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There exists in the College a rather minor rule that requires instrutors in full courses to test the work of the first half year on the final examination. It is a minor rule because it is an orphan. No one seems to enforce it or obey it. Hence there can be no protest against the educational injustice it might inflict by demanding detailed knowledge best forgotten. In its present status, the rule evokes comment only on the mild absurdity of its existence.
Every May it reappears on professors lips. But after stating in cold blood that they are required to cover the whole course with their final test, the instructors proceed to exhibit the ingenuity with which they are in the habit of rendering the requirement innocuous. Most often they leave the matter with the statement that students need only review the outline of the first semester's work; and on the examination day the students are delighted to find that even that was unnecessary. Many other professors, however, circumvent the rule by designating with exactness what section of the work before mid-years will be quizzed. And at least one resorts to abstraction. He explains to his class that all the questions which bear on the later work require facility gained in the earlier, and are, in effect, questions on the earlier part of the course.
All this is interesting. The rule which inspires it is certainly harmless and, if mirth be universally salutary, is perhaps good. On the other hand, it can hardly be called rational. And if it were placed officially in the limbo to which it has to all intents, been relegated, instructors could follow their professional freedom without the necessity of professorial intrigue.
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