When the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts opened last spring, one heard nothing but praise for it. Everyone agreed that the visual arts were splendid things, and agreed that the Corbusier building was exciting. But, oddly enough, one never heard complaints about the kinds of activities that were to go on within the Center.
The offering of credit courses in photography and movie-making to undergraduates was an innovation for Harvard. For several reasons it was a highly unwelcome innovation. The academic value of such courses is vague. They do not communicate to the student any of the methods of intellectual analysis; they teach practical techniques only, and consequently they begin to merge into the area of hobbies or extra-curricular activities. Undergraduates at Harvard ought not to get academic credit for engaging in hobbies.
One cannot rightly condemn all "how-to-do-it" courses. Exercises in creative writing, for example, seem much more relevant to serious academic pursuits than do exercises in photography. The problem is that instruction in the techniques of art is essentially inconsistent with the aims of education at the College, and the more of it one admits to the curriculum, the greater the likelihood that general education will gradually be replaced by training toward professionalism in the arts.
Already, credit courses in dramatics are being proposed for consideration. Assurances that these will have "solid academic cores" do not allay fears that within a short time credit courses in journalism will also be under consideration. All might be acceptable as non-credit offerings (like the courses in bartending given by the Student Employment Office); there is no place for them in the course catalogue of Harvard College.
The above represents a minority opinion of the Editorial Board of the CRIMSON.