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The Tutorial Manifesto

From: (Lawrence M Sanger)
Date: 15 Aug 1995 03:07:36 GMT
Organization: The Ohio State University

For all you grad students with extra time on your hands (uh, ;) ).

Please circulate this manifesto far and wide, and send it to colleagues, 
teachers, friends, and family.  It has been endorsed by many philosophy 
professors and graduate students (eight have put their names at the bottom of 
this document).  It has a very real, practical potential to change education in
the humanities drastically and for the better.



A spectre is stalking the Internet -- the spectre of revolution.

There is an important revolution coming in the way that the humanities are 
taught and learned.

Too many in the humanities -- especially in philosophy -- are uncomfortably 
aware that, if one wishes to pursue a career in one's field, then it must be 
done entirely within the present system of higher education.  What can one do 
with a Ph.D. in philosophy?  Teach philosophy at colleges and universities; 
little else.

As many people believe, philosophy and the humanities generally are better 
taught one-on-one, in individual tutorials.  Students do not *have* to be 
subjected to lectures and insufficient professor contact, as they are in the 
present system; professors do not *have* to subject their students to this, 
either, or to partake in the restrictive university hierarchy.

The Internet has made it possible to change the system.  Let a new system be 
created to compete with -- not replace -- universities.  All that is required 
is organization of those interested, and a bit of a revolutionary mentality.  
It can be done honestly and of course nonviolently.

It is now possible for philosophers, historians, literary critics, and many 
others in the humanities and social sciences, to meet directly, one-on-one, 
through the Internet (and of course in person when possible).  We no longer 
need the universities grabbing our money as middlemen.

Students can get a better humanities education from professionals, one-on-one, 
and for less money; teachers can live independently of a too-restrictive 
university hierarchy, and still, if they are fine teachers, make a good living 
as private tutors to college-aged and older students in their fields.  
Humanities education needs only be removed -- at least in part -- from the 
universities.  Tutorials can be conducted anywhere that the Internet reaches.

If a humanities industry grows outside the universities, it *will* be possible 
to make a living as a professional tutor.  Just as musicians and martial arts 
instructors do not need university degrees in order to be recognized as 
excellent teachers in their fields, the same *could* -- in a matter of months 
-- be true for philosophers, historians, and others in the humanities.  But 
there must be people willing to *offer* and *take* tutorials from each other.  
There must be people willing to try doing what they love outside of the 
university -- that is all.

I already have two tutorials going; I had to turn down six students who wanted 
to study with me, for lack of time. There *is* a market, at least among 
continuing education and very ambitious college and grad students.

As the numbers of people engaged in tutorials increase, the argument, that work
in tutorials is not worth college credit, will grow weaker and weaker.  For, 
first, many institutions will begin to offer credit for tutorial work -- as 
credit is now offered for independent study -- if enough people are learning in
tutorials.  Secondly, for those who wish to make study in the humanities their 
lives, college credit will become irrelevant.  Thirdly, *independent* 
accrediting agencies may arise, if they are needed.  This will make it possible
to earn degrees, if they are needed, from anywhere that the Internet extends.

What will matter, in the coming tutorial system, is whether you, as a 
philosopher or historian or any sort of humanist, are expert and articulate 
enough to attract students to study with you in the field that you love.

You have nothing to lose but the chains of the present system.  You have a real
education, or a new and quite possibly better way of life, to gain.


It is hoped that the Internet headquarters of this revolution will be Tutor-L, 
a free mailing list.  To subscribe, and to get a copy of "The Tutorial 
Manifesto," a longer version of what is above, simply send mail containing the 
single word "subscribe" to my address (; you 
may be able to hit "reply" now and send me the subscription).  The list will 
soon be transferred to an unmoderated, automated listserver at Netcom (thanks 
to Ben Kovitz); it will only temporarily be run out of my mailbox.  We will 
discuss whatever you want to discuss vis-a-vis the tutorial system; and of 
course *the list will be open for free advertisements by both tutors and 
students looking to engage in education via the Internet.*

Lawrence M. Sanger, M.A.
The Ohio State University
Columbus, Ohio


The following philosophy professors and graduate students have told me that 
they are in broad support of the tutorial system as described; they do not 
necessarily intend to offer tutorials themselves.  Several others have voiced 
their support of the general concept, with a few reservations.

Peter O. King, The Ohio State University
Tibor Machan, Auburn University
William R. Minto, University of Western Ontario
Adam Moore, The Ohio State University
Chris Sciabarra, New York University
Philip Stokes, somewhere in the U.K.
Thomas Stone, The Ohio State University
Michael Young, Brown University

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