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William Whiting Nolen, Harvard '84, and nicknamed "The Window," founded Manter Hall School, where for 38 years he tutored students so they could pass Harvard courses. "The Window" died in 1923, but his school still functions. Its promotion literature, left in dormitories and its advertising in The Crimson stress the founders success, and tell present-day students to "ask Dad--Ask Grandad!"
One out of nine Harvard men relies on the schools regularly; two out of three when they wish to cram for examinations. The schools openly boast that they teach certain subjects better than the college. Among their patrous schools join a large number of honors men, and they take credit for raising the college's percentage of honors students from 28.5 per cent in 1930-31 to 41.3 per cent last year.
Faculty members disagree about the knowledge-vending emporiums, whose annual intake comes to $200,000. Dean Alfred C. Hanford leads a bloc which would like to prevent students from enrolling in them. Others--like Professor Roger B. Merriman--take a more liberal view, and suggests their students using them for purposes of reviewing the work of an entire course.
Last week Harvard's Student Council had something to say on the subject. From 1,300 replies to a questionnaire sent students last December, asking data on their relations with tutoring schools, the Council issued a twenty-page report. The gist: "Tutoring schools have grown out of their proper place, and are a corrosive influence on Harvard's educational standards."
The report did not blame the schools. It censored the University for retaining "badly organized courses," harboring instructors" who recognize publicly the work done in the schools by the students," and for the "loss of contact between students and instructors within the University."
To remedy this situation, the Council offered "no magic formula." It neither condemned the schools, nor suggested, as some have done, that the University put them out of business by establishing its own. It did, however, recommend that University publications should not be allowed to accept advertising from the tutoring schools. This would mean a $3,000 annual loss to The Crimson alone.
Many at Harvard think the root of the trouble lies in the University's system of advisers--faculty members who help Freshmen adjust themselves to college life. An adviser is supposed to steer his Freshman along the right track, whenever necessary sending them to a supervisor for general guidance. If such assistance does not help, Harvard's o cial view is that the student isn't college calibre, and he ought to get out--not go to a tutoring school, cram for a few days or hours, and squeeze through examinations by the aid of his pocketbook.
Only illness of absence from Cambridge excuses a student's attendance at one of the schools. In such case the University recommends Manter Hall, Briggs, Parker-Cramer--almost any of the six except Wolff's.
Hal Wolff, Harvard '29, magna cum laud in anthropology, set up his school in Beck Hall in 1930, but soon had to move to bigger quarters. Large and generally unshaven, he shouts his lectures, throws erassers at sleepy students tells stories about Peter his pet champanzee and despite official disapproval--gets most of Harvard's patronage.
His knack of putting information across -- making good students into honor ones or merely putting a man through a course -- accounts for only half his success. The rest comes from his sympathy and his personal friendships.
Some liberal faculty members, including President James B. Conant, are friendly with him. From his wide contacts, Wolff is said to know more about what is going on at Harvard than anyone else except the President of The Crimson. (WHEE!) News-Week, Jan. 23.
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