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March 30, 1965 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1965-03-30

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Sev enty-Fifth Year

The Need for an Overall Philosophy

Oiniot PreF ree, 420 MAYNARD ST., ANN AiBOR, MICH.

NEWS PHONE: 764-0552

Editorials printed in The Michigan Daily ex press the individual opinions of staff writers
or the editors. This must be noted in all reprints.

Students Should Participate
In Academic Policy-Making

MUST A STUDENT'S desperate cry to
be heard be an empty cry, a vain at-
tempt to assert his influence in important
The course evaluation booklet is one
such cry, and even if it is ultimately fu-
tile, it .is perhaps enough for now that
students have made an effort. Some-
fow, they wanted to affect the quality
of education they receive at the Univer-
sity. Instead of being unnecessarily in-
sulting, they have constructed a rational,
mature means of telling their teachers
and their colleagues what they think of
existing courses.
Hopefully, the booklet will influence
future students in their selection of
courses and those professors who receiv-
ed poor ratings will find their 400-seat
lecture rooms peopled with only 50 stu-
dents-those who did not read the book-
let. But most important, these professors
might then change their .way of teach-
ing or perhaps leave the University.
If something like this does happen, the
students can pride themselves on having
influenced at least some decisions within
the rank of the faculty and administra-
If something does not happen, it will
be painfully clear that students have lit-
tle or no influence in evaluating their
Yet some students do feel they have
a right to take part in deciding what kind
of teacher will lecture to them three times
a week. In any case, there are no strong
reasons why the recipients of education
should not have some say in how they
are educated.
TODAY WE HAVE efficient machines
which can make important decisions
for us, answer questions and tell us what
to do. If they were hard to develop, they
are easy to depend on: everyone would
sometimes like to be told what to do,
would sometimes like to forget his sense
of responsibility.
The existence of decision-making ma-
chines makes it easier for man to become
Too often, administrators are like
machines. And faculty-those who are
sometimes unresponsive to the reactions
and desires of their students-can also
be machine-like.
BUT IF MAN is going to function qua
man, he must use his own resources,
his own reason. He should not depend on
despiritualized strategy-makers who treat
SA cling Editorial Staff
Managing Editor Editorial ]Director
JUDITH WARREN ................Personnel Director
THOMAS WENBERG .................. ports Editor
LAUREN BARR.........Associate Managing Editor
SCOTT BLECH ........... Assistant Managing Editor
ROERTIPPLER.....Associate Editorial Director
GAIL ,BLUtMERO ... ~.... ......... Magaiine Editor
LLOYD (IRAP"............. Associate Sports Editor
JAMES KESON..............Chief Photographer
NIGHT EDITORS: w. Rexford Benoit, David Block,
John Bryant, Michael Juliar, Leonard Pratt.
Collins Michael Dean, John Meredith. Peter Sara-
sohn, Barbara Seyfried, Bruce Wasserstein.
The Daily is a member of the Associated Press and
Collegiate Press Service.
Subscription rates: $4.50 semester by carrier ($5 by
mail); $8 yearly by carrier ($9 by mail).
Second class postage paid at Ann Arbor, Mich.
Published daily Tuesday through Sunday mornig.

others like x's in tic tac toe. For when
he becomes dependent on these strategy
makers, he does become the manipulated
x. Eventually, subconsciously, he abro-
gates his powers of being human.
He does not learn responsibility be-
cause he does not need responsibility in
that kind of world.
The University can provide excellent
opportunities for the student to develop a
sense of responsibility-if only he seizes
those opportunities. The persisting trou-
bles of a growing university affect the
student, and because of this, the student
should have a part in solving them. He
must not allow others to solve problems
which are in part his own.
THE COURSE evaluation booklet-fol-
lowing on the heels of the Student
Action League and the Student Employes'
Union-is the most recent manifestation
of students' consciousness that they
should be able to participate in Univer-
sity affairs.
One other vital issue in the area of
academics is the "publish or perish" syn-
drome. It is an issue with great relevance
to students, for in part it determines
whether they are taught by creative
teachers or creative publishers. Should
faculty be promoted by their output of
academic papers, books, reports, disser-
tations? Should faculty members perish
from the University classroom if they
don't produce reams of intellectual dia-
Most students would answer with an
apathetic "no," but more than apathy is
(One thinks back to the days when
Robert Frost was on campus as poet-in-
residence. When there was a change in
Presidents in the '20's, the new President
of the University asked Frost what he
was doing here, what his function, what
had he produced. Frost left Ann Arbor.)
versity over the link between tenure
policies and one professor's publishing
record were an example of students at-
tempting to Influence academic decisions
-both through reasoned argument and
positive action. The events at Yale were
not an attempt to dictate policy; ac-
cording to one student leader there, the
students were merely demanding "com-
munication with the administration."
Yet even communication is a lot these
Both at Yale and at the University the
student does not have a clear definition of
his authority in policy making. The stu-
dents at Yale learned this lesson too late.
The students at this University, realizing
the need for such a definition, should
help formulate it now.
Such an opportunity for free- discus-E
sion exists in the literary college steering
committee's open forum this Friday Stu-
dents and faculty members are invited
to discuss the "Student Role in Evaluat-
ing Individual Faculty." Hopefully, they
will do more than discuss: hopefully, they
will begin to establish a relationship with
the decision makers.
AT 3 P.M. IN ROOM 3B of the Union,
anyone interested can begin to assert
his sense of responsibility.

