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McCormick, Bart E. (ed.) / The Wisconsin alumni magazine
Volume 28, Number 3 (Jan. 1927)

Frank, Glenn
An experiment in education,   pp. [87]-91


Page 91


THE WISCONSIN ALUMNI MAGAZINE
of general scholars. That is out of the
question. But can we not, even aside
from an elaborate'scheme of teaching by
  situations," provide ways and means
  for carrying on greater interstate com-
-merce-of the mind across the academic
frontiers that separate our departments.?
   In research we have been driven to
 cooperative  scholarship.   The   dis-
 covery of knowledge would proceed at a
 far slower pace if laboratories were run
 on a policy of splendid isolation. May it
 not be that the time has come when the
 advancement of education requires a
 venture in cooperative teaching? :Might
 not the relatedness of knowledge be
MAlUt Appl~a, lt;lL  Uy  ULLE; b%.,IITIII 'IL 0  "lLW--
irig up in the historian's class-room at
the right time, bringing the special
richness of his understanding to bear
upon an epoch that took its cue. from
some forward thrust of science? Etc.,
etc.
                 XIV
  It may be that we shall find it impos-
sible as a practical teaching problem,
ever to overcome- the dangerous sepa-
rateness of the fields of modern knowl-
edge and to give students a sense of
synthesis through a reorganized cur-
riculum. Inevitable specialization may
have outstripped -the possibility of any
such synthesis in terms of a curriculum.
If that prove our conclusion, may it be
that we -shall be driven to depend upon
a few departments -in our colleges to
help. students -maintain -a sense of the
relatedness of things? May it be that we
shall have to ask, say, the departments
of Dhilosovhv. literature and history to
accept spe-cial responsibility for helping
students to see knowledge steadily and
to, see it whole? If so, what readjust-
ments would that mean in the subject-
matter and technique of these depart-
ments? Might it not mean that these
departments would become the points
at which the specialist would meet in
something approaching a venture in
cooperativre teaching?
                 Xv
  The teacher may say, "If we should
approach teaching- by undertaking to
understand a civilization instead of by
each of us teaching a subject, a teacher
might not be able to get. all his subject
in. We might come to the end of the
year with great gaps in the subject-mat-
ter of our respective fields." That would
be quite possible. But might that not
be a rather, realistic way of valuating
the run of our subject-matter? If over a
series of years and after the study of a
series of comprehensive aind represen-
tative human situations, we found that
certain sections of our subject-matter
seemed not to be needed, might we not
be justified in suspecting its educational
justification? We are forever adding
material, but we rarely subtract. The
curriculum has always been weak in its
eliminative processes.  And signs of
auto-intoxication are beginning to show
in our universities.
                 XVI
  There is, I think, a special reason why
we should consider the problem of the
freshman and sophomore years promptly.
For, as I see it, unless with decent
promptness we .bring a fresh- coherence
and fruitful comprehensiveness into the
curriculum of the freshmaih -and sopho-
more years of our colleges of liberal arts
the junior college movement may pro-
ceed as a merely mechanical split-off,
a merely administrative secession, with
no meaning beyond a decentralization
of the chaos and confusion of our present
educational inefficiency.
                XVII
  1 suppose I need not reiterate what I
suggested in the beginning, namely,
that I have presented this memorandum
to-day not as the'oudine of anything
approaching   an   educational policy.
I hope I have succeeded, in conveying
my own mood of uncertainty, ofdoubt,
of questioning, and yet of genuine con-
cern. I have sought only to suggest by
way of specific illustration the fact that
I hope this commission will concern it-
self with the really fundamental prob-
lems of the future evolution of the higher
educational process.
  I cannot but believe, however, that
sive study and for constructive read-
justments of the content and technique,.
of college education.    For the last
twenty-five  years  particularly -there
has been a growing disillusionment with
the results of college education. These
years have been marked also by sus-
tained thinking about ways and means
for improving the educational process.
A lot of creative pioneering work has
been done in these years. But singularly
little of the thinking that has been done
has been put to the test in any of our
colleges. I suspect that if we could bring
together in one place all the thought
that has been put on the problem of
college education we should find that all
the necessary raw material for a vast
and fruitful educational renewal are at
hand ready to be correlated in a re-
sponsible even if revolutionary program.
where, before long, all these years of
disillusionment and constructive think-
ing will come to a flowering. And when
some one institution has deliberately
brought its own evolution under con-,
scious control, when some one institution
has dared to go beyond tinkering with
the minutiae of curriculum building and
to face freshly the fundamental problem
of education in the light of the wholly
new   intellectual stage setting of our
time, all the clocks will strike twelve,
the other institutions will hitch along,
and we shall be in a definitely new edu-
cational era. I realize that this asser-
tion is a little high-flown. But, speaking
coldly, there is something that suggests
an apocalyptic element in the history
of institutions--church, university, or
state. Institutions run along for years
with growing disillusionments and con-
structive thinking. Then rather sud-
denly all these disillusionments 'seem to
"4lnw~r 2t enmiP nnP nlnrp T renact fnr ,the,
University of Wisconsin the honor of
being the institution in which the last
twenty-five years of educational disil-
lusionment and educational inventive-
ness shall come to fruition.
On the way to the Dormitories.
91
,7anuary, r927
1L      L


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