President Conant last Spring appointed a committee to study and make a report on the tutorial system. The general feeling prevalent at that time was that the system should be curtailed to a certain extent and that men not out for honors, who were not particularly brilliant students, should be deprived of the benefits of the tutorial system. That is an "A" and "B" plan was suggested, whereby good students would be given full tutorial instruction and less brilliant men would be put under plan "B" and get no intensive work with their tutors. Such an arrangement has been put into effect this year in History.
The advisability of this plan is obvious when the financial and personal problems of the College are analyzed. Harvard cannot afford to hire more tutors, and unless this is done the present tutors will continue to be grossly over-worked and underpaid. The solution, obviously, is to cut the number of men being tutored.
The field of History and Literature, however, presents a specialized problem. Only fifty men are admitted to this field every year, and those admitted are supposed to be capable of doing honor work. As a result, over 90% of the students in this Department graduate with honors, and it is only the occasional man who falls by the wayside.
This being the case, a curtailment of the tutorial system is certainly not advisable. This point is made stronger when it is considered that the Department covers two separate fields, both of which are large. It is impossible, in six or eight courses, to get an adequate view of both History and Literature. As a result of this, tutorial instruction must supply the missing material. More important, the two fields must be integrated in tutorial, there being no courses in History and Literature as such.
For these reasons, the amount of tutorial instruction in History and Literature, far from being reduced, should be increased. The field would benefit immensely if a course reduction were allowed and the amount of time spent in tutorial were lengthened. Of course this could not be done by the present staff, which is already being worked to the limit. An additional appropriation is needed here if one of the best fields of the College is to be continued and improved.
In considering plans for the revision of the tutorial system, University officials must take this special problem into account. The necessity of curtailing the amount of tutorial instruction offered in most of the College fields is undeniable, but History and Literature must not be made to suffer by the faults of other Departments.