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Skill in the use of the English language remains the hall-mark of an educated man. It is also about the most practical skill a college cab impart. Hence President Conant's avowal that everywhere "we hear complaints of the inability of the average Harvard graduate to write, either correctly of fluently," is not be silently shelved. As the "Times" stated recently, new influences of everyday life--the realistic but unrefined diction of the streets, the movies, the radio--have dulled American appreciation of good English. Harvard is facing the problem together with the rest of the country and its schools
Streamlining of English A has had its rewards. With the fewer exemptions allowed, thirteen per cent more Yardlings are enrolled. The course has been unified: there is a single textbook and less variation among sections. Most important of all the changes is the promotion of English A from its former status as a de-credited "fifth wheel" to a full-credit position beside the other Freshman courses
Not because the Harvardman cannot turn a phrase with the artistry of a G.B.S., but because he is simply unable to say what he means at all, have there been complaints. Last spring the Committee on the Use of English advised automatic rejection by all departments of papers and examinations failing to reach a minimum standard of clear and lucid prose. Hence the new emphasis on "practical" writing--on English not as an artistic end but as a medium of common expression
This is a common-sense attitude which realizes that most Freshmen need to learn to write and to think--clearly, accurately, simply--before they can afford literary luxuries. The new Briggs-Copeland Instructorships, bringing to Harvard five "coming" young writers as English A section men, promise well. But while Professor Morrison and his confreres sip tea and nibble crumpets of an afternoon, let English A stick to its new broad bottomed beef-and-ale outlook.
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