TEACHING is the world's most
exciting job. And, particularly
for the young person, it had bet-
ter be. If teaching, for the older
professor, has somehow lost its
savor arnd its fascination, perhaps
vby default or from simple weari-
ness, then that is merely sad.
But sometimes the teaching fel-
for' the young instructor, testing
the first time his new spurs
just awarded in the academic lists,
will fail to see in teaching the
rich and colorful zest it accords;
already his Monday-Wednesday-
Friday efforts have taken on the
dull routine of mental calisthenics.
This is fully tragic. Thank God not
many persist.
The young instructor, probably
nearing the heady satisfaction of
achieving his terminal graduate
degree, has many irreplaceable
qualities going for him. His youth-
ful eagerness, his maturing in-
tellectual curiosity and his close
commitment to study, all contri-
bute to the probability of his be-
ing at once an angry young man
and an interesting person. His
particular and principal difficulty
(if, hopefully, it occurs to him),
given the drastically different
kinds of responsibility he must
meet, lies in accommodating him-
self to a viable and mature phi-
losophy of education.
IT IS not enough to fructify and
verify the often random principles
and policies which have somehow
managed to retain significance
throughout his own education.
Once he has committed himself,
for the rest of hs life, to the
business of educating young people,
the young instructor finds him-
self trying to integrate these ran-
dom snatches of educational
thought. He finds questions of
curriculum and course loads and
extracurricular activities are im-
portant to his undergraduate stu-
dents. He discovers at the same
time that the resolution of such
specific issues demands of hm a
more thoroughly contemplated
system of educational values if
he is going to speak to such mat-
ters with wisdom, rather than out
of the surface habits of his own
undergraduate attitudes.
If he is at all a thoughtful
person, he will realize early that
some integrating principle or pos-
tulate is absolutely necessary if
he is going to view the problems
of his college or his university
through lenses other than those
supplied as "general issue" by his
own discipline or department. And
so he looks about his college for
some signals.
Sitting in his Angell Hall win-
dow, contemplating the character
and values of the Harvard of the
West as it plods along a State
Street still muddied by the snows
of 1965, he will probably realize
his search for an integrating phi-
losophy of education seems at
once both fascinating and out of
date. For he will realize the great
university he sees about him of-
fers nothing at all in the way of
an integrated, well-stated set. of
principles or values which he can
perceive, let alone define with any
HE WILL NOT necessarily con-
clude this is wrong, or nasty or
unfair. If he is honest, he will
merely realize this is a necessary
corollary of the facts of life he
sees about him.'
He will find no clear enuncia-
tion of corporate direction, no per-
ceptible sense that the central
educational thrust of the univer-
sity is this or that. He will realize
that what is good and important
and educationally significant has
grown like a Cape Cod farmhouse
-by gradual accretion-in the
face of real educational needs and
circumstances. It is, in a sense,
an eminent testimony to a century
and a half of usually prudent

