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Teaching the Teachers


Day by day in every way life becomes more and more difficult for the teaching fellow. First, his students show him up in section and tutorial on a small point which he had not bothered to think through thoroughly in preparing for class the night before. Then the dean of the graduate school announces that he wants him to get his degree in four years rather than eight, as he had planned. Then--saddest day of all--he hears that some members of the Faculty are seriously considering abolishing him altogether.

Fortunately for him, there is little chance that the third of these difficulties will become a reality, since Dean Elder, and it is suspected, Dean Bundy, feel that the teaching experience is very important and worth-while--for the teaching fellow. The second problem is presently undergoing extensive consideration by the Faculty and in a few years it is quite likely that the Ph.D. program will definitely be limited to three or four years. But the graduate student will continue to face the first problem until the Faculty takes some definite steps to teach the teaching fellow to teach. It is hoped that in the current general re-evaluation in the graduate school, this problem will be seriously considered, for the benefit of the College as well.

Most students in the College have listened to a section man ineptly attempt to lead a discussion and end up lecturing in a hesitant manner, and have wished that something could be done about it. Dean Elder has shown the first sign of definitely recognizing the problem, with his proposal to set up a half-course for Master's degree candidates in the teaching of their subject. But Dean Elder first wants to tackle the problem of speeding up Ph.D.'s, and, though he strongly desires to implement this course for Master's candidates, he is waiting to do so until the Ph.D. problem is settled to his satisfaction.

But there is little reason why such a course could not be implemented for all graduate students, whether candidates for the A.M. or the Ph.D. Since figures show that in the past eight years an overwhelming majority of Ph.D. graduates have entered teaching, it would seem that a course in teaching would benefit all of them, and especially teaching fellows. Graduate School administrators feel that, in their drive to hurry Ph.D. students through, they could not add one course to their program, but it is doubtful that the addition of one required half-course would extend the proposed four-year Ph.D. program to five or six. Such a course would give the teaching fellow a greater sense of security as he began to teach his first section, and, if properly taught, would insure his students that their time in section or tutorial would have some value.

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