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(Ed. Note--The Crimson does not necessarily endorse opinions expressed in printed communications. No attention will be paid to anonymous letters and only under special conditions, at the request of the writer, will names be withheld.)
To the Editor of the CRIMSON:
Apparently it is not enough to eliminate the Latin requirement for the Harvard A.B. Science, too, must go the way of the Classics, if we are to believe the writer of the editorial in Monday's CRIMSON. But the solution offered is incredibly lacking in appreciation of many of the issues involved. A training in scientific method is not only important but necessary to educated men today; and for some years it has been the sincere hope of the college authorities that such knowledge might be gained through requiring a course in science for the A.B. degree. Whether this knowledge is gained through test-tubes or on the rocks of Nahant is immaterial; the point is that the course should entail laboratory work.
Obviously, therefore, the solution of substituting a general survey course of all the sciences would completely miss the mark. It would be like suggesting that all who have not been aroused by the "precise caress" of history should be excused from history courses and allowed to read H. G. Wells and study his "kulturgeschichte." There is already enough general and inaccurate "cultural" knowledge in America, and our national fondness for cyclopedias and bibliographies is ample proof of this discouraging tendency. The real error in the editorial, however, is the assumption that a course in the history of science and learning would be another "snap" course, a royal road to the knowledge of science. The history of science, like science itself, is infinitely demanding in time and study; and this is one reason why at least a full course in science (not a half-course, as stated in the editorial) is required for admission to it. The history of science unquestionably requires a knowledge of at least six major fields: in its highest form it is a task of painstaking research and profound scholarship. Dr. Sarton's massive volumes, modestly titled "An Introduction to the History of Science," attests this well. To offer such a course to men who are too lazy to take an elementary science course would be the height of absurdity. And it is searcely tenable that "the only logical alternative is a complete elimination of the science requirement."
President Conant's move is in line with his principle of broadening the scope of learning and scholarship at Harvard and with the study of the history of science as a branch of higher learning as the result of the work of such men as Professer Thorndike at Columbia, Dr. Henderson and Dr. Sarton at Harvard. The now announcement does not reveal "the superficial character of University policy." In fact, it is even to be hoped that some day undergraduates may concentrate in the Department of the History of Science and Learning. George L. Haskins.
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