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December 07, 1958 - Image 4

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Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1958-12-07

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i i ngt Biy
Sixt y-Ninth Year
EDITED AND MANAGED BY STUPENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF MIICHIGAN
UNDER AUTHORITY OF BOARD IN CONTROL OF STUDENT PUBLICATIONS
STUDENT PUBLICATIONS BLDG. 0 ANN ARBOR, MICA. * Phone NO 2-3241

A Look

at

Liberal

Educa tion

Mrlnons Are Free
Will Prev&U"

.ditorials printed in The Michigan Daily express the individual opinions of staff writers
or the editors. This must be noted in all reprints.
AY, DECEMBER 7, 1958 NIGHT EDITOR: PHILLIP MUNCK

The Real Source of Failure

Unattainable Ideals
LIBERAL EDUCATION fails considerably
in practice, almost everyone agrees, when
academic practices of a university don't
ow a student body to realize their potential.
But one real reason a liberal education fails
because the goal it sets is inordinately high.
t goal for liberal education is to create a
n who can handle the problems that face
e world today. This is not a man who must
ao one thing and know it well, but who,
nkly and idealistically, must have a sense of
ure great enough to handle these problems.
nnection with the past and knowledge for the
tre. Obviously, the efforts achieved by the
.versity or any other university must seem
cessarily puny by comparison with this goal.
'HE DISPARITY is based on a confusion
between a liberal and a university educa-
[t should be realized that graduation from
e University does not entitle a now ex-Uni-
rsity student to say that he has received a
eral education, but only that he has re-
ved a university education, and four years
a liberal education. An ideal liberal educa-
n would last a lifetime, and it is no wonder
at the institutionalized "liberal education"
ellable at akuniversityhas fallen short of
at people take to be its goal.
I'he fact that a university is not a magic
,nd is a basic pre supposition that students
barkngdon a University education should
d~sand.
Perhaps the University is at fault in not
wphasizing heavily enough that four years
esi not make a liberal education. Perhaps
idents have tended to be too cocky, and
-ribute more to their four years of Uni-
rsity education than the knowledge they
e gained warrants.
[If this is true, it is the function of the
aversity, as it has always been, to teach
em what is right and attainable.
ECONDLY, the idea of a liberal education is
a ¢ual idea, involving both students and
iversities proper. Unfortunately however,
,st of the criticism of liberal education has
en directed toward the "university proper
r failing to put into effect this or that sug-
stion for bettering a liberal education, and
Iticism has largely escaped the students.
But a university, In the four years that it has
direct link with the mind of the student,
ipot, and to our mind has not, claimed to be
ile to do more than provide the student with
rea than a basic taste of what he should
ow and a sense for what he should know
id doel not. If students realized that a college
ucation is nowhere near an ideal, a liberal
tl edzation, they would also realize that
t oWhatocan be done to benefit their edu-
tion can be done by themselves, and that
re is no cure-all available from the uni-
rnities,
E from this point of view, if liberal arts
cis to be considered a failure it must be
snsidered so either because the standards of
eral trts are too high for a four year educa-
>n to approach or because students have not
erted the effort required to live up to the
[ucatianal opportunities provided them. A
eral education is not a failure, or anything
>proaching one, because of the lack of action
r unIversity facultis and administration. The
allure" of liberal education, can only be
Wled a failure because of lack of student sup-
art or because of the high quality of student
eas-
But this is the sense in which liberal educa-
on should not be called a failure. Rather,
* should say, if necessary, that the failure
liberal education lies really within ourselves
id is not an inherent fault of a liberal educa-

