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Harvard's Tutorial System has gradually established itself as one of the foremost in the world. To many it represents all that is best in the Harvard educational set-up. But the System is hideously expensive. It costs far and away more than the lecture system, which is the nearest thing to mass production the mental world has ever seen.
If the price of securities doesn't appreciate considerably in the course of the next two or three years, the University is going to find itself bound to economize, and so expensive a luxury as the Tutorial System must suffer. Action must be taken now to avoid emasculating the System at a later date.
First, there are many men in every class to whom Tutorial is but a waste of time. They have neither the desire nor the will to do several hours' work a week for their tutors. Such individuals are obviously wasting their time, their tutors' time and patience, and the University's good money. They can be weeded out by giving each tutor the power to decide, at the end of a man's sophomore year, whether or not it is worth his while to continue.
Second all men in the upper three groups of the rank list should automatically be retained, as well as all who wish to try for honors. But for men in the lower groups, especially those men who show no interest in tutorial and fail to do their assignments -- for these, the tutor's word should be the University's criterion in deciding whether or not they deserve the continued privilege of tutorial.
It may be argued that such a solution of the tutorial problem is unneccessarily hard on the man who matures only at the very end of his sophomore and the beginning of his junior year. There are many such cases. Is it fair that they be deprived of the opportunity of a tutor? They need not be so deprived, for good and all. Those who are advised against continuing tutorial could well be permitted to have a short talk with their tutors, say, once a month. At these short conferences, if a man felt that he wanted tutorial, he could begin again.
But the University should cease trying to tutor everyone on the theory, however laudable, that the Tutorial System is per se a good thing. It is, an excellent thing -- but only for those who take it in the spirit in which it is given. Others have no place in it, and should be separated from it before more money is wasted on them.
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