But to say all this says little
to our worried young educator. If
he has any sense at all, he will
distinguish easily between the
generalized attitudes carved above
the portals of Angell Hall and a
solidly effective educational phi-
losophy. He is looking for a prin-
ciple, a value which can inform

and give meaning to his every-
day experiences and problems.
Just as a religion without a theol-
ogy is quickly diluted to a pleasant
hour's emotion on Sunday morn-
ing, he realizes education with-
out an interrelated, cohesive set
of postulates, values and purposes
must be weak, haphazard, vacil-
lating and undirected. The Uni-
versity is, of course, unprepared
almost by definition to speak to
this point, and so those eager for
philosophical integrity must look
LEST ALL THIS be considered
as either grossly irreverent or
unnecessarily cynical, let us con-
sider a philosophically integrating
principle of education, and try it
out on Ann Arbor. Sir Philip Sid-
ney, writing almost four hundred
years ago, had something to say
about educational philosophy. (I
choose him merely for variety's
sake. Aristotle, Plato and St.
Thomas are to the avant garde
such old hat that their names
provoke philistinism, while for the
conservatives they are almost em-
"The ending end of all earth-
11 learning," wrote Sir Philip,
"is virtuous action."
Now that's educational philos-
ophy. To preach it today, especial-
ly that "virtuous" business, would
probably tempt ragged pickets to
your classroom door, demanding
you be academically defrocked. It's
a statement, nevertheless, that
you can chew on without gagging
on splinters.
It implies volumes about man's
mind and the part it plays in his
overall personal development. It
says something about the way
knowledge operates and why
knowledge is important, without
merely insisting vaguely that it
must be. It says something very
relevant about the nature of edu-
cation itself, without merely pre-
suming education is an end in it-
self. And it encompasses every dis-
cipline going. It is humanistic,
sensible and, if you insist, prac-
Old Sir Philip didn't intend it
as a manifesto, of course; it mere-
ly slipped out in the course of
some remarks about the nature
and value of literature. But it is
the kind of concept which forces
on you-once you've grappled with
its assumptions and its implica-
tions-an eminently well-organiz-
ed and profound sense of what
education is all about. It has the
merit of avoiding pious things to
say about education, while insist-
ing that your own work, your own
discipline, your own viewpoint be
made to plug solidly into a larger
philosophical whole.
NOW I'M NOT suggesting we
posture as sixteenth-century neo-
platonists in order to function in
Ann Arbor of the mid-sixties. I'm
merely suggesting that Sir Philip's
comment goes much farther to-
ward saying something specific
about the nature of education
than our usual cliches about "de-
veloping the mind" or "serving
the people of Michigan." It also
has something to say about the
individual's place in the educa-
tional process.
The principal merit of Sir
Philip's comment is that it does
not try to enhance certain kinds
of knowledge over other kinds,
nor attempt to organize a myriad
of disciplines within a quantita-
tively structured pattern called
either "hierarchy" or "distribu-
tion." He is adressing himself
solely to a level quite above (and
central to) the institutional ques-
tions of curricula, by the very
fact that he is-commenting on the
nature and purpose of knowledge
in and for itself.
It is ironically interesting to
observe that such a view of knowl-
edge was germane to an age in
which the ova of scientific meth-

odism were being fertilized. The
rich and fertile womb of the 16th
century labored on into the next
like Horace's mountains, and the
offspring were in many ways as
disproportionate to that monu-
mental childbirth.
Method and procedural struc-
ture (organization, program, sys-

tem) have struggled to a vigorous
adolescence. With the increasing
accent on method, the vision of
a centrally available philosophy
of "all earthly learning" is no
longer fashionable. Varied fields
and approaches and disciplines
contribute singly to the contrapun-
tal clamor which has rendered the
academic marketplace somehow
reminiscent of the bazaar at Da-
are subtle but inescapable. Any
effort to induce from the diversity
of this University a sense of an
integrating philosophy of edu-
cation is either intellectually vain
or practically myopic. Not only
are we large, but we are method-
ically and systematically frag-
mented at the institutional level.
A cursory glance at the vaguely
stated fundamentalism of our
catalogues, announcements and
orientation handouts reveals a
multiplicity of eminently sincere
hopes, but not one belief.
Another ingredient of this ne-
cessarily generalized ambiguity of
our educational posture is the in-
creasing feeling that a university
is constituted to reflect the chang-
ing patterns of the society it
serves. This may be democratic,
but the university should be the
last place on earth where democ-
racy and the common denomina-
tor should mean the same thing.
All the pious clamorings in the
name of "public monies" and
'service to the state" cannot con-
vince one that a university can
serve two masters, let alone two
To the extent that a university
reflects "the rapidly changing dy-
namics of its social environment"
more than it generates of itself
the scholarly and quietly-consider-
ed light which must be shed on
that environment, to that extent
that university is becoming an as-


