The tumult and the shouting dies, and English A, pursued by the pack, doubles on its track, licks its bloody wounds, and makes its perennial readjustment. All unnoticed amid the yelping of the critics is a quiet and unassuming little backwater that goes by the handsome name of English A-I. A Freshman, having obtained a mark of over 595 in his English Entrance exam, looks over the list of English courses. Skipping Advanced Public Speaking and Theses for Honors, he sees, after English A-I, "Open to Freshmen who have been excused from English A." Naturally he thinks it better than English A, the abomination. He hesitates to plunge into the cool green depths of English I. He takes English A-I.
The unfortunate fact is that those diverted from English A fall naturally into A-I, a soporific composed of fellow sufferers, incompetents seeking rest and a C, and Seniors in Science. The course is a large one and growing. A spring renovation and shaking out of mothballs could male it a good course. It meets twice a week at 2 o'clock, when lectures are delivered to lunch-stuffed sufferers who think a cut inadvisable. During the second half-year the same lectures are handed out again, though the course is supposed to last a whole year. There is no textbook. The lectures are often good, particularly those delivered by Mr. Davis. Most of them, however, consist either of the commonplaces necessarily known to anyone who can pass an entrance exam with 595 or else of the reading of student themes for instruction by bad example. The former could be well taken care of by a textbook and the latter horror should be mercifully eliminated. Since the classes are overcrowded, half of the critical work of each section is done by assistants, usually first-year graduate students who have had little opportunity to criticise even their own stuff. The course should be well pruned so that the three regular men could handle the work, or else more competent instructors imported. "Conferences" occur once a month. These could be made more frequent if lectures were limited to one a week, and fuller criticism, the personal touch so necessary to make a composition course tick, would bring water to the thirsty lips of floundering writers. And the three sections could be divided into three of similar interests and abilities instead of the present three-way botch.
English A gets an annual revamping, and the Department really tries hard to improve its teaching of passable English. It might pay to focus attention for a while on the boys who write more than passably.