Teaching to the Chairs

Professors ask how students get a Harvard education without going to class

What if they threw a class and nobody came?

In the driven world of Harvard students, it may not happen all that often. But professors who have to face empty classrooms say it doesn't go unnoticed when students stay in bed.

Though they sometimes understand why students do it, professors still hope their material is so enticing no one ever wants to skip.


But then there are the elite few who always have a full classroom. They say the key to packing students in is presenting new material that students can not simply pick up from the readings.

"I suppose the best way for a professor to get students to keep coming to class is to say things worth listening to," says Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis '68.


Students tend to skip class most just before vacations and senior thesis due dates, says Professor of History James Hankins.

But for those who skip on a regular basis, coming up with original excuses can prove difficult.

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