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The Mail


To the Editors of the CRIMSON:

Many felt as I did upon reading of the English Department's announcement that only those concentrator in Groups I and II will be allowed Tutorial instruction. As one of Harvard's most attractive and vital features, the Tutorial program should be all the more available, and one would think that the trend would be to expand rather than to limit it....

The Catalogue states that the cost of tutorial instruction "is justified by the special educational values which accrue from it in a college which is strongly opposed to the increasingly common mass-production methods of American higher education today.... Tutorial work ... has an active, participating, individual quality particularly important for the fullest development of each student's powers." Such a policy sounds very impressive to the entering freshman, but what is he to think when he discovers that it apparently applies only to an elite group?

For me the most significant comment in the CRIMSON article is "Haley predicted an easier work load for tutors next year." Because English is such a popular field of study, the Department may wish to lighten the burdens of its tutors. But in so doing it violates Dean Bender's policies. The limitation of Tutorial to Groups I and II bespeaks an attitude that only the scholar is deserving, or even capable, of special instruction. Thus the Department would seem to be seeking out an intellectual elite, ignoring the majority of students, by and large those same non-dogmatically academic students whom Dean Bender sought as a vital element contributing to the College.

Scholasticism is, of course, an essential conservative and preservative factor in society, but if a society continues to place most of its emphasis on scholastic elements it will inevitably head for stagnation. The creative element cannot be allowed to languish. It seems very significant that the English Department's announcement follows hard on the heels of the discontinuation of Fine Arts 16, Harvard's only creative painting course.

If the English Department feels it is getting bogged down with students who receive "low grades on general examinations," and wishes to concentrate its energies on the academically productive students, it should at least divide Tutorial instruction into two groups: one for those with high grades, and the other for those who are genuinely interested in Tutorial, but who for some reason cannot make Groups I or II.

If the College is an institution for higher learning, and represents some of America's best intellectual potential, how can the English Department justify so exclusive a policy? How, in the name of education, can it restrict so valuable a program that is one of Harvard's greatest features? The arbitrary action that the Department takes, and its lack of reasons for doing so, indicates an unhealthy attitude that makes a mockery of Harvard's traditional ideals. Kim W. Atkinson '65.

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