Culture out of anarchy: The reconstruction of American higher learning

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Culture O u t of Anarchy

Culture Out o f Anarchy The Reconstruction o f American Higher Learning

Judson Jerome

Herder and H e r d e r

1970 HERDER 232

AND

Madison

HERDER

Avenue,

New

NEW York

YORK 10016

`

Dedicated to Michelle, ? ? ? , ????, Jenny and Topher, my children, who daily motivate me to try to find a better way.

Gratctul acknowledgment is made to Charles Scribner?s Sons for permission to reprint the excerpt from The Pearl 1s a H a r d e n e d Sinner: Notes f r o m Kindergarten,

b y Stanley Kiesel, © 1968.

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 70-129764 © 1970 b y Judson Jerome Manufactured in the United States

Contents INTRODUCTION

vii

P a r t I ; THE F i r t u E s t a t e I f Y o u Pass G O , C o l l e c t T w o H u n d r e d D o l l a r s

28 56 83

A t P u b l i c Cost, i n the P u b l i c I n t e r e s t

The Climate of Privacy As American as Apple Pie P a r t I i : THRESHOLDS OF CHANGE

119 156 194

Institutions o f Free L e a r n i n g E x p e r i m e n t s in Prescription T h e Pluralistic Response P a r t I I I : TOMORROW?S SCHOOL The E d u c a t i o n a l Supermarket Renewal o f L i b e r a l E d u c a t i o n 10.

Q u a l i t y and Conscience

11.

M a k i n g It Happen

.

.

.

239 264 287 313

Introduction

As an educator, a poet, husband, lover, father, citizen, as a man in m i d - l i f e no less desperate than blacks and youth and w o m e n for self-realization,

find myself lying on the glare-bright table o f the seventies like a fish whose gills are p u m p i n g insubstantial air. I write about colleges because I 1

have been observing them most closely, but the issues of this b o o k could as easily be seen in politics or churches, theater, law, the f a m i l y , industry or commerce, drugs or d r i n k , styles or amusements, the class struggle o r the mass media. A c u l t u r e is dying. A culture is gasping to be born. These themes permeate this book, w h i c h o n l y incidentally uses higher education as its evidence o f a larger transfor-

mation in w h i c h we are all participating. A b o u t 1967, at w a r w i t h m y students and ill-at-ease in my profession, I began re-examining m y c o m m i t m e n t to the w o r l d o f education. T h e key w o r d then was innovation, w h i c h carried a hidden i m p l i c a t i o n that if we modernize ourselves a Jittle, use a few gimmicks, jazz up our teaching methods,

incorporate

a little

o f the new hardware,

we

might get the o l d machine back on the highway. T h a t fall 1 attended a conference on h u m a n ecology at w h i c h experts from various disciplines (?even the poet,? they kept saying, p o i n t i n g to m e ) put heads together to see whether we could begin to invent a science w h i c h could speak to the question o f survival on this planet. I n one sense the conference was a disaster: we broke up, bitter and frustrated, long before the time our meetings were planned to end. vii

INTRODUCTION

in Harlem. She was h o l d i n g an imaginary baby in her arms: ? J a m handed this six-week-old child, and when [ jiggle it, nudge its cheeks, there is no response. It never smiles. A l r e a d y the child is dead.? These students were not Communists or even, particularly, leftists or activists or SDS members. T h e y were simply b r i g h t young people trying to break through w i t h signals they were getting from the world. They had no answers, no program. B u t they insisted that we listen. Innovate i n the colleges? The human race should call some vast constitutional convention and start again on fresh premises. I happened to be at D a r t m o u t h

at a conference on

experimental colleges when K i n g was assassinated the following A p r i l . T h e r e seemed to be almost a news blackout, and m a n y o f us thought a major rebellion might be breaking out across the c o u n t r y ; I was anxious about m y wife and children at home. H a r r i s W o f f o r d , w h o was then engaged in p l a n n i n g sessions w i t h students f o r the fall opening o f the State University of N e w Y o r k at O l d Westbury, said on the m o r n i n g after the assassination that he was feeling ?very Roman.? He was reminded o f a story o f f o u r t h - c e n t u r y R o m a n patricians wandering in their togas among the sculpture and flowers of the garden o fa palatial villa. saying to one another things like, ?If we only had better student-faculty relations . . . I f we had more grant money in the humanities . . . I f we only had faculty representation on the administrative s t a f f . . . ? Elizabeth Sewell, the poet who started Bensalem (Fordham?s experimental college), had survived that program?s Season in Hell, l i v i n g in an apartment b u i l d i n g w i t h t h i r t y freshmen w h o had total self-government and absolutely no external academic requirements. H e r news was that when you suspend the rules you find the neuroses o f our society recreated by those freed. Moreover, all the institutions o f our society, she said, are gone: ? L i t e r a l l y gone. N o t c r u m b l i n g , ix

INTRODUCTION

not empty. Gone. C h u r c h , state, the f a m i l y ? t h e s e things simply do not exist for the young.? T h e takeover gang at that conference was headed by veterans o f the Free Speech Movement and free university developments in the B a y area: M i k e Vosick, M i k e Rossman, C y n t h i a and J i m N i x o n and others. T h e y saw their tactics backfire and felt futile in that apocalyptic atmosphere. Franconia College ( N e w H a m p s h i r e ) , w h i c h had been one o f the more exciting colleges, had f i n a l l y outraged its b o a r d of trustees and the conservative c o m m u n i t y . T h e board had fired its d a r i n g president and seized command. Those of us w h o t h o u g h t o f ourselves as experimental educators f o u n d that we were ravaged by power struggles and personal hang-ups. We had no answers, could not even w o r k together as the nation slid toward the precipice. T h a t D a r t m o u t h conference seemed a k i n d of n a d i r in the search for alternatives in w h i c h m a n y o f us were engaged. On the plane back to O h i o I had a soul-searching talk w i t h R o y Fairfield, who was then D i r e c t o r o f the A n t i och Putney M . A . T . p r o g r a m in the social s c i e n c e s ? a successful approach to graduate study w h i c h was to have great significance as a precedent in some later developments discussed in this book. F o r example, it was f r o m that conversation that the kernel ernerged for a general Ph.D. program now in operation, sponsored b y the U n i o n o f Experimenting Colleges and Universities. I n other words, there was a whisper of optimism in our quiet chatting, w o r k i n g its w a y through the blanket of despair. I am not trying to record here a history of the movement. Others have been m u c h more central t o it than I ? a n d a different recorder w o u l d find

quite

different

moments o f

signifi-

cance, But ] t h i n k it is important to say here at the beginning that the issues discussed in this b o o k have historical and personal roots. I n less than a year I had deliberately, desperately cast myself loose f r o m the assumptions and x

