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New York: McGraw-Hill, 1917; The Oxford Stamp, Essay X. New
Non-TECHNICAL COURSES AT THE Post GRADUATE SCHOOL
Before proceeding to explain the bearing of the course in Exposition at the Post Graduate School upon the problems thus discussed in the foregoing review of developments in engineering education, it should be stated that the course in question is to be, if present plans are carried out, one of four non-technical courses, or “half-courses,” since perhaps all of them will be scheduled for not more than an hour or two a week, and will extend over not more than four months. In addition to Exposition, there will probably be a course in Methods of Study, one in what may be called the Humanities, not yet definitely planned, and one in Political Economy. The course in Exposition, therefore, should be considered in its relation to three other courses, as well as in terms of a single course.
THE COURSE IN EXPOSITION It is clear that the methods used during the second term at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, however excellent for that school, are not altogether adapted to the Navy's Post Graduate School. In the first place, the Technology course is for freshmen-whose average age is perhaps between eighteen and nineteen—while the courses at the Post Graduate School, Naval Academy, are for commissioned officers in the Navywho have been graduated from the Naval Academy at least five years, and who are on the average about twenty-seven years old. Moreover, the post graduate student officers, if they have had not more than the elementary course in English at the Naval Academy, and have been out of touch with English studies for a least five years, are nevertheless men whose experience and whose positions of responsibility place them in a very different category from the students in the first year, or in any year, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Also, the element of time available for a given course, when we compare the two institutions, brings out another important difference. One the one hand, we are considering a half term which
is but one-fourth of the whole course of two years; on the other hand, we are obliged to deal with a naval post graduate school whose entire course--at Annapolis-lasts but one year, and in that year the course in Exposition is given three times, to three different groups of officers, so that the duration of the course itself is limited to sixteen weeks, with one hour a week, and possibly not more than fourteen hours, all told. In fact, the course must be planned for fourteen hours, with the possibility of short extensions.
All the factors being duly considered, it becomes necessary to organize a course in Exposition which shall be as practical as it can possibly be made, and which shall be adapted as closely as possible to the circumstances and the needs of the post graduate student officers. With the most recent developments of engineering education as the background, and with the well-nigh unique situation at the Post Graduate School in the immediate foreground, what shall be done? It is hoped that officers in the naval service who are interested in the solution of such a problem will offer their suggestions, and criticize the outline of the course herewith presented. It is hoped, further, that once a solution is found, naval officers who desire to increase their proficiency in writing on professional subjects will have a course at hand which they can feel confident will be sound in theory, workable in practice, and the result of naval experience. For if it is well adapted to the requirements of the Post Graduate School, it ought to be, in large measure, adapted to the studying time and the practical requirements of naval officers throughout the service.
THEORY OF THE COURSE Each student is assigned a definite, practical objective. This objective is an article on a professional subject, so written as to be acceptable, if not more than acceptable, for publication in the NAVAL INSTITUTE PROCEEDINGS, the Journal of the American Society of Naval Engineers, or any other magazine devoted to articles on technical subjects, or professional subjects, either primarily or occasionally.
Each student is left free to choose his own subject, provided that he knows enough about it to make more than a minimum of research unnecessary. It is assumed that he is especially inter
ested in the professional subject chosen, and that the subject is suited in a general way to the purposes of Exposition, as distinguished from Narration or Argument. At the third recitation, however, or one week before the class submits a revision of the first outline of the article, any student has the opportunity to change his subject.
The main work of composition throughout the course is the organization or planning, the writing, and the revision—in several stages--of the article. These successive stages in the composition of the article, though logical in their order, are not continuous. Monotony is avoided, and the student is led to return with more enthusiasm to the writing of the article, by the assignment of intermediate stages of study and practice. Each intermediate stage leads up to the next main task of composition.
Although the course is based upon a similar one given to the post graduate student officers in 1917, it has been revised in the light of experience. Nevertheless, the exaggeration of the mechanical aspect of structure in the Whole Composition and the Paragraph is deliberate, and has been found to be effective.
