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Hobbs, M. K. (ed.) / The Wisconsin alumni magazine
Volume 27, Number 9 (July 1926)

Pioneers in education,   p. 280

Page 280

0 uly, r926
Pioneers in Education
A   history of the University of Wiscon-
     sin would necessarily recount the
work and results of many pioneers,-for
example, Bascom, in the foundation of
what has grown to be one of the foremost
graduate schools in America; Henry,
in the development of the College of
Agriculture; and Van Hise, in the Exten-
sion Service of the University. Nor is
such pioneer work finished. President
Glenn Frank and Alexander Meiklejohn,
Brittingham professor of philosophy at
Wisconsin since February, 1926, have
publicly commented on college educa-
tional method    and  subject matter,
offering at the same time constructive
plans for the betterment of both, the
former in an address before the Harvard
Graduate School and the latter iii studies
in The Century and The New Republic.
The purpose of this writing is to ac-
quaint the great alumni family of the
Uniy~ersity  of Wisconsin   with   the
thought of these educational pioneers..
    The Expanse of Knowledge
  The past fifty years have witnessed
such a growth of knowledge that col-
leges have not kept pace with the in-
crease. Educators have not, been able to
assimilate, interpret, and relate the
growing knowledge with that which has
gone before. A new mode of life is prev-
alent. We have new methods of manu-
facture, new codes of social conduct, new
forms of government, and new standards
of taste and living. The American col-
lege of today prepares the student for
a very different world than it did fifty
years ago. In such a situation college
methods and curriculum can not be al-
lowed to drift.
  One result of the vast increase in the
body of knowledge has been specializa-
tion. It has dictated courses of study
and even method. Perhaps it is the gen-
esis of the elective system. This special-
ization has been attended with unhappy
results. The scientist, for example, may
become so engrossed in a particular field
that he fails to conceive the creative
hypotheses which produce epochal scien-
tific advance. The man of affairs, an ex-
pert in his field of endeavor, may be
prevented by his very specialization
from keeping his problems and accom-
plishments in proper perspective with
the world and the sum total of knowl-
   The student goes to college facing a
 curriculum of many hundreds of sub-
 jects. To acquire any sort of a liberal
 education, he must elect in various
 fields; to follow the trend of the times
he must specialize. To aid him there is
the orientation of courses and the maj or.
But no place is he taught to classify and
synthesize. He must have more correla-
tion of modern knowledge and a more
adequate comprehension of modern life.
The educator must start something in
the student mind; not just put some-
thing there. -Educators have not synthe-
sized modern knowledge into a curricu-
lum; we can not aid the student by
emphasis on subject matter.       The
method must be development and dis-
cipline of the mind.
          The New College
  To meet the difficulties caused by the
expanse of knowledge, changes in
method and curriculum are necessary,
This brings us to the New College, or
junior college, fathered by Professor
Meiklejohn, because he saw an urgent
need of revision for the study and teach-
ina of a liberal education.
   In size the new college must be small,
 a unified community of two hundred
 fifty or three hundred students working
 toward a common understanding and
 bound together by a single purpose.
 Since a college education comes from the
,contact of a growing mind with one
which is worthy of imitation, the faculty
must consist of members capable of close
and personal association with the stu-
   The lecture method has no primary
 place in the new college. There is a
 danger in that method in that too much
 emphasis is placed on subject-matter
 and not on thinking; it is the teacher's
 work, not the student's. There must be
 developed intellectual initiative, inde-
 pendence, and judgment by reading,
 conference, and discussion.
   In each of the first two years of the
 new college it is proposed that there be
 taken as the object of study an entire
 civilization, a whole human undertaking,
 rather than a collection of subjects. In
 the freshman year, the study should
 preferably be of an ancient civilization,
 Athenian Greek, for example; in the
 sophomore year, a modern civilization,
 as that of England or America in the
 nineteenth century. These should be
 studied, not with an historical view-
 point, but with an analytic and appre-
 ciative mind. The members of the faculty
 need not be experts, but rather common
 workers; for comradeship of teacher and
 pupil is the most essential element in the
 process of education. Teacher and pupil
 working out together the philosophy, the
 literature, the art of Athens as a com-
 prehensive whole, facing as it were, the
situations and circumstances of Plato
and his contemporaries,-such isý the
  The sophomore's task, with a coher-
ent episode in a modern civilization, is
to be the same; and then he is to com-
pare the two epochs with each other and
with the present day. He will analyze
and reconstruct; he will interpret the
whole into comprehensive insight of
human understanding; he will have
learned the art of right thinking.
  In the third and fourth years the stu-
dents of the small college will examine
private courses of Study and, under
specialized guidance, acquire a scholarly
  The faculty of such a college must be
made responsible for the method and
the course of study. The success or wel-
fare of the undertaking will depend
largely on the 1eadership of the faculty,
and this responsibility must be accomp-
anied by requisite authority.
  The new college idea is the project
method of primary and secondary edu-
cation applied to a higher step in learn-
ing. Such a method has been tried with
valuable results on every level of educa-
tional work except the college.
Wisconsin's Experimental College
  The ideal location for the new college
is near the equipment and library of a
university. With its new dormitories,
Wisconsin could furnish a self-sufficient
community ideally situated. The plan
of an experiment to test new curricula
and teaching methods for the first two
years of the college course was submitted
to the faculty of Wisconsin as the pro-
posal of the All-University Study Com-
mission appointed recently by President
Glenn. Frank, and such an experimental
college will be started in September,
1927, as a part of the College of Letters
and Science. It will be one of the most
distinctive experiments undertaken by
any university in recent years.
  The college will open with a student
body of one hundred twenty-five fresh-
men. In the fall of 1928, another class of
one hundred and twenty-five freshmen
will I e admitted, and the first class of
one hundred and twenty-five will be
carried through the sophomore year, so
that the student body will number two
hundred and fifty during 1928-29. At
the outset, the college will admit only
men students who enroll voluntarily.
  The students will live together in the
new men's dormitories now being built
on the shore of Lake Mendota. Much of
their class work will be carried on under
the tutorial system. Instruction will be
          (Continued on page 290)

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