AFTER ALL the controversy surrounding the Faculty Council's rejection last week of a proposal to change the Expository Writing program, next year's Expos program emerges looking bad. All lower-level Expos courses next year will spend all but two weeks studying two required texts--a style handbook and a collection of essays. During the last two weeks of the Expos courses, the instructors can teach one of a list of about 20 books the Expos office will prepare.
This new textbook-style Expos program probably won't accomplish much besides making Expos drudgery for its students next year. And it's unlikely that the standardized program will attract teachers with imagination and independence.
One of the reasons behind the new high-school approach to Expos is a lack of money. If all Expos classes are the same, the reasoning goes, they'll also all be the same size--so the Expos program will no longer include huge, popular classes as well as small ones. That will make the lack of money for teachers' salaries less obvious--but it won't eliminate it.
There are two good ways to solve Expos's problems. Dean Rosovsky should try to increase the Expos budget so that all classes will have 15 students or less. And the Faculty Council should recommend the elimination of the current two-track system. At present, the students who presumably need Expos least, the ones in the middle level courses, end up in small classes, while the presumably more crucial lower level classes often have 20 to 25 students each. This doesn't make sense. The two tracks in Expos are just another example of the pervasive tendency at Harvard to establish arbitrary, elitist distinctions. Instead of introducing students to elitism in their first Harvard class, the Expos program should establish a more democratic policy.
Expos is--and should continue to be--Harvard's only required class, so it's especially important the the program not be allowed to slide for another year. The Expos program needs more money, an open curriculum and the abolition of distinctions based on test scores as soon as possible.
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