Eckerd College - Logos Yearbook (St Petersburg, FL)

 - Class of 1970

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Eckerd College - Logos Yearbook (St Petersburg, FL) online yearbook collection, 1970 Edition, Page 7 of 80
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Page 7 text:

you were just a faculty member in there and were expected to keep the conversation going, that much of the initiative in the Core program was supposed to come from the students, something I have found almost a complete lack of. Secondly at this school, one of the fine things about this school is the fantastic freedom each faculty member and the students have to design their own courses. No one really tells you what to teach or how to teach or anything, you're given a kind of free reign to go. And it's terribly hard to really appreciate this, especially if you haven't experienced other schools. What with this freedom, this ability, why hasn't a more innovative approach to education been generated. To ask solely the faculty to do it is to fall into the whole trap. If you want to make an innovative and experimental school this means that the whole school has to be innovative and experimental, not just the curriculum and not just the faculty. DETWEILER: Students have the opportunity and the power to turn the school totally upside down, and don't do it. LINDA: I don't think we've had quite that opportunity until this year, or at least haven't realized it before. DETWEILER: You may not have realized it. I think it's always been there, latent. LINDA: lt's possible, but I think a lot of kids are waking up this year and realizing it. Do you think the College Assembly is going to be effective in reshaping curriculum or do you think that maybe it isn't the way we should go about reshaping the school? DETWEILER: I think the College Assembly is the most effective instrument at this point for the college. And it ought to be exploited. HEEREIVIA: Well, I would totally disagree. It seems that the College Assembly is again falling into what I would term a sort of romantic fallacy, namely, that by getting everybody together in a big community, we can sit down and discuss our problems and as reasonable people arrive at a decision. Hopefully, we can find that magic structure into which suddenly everybody will throw themselves with

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LINDA: I wanted to talk about education and FPC. Mike Boggs gave me some questions last night because he's very upset He thinks that both of you profess one thing and operate in a contrary manner, that you profess a progressive education involved with society and then hold classes like Literary Criticism yesterday, which was very esoteric. So what kind of classes can be run other than classroom classes? Other than sitting around talking about books, old things, dead things? HEEREIVIA: First of all, he's assuming that books are dead and secondly, he's defining a certain part of reality which I really don't know exists or not. One could ask, "WiIl the real world please stand up?" If he wants to talk about reality, my whole life has been spent in academic environments, since I was five years old, so you could take the track that when l'm speaking in my classes and l'm relevant to what is my world. But more important than that is the crisis that we are going through in higher education, a crisis we must recognize. There are many forms of education, institutions of higher learning dealing with one aspect of education. They don't deal with the totality of education. Now, whether or not they should deal with the whole thing is a different question. But at the present time institutions of higher learning are institutions set up to very efficiently deal with one, and only one, aspect of education, that is the aspect dealing with the mind, and setting the student aside from society for a brief period of time, four years, and developing his "tooIs," of analysis etc. Of course, this is the whole thing that's being challenged now. LI NDA: Aren't the abolishing of the language requirement and things like that a step away from the traditional type of institution? DETWEILER: Yeah. I think Boggs is right in his accusation, largely, but there is another aspect to it. We're groping, I think, for new kinds of teaching and learning, inside and out of classrooms, and we don't really know where We're going, so that you can have a class like yesterday which gets out of hand in terms of esoteric statements and discussions. In fact, I would say we are pretty fortunate if about a quarter to a third of the classes in each semester turn out to be exciting and meaningful. That, for one. For another, as Doug says, you've got a responsibility to the existing structure, so that at the same time that you are trying to experiment and are groping at the fringes for new kinds of methods and structures of education, you are also trying to serve the institutions you've got, in the traditional sense, by presenting enough old fashioned hard core knowledge to give the student who wants and needs that sort of thing his money's worth. And you're also doing your job by the administration, fulfilling your contract, and that sort of thing. HEERENIA: We also have to look at this in perspective, too. What has happened is that the old style of educaton, through such forms as lecturing, was practically the only way of communication between the professor and the student, when the university was being developed. Now there are many different types of communication, there's all sorts of mass media. This does not mean that the lecture has suddenly become archaic and obsolete, it means there are other forms, alternatives to the lecture. I think we go a little bit too far when people talk about books and lectures as old fashioned and obsolete, what has actually happened is that they mean there are other alternatives, and our failing is not that we haven't thrown off the lecture, but that we haven't employed enough of these alternative means. But this takes time to really develop. IVly education was all in the form of lectures and books. That's how l'm brought up, that's what l'm used to, that's what turns me on. It takes a tremendous amount of energy and time before I know even how to use these new media. If I defend myself at all against these criticisms, I would say give me time to grow up and to learn how to use these things. DETWEILER: Right. The danger too with the lecture is that it's coming into disrepute now. People disregard all lectures and lecturers, but I think it remains an effective art when you do it well. Of course, not many people can. I think one of the things that causes Core to often fall flat is that we don't have enough good lecturers. HEEREIVIA: Exactly. The lecture became a kind of monopoly where the students in this kind of system had to go to the lecture, and the lecturer felt no responsibility in really putting his time, or himself, into the lecture, since he had a sort of captive audience. This has been one of the troubles with lectures: that it has decayed a lot. One of the real arts, I think, has been lost on academic campuses, the ability to tell and to write a story. It's somehow been lost. A really good lecture should tell a story, it should be engaging and entertaining as well as informative. If it isn't, it's going to appeal only to a very narrow segment of those who are present. DETWEILEB: Something else is involved in Boggs' criticism and that's that he, you, the students, are expecting the professor to do all of the innovating. This is our fault and society's fault generally because you've been put into the inferior position of the master-slave relationship. I should think you should be liberating yourself by now, so that if a class doesn't work, yeah, you can bitch at the professor for not making it work, but you ought to be asking yourselves as well why you haven't done something to make it work. Of course more than accusations. You know, the thing I've been trying to do in Literary Criticism is one hell of a struggle because students don't respond to it. I've been saying from the first day, "I don't want to lecture, I don't want mere discussions, I want you to help structure the whole semester." But who responds? Maybe a half a dozen out of a class of thirty five. The rest still want to be spoon fed. And then when they're spoon fed they bitch about the monotony of it. HEEREIVIA: This was a great thing, one of the attractive things, really, about the Core program. I was always told that you were not even really a discussion leader, that really this was a gathering together of people and that



