University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The University of Wisconsin Collection

Page View

Thoma, Harry C. (ed.) / Wisconsin alumnus
Volume 38, Number I (Oct. 1936)

Hibbard, Addison
Is college a machine?,   pp. 8-9


Page 9


October, 1936                                                           
                                      9
room  are available at times when the student most       reading, correlation,
and conference-work in a par-
needs help, when he is preparing his assignments;        ticular subject.
To those people who send their chil-
counsellors stand ready to help the student in mat-      dren to college
to "be educated" by the professors this
ters of social adjustment and to make available voca-    may seem heresy.
It is done, however, for definite
tional information. Rarely are students compelled to     reasons: it gives
reign to the student's independence;
seek out these officers; rather they are made to know    it is sound pedagogically;
and it develops self reliance
that this help is available and that they may make       and initiative.
such use of it as they wish.  And the student who          5.   Fields of
concentration.  To insure that the
does take advantage of this assistance is constantly     student covers some
one phase of learning in which
making new estimates of himself, constantly making       he is thoroughly
interested, colleges offer large units
adjustments in his interests and his habits which be-    of related work
encouraging the student to elect some
come a very vital part of his educational experience.    one of these for
which his enthusiasm and capacities
The purpose toward which these various advisers          fit him. In the
event the student develops special in-
work is not to check the student but to help him dis-    terests not covered
by these announced fields, many
cover to himself his own weaknesses and his own          colleges will devise
individual programs designed to
powers.                                                  cover his especial
range of interests.
   THE curriculum which the student follows while           6.  Correlation
courses.  With   the advance of
 in college is neither so rigid as it was a hundred years   study, it is
recognizedathatsmentsf specialized fields of
 ago nor so free as it was forty years past.  In many     few broad courses
to introduce them to such general
 institutions the proportion is roughly divided perhaps     realms as Science,
Society, Contemporary Civiliza-
 into thirds; a third consisting of required work usual-    tion, or Modern
Thought.     These broad courses are
 ly in language and literature, in science, in the social   fairly commonly
offered in American colleges today
 sciences; a third in completely free electives, and a    that students may
both discover for themselves a
 third in some one "field of concentration" or "major"
   philosophy of life and determine their individual en-
 to insure that a graduate will at least be familiar with  thusiasms and
abilities.
 the broad aspects of one realm of learning. The pur-       7.   Honors Courses
and Honors Degrees.        In
 pose here is to secure the breadth of experience pro-    order to foster
initiative and high intellectual effort
 vided by the rigid curricula of the past, the freedom    on the part of
able students who might be diverted
 to range over particular and individual interests, and     by some of the
extrinsic activities of college life, col-
 to secure a         student's delving  rather deeply into a  leges have
generally instituted "honors" work of one
 chosen     field where his interests and his capacities    kind or another.
  Under this plan able students are
 imply  his ultimate success.  "Diversification  with     allowed various
privileges as to the nature of the
 concentration" are the watchwords here,                   okdn    
  n   r   ie    niiulatninb              n
   To this end of securing attention to the individual     structors particularlyg
intderiestd  iual attention by in-
capacities of the student various devices are used rather  sonal development.
frequently in the more modern colleges.     I suggest
some of the more usual:                                    THESE various
plans, with many others which
   1.  Proficiency  examinations.  By   this  means      might be mentioned,
all point in one way or another
students who have advanced skill in special subjects     to but one objective-an
effort on the part of the
are encouraged to take examinations. If the examina-     College to treat
students as individuals by providing
tion establishes a sufficient command of the subject,    for their individual
capacities and their individual in-
the student is excused from taking the course which      itiative and character.
formerly  he was ushered into    thoughtlessly  and        This paper is
not written to announce the millen-
which too frequently killed all incentive for learning     nium of American
higher education. It points simply
in that it set a standard of lazy and easy-going indif-  to one kind of accomplishment.
(And may I say par-
feren ce.                                                enthetically that
I believe no group of professional or
   2.  Comprehensive examinations.    Students after     tradespeople today
is so selfcritical as are college
working in a field for a period of years are required to  teachers.  I should
like to see the time come when
show something more than a memorized command             physicians,  lawyers,
preachers,  undertakers,  and
of the subject; they must evince power of coordina-      grocery-store-proprietors
employ one-tenth the self-
tion and synthesis and an ability to think with orig-    analysis of methods
and objectives that is now used
inality.                                                 by our college faculties
toward their own work.)
   3.  Independent   study.   The   more                           But this
paper is written to call attention
able students who have shown initiative                            most positively
to the fact that college
and ability are encouraged to follow up                             education
in America has gone far to-
a subject outside the classroom through                  -           ward
meeting the charge, made in the
original work in the library or labor-                                 past,
of "mass education."
atory.  And for this work credit-                                       
  Colleges today are not machines.
ably performed   they  are granted                                      
if a mechanical simile must be re-
"credit" toward a degree.                                     
            tained let's call them rather a sieve
  4.  Reading periods.   In the                                         
  through which by the co-opera-
junior and   senior years stu-                                          
    tive efforts of the instructor and
dents are frequently dismissed,                                         
      the student, the strong   and
for a two or three weeks'                                               
       able student, the student with
period, from  formal class-                                             
       initiative, is separated from
room   responsibility  that                                             
       those who simply go to col-
they  may   have time for                                               
            (Please turn to page 39)


Go up to Top of Page