The first part of the course deals with the Whole Compositionits purpose, organization, convergence, and conclusion. In the very first lesson assignment, the class is directed to submit three statements: (1) The title of the article; (2) The reason for writing the article—a brief explanation of the effect or result desired; (3) The conclusion of the article—that is, a preliminary draft of the final paragraph. This method is similar to the statement of the Mission as the first stage in the Estimate of the Situation, as conducted at the War College (see Naval War College Pamphlets, Series 1, No. 2: Estimate of the Situation, by Rear Admiral Austin M. Knight, U. S. Navy, published by the U. S. Naval Institute, April, 1915).
Assuming that the course must be planned for not more than fourteen hours, the successive stages of the course, in their order and time allotment, are as follows:
1. The Whole Composition, 4 recitations.
If, however, more than fourteen hours should be available, the additional recitations would be devoted to the third stage, The Sentence, and the fourth stage, The Word. If less than fourteen hours should be available, or, for instance, eleven hours, the fourth stage would be omitted and the first three stages would receive the same number of hours, 4, 4, 3. The theory involved is that at least four hours should be spent in organizing the whole Composition before it becomes worth while to study the division into paragraphs, and the internal structure of the Paragraph; and, likewise, that four hours should be spent in studying and revising paragraphs before it becomes worth while to take up the structure of the Sentence. This does not mean that the structure of sentences and the use of words is less important than the first two stages. It does imply, however, that for the purposes of the course, any stage except the first would be futile without the preceding and preparatory stage.
To classify the four stages, they may be considered as forming two groups, distinctively different, as follows:
Prevision: The Whole Composition and the Paragraph.
Revision: The Sentence and the Word. This difference is made clearer if we compare it with the difference between Strategy and Tactics, by saying that Prevision in Composition corresponds to Strategy in War, and that revision corresponds to Tactics in battle. In other words, the Whole Composition and the Paragraph can be planned in advance, while the Sentence and the Word should be handled spontaneously in actual writing, at first, and afterward subjected to careful revision. “For," says Barrett Wendell, a notable master of the art of teaching composition, " there is no fact in human experience more settled than this: to do anything thoroughly well we must not stop in the act to consider how we are doing it. Action of any kind may and should be carefully planned; things once done may be and should be rigorously scrutinized. But the time to plan is before work begins; the time to criticize is after the work is done."
By the study of the Whole Composition and the Paragraph, then, the students acquire a "doctrine," or are "indoctrinated" in the principles of composition and Exposition. While it may also be said that they are indoctrinated in the principles of structure
of the Sentence, and in the use and choice of Words, they can continue the practice of writing sentences and words the rest of their lives, whereas they are not apt to study the principles of planning the whole composition and the paragraph except in a course such as the one in question, under the guidance and criticism of an instructor.
The recitation hour is divided into two parts: (1) a lecture, of thirty minutes or less ; (2) a test or tests, lasting thirty minutes or more. In this way, the university lecture method is combined with the Naval Academy recitation method.
Constant use is made of mimeograph notes, not only for the sake of definiteness in instruction, but in order that the students may keep the notes permanently in their possession for future use. Indeed, the value of modern mimeographing in education has not been fully recognized. It increases to an extraordinary degree the efficiency of both teaching and learning, and enables the class to cover much more ground than they could otherwise cover in a given time. The nature of the mimeograph notes used in the course in Exposition is in general as follows: Lesson schedules, issued a few days in advance of the recitation; notes on structure, with concrete examples for illustration; outlines of all lectures, given out after the lecture; folded sheets, with test questions on one side and answers to questions on the reverse side.
In correcting the first draft of the article (handed in at the sixth hour), attention is paid solely to the division into paragraphs, and transitions between paragraphs. The second draft, in which the student is concerned mainly with the internal structure of each paragraph, is corrected exclusively for such structure. The third and the fourth drafts, each one being a revision of half of the article for sentence structure, are corrected for sentence structure only. The final draft, submitted at the last hour of the course, is written and corrected with regard, exclusively, to the use of words, their selection, their number, and their combinations or phrasing
Serious errors of form are corrected throughout the course, but these corrections are made in blue pencil, to distinguish them from rhetorical corrections, made in red pencil. This apparently trivial detail is intended to make clear the fact that corrections of form (spelling, grammar, punctuation) are decidedly less important than rhetorical corrections. The class is told that