In Response to: A Combustible Mix 

As an English major, I found Maitland Jones’ organic chemistry course to be my most poetic academic experience outside of the English department. He emphasized understanding concepts and 3D visualization, instead of the rote regurgitation of desperately memorized trivia that characterized courses elsewhere.

I suspect that many students have found organic chemistry to be particularly stressful because they never wanted to be there, but were compelled because it was a critical pre-med requirement. Mr. Jones acknowledged that in his introductory lecture, stating that he would focus on teaching the minority of students who actually were interested in the subject. He added that there was no grading curve, and that everyone could get an A.

Imagine that: a course that rewarded mastery of the material instead of cutthroat competition in which a good grade was the primary objective. Your article questioned whether now professors are expected to meet the standards of students instead of the opposite. In Chaucer's time, this would have been considered “upsidoun,” a situation which could lead only to trouble.

Michael Sargent ’72, M.D.
South Burlington, Vt.