INTRODUCTION

values engrained in me in over t w o decades of academic life. The gloom of the D a r t m o u t h conference was deepened for me personally by doubts about this whole new preoccupation o f mine w i t h academic revolution. Was it, as m y colleagues tended to believe, a piece o f utter madness? Hence the importance o f an airplane conversation w i t h a fellow-traveller. I was to find that there were dozens o f us h o p p i n g around in airplanes from campus to campus, conference to conference, committee to committee, all around the country. H a v i n g established ourselves with the most respectable credentials, we had settled into tenure in our various institutions, able to write o u r own tickets, bear relatively easy academic loads, exercise a g r a t i f y i n g amount o f influence on campus, k n o c k d o w n the grants and sail through sabbaticals, b u i l d i n g professional contacts, adding steadily to our bibliographies, clearing bigger and bigger pieces o f t u r f in the dictionaries o f scholars. Then, suddenly, for one reason or another, the whole thing made no sense anymore. O n e sits transfixed in a faculty meeting wondering, What are these people doing here? W h a t are they t a l k i n g about? W h o do they think they are? W h a t has this to do w i t h anything on earth that matters? I n this state o f m i n d professors begin to behave strangely: some go into encounter groups; some hang around with students and begin hearing the rock lyrics and smoking pot; some make speeches and write articles and hound conferences; m a n y begin inventing new programs, angling for grants w h i c h w i l l give them and some studentsa

little

more autonomy. N o w that the I n n e r College had started, I vowed never to teach courses again. L i k e many others who suffer this change o f life, I wanted very badly to get out of m y department, o u t o f any department. I d i d not want to f i l l a niche in some table o f organization. I d i d not want to man a xi

INTRODUCTION

battlement of some c u r r i c u l u m . I wanted to be a professorat-large. M y friends began to change: colleagues who had considered me an ally f o r years began to distrust me, and I began to get w a r m greetings f r o m all m a n n e r o f other fringe people who, l i k e myself, had k i c k e d over the traces and gone cavorting into the academic boondocks. Even if we wanted to return, we could not. W h e n I remember m y self a few years ago m a r k i n g stacks o f compositions w i t h anal scrupulousness, training ( I must have i m a g i n e d ) dozens o f young people each year to w r i t e scholarly papers for Publications o f the M o d e r n Language Association, reading texts w h i c h bored me and inflicting them on others, handing out impressive bibliographies o f books I c o u l d not force myself to read, trading m o c k i n g remarks at cocktail parties, e m b r o i l i n g myself w i t h m e m o r a n d a concerned w i t h petty campus politics, vexed w i t h m y students, m y colleagues and myself, I am confident I w o u l d rather open a lunch stand than resume a conventional role in academia. had, since the preceding fall, begun to feel new j o y and zest and wholeness. T

A t the same time I f o u n d myself in a rather t e r r i f y i n g no-man?s-land. I certainly had no clear idea of where I was going, and it was disconcerting to discover, as at D a r t m o u t h , that m y new rebel colleagues had no better direction than ¥ d i d ? n o t even the young radicals f r o m the Bay. There was a ferment of new literature, most o f it c i r c u l a t i n g i n mimeographed form, some being printed in the underg r o u n d papers. Y o u n g change agents were going f r o m campus to campus ?organizing? (as they called i t ) , radicalizing, j o l t i n g students to new awareness. T h e i r older counterparts, men like Paul Goodman, John Holt, E d g a r Friedenberg, E r i c h F r o m m , worked over conferences w i t h verbal

karate.

Books

were

cannonading

the

university

walls. Indeed, there was a movement; a battle was going on. W e were going to over-run the W i n t e r Palace o f E v i l xii

INTRODUCTION

and open S u m m e r h i l l there. O r were we? N o t many o f us believed much in Summerhill. N e w left activists, black m i l i tants and hippies were splintering and undercutting one another. I t made one feel harassed and rootless. W h a t am I doing in this company? I kept asking m y s e l f ? a n d knew only that it seemed somehow a more honest place to be than w i t h the company I had left. R o y F a i r f i e l d , w h o h a d been in this g a m e m u c h l o n g e r than

I , was reassuring

as

we c o m p a r e d

notes:

at least

a n o t h e r had gone t h r o u g h t h a t p a t t e r n o f needs, f r u s t r a tions, o f craziness a n d j o y a n d d o u b t . I b e g a n to discover t h a t t h e ? E d R e f o r m M o v e m e n t ? (as it is s o m e t i m e s c a l l e d ) is p e o p l e d b y i n d i v i d u a l s l i k e ourselves, p r o p e l l e d into situations o f

loneliness,

i n s e c u r i t y , even

(it

seems)

j e o p a r d y , a n d n e e d i n g such m o m e n t s o f m u t u a l reassurance. W h a t I a m d o i n g , others, a p p a r e n t l y sane, have also done. I n t h e darkness I see an a f f i r m i n g flame.

T h e I n n e r College (a couple o f co-educational dorms housing about t h i r t y students, enabling them to meet their genera] education requirements in any manner they chose) proved to be a weak but sufficient device for freeinga little space for students to find themselves. Some compared it to a half-way house, as it d r e w many students who chose it as a last hope before dropping out. I n a context in which m a n y academic pretensions are removed, some frightening truths about young people emerge. T h e intelligent, p r i v i leged products o f our suburbs arrive at elite colleges almost as emotional basket cases. T h e y c r y for freedom, but, given

freedom, they find themselves incapacitated f o r using it. One h u l k i n g , handsome y o u n g man, just back f r o m a co-op job as a teacher, told me, ?On the j o b I feel like a man, you know. I manage m y life, relate to people on an equal level, and they take me for w h a t I look like, a man. B u t back at college I feel like a boy. Before I get o u t o f bed in the m o r n i n gI

lie there wondering whether I can be a man xiii

INTRODUCTION

today. Sometimes it is nearly impossible to get out of bed. It?s like the whole set-up cripples me.? Girls f o r c i n g themselves to grind through intellectual exercises w h i c h had no relevance for them explained why they stayed in college: ?Daddy expects it.? These are twenty-year-old w o m e n o f great potential who have had their spines removed by D a d d y . Purposelessness hangs like a cloud of grass smoke over the dormitories. T h e atmosphere o f the I n n e r College was one o f m u t u a l dependency and m u t u a l distrust. I t did not create these conditions; it allowed them to emerge and allowed us to begin to deal w i t h them. There, as in most experimental programs, there was at least i n i t i a l l y a considerable amount o f toothless p o l i t i c a l barking. T h e K i n g assassination and the subsequent separatist movement among the blacks made us realize how paralyzed we were when we felt the urge to engage in social action. ?Action,? we came to realize, was another opiate. T-groups were another. A c a d e m i c study was another. The search seemed to be f o r any way to d u l l the pain of recognizing one?s own impotence and insignificance, recognizing the f u t i l i t y o f any available alternatives. The key w o r d had shifted f r o m innovation to change, which has a somewhat sharper c u t t i n g edge, a stronger connotation of movement, but is still a w o r d w i t h a somewhat t i n n y ring and evasive overtones of neutrality. Revolution was another term i n the air, but no one m u c h believed in it; a revolution should have a program, and all we knew was that the new w o r l d had to be different. I was w r i t i n g poems expressing an eerie j o y o f b r o t h e r h o o d in the midst o f despair that f a l l ? i n response to the sickening impact of such events as the 1968 D e m o c r a t i c Convention in Chicago and to the invasion of P r a g u e ? c a l l e d ?rumors of C H A N G E . ? These were picked up by the new magazine, called Change (subtitled ?in higher education?) which was in the works, to begin in January. Change is xiv