if he is to become a citizen of
the world.
To suggest today that The Mich-
igan House Plan provides some
frame of reference for the opera-
tion of the university's residence
halls is almost laughable. In per-
haps no segment of the University
have the economics of supply and
demand effected such a wide-
spread deviation from an original
vision of purpose.
Whatever the present merits and
accomplishments of the halls (and
there are still many), they are al-
most exclusively the result of in-
tense dedication, serious thought
and long, hard hours of personal
effort ongthe part of individuals. It
is the Dave Van Looys, the Bill
Connollys and the Jack Pypers of
the system who are generating, of
themselves, what otherwise would
atrophy beneath the system's
necessary interest in things other
than educational.
The residence halls' general
headquarters, partly by default
and partly for sound practical
reasons, is a business office. Con-
sidered as a system, the all-but-
exclusive concerns of this cam-
pus' dormitories are matters of
monies, space for storing student
bodies and food budgets.
If any philosophy or attitude in-
vests that system from the top, it
concerns the need for making do
logistically. One would wish even
one good idea which had some-
thing to do with the life of the
mind originated in the course of
a year from the center of that
Such suggestions come instead
from the fortunate imagination of
those working daily in the halls
themselves, and we are fortunate
that, structurally, it is largely an

OHN J. MANNING, JR., has his fingers in
many pies: he is administrative assist-
ant for junior-senior counselling in the
literary college, an instructor in the English
department, an unofficial mentor for num-
erous students desiring academic and per-
sonal advice and resident director of
Fletcher Hall. In his third year here, he is
also working for a PhD in 16th Century
historiography and literature.

sembly-line for other people's
AS TENANTS on the soil of a
large and publicly-owned univer-
sity, we must admit there is an
essential difference between the
fundamental character of our in-
stitution and that of other col-
leges and universities within this
nation. This is not to enforce the
proposition that we are any worse,
or inferior; it merely states that
we are limited in a way that others
are no.
Thus, for example, the literary
college must approach questions
of curriculum in an a posteriori
fashion. To suggest that there can
be such a thing as an integrating
discipline- such as philosophy
(which, incidentally, provides an
excellent one)-or a commonly
acceptable approach-such as a
"great books" curriculum (which
is at least a good idea)-is neces-
sarily condemned to heresy on
this campus.
The committee-room humor (a
la Clark Kerr) about the univer-
sity as a fragmented complex of
varied interests held together by
central heating or squabbles over
parking spaces gains credence as
we confront ourselves, coldly and
without illusions. We can at least,
gratefully, acknowledge that the
University can assert that a gen-
eralized commitment to excellence
is making do in place of a more
solidly specified philosophy.
Considered broadly and within
the universal scheme of things, all
this does not convert us meanly
into an educational also-ran. The
next sunrise is not going to see us
doomed to oblivion in the realm of
higher education.
And already I can hear dimly a
grand "So What?" resounding
from Markley Hall to the I-M
Building. In response, I should like
to point to some specific examples
of the danger of operating vaguely,
without a clear and integrated
sense of what we're all about.
Residence Halls
No agency of the University
constituted expressly to accom-
modate the needs of students dem-
onstrates so egregiously as its resi-
dence halls the lack of a funda-
mental thrust -of purpose, of edu-
cational philosophy.
Back in 1941, in his description
of "The Michigan House Plan"
then widely heralded and imitated
as one of the most forthright and
cohesive statements of what the
University's dormitories were sup-
posed to be all about, Professor
Karl Litzenberg recorded that
The Board of Regents has in-
sisted . . . that the houses

army of chiefs. Although the edu-
cational niceties are trotted out
at the beginning of each year,
little is said from that point on to
indicate a continuing conscious-
ness of purpose of direction. As a
result, the solid philosophical
thrust of the original Michigan
House Plan affords today no more
than a quaint historical footnote
to the present reality.
The Greeks
As that university-wide flatten-
ing out of what is distinctive and
integrating has muddled on, the
fraternities and sororities have
come 'to reflect the same trends.
If the residence halls as a system
have abdicated- any vested con-
cern for the life of the mind, the
greek houses have, to the extent
that they have become a system,
experienced a like dilution of qual-
Issues of discrimination and de-
mocracy aside, a fraternity by def-
inition ought to offer something
distinctive, a quality of noblesse
oblige, precisely because it pro-
fesses to believe in something. Its
very traditions and peculiar char-
acteristic ought to invest in it a
sense of quality and purpose which
is at least quasi-philosophical.
Instead, the economics of rush
and the general fear of offending
have made it impossible for a
house to be special or distinctive
in any way. "Advantages" are not
at all the same things as "cri-
teria." Because every student on
campus is for some reason thought
to have a "right" to join any of
these fraternal clubs, the houses
are constrained de facto from pro-
fessing either a philosophy to
which members might be expected
to subscribe, or standards which
go beyond gregariousness, weejuns
and the badge (worn after six,
yet!) of vests.
What remains by default is
merely a peculiar kind of living
arrangement. The fraternities and
sororities, which ought singly to
present something clearly stated
about their values, however di-
vergent, can offer the student
nothing more about the integra-
tion of his educational attitudes
than can the Tiffany Apartments.
The Students
And so it goes, especially with
respect to the students themselves.
Rare is the undergraduate who
evidences some well-integrated
vision of the purpose of his college
or his curriculum. And sadly, those
who approximate some clear, con-
sistent view of what their under-
graduate years are all about, have
generally arrived at this them-

