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CREATIVE EXAMS

The Mail

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

To the Editors of the CRIMSON:

The latest issue of The Crimson Review contains an article by Stephen F. Jencks on the advisability of having open-book exams as evidence of the "creativity" of professors and their course material, as well of course as evidence of the creativity of students.

Students are not here in order to be "creative." Creativity is a shibboleth that countenances or excuses much careless, ill-considered and pretentious thinking. Creativity cannot be taught, nor learned, and its expression is necessary and inevitable in the work of anyone who is capable of it. Professors, as well as students, are not unaware of the purpose and value of examinations, and may have reflected, before your columnist, on the best method of conducting them. We have been students also, some of us quite recently, and our creativity is likely to equal that of the students we teach.

Students are here to develop themselves, personally, morally and intellectually. It is the student's intellectual development--or enrichment, or expansion--that is the professor's special province, though in this highly integrated community the other provinces may, hopefully and charitably, be his as well. We are not anxious merely to fill up our students' minds, but to train and discipline their minds: to teach them how to think; to train, them to know and judge their own thought and to know why they think it, and whether they should; to persuade them to resist themselves and go beyond themselves. This degree of ordered self-knowledge will not be acquired by the consulting of books, in or out of exam rooms. Mr. Jencks' repetitious proposals are a more invitation to self-deception, or worse, to self-indulgence. He may speak for the CRIMSON, whose critical and editorial irresponsibility appears to increase with each issue; I hope he does not speak for the Harvard community at large. Russell G. McGillivray,   Instructor in French.

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