INTRODUCTION

sponsored by the consortium now called the U n i o n for Experimenting Colleges and Universities, which also sponsored Project Changeover in the summers o f 1967, 8 and 9 (respectively at Stephens College in Missouri, New Division o f Nasson College in M a i n e and N e w College at Sarasota, F l o r i d a ) . A t these meetings f a c u l t y w i t h innovative projects, students and various reformers gathered to exchange ideas and open one another to new modes. Still, by and large, the effort was to make accommodations and adjustments w i t h i n existing institutions. L i k e the students o f the I n n e r College, we were aware of the structures boxing us in, but having difficulty imagining new and better forms. Aside

from

modifications

of

individual

courses

and

changes in c u r r i c u l u m , there have been several distinct families o f alternative programs and institutions appearing and disappearing in the past few years. Those which most caught public attention were the ?free universities,? w h i c h provided student-initiated alternative curricula, often offered on evenings and weekends in regular university facilities. These were early products o f the demand for ?elevance.? Students, some faculty and others f r o m the c o m m u n i t y w o u l d offer an array of bizarre titles, such as ?Rhythms of Love? or ?Techniques of Maoism.? Sometimes arrangements were made for granting these courses credit toward the standard degree. The

sub-college

is an

entirely

different

phenomenon.

Some sub-colleges, l i k e the C l a r e m o n t , C a l i f o r n i a , cluster, are

actually

federations

of

nearly

autonomous

colleges.

Some, l i k e M o n t e i t h at W a y n e State o r J u s t i n M o r r i l l at M i c h i g a n State, are q u i t e large e x p e r i m e n t a l u n i t s w i t h i n giant

institutions, offering rather orthodox

v a r i a t i o n s on

the s t a n d a r d c u r r i c u l u m . B u t d u r i n g the last f e w years a f l o c k o f smaller, m u c h m o r e r a d i c a l d e p a r t u r e s appeared, such as B e n s a l e m , at F o r d h a m , a n d the I n n e r C o l l e g e at ??

INTRODUCTION

Antioch.

Typically

these sub-colleges

are r e s i d e n t i a l

ar-

t a n g e m e n t s ( u n l i k e the ?free u n i v e r s i t i e s ? ) i n w h i c h c o m m u n i t y a n d academic e x p e r i m e n t a t i o n were t w i n

(and, it

p r o v e d , o f t e n c o n f l i c t i n g ) goals.

The beachhead college, o r field study center, takes students away f r o m the home campus into an e n v i r o n m e n t w h i c h offers a sharp contrast to the b a c k g r o u n d o f most liberal arts students and the o p p o r t u n i t y to learn by direct, experiential engagement w i t h real issues. T y p i c a l l y students go to field study centers for a year o r less, and the w o r k they do there ( w h i c h is usually not in a course format, but consists o f actual paid or volunteer w o r k on real jobs) is credited by the home college t o w a r d a degree. Related are the storefront colleges, such as the erstwhile University o f the Streets in H a r l e m or the K a p a a C o m m u nity Center in Kauai, H a w a i i , w h i c h are efforts to make education available to people i n their own neighborhoods. Here the emphasis is less upon the learning o f the college student who may participate in establishing and r u n n i n g the storefront college than upon the o p p o r t u n i t y for study (e.g., through tutoring, p r o g r a m m e d materials and sometimes course w o r k ) offered people in the c o m m u n i t y . F i n a l l y , in this taxonomy, one m i g h t list the l i v i n g learning communities. So far these have rarely had any institutional sponsorship at all. Some consist o f no more than h a l f a dozen people, usually i n some arrangement for c o m m u n a l living. A c o m m i t m e n t to self-education is blended with a c o m m i t m e n t to explore alternative life styles and modes o f economic support. M o s t communes have at least an i m p l i c i t concern w i t h education, but those which call themselves living-learning c o m m u n i t i e s are likely to conceive o f themselves quite consciously as alternatives to c o l l e g e ? a n d some, such as the N e w B r u n s w i c k group f r o m Friends W o r l d College, are acknowledged components o f college programs. ??

INTRODUCTION

A l l these varieties of alternative institutions strain conventional definitions o f academic study. A young man at Rochdale College in T o r o n t o flipped across his desk to me a government study of education entitled L i v i n g and Learning, saying, ?We've changed learning.?? Academicians generally

t h a t ? t o ?Living is pretend to a clear

grasp o f a distinction between what is education and what is something e l s e ? s u c h as therapy o r experience or goof-

ing off. We used to joke, as though the idea were so scandalous as to be unthinkable, about granting college credit for a love affair or h i t c h h i k i n g to St. L o u i s or having a baby or serving a term in jail. I n the seventies that joke rings hollow. C r e d i t is regularly being pranted at one institution or another for such experiences, and the whole meaning o f credit is now being called into question. Institutions w h i c h gained their reputation for experimentalism in the era o f progressive education of the 1930?s ? s u c h as Reed or A n t i o c h o r Sarah Lawrence or Bennington?-seem staid and traditional in the current educational scene, The co-operative plan, r e q u i r i n g students to w o r k at jobs for credit toward the degree, seemed radical fifty years ago, as it blurred the distinction between book-learning and practical experience. F r o m laboratory to field w o r k to foreign travel, experience kept encroaching upon ?legitimate? study. W e kept saying that e x p e r i e n c e ? o n a newspaper, on an archeological dig, in a hospital, in foreign c o u n t r i e s ? t a u g h t us more than books and courses; but we kept demanding the books and courses, too. ?We consider that f o r an experience to have a legitimate educational function, it must have a reflective element,? a dean at one of the old-line

experimental

colleges told

me

recently.

When pressed, the dean revealed that ?reflective element? meant an academic paper. T h e student m i g h t reflect all he wished on his experience, but that is not really the point. The last ditch stand o f academicism is to make everything ???