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complete lack of abandon. And I don't think that this occurs. I think one of the problems is that you have everybody running around, messing around with everything and you have chaos and anarchy. What's got to happen is in the very guts of the school, in the very classrooms, something's got to emerge here, at this level, something of an exciting nature. lt's the job of the administration to administer and to' determine the policies and direction of the school. If you get everybody in the College Assembly trying to do it, you're going to go off in a hundred different directions at once, and it's impossible for a small college to survive like this. LINDA: Don't you think the committees can keep us from acting without having seriously considered questions? DETWEILER: Committees usually get in the way instead of solving anything. HEEREMA: What you do when you want long range planning is you form a huge, monstrous committee with everybody represented and what you're going to have is everybody sitting around there talking with a bunch of vested interests, each person making a beautiful argument for his own particular area. You're not going to get anywhere. What FPC needs to say is something like "FPC is going to experiment and innovate in this direction. If you want to climb on board, fine, you're welcome, but this is our direction." We aren't saying that other directions or other things aren't valid or valuable, just that they should be done someplace else, because we're concentrating and focusing on these things. And you have to, if you're going to do this, have a few people in charge who give direction and meaning to the whole thing. You can't let the whole group as a body sit down and decide this. DETWEILEFI: Along these lines too I don't think that one should wait for a committee or the College Assembly or. even the administration to formulate a policy, "project a new direction," and say this is where we're going to go. If you wait for this, you're going to wait for the next ten years. What you've got to do is to start innovating and creating in your classroom, in your dorm, God, even at the Chuga-Lug, and then discover if what you've got is sufficiently valid for other people to get aboard and reinforce your program. LINDA: I was wondering if you as individuals feel as if you are leaving us at a time when we most need you to help us do these things. I know a lot of students are woebegone because here you two, our best innovators, are leaving us. DETWEILER: Nobody's indispensible. lndispensibility is a myth, and that's not a statement to cover up guilt for leaving. l've done essentially what I can do here: had I not had this offer I would have stayed here gladly and remained enthusiastically in this program, but essentially l've done all I can. I find myself repeating myself in the past year or so, in Core lectures and in private discussions, in classroom situations and what not. So I have the sense that my political effect here has reached its limit. The only thing I could do next would be to try to become an administrator and become effective in that manner. But if I were to become an administrator I wouldn't have the kind of effectiveness I have now, so in that sense too I have reached my limit. HEEREIVIA: If I haven't had my say in four years here, I'm not going to say much more in another four years. And I do find myself getting redundant in my argument. I find myself continually going to my same approach to education. Well, if people haven't listened in four years to it, again, in another four years they aren't going to listen any more. Secondly, as one of our faculty members remarked what is far more important is not to look at the faculty members who are leaving, but to look at the faculty members who are staying. Don't worry about faculty members leaving. Part of our game in life is moving around. Nothing flatters a faculty member more than an offer from a new place . . . to feel he's wanted other places, to go to new places. Faculty members are going to move. I think the real danger for an institution is to have no turn over. Then it doesn't cull out the dead wood. DETWEILER: Right. I suspect, too, that in the lit. department, my departure is going to provide room for one or two new people who are going to provide their sort of freshness. And it's time for this. In addition to that, I don't think it really much matters whether or not FPC survives. What matters is whether particular individuals and society itself survives, and my job is not guaranteeing the survival of FPC, but doing what I can to plug in at a particular place where my particular talents seem to be most necessary, and my talents now seem to be more necessary in the program I'm getting into. LINDA: That's one of the things that some people have mentioned to me. They feel that undergraduate level is "where it's at," and going to a graduate school is putting yourself into a place where you're not going to be able to function as effectively, and you're not going to be working with people who are involved. You're going to be working with intellectual scholars who are away from society, rather than working with the lower eschalons of the educational system who are going to go directly into the society and be directly affecting the shaping of society. DETWEILER: This might be true of a traditional graduate school. I happen to be going into an experimental graduate department which is geared toward preparing innovative humanities teachers who will be going back into places like FPC: whose program, in fact, is so crazy that many of them can be hired only by schools like FPC. So in this sense I'm not really changing directions. LINDA: But you are teaching teachers, right? You're teaching teachers to be teachers, to teach teachers to be teachers . . . DETWEILER: Not necessarily. Some of them, yeah, but other people in this program are going into government service, industry, movie-making, that sort of thing. In fact, one

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