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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained

PUTTING ON THE SCREWS

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

The advent of the House Plan brings the tutorial system into a position of more importance than it has ever before assumed in Harvard history. But any increasing use of the tutorial system will only throw into sharper relief the present irregularities in this method of teaching.

The shortcomings of the system come to light even upon a brief examination. Some tutors hold up a rigid standard of work to their tutees, one tutor in particular requiring four conference hours a week of his tutees, exclusive of time spent in preparation. Other students, who feel that they are far more fortunate, go for weeks at a time without seeing their tutors. Furthermore the general tendency is to take the whole system with a grain of salt until the spectre of Senior-Divisionals raises its head in the last year. Then follows a mad period of cramming, a hasty and forced attempt to summon to memory all that has been cursorily learned during the preceding two years, with the inevitable result of a quickly gained and quickly forgotten store of knowledge.

The irregularities of the tutorial system can be, and should be ironed out. Though Paternalism is contrary to the expressed purpose of the College, yet the inherent advantages of the tutorial system would be amplified if the system were made more uniform and were brought under some kind of faculty control. A report, somewhat in the nature of a thesis, on the year's work would not only give the student a chance to gather up the loose ends of learning that he had amassed throughout the year, but would serve as some basis to check up on the work of the individual. A minimum reading requirement with a report at the end of the year would answer the same purpose.

If such reports were to replace the thoroughly disliked, and unnecessary April examinations the amount of work required of the student would be substantially of the same, and the amount required by the tutorial system itself would be much more evenly divided. Moreover, such a check on the individual each year would serve to keep the tutorial system up to date, spreading out the work more evenly, and preventing the last minute attempt to do two years' work in two months.

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