INTRODUCTION

w i t h teen-age children, who could not in conscience live with the options available for young people in our society today. We have come almost reluctantly to the conclusion that i f there is to be, w i l l y - n i l l y , some k i n d of revolution in this country, we had better do w h a t we can to make the damned thing work. A t the same time we have been forced to a new modesty about the system w h i c h educated us and to which we have belonged. I t manifestly is not w o r k i n g . Consider these points: 1. W r i t e r s such as H u x l e y

and O r w e l l predicted that technology w o u l d produce a closed system. A t some point everything w o u l d be u n d e r c o n t r o l and progress would stop. As we experience it, however, the technological society increases choice, increases diversity. Change accelerates. N o point in buying a new gadget: it is outdated before it leaves the factory and, besides, doesn?t fit the components you have at home. T h e p r o b l e m we face is not one of monolithic order, b u t o f anarchy. Some architects I have talked to are beyond the point of t h i n k i n g of buildings at all: the idea o f constructing something to serve five o r ten years from now, let alone fifty or a hundred, seems ludicrous. T h e y are looking f o r inexpensive, flexible and ephemeral means o f enclosing space. We are finding necessary, and discovering, temporary organizational structures and even patterns o f personal relationship. I n such a world, education which conditions people to accept controls and rely on a predictable w o r l d is counterproductive. W e have to learn to fly by the seat of our pants. W e have to learn the skill o f the surfer, to stay upright o n a swift and deadly and highly variable wave. Perhaps we have to redefine ourselves?-as process, as information systems?-and grow less attached to time and place and even to our flesh and blood ( w h i c h we pass through as waves through w a t e r ) . I f o u r present educational system did excellently what it is designed to do, it w o u l d xix

INTRODUCTION

probably make people less able to cope w i t h the future. Its greatest value right n o w is its ineffectiveness; inadvertently it leaves gaps in w h i c h people m a y grow. 2. M u c h of our educational system, indeed much of society, is organized around the idea o f vocation. W h o are you? W h a t are you? W h a t do you do? H o w do you earn a living? These questions are r o u g h l y equivalent f o r us; a person?s identity, his authenticity, his w o r t h is linked to occupation. School prepares h i m to f u n c t i o n p r o d u c t i v e l y i n the machine. But, i n fact, most people are unemployed. O u r society has neither the intention nor the a b i l i t y to put its women and its blacks, not to speak o f its children, its aged, its incarcerated to work. The definitions o f identity and value force most o f us to feel useless, u n w o r t h y , dependent. In post-industrial society i t is becoming a privilege to w o r k . ( I suspect that right now m a n y o f our ?jobs? f r o m the executive level on d o w n are, in fact, featherbedding, and m u c h o f the ?working day? is wasted for most employees, but we cling to timeserving because we don?t k n o w what else to do with them.) We simply do not need much of what we define as human productivity. A n d our educational system is not geared to help us learn other ways o f defining ourselves, o f accepting ourselves, of using our lives. Remove the m y t h o f full e m p l o y m e n t for everyone, and the system crumbles. 3. The sheer amount o f h u m a n knowledge increases something like t h i r t y times between the time our children are born and the time they enter college, and the rate is increasing. Designing a c u r r i c u l u m in that context is like C u c h u l a i n fighting the waves. D e f i n i t i o n o f education b y coverage o f content is absurd. Even the skills we can name and teach m a y be inappropriate as modes o f learning and o f being change. E d u c a t i o n becomes the process o f helping people develop the capacity to deal w i t h i n f o r m a t i o n , to become personally integrated, to release creative potential. T h e routines o f schooling and the apparatus o f crediting and ??

INTRODUCTION

c e r t i f y i n g n o t o n l y f a i l to achieve such goals, b u t m a k e t h e i r achievement more difficult.

4, L i k e m a n y other liberal inventions well-intended to solve social problems, schooling exacerbates the conditions it is intended to relieve. I t increases class differences, leads to f u r t h e r oppression and burdens the earth w i t h a technology and specialized elite w h i c h we are hard pressed to live w i t h and sustain. I v a n I i c h writes: I expect that b y the end o f this century, what we now call school will be a historical relic, developed in the time o f the railroad and the private automobile and discarded along w i t h them. I feel sure that it w i l l soon be evident that the school is as marginal to education as the witch d o c t o r is to public health. A divorce of education f r o m schooling is, in m y opinion, already on the way, speeded by three forces: the t h i r d world, the ghettos, and the universities. A m o n g the nations o f the third w o r l d , schooling discriminates against the m a j o r i t y and disqualifies the self-educated. M a n y members o f the ?black? ghettos see the schools as a ?whitening? agent. Protesting university students tell us that school bores them and stands between them and reality.

These are only a few of the factors w h i c h make the present educational system obsolete. As in an urban renewal program, b u i l d i n g and renovation are often carried on right alongside the w r e c k i n g crews. The M a y strikes o f 1970, following the invasion of Cambodia and massacres on college campuses, signalized the end of an era and the beginning of a new. Before we can see the shape o f the emerging, new academic w o r l d there is bound to be more polarization, disruption and deterioration o f educational quality. A t best the colleges w i l l seize the occasion to reconstruct themselves as viable, responsive and responsible institutions, w i t h a new and more active relationship to society. N o one I know o f ? b e he Pentagon general or hard-hat worker or cop or m i l i t a n t black or campus r a d i c a l ? i k e s violence. People are moved to violence only when they have an overwhelming sense o f its necessity-~as when people ??

INTRODUCTION

panic and clamber over one another to escape f r o m a burning building. The pressures on colleges and universities to change their nature are today so great as to create the conditions f o r explosion. What was surprisingly different about the M a y strikes, as opposed to most previous instances o f campus disruption, is that institutions began to move together. F o r the first time faculties, administrators and boards of trustees were not only acceding to demands but taking the initiative in committing colleges and their resources to ideological positions and to action programs. Professors and students together seemed to agree it was time to stop demonstrating and to do s o m e t h i n g ? a n d the questions raised about the tax-exempt status of colleges are an indication that o u r society may have difficulty in adjusting to institutions w h i c h are quite serious about changing social priorities, w h i c h refuse to serve as mere hot-houses, w h i c h really believe that students can best learn by doing. It m a y not be ready (indeed, the colleges may not be ready) for the academy to cast off an ethic o f hypocritical n e u t r a l i t y ( w h i c h serves to reinforce the status quo) and to assume an obligation to pursue and foster t r u t h and justice and a better q u a l i t y o f life. T h e first part of this book is an overview o f the A m e r i c a n academy as we find it at the beginning of the 1 9 7 0 ? s ? a description of the conditions w h i c h gave rise to the search for alternatives represented by these new colleges. I n the second part I give brief descriptions o f some o f the institutions exploring t r u l y radical alternatives to liberal education. In the third part I speculate about the new educational system w h i c h I believe is e m e r g i n g ? o n e quite different in method, organization and social purpose f r o m any of the alternatives I k n o w o f embodied in present institutions generally, a new understanding o f education as ac r a d l e - t o - g r a v e life process, a new contractual basis f o r support o f education, and, inseparably, the t r a n s f o r m a t i o n o f society itself. xxii

P a r t

T h e F i f t h Estate

I

CHAPTER

1

I f Y o u Pass G O , Collect T w o Hundred Dollars

Sorry, closed: this college t e m p o r a r i l y out o f order. Sign on

F r a n c o n i a College Campus,

1968.

