the knowledge gained in the specialist's field with the other facts and phases of life. This danger applies directly to students and men of affairs. In colleges the tendency to specialization and departmentalizing of subjects is killing the active interest of students in them.

Remedy Lies in Broadening

"One remedy for over specialization must be found in a broadening and dramatizing of learning. One reason why football attracts so much more of the undergraduate's attention is that a football game is a vital, dramatic whole. One of the best possible ways to combat the over emphasis on athletics would be to departmentalize football, for instance. If we took up punting on a certain hour on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and forward passing on Tuesdays and Thursdays at another set time, interest in football would rapidly dwindle to insignificance.

"The present system of distribution contains no solution for the problem of specialization. A superficial knowledge of the subject matter in several fields does not offer the needed broadening and training of minds which the situation in colleges calls for. I would suggest rather a compromise study of some related whole which would have as its primary object the training of speed and accuracy in the student mind rather than the filling of it with great amounts of subject matter. We might for instance, devote the whole Freshman year to a study of one period in Greek history.

"With this change in our plan of learning we must also make a change in the system and spirit of teaching. The present lecture system, except in rare cases, is too formal and affords too little vital stimulation to the student. I believe that the tutorial system as it is carried out Oxford and as it is being introduced at Harvard is a step in the process of informallzing education. At Wisconsin nothing has been done as yet to establish this system but it seems very likely that it will be in the future.

"Although I am diametrically opposed to the elective system, and believe that we should allow Freshmen and Sophomores practically no liberty at all in selecting their courses, I am very much in favor of undergraduate expression and criticism in educational matters. The increasingly critical attitude of students toward their teachers and the institutions in which they are studying is most encouraging."

The CRIMSON reporter asked Dr. Frank if he thought the West were ahead of the East in this respect. "Although the West as a whole is generally considered more progressive and more favorable to innovations than the East. I don't think this distinction holds in the colleges. In fact the students of our great Eastern universities, particularly of Harvard, seem to have shown a more inquiring and radical temper, than those in the West.

Want to keep up with breaking news? Subscribe to our email newsletter.