Dilution of Theory
LIBERAL EDUCATION has gotten too big for
its britches.
Originally the ideal of educating everyone to
the point of at least an exposure to all of the
basic sciences, especially social, was a great
thing. People became more broadminded, able
to cope with problems, better fitted to step into
management and administrative positions and
in general a well rounded individual was pro-
duced.
But liberal education tends to dilute itself to
the point where it lacks potency. All sorts of
things gradually have become included in the
"essenials" of the well-rounded person until
mediocrity has become the standard.
As David Riesman put it in his "The Lonely
Crowd" American liberal education is aimed at
tuning the child in to the wishes and expecta-
tions of his peer group. How little Sigmund co-
operates with his group is important . . . too
important.
If little Sigmund and his group begin work
on a project the teacher watches anxiously,
almost hysterically, to see how the group gets
along-note, not how much is accomplished
but rather how the group interacts.
THE ORIGINAL IDEA was fine, people
SHOULD get along and they SHOULD co-
operate, not only because better results are
often obtained but because living is just that
much more pleasant. The bug in the liniment,
so to speak, is that this dilution of the original
theme, results are unimportant.
This is abominable because progress is slowed
down from the maximum, If more people were
being fitted to work, not only with others in
a pleasant, harmonious way, but in a COM-
PETENT way, the progress rate, of which
modern man is sometimes so proud, would be
fantastically greater still.
The Western world is at a point in history
when failure to match or exceed the progress,
the technology, and the skills of the communist
world, will be fatal. This challenge will not be
met by little Sigmund because although he
knows what is expected of him by his peers,
and he can slosh about with his contemporaries
through somewhat messy situations, he can-
not add a column of figures more than seven
items tall let alone find the square root of 137.
And we need to know the square root of 137
if we 'are to survive. Our salvation does not rest
with the lukewarm intellectuals who graduate
from college with six hours of political science,
five of psycho analysis, three of economics, six
of sociology, and probably none in math,
physics, chemistry and the like.
COMPETENT mediocritites surge from the
l diploma line and wash over the gray flannel
beaches aimed at reaching the high point of
socialhsmoothness. We are now at high tide
in this wave and the influx has so diluted the
beach that it has become a quagmire.
The utopia would be to expose the engineers,
scientists, technicians and administrators to
the social skills, to the political implications of
their work and thereby insure responsible
workers. We, in a democracy, need workers with
a knowledge of the implications of their toils
and not workers with the implications of their
work fogged with the lots-of-nothing received
in the classroom.
The adage "Know a little about everything
and a lot about something" fits the problem
perfectly. We now know a little about a lot of
things and that's the end of it.
We are preparing good citizens who are well
adjusted to our civilization. Without more than
a little shaping up of our education system,
however, there will be no Western civilization
to be adjusted to or to have good citizens for.
This over-bold liberal education needs a good
solid kick in those too-tight britches to bring
it back to the point where it is the servant and
not the master.
-RALPH LANGER

"

q

-Daily-David Arnold

Academic Reality

Hinder s
By LANE VANDERSLICE
Daily Staff Writer
IT WAS A cold snowy Saturday
morning. The freshman com-
position class was scheduled to
start at eleven, so the group could
be let out early. The class had re-
quested early dismissal, in order to
get back to the dorms in time to
eat.
But at eleven, only half the class
was there. Of those who weren't
there on time, some weren't com-
ing, and others were due to strag-
gle in for the next fifteen minutes.
The students were bunched to-
gether in the back of the narrow
room. They were set apart from
the instructor by a couple of rows
of empty seats.
* *s
"I DON'T UNDERSTAND what
you want us to do for our source

Ideals
paper," one girl asked. As he had
explained what he wanted the
source paper to be before, the in-
structor asked if anybody did
understand what he wanted.
"I do," one girl said. She couldn't
explain it to anyone else however,
she said. As the rest of the class
could not explain it either, or at
least didn't volunteer, the instruc-
tor started an explanation which
was to last for a half-hour.
"I don't want you to take a
position and argue it as if it were
absolute," he said. What he want-
ed, he told the class, was a paper
that conceeded that there were
some virtues in the point of view
that was opposite from the one
they were taking.
The general topic for the papers
was to be general aspects of Amer-
See IDEAL'S VIGOR, page 5

TRAINING:
Professors
Call Idea
Outmoded
By JAMES SEDER
Daily Staff Writer
MENTAL TRAINING in one
discipline (such as mathe-
matics, philosophy or language)
will note necessarily help one
think clearly in another area, ac-
cording to several literary college
professors and administrators.
The people contacted were Prof s.
Robert Angell, director of the
Honors Council, Gerald Else,
chairman of the classical studies
department, Donald Eschman,
chairman of the Faculty Coun-
cilors for Freshmen and Sopho-
mores, Paul Henley, of the philos-
ophy department, Albert Marck-
wardt of the English department,
and James Robertson, assistant
dean of the college.
* * s
THE THEORY that certain sub-
jects were "good training for the
mind" was popular in the last cen-
tury, but during the first part of
the twentieth-particularly in the
1920's - a group of educational
theorists, called "modernists,"
heavily criticized this theory. They
erried out extensive psychological
experiments which seemed to show
that there was very little actual
"transfer of training" from one
discipline to another.
Since then very little has been
done in this area. Nevertheless the
University educators said tnat the
See PROFESSORS, page 5

