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To the Editors of the CRIMSON:
As Head Tutor and Assistant Head Tutor of the Department of English, we share the interest in our tutorial program that was expressed by the writer of last Wednesday's editorial. "Tutorial and the English Department." If our program were anything like that which he describes, we would also share his distaste for it. "The grand era of Harvard education," in which he thinks the Department still lives, must have been pretty grim indeed--a dark stronghold of nineteenth century philology, clanking with cumbersome internal machinery and populated with tutors who peeped surreptitiously at their students' latest rank-listing before deciding how many more scholarly secrets they might legally administer.
Now that the Department members have shaved off their beards and the students have grown theirs, a different situation obtains. Far from restricting tutorial, the English Department has done all in its power to extend and improve it. The Department now provides a tutorial program for all its students, Honors and non-Honors alike. Sophomores and non-Honors Juniors and Seniors are enrolled in tutorial groups of no more than six students each. Honors Juniors and Seniors--240 of the 427 upperclassmen concentrating in English--are enrolled in Honors tutorials, which are in most cases conducted as individual tutorials.
This situation will not change. We believe that the writer of Wednesday's editorial is under the impression that the restriction of English 98 to Group I and II students means that only those few students will receive individual Honors tutorial. This is not the case. Honors Juniors from Group III and, in some cases, from Group IV, will continue to receive Honors tutorial just as they have in the past. The only change is that they will no longer be enrolled in English 98. All Honors students will receive Honors tutorial in their Junior year; all Honors Seniors will be enrolled in English 99 in their Senior year. It is distressing to think that students enrolled in a tutorial program, whether Honors or non-Honors, should feel a lack of commitment to this part of their education merely because they are not being paid for their participation with course credit. We are certain that this is not so widespread an attitude as the writer of the editorial implies. Larry D. Benson, Daniel Seltzer
[ED. NOTE: The CRIMSON editorial recognized the facts stated in this letter. Its assertions were (1) that the English Department had often crowded non-credit tutees in groups under inferior tutors, (2) that it had used the tutorial system, in or out of Honors, as a device for imparting factual Information and preparing students for generals, and (3) that as a result it had filled to exploit the educational possibilities either of the Gill program or of tutorials in general. The decision to restrict credit tutorial (against which the editorial was only incidentally directed) continues to lack what the CRIMSON feels to be the sole possible defense--the English Department's inability to provide an adequate teaching staff.]
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