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April 12, 1970 - Image 4

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1970-04-12

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a
special
feature

the

Sunday

daily

bv

4

sIIuart rannes
and cear a rapoport

Number 27

Night Editor: Jim Beattie

April 12, 1970

ApIl 2I17

7

he Free
...and I

University ...

the

world

for

a

syllabus

THREE MEN, palms up, lay perfectly still in the
darkened room. Slowly, their legs rose high over
their heads. Moment after excrutiating moment
their silhouettes remained unmoved. Finally, a f t e r
what seemed an interminable length of time, one
perfectly controlled pair of legs arched back to
the floor. Soon others followed suit in the same
graceful manner.
The Free University Yoga class meets every
afternoon and twice on weeknights.
The banner of a "free university," long an il-
lusive goal for students seeking alternatives to formal
University classes, has been' raised once again with
moderate success on campus this semester. This
year's version includes more than 70 courses, offer-
ing'students the opportunity to gain "learning ex-
periences" in areas as tvaried as Tantric Yoga and
Macrobiotics to the study of science fiction and
the occult.

Snapshot !
"Sharing-in a given locus of time and space
we will come together to do a ballet of minds,
bodies, and souls. Utilizing yoga, massage, and
Gestalt therapy, we will cleanse ourselves of
bad karma and will begin our move on a higher
plane. We will share our minds, our bodies, our
joys, our sorrows. We will let our everyday trap-
pings and hang-ups fall from our shoulders.
Giving up false' prettense and accepting each
other for what we are, we will let ourselves
flow toward our essential center. This will be
a place of mutual caring because we will all
arrive with that longing in our soul, no matter
how deeply buried by the karma of everyday
life. This simple notice is all that is needed.
For those' who have been in this place before
it will be an opportunity to get back to where
they belong and shake all the bad vibes karma
from their hair. For others it will be an ini-
tiation. We will accept all staggering blunder-
ing, crying, choking, lust, frayed nerves, with-
drawness, and skepticism."
-Fre 'U' course catalog.
t e g

d

offer the opportunity for the happiness and per-
sonal satisfaction (which is inherent in a true learn-
ing experience) as sufficient rewards for a person
to want. to share in the experience of learning about
something important to himself.
Instead of viewing teaching as another task -
with different "techniques" to insure a student's
attention - the Free 'U' hopes to offer the op-
portunity of a creative teaching experience, in which
the teacher derives as much benefit and pleasure
from a course as his students do. Ideally, teachers
will become resources, offering their knowledge tc
interested people instead of establishing themselves
as authorities whom students must seek out. Ideally,
learning through cooperation will replace training
through competition and people will be seen as
human beings rather than inanimate things.
THIS PHILOSOPHY is not new. The concept of a
free university dates back to 1966 on this cam-
pus. Growing out of the Free. Speech Movement
at Berkeley in 1964-65 when faculty members were
invited to lecture on civil liberties and disobedience,
a string of free universities appeared on a number
of college campuses across the nation.
Four years ago, the first Free University in Ann
Arbor attracted more than 3,00 students to sample
an assortment of courses which included seminars on
historical theory, jazz, education, film, poetry, poli-
tical- economy and just being an American.
The organizers of the first Free University en-
visioned a utopian alternative to a research oriented
University community which they despised.
They outlined their philosophy in a stirring,
idealistic statement attached to the course catalog
which said in part: "A FREE UNIVERSITY is not
easily definable, nor is it subject to or concerned
with self-definition. Instead it is the sum of a
number of concrete individual efforts to overcome
the boundaries, to transcend the limits and to
destroy the irrelevances of the "knowledge factory"
University that we all live in now: It emerges from
a collective desire to humanize the relationship be-
tween teacher and student, to open up new subject
matter, and to develop ways in which the learning
situation can concentrate on the human importance
of ideas.
Snapshot:
In the cafeteria of Alice Lloyd Hall, two
freshmen talked excitedly about their figure
drawing class. They both agreed that the course
was highly successful, with the nude models
and a helpful teacher contributing a great deal
to that success.
"I can do work when I want with no pressure
at 4.l, and I don't have to worry about finish-
ing projects," says Eric Brilliant.
If the two had wanted to take a figure draw-
ing course within the University, they would
have had to be enrolled in the school of Archi-
tecture and Design-and have already had
two semesters of drawing.
"I really wish I could just live here and take
Free 'U' courses. It's so nice to have the press-
ure of a grade removed," says Craig Hardman,
reaching the end of his bowl of vegetable soup.

