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Information bulletin
(September 1950)

Vogel, Leroy; Rhoades, Hillard Anthony
Midway on the main,   pp. 11-14 PDF (2.4 MB)

Page 14

Prof. Karl P. Schmidt, zoology professor at Chicago
University, has a hard time breaking away from students
after a class at the Zoological Institute in Frankfurt.
from the viewpoint of the ideas behind the books. The
books, and other ideas, are evaluated in casual, friendly
conversations, not as assignments from faculty to student.
While the senior faculty member of each group is
designated as dean, and serves in that capacity in ad-
dition to his prime teaching assignment, administration
has the same informal efficiency as the faculty-student
attitude. The dean is spokesman for the faculty, makes
decisions for them, and serves as the Chicago faculty re-
presentative to the Frankfurt University Senate.
In speaking for the present faculty, Dean Gottschalk
emphasized that all members of the staff are continuing
their research and studies, even while they are teaching
abroad. In fact, Gottschalk is completing his latest work,
entitled "Understanding History," in Frankfurt. He hopes
to have the volume datelined "Frankfurt." Gottschalk also
pointed out that the faculty members give lectures at
other west German universities, US Information Centers,
German high schools, German-American clubs, other or-
ganizations and institutions. Many of their lectures have
been recorded and broadcast to the general public.
The exchange has not been a one-way trip. Five Fiank-
furt University professors have already gone to the United
States for lecture assignments at the University of Chi-
cago, and many more will be going in the semesters ahead.
BOTH FRANKFURT FACULTY and-Frankfurt students
consider the exchange program more than just a great
and valuable cultural link.
Prof. Karl Reinhardt, noted lecturer in Latin and Greek
at Frankfurt, recently returned from a tour of duty at
Chicago. Impressed with American academic standards,
he was amazed at the solidarity of American educators in
upholding academic freedom. He returned with the distinct
view that academic freedom is more than a phrase, a re-
ligion, a belief; to the American educator, it is a way of life.
The students who have taken courses under the Ameri-
cans, however, have received the greatest impact. The re-
putation thus far enjoyed by the American faculty has
been outstanding. Unanimous opinion was expressed by
those who have taken courses under the Chicago group
that the American is a better lecturer than his German
colleague. TherAmerican, according to the German students,
is not as stiff as the German lecturer, is more entertaining,
and does more to attract and keep the student's attention.
The Frankfurt U. students found that the German pro-
fessors are more abstract; the American adds practical
examples to his lectures and is more concerned with the
realities, trying at almost all times to translate difficult
terminology into everyday language.
Some of the students found the Americans to be better
academicians than noted German instructors. One can-
didate for a degree in philosophy and poetry stated, "The
Americans under whom I have studied have had a deeper
understanding of philosophy and poetry than the German
professors." This same student found a marked degree of
pragmatism in the philosophic thinking of the Americans.
MOST CRITICAL of the Americans were the law
students. While expressing complete appreciation of
the American style of lecturing and the "intuitive manner"
of the Americans, they said that the lectures of the Ameri-
cans did not render any great benefit to German law
students. Their specific dislikes of the American system
were based on speed. By using too many practical ex-
amples to clarify problems, the American law lecturer
slows up the course. The American approach to the law,
and the almost universal use of the casebook system, is
contrary to German legal systemics. The law students
were unable to reconcile differences in American and Ger-
man legal thinking. Most of them did agree that the Ameri-
can approach would be ideal for a course in law designed
for an economist studying at a German university.
The Midway on the Main did not come over as a re-
former, driven by the urge to change the German educa-
tional system. The University of Chicago wanted to help
close the cultural gap created by Nazism and war. Work-
ing quietly, efficiently, without fanfare or drum-beating,
the Midway has succeeded in establishing the fundamental
liaison needed for closing that gap. The continuing efforts
and successes of these men and women from Chicago will
eventually establish a solid cultural-educational link bet-
ween two great educational centers, and ultimately their
respective countries; a link that can only grow into mu-
tual respect and understanding.            +END

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