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J. Peterson Elder, Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, spoke out strongly yesterday against abolition of the status of teaching fellows, a suggestion presently being considered by the Faculty. Elder urged, however, a halving of the maximum number of years a student may hold a teaching fellowship.
Abolition of the post was proposed as one method of lessening the amount of time spent in acquiring the Ph.D. Elder has firmly requested that all graduate students try to complete their degree requirements in three years. The Faculty suggestion was discussed this term during Elder's absence on a speaking tour for the Program for Harvard College.
The teaching fellow program, Elder asserted, "gives a graduate student the feeling of being really useful," and relieves him from the tension of constant "evaluation and assessment." In a recent survey, most teaching fellows over the past four years considered the experience "worthwhile" and several called it "indispensable."
Most, however, also felt that "their graduate programs were held up by such work." For this reason Elder recommended that the maximum number of year students may hold teaching fellowships be cut from four to two, and that they be allowed to teach for one-half of each year, at most, rather than threefifths, as at present.
The teaching fellow "is going to get the maximum benefit from two years of teaching," Elder asserted, a feeling seconded by many respondents to the poll. Teaching more than two years, Elder said, is done for financial, rather than educational reasons.
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