these levels is very small; the col-
lege, on the other hand, never
has much to say to them on this
Even Sir Philip would be a wel-
come relief to many of these un-
dergraduates, yearning as they ob-
viously are as they daily sit across
the desk from me.
Not that we don't make an ef-
fort to fill the philosophical
vacuum. But too often we are ad-
dressing either students at large
or that non-existent abstraction,
"the Michigan undergraduate."
It is germane, I suppose, to the
human animal's usual habits of
thought, but far to often this
campus reinforces our thinking
in terms of structures, blocks,
groups and interests. Our very vo-
cabulary reflects the trend. The
white-collar worker, the status-
seekers and even the carpetbaggers
have somehow melded into a lonely
crowd, and individual persons
stand out rarely. The students
themselves tend to group their
associates in sweepingly-generaliz-
ed terms: faculty, administration,
greeks, quaddies.
Although normal, such conven-
ient terminology betrays at heart
merely a groping effort to invest
with meaning the existential va-
riety available (when no one seems
to have any philosophy, it's damn-
ably hard to generate your own).
To this are linked the fashionable
tags which substitute for think-
ing: the college is amorphous,:
monolithic, paternalistic, rigid, ar
bitrary, impersonal and the like.
It all amounts almost to a
theorem: To the extent that, on
the institutional level, a clear phi-
losophy of purpose becomes im-
possible, it becomes proportionate-
ly more essential that each per-
son who speaks for, to and within
that level do his speaking from
a clearly stated posture which re-
flects a total integration of his
ALL OF WHICH brings us back
to our young instructor, eyes fo-
cussed earerly on the PhD., but
nonetheless vaguely disenchanted
as he searches for some principle
which can integrate it all. He
knows instinctively that, like him-
self, everyone else at the front
of a classroom is contributing a
fragment, one limited by subject
matter and disciplinary viewpoint.
And he knows as clearly that no
one is really suggesting to these
youngsters that an integrating dis-
cipline, or concept or philosophy
is available. As he daily aids in
devising the cliches and "cepts"
of the next generation, he will
daily tend more and more toward
Sir Philip, or Aristotle, or Plato,
or St. Thomas, if only to guide his
search toward even a highly per-
sonalized amalgamation of prin-
ciples which will be consonant
with his vision of his life's work.
The day he concedes that an in-
tegrating philosophy is impossible,
that day will also see his teaching
stripped of any zest. For then his
personal labors will have outgrown
their final purpose.
AS COROLLARY to all of this,
perhaps I may be permitted a
recommendation. The literary col-
lege utilizes daily a huge block
of such young people to carry on
much of its teaching. Some de-
partments find teaching fellows
performing 85 per cent of their
introductory-level teaching. De-
partments like English, mathe-
matics and the languages are ob-
vious examples of the central role
teaching fellows play in the in-
struction of young people new to
college thinking.
These young teachers represent
a fantastically potent resource up-
on which the college could draw in
an effort to impart to beginning
students a sense of what the col-
lege is all about and what it is
trying to do. I do not recommend

a change of title, a raise in pay or
a voice in the decision-making
processes of the college. The
teaching fellow is, academically
and professionally, neither fish
nor flesh, and that is as it should
But the college and the several
departments should rethink ser-
iously the use they are making of
this young, eager and mentally
agile personnel. Rare is the in-
stance (except during the late-
August amenities) when they are
told anything about their function
or their worth within the larger
fabric of the college in which they
teach. Rarely do they perceive they
are teaching in a college at all;
the limits of their professional
world are the views and confines
of their several departments.
If only those departments would
say something to them about in-
teresting teaching, about the re-
lation of their discipline to the
various thrusts of the college, of
the significance of their various
classrooms to the overall business
of undergraduate education, the
results might well be astounding.
SIXTY PER CENT of our fresh-



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