?Why do students come here? W h a t do they really want?? Assembled deans and faculty o f a new c o m m u n i t y college look at me and shrug. T h e answer is obvious. A professor o f engineering states it w i t h a cynical laugh: ?Fact is, what they w a n t is the diploma.? We regard that motive as ignoble. ?Suppose,? J ask, ?you gave them that when they came. ?Here?s y o u r d e g r e e ? y o u r A.A.,? you tell them. ?Now is there anything else we can do for you?? ? Silence. We grin together in c o m p l i c i t y . We'd be o u t o f jobs. A n d the students, o f course, w o u l d miss out on their education... Their

what?

Among

the

many

metaphorical

ways

in

w h i c h w e t r y to u n d e r s t a n d w h a t we are d o i n g , w e s o m e times t h i n k o f e d u c a t i o n as t h o u g h it w e r e a t h i n g . Y o u get it b y g o i n g to college.

I f y o u get a degree, y o u have it.

W h e n y o u h a v e it, i t e n t i t l e s y o u t o a j o b a n d a place i n 3

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society. I t is a c o m m o d i t y , acquired w i t h a special k i n d of c u r r e n c y ? c o l l e g e c r e d i t ? a c c e p t a b l e at a solid rate o f exchange at the various institutions i n an international network. T h e student turns in credits for his degree like a book o f green stamps. A credit is a unit of time: three hours per week for a quarter or a semester, a device for symbolizing the conversion o f energy and time into a diploma. We measure our p r o d u c t i v i t y in the n e t w o r k b y counting the credits we generate. E d u c a t i o n is a k i n d o f piecework. T h a t is a partial view. Before settling b a c k i n later chapters to a more balanced effort t o see w h y colleges are the way they are and to ask w h a t they can d o about it, I w o u l d like to l o o k from several l i m i t e d view points at w h a t seems a monstrosity on our social scene. T h e currency is that of a vast and expanding F i f t h Estate, perhaps more p o w e r f u l

than the Lords Spiritual, the L o r d s T e m p o r a l , the C o m mons and the daily press in influencing minds and shaping public policy. Simultaneously it is a r e m a r k a b l y homogeneous and hierarchical system w i t h widespread agreement about premises, standards, levels, definitions o f quality. I n one sense it is the great leveler; in another it is the opposite: its business is to select and classify. Its business is also to m o d i f y h u m a n material, g r i n d i n g slow b u t exceeding small. I t is a religion. A n anthropologist studying the graduation exercises at one o f our great universities (the b u z z a r d costumes, the p o m p and prayer, the rites o f passage) or at lesser universities, public o r private colleges, j u n i o r colleges, technical schools, m i l i t a r y institutes, seminaries, high schools, even j u n i o r high and grade schools, could draw some very accurate conclusions about our national worship o f classification, labeling and stratification, all conducted 4

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with a sanctimony i m p l y i n g the scrolls are duplicated in heaven. He should h u r r y to complete his study while the natives still p e r f o r m their rituals in the established fashion. Had he observed in recent Junes his data w o u l d have been colored by co-eds in r i o t helmets, red fists on the backs o f academic gowns, impertinent posters and mass walkouts. I t is a r e v o l u t i o n ? o r a series o f revolutions. As late as the Spring o f 1968, Christopher Jencks and D a v i d Riesman, in The A c a d e m i c R e v o l u t i o n , were able to announce that the professors had seized the palace and had consolidated their rule like a m i l i t a r y junta. T h e y foresaw an era o f peace and order, but even as their book appeared, Col u m b i a and the Sorbonne were seething and erupting in violence. T h e y described a m o n o l i t h i c o r t h o d o x y that is becoming crazed with cracks before our very eyes. T o our wars in Asia and in our cities, carried on compulsively like d i r t y weekend lecheries, we have had to add the w a r on our campuses, and this t h i r d war m a y provide the most sensitive clues o f all i n h e l p i n g us to understand the cultural t r a n s f o r m a t i o n we are experiencing. T h e violent explosions on the surface are, o f course, merely symptoms of subterranean turbulence and pressure, the steamy flux within. N o t o n l y in the colleges are the old standards in doubt, all purposes questioned, the very modes o f perception and measurement changing. B u t traveling through the F i f t h Estate, observing, listening, we can tell a great deal about w h a t is happening and what is bound to happen. Each m o r n i n g we board up the shattered windows and open the doors for business as usual. Each fall the A m e r i can high-school senior totes u p his scores, guessing at his class r a n k ( 2 8 4 / 1 0 5 7 7 ) . consults his counselor, pores over catalogues w h i c h tell h i m nothing, visits campuses, sends off for application forms. Y e t increasingly the demoraliza5

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t i o n and c o n f u s i o n in the colleges are p e r m e a t i n g t h e h i g h schools, w h e r e u n d e r g r o u n d papers f l o u r i s h , p l a i n c l o t h e s m e n p a t r o l halls, d e m o n s t r a t i o n s a n d strikes are b e c o m i n g m o r e c o m m o n , a n d y o u n g s t e r s d r o p o u t a n d r u n a w a y in droves. A s I w r i t e , in a p r o s p e r o u s s u b u r b a n area, c h i l d r e n o f t h i r t e e n in the houses a r o u n d m e are a l r e a d y deep i n t o dope, some g r a c i n g t h e i r a c i d t r i p s w i t h glue s n i f f i n g ; t h e y t a l k endlessly o f suicide ( ? W h a t does m y life m e a n t o me? W h y s h o u l d I b o t h e r to s t i c k a r o u n d ? ? ) a n d m u c h o f the buzz i n the l u n c h r o o m is o f r u n n i n g a w a y .

When college freshmen arrive they are bewildered, fearful and alienated rather than enthusiastic o r hopeful. Parents tell me their kids are so turned off b y the schools that they go o n l y to avoid the loneliness and emptiness o f the home. The pressures o f the senior year drive m a n y beyond frenzy into stupor, ?I told h i m he either goes to college or gets a job,? one parent, a research chemist, said. ?I?m not going to have h i m loafing around home.? ( H e m i g h t have been consoled to k n o w the problem is n o t entirely unique to our times: ?Well,? said M r . Dooley, ?at th? age w h i n a b o y is fit to be in colledge I wudden?t have h i m a r o u n d th? house.?) T h e threat o f having to take menial jobs m a y well drive young men and w o m e n into college, d u m p i n g them, purposeless and unmotivated, into laps o f advisors.

(?Might

as well get y o u r general requirements out of the w a y w h i l e

you?re deciding what interests you.?) T h e y find themselves in classes relevance has been they m a y

where professors anxiously wheedle them w i t h or slice at them w i t h sarcasm. I f the university ?reconstituted? under the pressure o f a strike, find class after class, on whatever announced

topic, pre-empted b y hairy y o u n g faculty who b r o w b e a t them w i t h attitudes about the w a r or racism o r c a p i t a l i s m ? 6

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substituting one kind of tedium f o r another, often w i t h o u t much special i n f o r m a t i o n o r preparation. T h e y are assigned to dormitories w i t h others i n similar states o f emotional paralysis.

