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Excerpts From Dean Hanford's Report


Broader Fields of Study

The area program of study will not replace the existing fields of concentration but will merely supplement the same. Properly qualified students will have the choice of specializing in one of the traditional departmental fields, one of the combined fields on one of the new areas. In this way a broader type of education will be made possible and a further step will be taken toward the individualization of education in Harvard College.

Although we are perhaps not yet prepared for such a radical step, the question to raised whether we should not give careful consideration to the advisability of individualizing education in Harvard College still further. Instead of laying out plans of study in terms of courses and other requirements, might it not be well to permit an able student, in consultation with his adviser and tutor, to work out a program which would conform to his own ideas as to what he wished to obtain from his field of special study?

Although Harvard College has gone a long way in adjusting instruction to the individual and in emphasizing the principle of self-education, we still cling too closely to the idea that plans of study demand the passing of a certain number of courses. We often overlook the fact that certain students are able to obtain all they need from particular courses in a very short time and that they progress at different raies of speed in their college work. We have not yet explored the possibilities of the examining process as a means of individualizing the work of our more able students.

Students Council Report on Education

Although there is naturally a difference of opinion regarding the practicability of some of the proposals of the Student Council Report on Education--especially the compulsory introductory courses and the specific sanctions for tutorial work--all those who have read the document have been impressed by the skillfulness, clarity, and forcefulness with which the fundamental aims of a liberal education are presented. Also, there seems to be rather general agreement as to the degree of over-specialization that exists, and there are a good many who share the opinion of the Student Council concerning the shortcomings of the recently revised distribution requirements. In other words there has been a widespread expression of sympathy with the general purposes of the report.

The Houses--Non-Resident Membership

As a result of the somewhat smaller size of the College, the non-resident membership plan, and greater preference in admission to juniors and seniors, the unhappy situation in regard to the men left out of the Houses has been greatly eased. At the present time there are only two seniors on the waiting list as compared with 14 a year ago, while the total waiting list contains only 82 names as contrasted with 182 in the fall of 1938. Students, parents, and officers of the College are grateful to the Masters for the concession which has been made in the adoption of the non-resident plan as an emergency measure. As the Masters have pointed out, however, the non-resident membership plan has certain disadvantages and there is still need for another House.

The Tutoring School Situation

Like parasites they have fed upon the undergraduates. . . . The most serious part of the situation, however, has been the harmful influence of the tutoring schools in a college which has as one of its aims the early development of the capacity for self-reliant, independent work on the part of its students. The bulk of the activities of the commercial schools have an undesirable effect upon Harvard's avowed principle of self-education and rest upon a false idea of college training.

More serious, however, than the other objections to tutoring school notes is the fact that the student who relies upon them as a substitute for his own efforts loses a very valuable form of training in the analysis and organization of material--a kind of training which he will badly need when he gets into the law or business school or into any position of importance in later life. He is cheating himself by not sharpening his own tools.

The staff of the Bureau (of Supervisors) is composed of fifty-five supervisors, most of whom have had both graduate study and teaching experience at Harvard. All are well acquainted with the work in the undergraduate courses and have been selected by the instructors as the most competent persons available to assist students to meet their particular problems. . . . In the first fifteen weeks of 1939-40, 265 students have used the services of the Bureau. Of these, 155 have been referred to supervisors, while the remainder worked only with the Secretary of the Committee. Of the 155 students who needed special aid, 23 were helped without charge and 18 were charged less than the full rate.

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