Size of University
Hinders Learning

By THOMAS HAYDEN
Daily Staff Writer
A VISITING European scholar,
when chatting with the chair-
man of one of the literary col-
lege's departments, asked how
many people were under the
chairman's charge.
"About 130," came the reply.
"That's a rather nicely-propor-
tioned group," the European re-
flected. "But don't you think you'll
soon be needing an assistant?"
The chairman nodded, amused.
He didn't bother to tell the visi-
tor that 130 referred not to stu-
dents, but to teachers in the de-
partment. Nor did he inform the
European that, actually, 7,500 stu-
dents were taking various depart-
mental courses.
THE ILLUSTRATION lays open

one of the most serious of ques-
tions: how favorable is the Uni-
versity climate for learning? Has
the University, with a record en-
rollment of more than 23,000,
reached a point of diminishing in-
tellectual returns?
Perhaps so. There is some valid-
ity to charges that the free ex-
change of ideas is being impeded
by numbers alone. Enrollments
have risen to 23,000, specialization
has arrived in the form of 16 dif-
ferent schools and colleges, new
buildings are spreading to North
Campus.
THE UNIVERSITY, in defense
of its size, points to a rather
neaningless student - to - teacher
ratio of 13 to one. Regardless of
'he statistics, far too many dis-
See "U's, page 5

ACTIVITIES CONTRIBUTION:
SGC Provides Example
By THOMAS TURNER
Daily Staff Writer
PARTICIPANTS in yesterday's Student-Faculty-Administration Con-
ference disagreed strongly on the place.of extra-curricular activity
in one's University career.
Activities allow one to make friends and learn to get along with
people, one party maintained, and to apply facts learned in the class-
room to "real-life situations." They are necessary to those not wishing
the academic approach to be the sole one in preparation for business or
law careers, another said.,
Academics must always come first, others said; extracurricular
activities range from those which stimulate one intellectually to those

AT HILL AUDITORIUM:
An Enjoyable 'Messiah'
THOSE WHO ATTENDED last night's performance of Handel's
Messiah became separated into four distinct groups within the first
ten minutes of the performance; those who were accustomed to a
"massive" Messiah and enjoyed it despite a few minor criticisms; thosB
who "didn't know very much about music but who liked it anyway;
those Baroque enthusiasts who were outraged at the size of the chorus,
the number of cuts, the use of the organ rather than a continuo with
cello and bass 'reinforcement, etc.; and those few who would have
preferred a Baroque version but who, nevertheless, enjoyed the Messiah
as it was presented, As a rule we are much too hypercritical of student

performances, tending to harp on

-LANE VANDERSLICE

T OFFEE . BLACK

By Richard Taub

A Bit of Truth

which are merely recreational but
all must occupy a subordinate po-
sition.
Rarely directly referred to in
the SFAC discussion was the cam-
pus's most prominent extracurric-
ular activity (barring possibly
intercollegiate athletics and The
Daily): Student Government
Council.
- S S *
SGC'S CONTRIBUTIONS to the
education of its members, it is
obvious, is for the most part the
same provided by the Union,
Leafgue, Inter-House Council or
other campus groups: one learns
organization and togetherness as
already stated. SGC members bring
to the Council varying degrees of
mental flexibility, andi while they
tend to learn from their jobs, it is
by no means clear that this is so
because of anything about the
Council.
The typical Council member
carries out his duties as expected,
working in a committee and going
to meetings where reports of other
committees are heard and acted*
on, where campus events are cal-
endared and approved, and so on.
So the question arises which was
asked in the SFAC yesterday: why
should the extracurricular activity
take up time which should be
given to academics?
THERE IS ONLY one basis on
which SGC (or any other campus
activity) can be Justified to these
critics: its contribution to the
University's academic climate must
be great enough to make the time