(?It?s the freshmen who b r i n g in the pot,? an

upperclassman told me. ?They get it f r o m high school. I f we w a n t some, we get it from the freshmen.? M a n y freshmen, quite in the course o f things, take up dealing as a way of earning expense m o n e y ? a s boys in other days took newspaper routes.) A n d in this context they set out to get educated. On their applications, students give a n u m b e r o f reasons for wanting to be admitted to college: to learn about the world, to learn h o w to do things, to explore new roles, to assert maturity, to develop i n d i v i d u a l i t y , to have greater freedom, to engage in the solution of social problems. But behind the stated reasons 15 another, usually unexpressed: they have nowhere else to go. O u r society seems to have less and less use f o r men and women under twenty-one, and the students sense it, k n o w i n g they are expensive burdens, feeling undefined, unneeded, clumsy and overgrown. It is c o m m o n to hear o f high-school students who can find no college w h i c h interests them until the A p r i l p a n i c ? when the music stops and they rush f r a n t i c a l l y f o r any available chair. In this seller?s market, the colleges entice and h a u g h t i l y reject. Les belles dames sans merci. State universities f r a n k l y use the first two years to flunk out large percentages. F r o m the time the student starts high school he is told that his performance is i m p o r t a n t because he must qualify, and as a college j u n i o r he still must q u a l i f y ? - n o w for graduate study. For the most academically successful students the B . A . , like the high-schoo] d i p l o m a , provides h a r d l y a breather. L i f e ? o r whatever it is one is getting ready for, 7

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qualifying f o r ? s h i m m e r s always ahead like a mirage. Sooner or later the student is l i k e l y to ask, ? W h o needs it?? He finds mirages to inhabit nearer at hand. I f we l o o k at the educational system f r o m the t o p instead o f the b o t t o m o f the mountain, that disaffected h i g h school student, that freshman or sophomore, seems a distant concern (unless we have one in the f a m i l y ) . T h e masses keep surging forward, being a d m i t t e d ? a gritty inconvenience. Professors thread through them on the way to the l a b o r a t o r y or library. T h e y seem a noisy, silly l o t ? occasionally dangerous. T h e y are herded into classrooms to watch television.

off the street

There is general agreement up on the peaks that the purpose o f the university is the advancement o f knowledge ( w h i c h is terminology used for getting and c o m p l e t i n g contracts). For this business we need h i g h l y qualified, h i g h l y specialized professors, and graduate students committed to becoming h i g h l y qualified, highly specialized professors. We need administrators who k n o w where the bodies are buried around Washington. We need computers, cyclotrons, lasers, field trips, per diems. R i g h t l y or w r o n g l y our society is sold on the proposition that the key to national security, growth, development and welfare is the headlong pursuit o f scientific and technical knowledge, shadowed (in o r d e r ) by i n f o r m a t i o n about society and ?humane learning? in such fields as history, philosophy and literature. U n t o l d b i l l i o n s o f dollars f r o m the federal budget and f r o m industry go into research; and a large p r o p o r t i o n of it all pours into the universities. T h r e e classic functions o f higher education are thus unc o m f o r t a b l y fused. The more-or-less official doctrine is that the colleges provide liberal e d u c a t i o n ? t h e general k n o w l edge, the cultivated skills, the intellectual d e v e l o p m e n t ? needed by every man, and especially by the leaders o f 8

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society. T h e i r second f u n c t i o n is to generate their own professors, and we are told that the man who can best convey liberal education to the undergraduate is the one who is actively engaged at the frontier o f a specialized field. In practice, this second f u n c t i o n far outweighs the first in importance, creating institutions on the German model, top-heavy in preoccupation with graduate studies and postgraduate scholarship, w i t h the gathering o f new knowledge, and consequent neglect o f the undergraduate program and general education. T h e pursuit o f knowledge for its own sake, or for the sake of the advancement o f human culture, is a l u x u r y we associate w i t h nineteenth and early twentieth-century scholars, such as the independently wealthy anthropologists who funded their own expeditions. W i t h the research needs o f W o r l d W a r I I came the t h i r d and now d o m i n a n t function o f the universities: sponsored research for public agencies and industry. M o s t o f this research i s ? o r is c a l l e d ? p u r e , but its focus is determined b y forces external to the university itself. A n d it has created an economic syndrome independent o f tuition. E q u i p m e n t , buildings, personnel, l i b r a r y holdings and other acquisitions a c c r u e ? a n d must be maintained. C o m petition for faculty who can b r i n g in contracts becomes f e r v i d ? a s described, for example, in Jacques Barzun?s The A m e r i c a n University. U p to 7 0 per cent o f the budget o f a large university such as M . I . T . m a y be derived f r o m sponsored research, p r i m a r i l y f r o m the government. Whether there is actually any financial advantage depends upon how the accounting is done; critics charge that undergraduate programs support expensive graduate programs which, in turn, support research. B u t resources continue to be poured into the maw.

The universities have become specialists in consumption. 9

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They gobble their way into government, p a r t i c u l a r l y its juciest flank, the m i l i t a r y . T h e y gobble their w a y into industry. T h e y gobble the substance o f foundations. T h e y gobble the rich. T h e y gobble tuitions, of course, like canapés and taxes like bread. M o r e eating creates more appetite: contracts increase operating costs, grants create programs w h i c h continue o f their own inertia, d r a w i n g funds f r o m other program elements; even gifts, according to Barzum, add to operating expenses, and since t u i t i o n covers only a portion o f educational costs, every student is an additional liability. Yet payrolls m u s t be met; there must be more contracts, grants, special programs and gifts, more students paying higher and higher tuitions. T h e r i m of the w h i r l p o o l widens and widens. So p o w e r f u l is this research function that it skews the whole system o f higher education. T h o u g h o n l y a small number o f the more than 2400 colleges and universities in the c o u n t r y obtain any appreciable p r o p o r t i o n o f their income f r o m research funds, most o f the rest have become, in effect, feeder institutions f o r the giants o r are aspiring to become giants themselves. W h e t h e r our hypothetical high-school senior starts his freshman year at a m u n i c i p a l college, a branch of a state university, a private liberal arts college, a church-related college, or in the undergraduate p r o g r a m of one of the universities, he is likely to find even his beginning courses taught b y specialists, designed to produce specialists, leading in linear fashion to graduate w o r k . His professors ( o r graduate-assistant teachers) w i l l have their ambitions set upon achieving the k i n d of publication and research that attracts attention among the professionals. T h e y w i l l be interested in the freshman i f he shows aptitude f o r and c o m m i t m e n t to their specialties. T h e r e are exceptional colleges, exceptional teachers i n 10

