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A GEOGRAPHICAL DILEMMA

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

The field of Geography has earned itself the reputation of being one of the easier paths to a degree. This naturally has attracted a number of concentrators primarily interested in taking snap courses, along with others who really intend to study. Whatever the policy of the instructors may be, Geography 1 should be regularly open to Freshmen. The subject-matter of this introductory course covers parts of several other highly specialized fields. Admitting Freshmen would allow prospective concentrators to try their hand at Geography, and would fill a need, felt by many others, for a non-technical course covering several sciences.

From the intellectual standpoint, success in the field depends on ability to think out certain problems in a fashion that puts a premium on general knowledge and imagination. A few individuals are able to get along with remarkably little work. Others try to do the same; some of these are really interested, but without the knack of "thinking geographically". The rest are just loafers looking for snap courses. Because only upperclassmen are regularly admitted to Geography 1, instructors must form their decisions upon the abilities of would-be concentrators without having any idea of their performance in course-work. When misfits turn up, it is late to change, and the tendency is to let them ride through.

"Snap" courses have always existed, changed, and then other snaps have taken their places. Under the present regime at Harvard, it is surprising to find such a thing as a "snap" field. Apart from that, the present arrangement is unjust to students, both those who wander mistakenly into the field of Geography, and those capable individuals who never get a chance to try.

If Geography 1 were regularly open to Freshmen, individual abilities would appear before the end of the year. This proof is far superior to the present decisions based on amateur psycho-analysis of students by the instructors. It is the only fair method to demonstrate to students their actual adaptability to the requirements of the field. The result should raise the calibre of concentrators, which would be to the advantage of those really interested.

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