54. The same procedure as followed above could be applied to the various optional papers, but I am only qualified to comment on the two that I chose (Logic and Political Theory). The recent additions which have been made to the list of special subjects do not tackle the crucial problems confronting PPE which I have tried to raise in this essay.
55. Neither have I felt able to tackle the question of the preliminary examination which the student takes after his first two terms at Oxford, since this course has just undergone considerable revision. But from past experience, I suspect that it is at the stage of prelims that the student has all the defects of the course I have outlined thrust at him in concentrated form. [NOTE: John Birtwhistle and I are now (October 1968) engaged in writing a separate essay on the question.] It is at this stage that the course generally succeeds or fails to wean the student form his pre-University hopes and prepare him for the thin gruel which is to be his intellectual diet for three years.
56. Most of the proposals made above, even assuming the retention of the framework of the course (which is unacceptable), go beyond anything that could be expected to result from the ditherings of the Faculty Board. Of course, student representation on the faculty board should be demanded. But even some of the slightest changes proposed here, if they were adopted, would demand such sweeping alteration in existing practices as to make their acceptance unlikely. To change the intellectual content of the course would, for example, necessitate the importation of lecturers from outside the University to teach the subjects which no one in Oxford is qualified or fit to teach.
57. Yet few of the suggestions I make are maximal demands, ideal solutions: the posing of a comprehensive alternative course demands the transformation of the society within which this University is located, if it is to have a chance of success. That is not to say we should not endeavour to begin the intellectual elaboration of such an alternative, nor content ourselves with crumbs (or cake) from the faculty board table.
58. To a large extent, we shall have to educate ourselves, in default of provision being made by the official teachers – or misprovision. Self-help is not the least of the means to combat the starving and deformation of intelligence. But this self-help should not take the form of an anti-course which can be ignored or patronised by the University. Rather it should only be part of and a preparation for a positive contestation. We must begin by making ourselves better scholars than our teachers, and the power that gives us will be reinforced by our power as a body of students eager to understand and therefore to change the world.