1
5
1
3
5
r
S
5
a
r
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L

"In its first semester it offers the courses of
study described in this booklet. Some will perhaps
prove dead ends, and those will be discontinued by
common consent. We assume that nearly all will be
changed by those who take part in them. Other
courses and new educational situations will be creat-
ed as people see their possibilities and decide to make
them exists."
Snapshot:
Holding his squirming two-year-old child in
his lap, David Kozubei talked about his Free
'U' class with a sense of satisfaction. Born and
educated in England, he says he has always
wanted to be a teacher.
Kozubei, an Ann Arbor resident, calls his
class: "Reading." "I knew this way I would get
people who were curious, which is certainly a
good quality for learning."
Each week, the class would interpret some
selection. Once they discussed comic strips, an-
other time President Nixon's state of the Union
message.
"Usually I would put the ball into play, see
what happened, and maybe give it a kick every
once in a while," he says. In regards to his role
as teacher: "I considered myself a "knower" of
certain information which I made available
to the class."
Meanwhile, the baby had slipped off Kozu-
bei's lap and was riding a tricycle around a
nearly empty room-save for several stacks
of books.

tion to the University. It offers things the Univer-
sity has neglected."
Another differentiation in Free 'U' courses oc-
curs in the way a class is organized. Some classes
follow the "learning through doing" theory whereby
students actually practice what they learn on them-
selves and each other. Yoga and message classes are
examples. Others are taught in a more traditional
sense. These courses include the course of Chicano
culture. For as Padilla says, "I mostly lecture be-
cause people don't know anything about Chicano
culture." Usually, lectures are given when the mem-
bers of a class decide they are necessary.
TYPICALLY, HOWEVER, a person who had a
specialized interest and was willing to share
that interest with others, became the center of one
of the more than 70 classes which eventually
were formed. For instance, the coordinator of the
yoga class is a graduate student who says : "I wanted
to have moral support for the yoga I like to do.
I never had the money to join yoga clubs and I
imagined others in Ann Arbor with an interest in
yoga were in the same position."

Occasionally, however, the freeness of the Free
'U' may be rather overpowering. As one freshman
says "I just didn't think complete nudity was neces-
sary for massage, so I dropped the course."
"However," he continued, "I found the candle-
making class simply fascinating." He explains that
the instructor taught the mechanics of the art
during the first session and all the rest were devoted
to sharing of everyone's experience and experiments
with candlemaking. "When I started," he adds, "I
knew nothing about fashioning candles and now
I've already sold $40 worth of the candles I've made.
WHERE WILL the Free 'P go from here? Can any
free university establish itself on a permanent
basis? Right now, these. questions remain unan-
swered. One fact seems clear. The current organizers
of the Free 'U' are bent on expanding it beyond the
University campus: "The Free 'U' is not just for stu-
dents, we ,want to reach everybody in the com-
munity," says Dave Conely, one of the Free 'U's
founders. During an open crafts fair next week, the
organizers of the Free 'U' hope more non-students

BUT THE Free University is more than a col-
lection of interesting courses, rather it is based
on concepts and philosophies which reject the tradi-
tional University structure as either meaningless
or a waste of time, and search for alternative sub-
ject matter and class structures to make education a
more enjoyable experience.
This year's Free 'U' catalog puts it this way:
"The Free University is an attempt to give people
a chance to learn for the sake of learning, not for
filling some type of artificial requirement. It is
open to the whole community.
"We put no requirement on what or how some-
thing is taught. Our teachers are to be more re-
source persons than what is usually meant as
teachers. Hopefully, they will be learning and ex-
periencing as much as the other members of the
class, and not just sterilely dispensing facts.
"Anyone who wishes to start a class may. If
you don't have a special talent or area of knowledge,
you are welcome to start a class in anything you
would like. These classes can take any form you
want ...
Insteaa of relying on degrees and the threat of
grades as the necessary motivation to force students
to "learn" required subjects, the Free 'U' hopes to

"It will be defined by those who find value in
these ambitions and take part as teachers and stu-
dents in their pursuit.

