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On the Shelf

The Progressive

By Robert B. Davis

Spring brings a touch of the old "Dial" to the Progressive in the bold and amusing woodcuts by John Holabird with which the April issue is generously illustrated. The cover is briefly perplexing. Three fomidable females in antique garb and with Amazonian mutilations march against a pale vermilion background of disordered classicism. In a Student Union publication, one thinks, what would this mean? Certainly not England, France and the United States going out to defend democracy? Perhaps the arts and sciences fleeing a world which topples under the assaults of imperialist war?

Actually, to illustrate an article on the relations between Radcliffe and Harvard, the picture simply shows three Radcliffe girls who have taken some books out of Widener. Indeed, as in its cover decoration, the whole happy emphasis in this issue of the Progressive is away from the cliches of political cataclysm. There are some sensible editorial remarks on student organization for peace. But three out of the four excellent articles deal with problems of the immediate educational environment, and two of them discuss different aspects of a single theme.

Both Professor Simmons as teacher and James Tobin as student feel the need for a restatement of the purpose or values of liberal education at the present time. No one can say whether Harvard education is satisfactory, because there is no general agreement on what it is trying to accomplish. There are no criteria by which the whole educative process, or separate courses as part of that whole, can be adequately judged.

Professor Simmons writes, "Training a student to think, once considered so essential to a liberal education, is becoming dissociated from it. That harmonizing process of the mind, 'the power,' as Cardinal Newman aptly put it, 'of viewing many things at once as one whole, of referring them severally to their true place in the universal system, of understanding their respective values and determining their mutual dependence,' is an ideal seldom realized by teachers and certainly one that is rarely conveyed to their students."

In agreement, Mr. Tobin, Chairman of the Student Council Committee on Education, argues intelligently for the restoration of distribution requirements, two courses in the natural sciences, and two in the humanities. He realizes that Harvard's fear of seeming to follow the University of Chicago might be an obstacle to the increased integration of education here.

Mr. Stange's "The Harvard Women" paints an unhappy but substantially true picture of the effect on Radcliffe students of their college's relation to Harvard as a step-child which has neither independence nor equality. Improvement can come, he thinks, only if Harvard permits closer academic cooperation and increased contact between the students.

Mr. Marvin's "The Case for the New Deal," the only article in the issue which has not a directly local interest, turns out to be extremely well-informed.

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