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every college; there are fringe institutions such as the anticolleges considered later in this book. B u t essentially the system of higher education is o n l y incidentally, and then somewhat reluctantly, related to the personal growth and intellectual development o f students. W e should have k n o w n that i f seven m i l l i o n bright and healthy people were locked in a n e t w o r k alien to their lives ~-one

which

systematically denies their

manhood

and

womanhood, ignores them as individuals, subjects them to tremendous pressure to achieve ends w i t h which they do not i d e n t i f y ? t h e r e w o u l d eventually be trouble. N o t only did we not foresee the trouble, but even now many in our society refuse to recognize its implications. T h e blissful complacency of the academic w o r l d before the Free Speech M o v e m e n t at Berkeley in 1964 is equalled only b y the vexed complacency of m u c h o f the academic world today. Educators ask, sometimes plaintively, sometimes belligere n t l y , why can?t we just have law and order? W h y can?t we stamp out these symptoms? A t last, w i t h the M a y strikes o f 1970, there has been a nationwide recognition that something is deeply wrong. Some soul-searching, some modifications, some concessions have been seen. There is a deepening recognition of the social responsibility of the academy, but moment toward the fundamental changes required to convert the system to better social use is slow. O n l y in the past couple of years have there been a few radically different modes o f education, such as those discussed in this book, tried at the college level, though the ?new school? movement i n p r i m a r y and secondary

(private)

rapidly. M e a n w h i l e the

education has been spreading more

lives of

manding and innocent.

professors

are harassed,

de-

T h e i r lectures are on important ?

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subjects; it is not easy to lead discussions, keep up w i t h the field, m a r k papers, advise,n e g o t i a t e , write m e m o r a n d a for committees, steal evening a n d , w e e k e n d hours for one?s ?own work.? T h e y regret and sometimes deny the i n h u man ramifications o f the system. I t w o u l d be pretentious to c l a i m it has made them happier, wiser o r better men, b u t they still testify to its internal logic and security. T h e y have played the game f o r years. W h y are the students refusing to ante? T h e first step toward u n d e r s t a n d i n g ? a s parents, citizens or p r o f e s s o r s ? i s a hard and candid l o o k at ourselves. Recently

I

addressed

the

Faculty

Council

of

a

con-

sortium of twelve colleges. Some three representatives o f each college a t t e n d e d ? a n d there we sat: one of the m a j o r problems in A m e r i c a n education, A token w o m a n was present; otherwise we were white men in business suits, barbered and collared, cocktailed and beef-fed, ranging in age f r o m about 35 to 55, mostly w i t h doctorates in standard disciplines, sitting in a carpeted lounge on velveteenupholstered easy chairs, wondering w h y o u r campuses were i n t u r m o i l and what we could do about it. T h o u g h we might engage in heated controversy, we shared o v e r w h e l m ingly u n i f o r m viewpoints, vocabularies, a s s u m p t i o n s ? a thin, d r y wafer from the rich feast o f h u m a n culture. W e were meeting to set policy for institutions struggling to survive in a t u r b u l e n t w o r l d where issues swirl around the counter culture o f youth, endemic violence, racism, the T h i r d W o r l d . I was reminded o f the Smith Bros. on the coughdrop box. A r e we archaic? Is the best we can hope for to be phased out mercifully? W e are the uptight generation, and we are threatened and confused, feeling the intellectual g r o u n d shifting beneath our feet and hearing the legitimacy o f our roles and 12

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achievements and style o f life questioned. Those who are m a k i n g the most successful adaptation to the seventies are the ones who have gone t h r o u g h a process o f personal change, often motivated b y a need to get back in touch w i t h teenagers at home. Listening and responding honestly to the young m a y helpa l i t t l e , but m a n y find that the more they understand, the more hopeless their plight seems. Except that we be born again ( a n d there seems little likelihood o f t h a t ) , we w i l l remain helpless addicts of the comf o r t and status, the n u m b i n g media, cars, thruways, f o r m i c a and disposable containers, to privatism, to the very aspects of A m e r i c a n civilization w h i c h widen class differences, alienate the young, pollute the environment, overheat the economy and drain the world?s wealth. Such men as were gathered there are the e n e m y ? t o the young they teach and master, to the blacks, to most foreign nations, to ( i t seems n o w ) the women of our own, to nature itself which, as we indifferently despoil it, brews poisonous revenge. T r a v e l i n g the d a r k segments o f our cities we r o l l up the car windows in justifiable fear. We grab w h a t we can of the over-ripened fruit. True, wallowing in masochistic self-denunciation can become just another k i n d o f game; but no cocktail-party defenses can obliterate the fact that we have a problem, that we are a problem. We k n o w that the necessary reordering o f society cannot occur and leave us personally unscathed. L i k e the dispossessed aristocrats in The Cherry Orchard, we d r i f t about muttering such awareness, unable to muster comm i t m e n t for decisive action. As the p r o b l e m o f the poor is the rich, the problem of the young is the old. M u c h of the drive for educational ref o r m has arisen f r o m a soft-hearted concern for children, but i f we ever are to find the m o t i v a t i o n t r u l y to change 13

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things, I t h i n k we w i l l have to see the necessity for change for our o w n salvation. A good educational system w i l l n o t o n l y address the absurdities I have mentioned, as the system impinges on the lives o f high-school seniors o r college freshmen or professors, as it results i n the strange researchskewed pattern of university finance, as it aggravates rather than solves problems o f class and social organization. I t w i l l help those o f us w h o are caught up in it to get some perspective on our own c o n d i t i o n i n g and free ourselves f r o m some o f its adverse effects. M o s t of us who are out o f college recognize that we might have been better educated, but we are just n o w beginning to see that we cannot i m p r o v e education b y providing more of the same. W e must create opportunities for going about learning in completely different ways. F o r example, w h y have we not r e s e n t e d ? a n d c h a n g e d ? - e d u cation conducted almost w i t h o u t reference to c u r r e n t politics, religion, sex, personal ethics, f a m i l y relationships ~?-without reference, in short, to the areas o f experience w h i c h matter as one prepares for citizenship, p a r e n t h o o d or any other role outside the school? H o w m a n y o f us t r u l y feel that our college education was relevant to real h u m a n concerns? H o w m a n y o f us, especially i n graduate study, have let a model o f scholarship be foisted u p o n us w h i c h took us farther from, rather than nearer to, our interest i n our subject? H o w m a n y o f us have let education exorcise our enthusiasm and quell our w i l l to action? I hear students telling me w h a t I never had the guts or imagination to say: the system isn?t w o r k i n g . T h e whole n e t w o r k o f departments, fields, areas, credits, requirements, courses, grades, w h i c h we have accepted as the design of higher education, does not relate coherently to h u m a n learning and experience. N o w the n e t w o r k is collapsing of his o w n Byzantine weight. 14

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O f course this prophecy is o f a piece w i t h the absolutist mode o f thought so prevalent today. I f we are w r o n g a little, it goes, we are absolutely w r o n g ? u n c l e a n s e d on the eve o f the apocalypse. Be it d o o m or mere rumors of doom w h i c h threaten us, the present concern w i t h changing the educational system may be viewed as mere panic, just another p a t c h w o r k effort to cover the general decay o f standards and restraints and orderly processes. W i t h colleges opening at the rate of one a week around the country, new programs popping up like spring toadstools, there seems to be a deterioration o f the traditional measures of quality. A c c r e d i t a t i o n is becoming a q u a i n t l y archaic word. Survival now seems to depend upon new ideas, unique programs, ultra-modern facilities and eye-catching publicity. So far educational technology seems to make our central functions more difficult rather than easier. We are bewildered b y a revolution we are powerless to resist, and the ?knowledge industry? is r a p i d l y determining the shape o f new institutions. T h e sale of hardware is easier to the new colleges, the c o m m u n i t y colleges, the large complexes with more students than they can teach by traditional methods. M u s h r o o m i n g institutions have less guidance (and interference) f r o m an experienced, critical faculty. M o s t professors are as illiterate in the language o f computers and other skills o f the new technology as medieval man was in reading

and w r i t i n g .

