Eckerd College - Logos Yearbook (St Petersburg, FL)

 - Class of 1970

Page 14 of 80


Eckerd College - Logos Yearbook (St Petersburg, FL) online yearbook collection, 1970 Edition, Page 14 of 80
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Eckerd College - Logos Yearbook (St Petersburg, FL) online yearbook collection, 1970 Edition, Page 13
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Page 14 text:

With the demise of the language requirement, Core stands as the only all-college academic requirement. Moreover, as a result of Jefferson House even Core is not genuinely an all-college requirement. In this unique position the Core curriculum is likely to experience increasing demands for reform or abolition. In the past our Core planners have met criticism with token reforms cunningly packaged to appear radical or at least innovative. Probably the only Core innovations of the past five years of any significance were Core Science and "Area Studies." Various other tampering with the Core curriculum has occurred but this has mostly resulted in the facelifting of old programs. I believe that, in order for Core to a viable part of the FPC curriculum, all of the following untested assumptions of the Core program must be carefully considered: 1.That Core can be planned and taught without a fairly precise and meaningful statement of purpose. 2. That Core classes must be segregated by gradelevel. 3. That a small number of faculty must determine the reading material for a large number of students. 4. That books are chosen to fit discussion topics rather than the opposite. 5. That lectures are a valuable aspect of Core. The purpose of Core, I believe, should be to allow students to intensively study one area le.g. culture, Asia, Latin America-social problems, racism, environment-art, graphics, photography, etc.l for one semester only. All these subjects could be taught as regular courses, but as Core courses they would be designed for non-majors who don't have the time to pursue the subject further but who are definitely interested in being exposed to the study area. I question the paradox of formulating a "centraI theme" each semester then asking each discussion group to adhere to the theme and simultaneously have its own unique experience. In the past the central theme has seemed far too contrived. I therefore suggest its de-emphasis. A second purpose of Core which I would advocate is the acquisition of communication skills. It has been my experience that some students are graduated from FPC barely able to write coherently or speak articulately on a given theme, while others are bored by writing numerous papers for Core and sitting through lengthy discussions. I suggest the collection of all written work of each student in the Core office. This would allow professors who had never had a certain student in his classes before to determine what writing skills the student has developed and whether or not it would be worthwhile to continue to require writing exercises li.e. term papers, etc.l to improve his ability to communicate. It would also enable the professor to determine whether the student did "creative projects" as an exercise in creativity or as a dodge from a task which he was not competent to perform. As a concomitant of de-emphasizing "central themes" it would be valuable or perhaps even necessary to allow students of all four grade-levels to participate in all project groups. I see no reason for segregating Core by grade-levels or, especially, treating Seniors as a group which needs special arrangements for Core. There is one aspect of the "central theme" which may have some merit, viz. Core reading lists. Many educators land studentsl recognize the value of reading widely during the undergraduate years material which is not necessarily correlated with any course work. If Core is to continue requiring certain reading for all students, I suggest the formulation of a Core reading list of approximately 75100 books. This would not be the equivalent of a list of "great books" but, instead, would reflect our Core professors' opinion of what readings would be particularly valuable land hopefully interestingl to Core students. This list could be relatively easily formulated by collecting ballots from all Core professors and could be annually revised by the same method. With a reading list such as this, Core students could be required to read a certain number of books each semester or have completed a certain percentage of the list by the end of the Senior year. This would eliminate the somewhat capricious reading selections which a small number of planners is likely to make. There seems to be no evidence that it is valuable for all students to be reading the same book at the same time. Finally, I would like to raise the issue of Core presentations. Nlost members of the college community place a high value on films as a pedagogical tool. For this reason I think that the Core cinema series should be expanded. However, as to the other prominent mode of presentation, the lecture, a great deal of investigation should take place. Questions should be raised such as: Why give a lecture which reviews something already presented in Core readings? Why give a lecture simply because it is that time of the week and a lecture is on the schedule? Why present a lecture orally? Why not print copies of the lecture and distribute it, thus saving everyone's time and enabling the student to review the entire lecture rather than scanty notes? Core has been, at times, a valuable part of the FPC curriculum. With a greater willingness to question some of our basic assumptions Core can continue to be a valuable experience. Jay Gilbert

Page 13 text:

Alfred North Whitehead, in the Aims of Education, presents perhaps the best definition of the educational process when he says "There is only one subject-matter for education and that is Life, in all its manifestations." lNew York, 1929, p. 6l For Whitehead there is not and should not be the division of the curriculum into descrete units, there is no place for unrelated ideas presented and not used. These inert ideas, which are neither used, nor tested, nor even tied to one create an another in meaningful ways, ' education which, in Whitehead's words, "ls all things not only useless, it is, above harmful . . ." lp. 1l Whitehead believes that there should not be teaching for the sake of teaching, that the teaching of facts should be subservient to the teaching of reasoning. There is a distinction to be made between the acquisition and the application of facts, "education is the acquisition of the art of the utilization of knowledge." lp. 4l Knowledge, to Whitehead, is almost peripheral to its use. Although he does not advocate non-learning l"where attainable knowledge could have changed the issue, ignorance has the guilt of vice" lp. 14ll, he is more concerned with being able to learn when it is necessary. Realizing that youth by its very nature concerned with absorbing all that is presented to it, Whitehead is anxious that the educator provide a framework for the sometimes unrelated information acquired. "Education must essentially be a setting in order of ferment already stirring in the mind, you cannot educate a mind in vacuo." lp. 18l This, above all, is Whitehead's concern: that the educational process be an orderly one, be one which supercedes itself in regard to its immediate and long range applications. Robert Maynard Hutchins, the former president of the University of Chicago, goes one step further than Whitehead in the requisites for education. Although a series of lectures delivered at Yale University in 1936, The Higher Learning in America lNew Haven, 1936l, speaks about problems still facing higher education today. The financial problems of maintaining a university, the dilemmas of professionalism, isolation and antiaintellectualism are considered. It is his address on general education, however, which is an extension of Whitehead's remarks on the purpose of education and, more importantly, ways to achieve this purpose. Hutchins believes that all men, whether "formally" educated or not, must have a common means of expression, a "common intellectual training" lp. 59l. For Hutchins, any plan of general education must first of all develop clear thinking. Prudent or practical wisdom selects the means toward the ends we desire. lt is acquired partly from intellectual operations and partly from experience. But the chief requirements for it is correctness in thinking. lp. 67l This correctness in thinking cannot be developed rapidly, nor can it be left to students to develop. "Educators cannot permit the students to dictate the course of study unless they are prepared to confess that they are nothing but chaperones . . lp. 7Ol ln developing the curriculum for his general education, Hutchins depends on the classics, the great books of Western Civilization, and acquiring the skill to read them. "I add to grammar, or the rules of reading, rhetoric and logic, or the rules of writing, speaking and reasoning." lp. 83l To these he adds mathematics. "Correctness in thinking may be more directly and impressively be taught through mathematics than in any other way." lp. 84l Hutchins, like Whitehead, believes that the development of technique is more important than the accumulation of fact. When the FPC curriculum was devised by John Bevan, it incorporated much of what Whitehead and Hutchins had described as necessary to the education of students. To Bevan, the FPC community, both faculty and students, was "involved in the pursuit of learning." lExperimental Colleges, Their Role in American Higher Education, Tallahassee, 1964, p. 91l lVluch of Bevan's plan involved independent study work, and many of the learning traditions, e.g. no required class or chapel attendance, open stacks in the library, were begun to facilitate almost complete independence on the part of the students. This independence did not make chaperones of the faculty, students worked in connection with, and under the direction of, a faculty member who was most of all personally excited about learning. However, it is the Core program which is directly related to what Whitehead and Hutchins see as essential to education. The objective of Core is: "to equip the student for the formation and articulation of informed, independent responsible judgments of value." lp. 92l This is, in essence, following Whitehead's idea that education is a "setting in order" of the thoughts of men. Hutchins belief that clear thinking is most necessary is acknowledged: "the development of skill in analysis, dialectic and writing receive attention as necessary preparation for value judgments." lp. 92l In addition to the attention paid these skills in Core, the required math or logic course also developed the talent for analysis necessary to the educated man. For FPC, the mandate, as stated by Bevan, is "the engenderment of a wholesome and critical enthusiasm for inquiry and reflection that will extend beyond the period of formal education." lp. 92l FPC, has, I believe, rejected, at least in part, the philosophical base on which it was founded. The emphasis has shifted from value to quantity, passing Core means reading and not relating. The objective tests do nothing but create "inert ideas" in the minds of students, at no point do all of these thoughts even approach utilization. No longer does a Core comp help students see an overview of their knowledge. By doing away with the mathilogic requirement, the necessity for "correctness in thinking" has been minimized to too great an extent. By packaging knowledge into 14 week bundles la required 33 courses to "graduate"l the wisdom of life is clouded. lf we are to accept Whitehead's definition of education, FPC cannot be included. lf conventional methods should be disregarded, as FPC says they must, are we offering anything new? Are we, in reality, any different from the multiversity we scorn? Warren Nlartin, during the self-confrontation in November, 1968, called us innovative-"seeking new means to established ends, where the basic values of the educational system are assumed to be sound". Perhaps we are rejecting even this, and falling back on established means, the means we were protesting. Anne Noris

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