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Overseer's Report Stresses Recognition of the Tutorial System as Legitimate College Function

Retention of Good Tutors Essential Regardless of Their Ability n the Field of Research.


Following is the second installment of the Report of the Overseers Committee on the Tutorial System.

Now if tutoring is a legitimate function of the College, it deserves to be recognized as such. The tutorial system will remain a constantly shifting experiment as long as its backbone is made up of steadily changing and in experienced men. If good tutors are valuable assets to the College, Harvard must see to its that they are retained. Tutors themselves testify that research is the best antidote to the wear and tear of tutorial work, and that the man who is not pursuing independent scholarly interest's of his own is not likely to remain a good tutor for long. But if there is such a thing as tutorial ability, it certainly deserves always to be taken into account, along with the other qualifications which determine a man's fitness for promotion at Harvard. When it is always taken into account, tutoring will become what it should be--an integral part of an academic career. The tutorial system will then rest upon a firmer base.

A major difficulty, of course, is that tutorial ability is an elusive quality. By what evidence is it to be weighed, compared, and rated? The fruits of research become public property and can be judged by objective standards, while tutoring is, by its very nature, an individual and almost secret process. It's success or failure, moreover, may depend on the variable qualities of the students who are tutored. Nevertheless, one who takes the trouble to inquire soon learns that in each Department rather definite opinions exist as to the ability of the several tutors. One is told that "Jones is an excellent tutors," or that "Smith is a poor tutor." These are often individual judgements to be sure, and therefore not as reliable as one might wish. Still, if the professors and other tutors in a Department agree that Jones is an excellent tutor, and if the House master and his staff, watching Jones at close range, add their corroborating opinions, the chances are that Jones really is a good tutor. And if, when the question of his promotion arises, the excellence of his tutoring is not reckoned a major point in his favor, Harvard may suffer for the omission Do less than Jones himself.

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