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POLL TAX MATERIALS AVAILABLE Write or call for information: in each course, as to whether you pass it. -It got to be such a breeze, dear readers, at the end I was taking seven courses a semester. I detested physical education, but the grades took care even of that requirement. I shall always remember my interview on my failures to pass physical education with the late, most kindly and civilized Dean Parlin. I just went in and told him my problem. I did not make any excuses. I did not tell him I was sickly or had been studying so hard, I couldn’t bear to tear myself away for the playing fields. I just said, Look, Dean ; what do you suggest? He had the record changed to whatever it is that means all right in physical education, and they gave me my degree. It had taken three years, including a couple of summers, and that left me free to neglect my first year of graduate study while I edited the student newspaper. THE FUNDAMENTAL FLAW in the system was this, that it was designed to evaluate me instead of to educate me. Its point was society weighing me instead of society informing me. In the crude pressures of its ceaseless quizzes I could not fail to recognize its impersonality and its incivility; I quickly came to feel that I should accept its implication that the important thing was to rank high. In this I *Beginning this fall, requirements for academic good standing have been made slightly stricter than they have been heretofore at the University of Texas. A student who has attempted roughly 20 coursesstrictly speaking, “60 semester hours” of coursesis considered a lower-division student; one who has attempted more than this is an upper-division student. Translating the concept of “semester hours” into the number of courses that these hours roughly represent, a freshman at the University of Texas is now required to pass four courses with a C average to stay off scholastic courses he takes, however, can he be required to withdraw from school his first semester. Once he gets on scho pro, a lower-division student must pass four courses with a C average to avoid “enforced withdrawal,” and to get off scho pro, he must also make a C average regardless of how many hours he is taking, and he must attain a cumulative average of C by three semesters from the point at which he went on scho pro. An upper-division student has to make a C average on his course work up to five courses to stay off scho pro. To graduate from the college of arts and sciences at TJ.T., a student does not have to have a cumulative C average, but does have to have a general average of C in all the courses required and counted toward his degree. In other words, he can exclude his D’s and F’s from the course work he counts toward his degree and in his general average, except that his grade in every course specifically prescribed for graduation and counted toward it has to be figured into his average. Ed. SPLIT RAIL INN 217 South Lamar Where Union Men Meet was very young, but is not education intended to lead the very young out of their youth? Those years will never come back. I cannot recapture that golden chance to read when I was free for learning. For a few years in my twenties I consoled myself that I would catch up on my reading at night, after work ; but in my thirties sadly do I accept that I would have been doing that reading anyway, and more, if my college life had got me into better habits. No, my mind cannot recover what it did not obtain, it’s gone, that time. I shall grant to defenders of the system that this was my fault, if they will grant that it was also theirs. I cheated myself, but also I was cheated, of a good undergraduate education at the University of Texas. At Oxford I learned more in one year than I had, the four at Texas. I do not say that I learned more quantitatively, but I got more satisfaction out of my reading, and I had a kind of experience in reading that I had not had since before college, when I read for pleasure; I was fed by my reading. The Oxford system is not adaptable to the context of democratic American college education. It is too expensive to propose a tutor for every student in mass education, nor can the Oxford system, evolved through centuries, be fitted into the American, with its pluralistic functions and irremediable fragmentation. But something can be done, I think ; I hope our educators will entertain that possibility. The basis of a college degree should be four years of serious reading. Serious reading requires long stretches of peaceful time. In the University of Texas and other Texas colleges and universities as I understand them to be, lectures and examinations have been fiendishly contrived to break each student’s days into fragments’ that are neither long enough nor peaceful enough for serious reading. In addition, reading in the humanities is not organized to help the undergraduate master a general subject, such as philosophy or English literature, but is necessarily truncated to fit the length of a four-anda-half-month course on a sub-topic that has to be separable from every other course offered and has to be graded in its own vacuum. Therefore, a third enemy of serious reading in the humanities in Texas colleges and universitiesin American colleges in general?is the course system. .2. FUTURA PRESS HI 2-8682 HI 2.2426 1714 SO. CONGRESS AUSTIN 6:; The University of Texas has sought to address the problem with Plan II, a program of study, through selected courses, some of them special for Plan II students, in what one might describe as general civilization. The program is generally regarded as a good one for serious students with general interests. In this parochial context, I suggest a mode that could find its own form in different contexts, also. Why notPlan III, if you willlet an undergraduate have, as an option, the opportunity to be attached to a professor who is in effect his personal reading supervisor in his major subject Schedule for him, with his reading supervisor, weekly conferences of an hour if possible, half an hour if that’s the best that can be done, for personal discussion of what he has been reading and what he will read next, and for his delivery to his professor of a paper on some subject involved in what he has been reading. \(In Oxford the student reads this paper to the tutor during their encounter, but in American public education this cannot ‘be insisted personally responsible professor attend what lectures he wishes, depending on whether he feels he needs them, but release him, in this area of his studies, from the requirement that he go to these lectures, and release him in any case from all examinations connected with these courses and lectures. Lay upon his personal reading supervisor the responsibility of evaluating, continuingly, but also every one or two years by general examination, whether his work is up to snuff, whether he is becoming educated in the field, and leave his final evaluation in this field to a general comprehensive examination, of whatever length may be necessary, at the end of his four years’ study in his field. The premise has been tested in England, and found correct, that one can reach at least as valid an evaluation of a student’s accomplishments by comprehensive as by machine-gun testing. At first, this would have to be an experimental program, limited to a few of the January 8, 1965 15 SUBSCRIBE OR RENEW THE TEXAS OBSERVER 504 West 24th Street Austin 5, Texas Enclosed is $5.00 for a oneyear subscription to the Observer for: Name Address City, State This is a renewal. This is a new subscription.