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Schoenfeld, Clay (ed.) / Wisconsin alumnus
Volume 49, Number 8 (May 1948)

Doudna, E. G.
How big should the University be?,   pp. 14-16


Page 15


HOW BIG SHOULD THE UNIVERS.ITY BE?
are elected by the board; teachers and
other employes are selected by the
Teachers have permanent tenure and,
after a probationary period of three
years, can be removed only for cause.
  The Superior State Teachers College
is authorized to grant liberal arts
degrees. Life certificates are given by
the State Superintendent of Public In-
struction only to those completing a
four-year teacher training course. All
of the colleges conduct summer ses-
sions at which teachers who are em-
ployed during the school year may add
to their qualifications.
  in each college there is an elementary
school, and at Whitewater a junior and
senior high school, for demonstration
and practice work. This is the 'distin-
guishing mark of a teachers college.
Here future teachers are directed by
skilled supervisors under conditions as
nearly as possible like those of the best
public schools. About 2,300 pupils are
enrolled in these demonstration schools.
   The demand for teachers trained in
the so-called special subjects is limited
and it is, therefore, obviously unneces-
sary to have special subject depart-
ments in each college. The Board of
Regents, therefore, d e s i g n a t e d the
teachers college at Milwaukee to train
teachers of art, music, the deaf, and
defective children; River Falls and
Platteville of agriculture; Platteville of
industrial arts; La Crosse of physical
education; and Whitewater of commer-
cial education. Stevens Point offers a
major in home dconomics, and Superior
a major in music. Farms are operated
in  connection  with the colleges at
Platteville and River Falls.
   This year the enrollment of the
teachers colleges is about 8,000, in-
c luding more than 3,0UO veterans of
whom 1,800 are enrolled in courses
leading to teaching. The colleges have
575 faculty members, including those
teaching in the training schools. Costs
are somewhat lower than they are in
most universities and many private
colleges.
   The demand for teachers in the ele-
mentary field is still far in excess of
the probable available supply. Second-
ary teachers are likely to find an over-
crowded field within t year or two.
Teaching is, however, moving toward
the statuq of a profession with fairly
adequate salaries. The institutions in
which teachers are receiving their edu-
cation clearly recognized that they have
problems which they must meet with
intelligence, integrity, courage, and
genuine devotion to a great cause.
   Henry Barnard, who for two years
was Chancellor of the University of Wis-
consin and General Agent of the Board
of Regents of Normal Schools, wrote
in 1850: "The normal school will be a
very uncomfortable place for any per-
son whose heart is not in the work
and who looks upon teaching, not as a
calling, a mission, but as a meaningless
routine, a daily task, imposed by neces-
sity or taken because nothing else of-
fered, and to be thrown aside as soon
as a more lucrative occupation shall
turn up in life."
  IN THE PAST, teachers colleges
have generally been regarded as
second best to universities in regard
to quality of instruction, opportun-
ity, faculty members, and the like,
but yet my experience as a student
at the La Crosse Teachers College
for two years, and now as a student
at the University of Wisconsin, has
led me to believe that this statement
can only be judged in terms of the
quality of the students themselves.
  The University, because of its
vastness, is necessarily a huge busi-
ness which performs its functions in
a decidedly cool. calculating way.
Personal contact between the stu-
dent and the teacher is seldom a
reality and t h e r e f o r e guidance,
which is often badly needed, is not
given properly. It is not hard to
imagine that many students feel that
they have been cast adrift in a hard
intellectual world and it is up to
them alone to sink or swim.
  This is where the quality of the
student is extremely important. A
superior student can make the most
of this freedom, and will develop and
mature from his experience, and go
right on learning at a fast pace. But
what happens to the mediocre or
slightly-below-average students? Of-
ten he is soon lost in the shuffle and
is either flunked out of school or
decides to give it up as a lost cause;
and this often happens without one
single faculty member bothering his
head about the reason for the stu-
tion.
  Take the mediocre student out of
the impersonal University and place
him in the smaller sister institute,
the teachers college, and he has an
opportunity to make the grade. In
the teachers college, his personal
contacts with the teachers are fre-
quent and 6ncouraging. His prob-
lems and inquiries are given atten-
tion and if his work is not up to
par, his teacher will undoubtedly
think it his duty to analyze the sit-
uation if he can, and help the stu-
dent. Often this little bit of advice or
encouragement can make or break
the spirit of the student. Teachers
in the small institutions have more
personal pride and satisfaction in
the achievements of their students.
This is rare at the University.
  In discussing the quality of in-
struction offered at the two institu-
tions, there is a great deal of room
for controversy. It is true that the
University has attracted great men
to its portals who are accepted
leaders in their fields, and that the
teachers colleges can rarely boast of
professors in the same calibre. It
has been said that it is more to the
advantage of the student to get
within 50 feet of a great man than
to be on intimate terms with 4n
average one.
  At this point it is opportune to
note that being a great man does
not necessarily mean that he is a
great teacher, and this is where
some of the trouble is encountered.
The student does not profit by hav-
ing a great man for a teacher if
this man cannot pass along his
ideas to the student. Many of the
top-notch intelljctuals on the cam-
pus, are involved in research or some
other specialization and do teaching
as a sideline, often with the impres-
sion that it is a necessary evil, or
even leave the teaching duties to an
assistant. What good does it do the
student to have this "brain" for a
teacher? He would probably profit
more by having a less intelligent
man guiding him who has mastered
the art of teaching.
  Another point about which I have
heard many baustic remarks is the
fact that many of the professors on
the campus use their own textbooks
in class. Many students feel that
once a professor has set down his
ideas and subject matter in writing,
he is married to it for life and wvill
entertain no other opinions on the
subject. This would necessarily make
for a rather prejudiced and one-
sided point of view, and opportunity
for learning through controversy is
lost.
  In addition, the subject matter at
the University is probably on a
teachers colleges, but yet isn't it
more to the advantage of the medio-
cre student to absorb all the aver-
age-thinking teacher has to offer him
than to grasp only tid-bits of what
he is handed out at the University
by the intellectuals?
  Due to the fact that many of the
classes at the University number
several hundred, one teacher cannot
carry through with the student in
all phases of class work. For ex-
ample, lecturer and quiz instructors
in the same course will probably not
be the same person. Here is great
opportunity for confusion in the
mind of the student because on all
too frequent occasions, the quiz in-
structor and the lecturer will differ
on a point and the student is caught
in the middle. How can he find the
right answer and which answer will
be acceptable on exams? The student
is often correct when he bitterly
crys, "You just can't win!"
   One thing that makes some classes
especially hard for undergraduates
is the fact that many of the classes
are filled with graduate students.
   In regard to social life as well,
again it is the superior personality
who finds University life challenging
and invigorating.
15
University and College
          By VIRGINIA PAPENFUSS, '49
In a


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