Free universities, however, have been subject to
the ups and downs of student enthusiasm as long
as they have existed. Since 1966, the free university
experiment has been attempted several times with
varying successes. After a pumber of abortive at-
tempts the Ann Arbor Free School was established in
the summer of 1968. The Free School offered classes
on utopian communities, guerrilla theatre, and tac-
tics for social change. Then, last fall, a number of
students established the Wayne State Free Univer-
sity in an attempt "to create a place for social inter-
action and personal intellectual development with-
out the restrictions of an authoritarian, reward-pun-
ishment education." However, free universities have
traditionally been experiments on campus, n e v e r
lasting more than a few months.
rIHIS YEAR'S Free 'U' is another such experiment,
whose hopes for success must ultimately rest on
the enthusiasm of its participants.
The current Free 'U' was conceived last Novem-
ber when the idea gathered support after leaflets and
circulars were distributed on campus. Soon after,
the University Activities Calendar offered to assist
the small group of students, teachers and commun-
ity people by giving them office space and financial
aid.
By January, there was sufficient response from
prospective teachers for a catalog to be published
outlining proposed course offerings and establish-
ing a registration procedure. Eventually, over 8 5 0
people registered by paying a $5 fee. Registration
and administrative procedures were handled by a
steering committee made up of "anyone who shows
up."
Courses at the Free 'U' fell into essentially two
categories. First, there were courses on subjects of-
fered in the formal University curriculum, but were
unsatisfactory in the eyes of students who opted
for a Free 'U' alternative on the same subject.
Examples range from language to philosophy, psy-
chology and history courses which offered traditional
subject matter in a more "meaningful" fasion.
Secondly, a large number of courses dealt with
material not normally conceived as part of a Uni-
versity curriculum. Examples included classes in
aphrodisiacs, the blues harp, cigarette rolling, the
poetry of food, occult thought and a host of others.
Snapshot:
Keith Glass Poole, works at the Ann Arbor
News Bldg. and teaches 5 to 100 people how to
play the "blues harp."
"When I teach," he, says, I want my students
to get feeling behind their playing; I want
them to express their own feelings with the
harmonica."
As he talks about his music and his class,
18-year-old Keith exudes a warmth and a
pride that can only come from the satisfaction
of knowing he is communicating with people
in his own way. "I wanted to get to know peo-
ple and I knew a lot of people were interested.
So why not help other people or something?"'
To sum things up, he ,says, "it gives you

A FREE UNIVERSITY is not easily definable, nor is it subject to or
concerned with self-definition. Instead it is the sum of a number of
concrete individual efforts to overcome the boundaries, to transcend
the limits and to destroy the irrelevancies of the "knowledge factory
University that we all live in now. It emerges from a collective desire
to humanize the relationship between teacher and student, to open up
new subject matters, and to develope ways in which the learning situ-
ation can concentrate on the human importance Of ideas.
-1966 Free University statement

The yoga class started with 120 members, but
quickly dwindled down to six regular participants.
Still, it is obvious that the Free 'U' was an ideal
vehicle for linking up seven yoga enthusiasts who
otherwise would probably have never met.
Most classes within the Free 'U' follow a similar
pattern, experiencing a 50 per' cent- drop-out rate,
as students in the "University grind" consider their
Free 'U' classes the most expendable-even when
they are the most enjoyable.
However, most teachers, leaders and coordinators
are not discouraged by the drop-out rate. They re-
affirm that the people come because they want to,
everyone participating with an honest commitment
to learning. "We don't have the deadwood and un-
interested students that so many University classes
are clogged with," says one teacher.
And, while many of the courses consists of only
three to five regular members, leaders are still
enthusiastic. As one student points out: in most
regular University classes, only about three members
actively participate in discussions anyway.
ANOTHER IMPORTANT advantage of the Free
'U' structure, according to one instructor, is the
human level which the success or failure of a class
depends upon. Instead of a time schedule and credit
distinctions regulating the amount of time and
energy a student puts into his work, "students
of the Free 'U' depend on each other rather than
with the faults of administrators. Whether they
succeed or fail in a class is totally and completely
up to themselves."
Moreover, from the point of view of, the par-
ticipants in most classes, Free 'U' courses are mean-
ingful in a "human" way irregardless of the subject

will become interested. "We really hope other people
outside of Ann Arbor will gravitate to the Free 'U',"
says Conely.

*

Snapshot:
"I'd like to teach a course concerning the
teachings of C. J. Jung, the famous Swiss
Psychologist. It will be called something like
C. J. Jung and the Humanist Breadoff from
Freudian Psychology; or maybe C. J. Jung and
the birth of God-Self Concept in Psychology."
So wrote Jim Wulach in the Free 'U' catalog
published last January.
Wulach, a law student, said last week at
the completion of his course: "I wanted to
teach the course as a missionary of Jung. But
I felt my main job was to communicate my
enthusiasm."
Leaning against a tree in the Law Quad
courtyard, Wulach expounded on his fledgling
educational techniques. He explained that his
class was made up of 5 or 6 hard-core mem-
bers, was less structured than a University
class, and allowed for a close interpersonal re-
lationship between all the members and him-
self.
"We related Jung's teachings to our own
lives, our dreams, and our experiences, he re-
called. "This personal tact made the class most
exciting."

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