By ROBERT JUNKER
Daily Staff Writer
LIBERAL education as a concept
is thought of primarily as the
sole property of liberal arts col-
leges. Technical units of a univer-
sity, however, have their position
in the total sphere of liberal edu-
cation. One of the benefits sup-
posedly derived from liberal edu-
cation is the "ability to think," a
somewhat nebulous concept mean-
ing many things to many people.
It is through this concept that
liberal arts courses are generally

defended, and the raison d'etre
for a student exploring several de-
partments superficially. ,
Engineering, one of the techni-
cal areas, also claims "thinking"
as one of its goals. Walter J. Em-
mons, associate dean and secre-
tary of the engineering college,
explained the engineering pro-
gram is based on teaching stu-
dents to solve problems, to think
for themselves and to think
ahead. "It's the 'why' that we
stress. We're trying to teach
theory, not skills." It is on this
basis that engineering steps out

TEACHES THINKING'
Engineering Aids Liberal Education

S KROHN is back from a year at the Free
niversity of Berlin on a Student Govern-
Council exchange program.
reports that FUB encourages much in-
dent thinking, a powerful student govern-
does not house students and builds archi-
ally attractive buildings.
C is now considering whether or not to
on the FUB plan. But we submit that
if it decides to, the Board in Review should
e it, because certainly FUB's policies are
clearly contrary to University policies.
encourage independent thinking, FUB has
ompulsory lectures and long, long read-
its. It also provides only one examination,
hat at the end of four years.
riously the University's situation is quite
ent. We have classes three times a week,

houses students, but in the case of women
forces them to live in the housing provided.
The problems in this area are great of course.
If you have big dormitories you must keep
them full to pay off bond issues. Even if one
decides it might be worthwhile for women to
live out, one is forced to forbid it.
The buildings at FUB also look good. At
Michigan this doesn't appear to be the case.
Witness the administration building apd the
Undergraduate Library,
LL OF THE ABOVE is actually somewhat
unfair. Certainly great strides have been
made to foster independent thinking-i.e. the
honors programs in the various departments
as well as the all college Honors Council.
The administration is, at least, on record

of the "trade school" realm and
into the area of liberal education.
* * *
LIBERAL ARTS courses are
beneficial to the engineering stu-
dent, Dean Emmons explained,
but are difficult to work into an
engineering program. The engi-
neering student is limited in his
program by the necessity of re-
ceiving training in his field and
in the basic related area of
mathematics and science. Stu-
dents entering the engineering
college have not had the back-
ground essential for the field; this
must be provided in the college
program. A knowledge of all areas
of the engineer's specialization. is
necessary to his performing well
on the job; courses to provide this
background must be fitted into
the 140 hour engineering program.
Mathematics, the basic tool of all
engineering, must be carried to a
high enough level to be useful;
this takes needed hours, too,
Thus the usual engineering stu-
dent has comparatively little room
in his program, even if he desired,
to take liberal arts courses. The
engineering college does teach
English, both in composition and
literature, to the student, and
certain courses in this area are
required. Engineering college-
taught English courses are good

the usual petty criticisms such as
the cues that the orchestra missed,
the fact that the tenors were not
always together, that balance was
sometimes lacking in the choral
parts, and that the string section
was bad on the runs. To be sure
these marred the performance to
a certain extent, but not suffcient-.
ly enough to conclude that the
performance was not enjoyable.
There will be those, of course,
who will argue that "a noble
attempt is not enough to justify
calling the performance a success."
But these people, I think, are
missing the point entirely. It is
not a question of whether there
was much to be desired. It is a
question of how well the orchestra
and Choral Union lived up to their
capabilities and it is also a ques-
tion of realizing exactly what kind
of a concert it was. As far as -this
writer is concerned, the Messiah,
on the whole, was an overwhelm-
ing success,
. S *
AS FOR the soloists, Nancy Carr
turned in a fine performance and
except for a few harsh notes in
the highs, her voice was quite
pure. John McCollum also did a
fine job. Miss Florence Kopleff got
off to a bad start on her first
arioso, but improved on "Then
shall the eyes of the blind." Ken-
neth Smith, unfortunately, was a
disappointment. He continually
muffed the runs in "Why do the
nations" and the quality of his
voice on the whole was not ade-
quate.
Lester McCoy conducted almost
tenderly, which was particularly

/

.h,

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