According to a recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, “one of the main objections to active learning is that…professors simply can’t cover as much content” (July 8th online).
This challenge will be front and center at Harvard Medical School in the fall of 2022, when the human spleen will be dropped from the school’s curriculum.
Students who wish to learn about the spleen will have to do so on their own, says Medical School Dean George Q. Daley: “There’s always Wikipedia, which is a much more credible source of information now than it was a decade ago.”
A faculty task force at Harvard recommended the deletion in a 75-page report released in May. The report states that “the spleen is a low-profile organ when compared with such stalwarts as the liver, kidney, and pancreas. Although the spleen can seriously malfunction, patients who experience such problems are typically poor. By and large, Harvard-trained physicians do not treat poor people, and virtually none of our graduates accept Medicaid. Our students are better served by taking more elective courses that focus on managing their stock portfolios. Mistaking a patient’s spleen for his or her thyroid is regrettable, but failing to diversify one’s investments in anticipation of a bear market can devastate an entire family and its descendants.”
Community activists in the Boston area are vigorously protesting the decision (“More Spleen, Less Green”), while lawyers for Harvard claim that the school is simply exercising its academic freedom.