Meanwhile,

IBM

and comparable

companies are becoming educators, their teaching machines monitored by housewives. The p r o b l e m of serious attention to the need for very deep change is merely obscured by a dither of change on the surface. Those interested in what is called ?innovation? have the thrust o f social needs, current college financing, industrial and g o v e r n m e n t a l interest and students seeking relief f r o m academic pressures behind them. College ad15

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ministrations generally f a v o r innovation. I t is a stereotype to compare academic departments to baronies, but the analogy is instructive. In the old days.students and f a c u l t y used to have in common, i f nothing else, their complaints about the stodgy and bureaucratic administration, b u t now administrators sometimes find themselves aligned w i t h the students against a f a c u l t y epitomized b y n a r r o w departments locked in defense of their disciplines against marauders w i t h integrative concepts and a preoccupation w i t h current social problems. T h e r e is now general agreement (except among faculties) that faculties are the m a j o r obstacle to change. Deans and presidents find the flexibility they need to operate by initiating new programs, w i t h outside funding, and thus circumventing departmental vested interests. T h e combination o f these forces is m a k i n g a shambles of the ivy-entrammeled structures of academe, and the response of the professoriat is, all too often, to become paralyzed in outrage. A c a d e m i c backlash sets i n ? a reassertion o f the old rules, a self-righteous c r y f o r l a w and order, a reaffirmation of the a u t h o r i t y o f reason and the processes of democracy as defined by nineteenth-century liberalism. This is an inadequate and impotent response to the engulfing tide o f i r r a t i o n a l i t y and disorder which, indeed, has broken across the land. It seems to me a failure on the part o f intellectuals. I n the fifties most of us were fighting to open the minds and stir the hearts o f a complacent and silent generation. N o w m a n y are running scared before the monster o f youth we ourselves stirred f r o m slumber. A t some point of crisis, business as usual becomes immoral. T h e first imperative, as I see it, is to stop doing as m u c h as we c a n ? ? u n t i l we k n o w our action is not dangerous or destructive. N e x t we must examine and re-evaluate each step and each assumption o f the academic game. 16

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Take the classroom. We are accustomed to think o f it as the focus of education, but to what extent are we victims of our architecture? W h a t compulsion is there to populate those cubicles containing rows o f chairs, blackboards and a desk or lectern up front every M W F 9-10? Why, indeed, meet in groups o f 15 to 40, w i t h some faculty member making assignments, giving non-lectures and conducting non-discussions? W h y think o f education in terms of courses? I have been disappointed that so many free universities retained the course format, as though change were chiefly a matter of inventing startling titles, some of w h i c h seem to be selfparody (e.g., Dartmouth?s ?Cross-Cultural C o n f r o n t a t i o n : T e r r i f y i n g and M l u m i n a t i n g ? ) . T o w h a t extent do the compartments in w h i c h we put things influence the way we think about them? Even if we were, after due consideration, to come to the conclusion that the classroom and course structure were the most efficient methods o f conducting education, we would have to face the fact that today so many students are turned off by these methods that we w o u l d be unable to get through. In the next few years we w i l l probably see more and more classrooms converted to other uses. Even if students were w i l l i n g to accept this mode, they are becoming too numerous to be accommodated, and the current demands for open admissions are sure to result in an inexorable inundation. M e a n w h i l e , new definitions o f education are appearing w h i c h bypass classrooms almost entirely. ?Field study centers? or ?beachheads? are springing up in ghettos and rural pockets; groups of students and faculty move in to combine service w i t h learning in such ways that the acquisition of knowledge is inseparable from its active use, and units such as courses are patently inconceivable. M o r e and more i n f o r m a t i o n is being programmed for indepen17

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dent study on r a n d o m access bases, freeing f a c u l t y t i m e ? at least in t h e o r y ? f o r i n f o r m a l interaction w i t h students in a variety o f settings, none of w h i c h is l i k e l y to be the class-

room. E d u c a t i o n a l games, in w h i c h i n d i v i d u a l or g r o u p responses to tactical questions are tested against a computer?s store of probable consequences, demand new equipment, new furnishings and kinds of rooms. E l e c t r o n i c music, new modes o f theater, new media in the arts, the increasing importance of film and v i d e o t a p e ? a l l these developments are creating a new base o f feeling and understanding, and the idea o f adapting them t o classroom uses is ludicrous. I m a g i n e classroom buildings being broken u p into living units, lounges, reading rooms, theaters, studios, blocks o f carrels wired to learning centers. O f course the architectural game is itself b e g u i l i n g ? a n d perhaps p o i n t less. I n view o f the rate o f change in o u r culture, perhaps the best thing we can invent is a w a y o f enclosing infinitely adaptable space. T h e W a s h i n g t o n - B a l t i m o r e Campus o f A n t i o c h Columbia, f o r instance, is e x p l o r i n g the possibility o f enclosing housing, meeting rooms, auditoriums, laboratories and studios all in a giant inflatable b u i l d i n g o f plastic, sustained b y forced air. T h e emphasis in universities has long been upon the acquisition of new k n o w l e d g e ? b u t now the p r o b l e m is to break into the a c c u m u l a t i o n in the storehouse and f i n d what can be applied to current needs. T h e old assumptions about learning the ?fundamentals? o f a n y t h i n g have been b l o w n out of the water. T h i s started as long ago as W o r l d W a r I I , when the pressure for instant fluency in foreign languages caused the armed forces to emphasize u t i l i t y and experience instead o f g r a m m a r and basic vocabulary. T h e result was a radical inversion o f instructional methods. T h e ?new math,? though it has not emphasized relevance, has subverted old notions about where to start and w h a t to 18

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cover. T h e ?case-study? method in law n o w has its counterpart in almost every field. T h e r e remain real questions as to whether such methods can adequately and responsibly train scholars and scientists, but they reach the mass o f students who are less interested in doing basic research than in coping w i t h their experience in the world. Some are asking whether colleges should grant degrees at a l l ? a n d at least one o f the new colleges, Rochdale ( T o t o n t o ) , has chosen not to do so. What is the meaning o f a bachelor?s degree today? I n the past it certified that a student had had a symmetrical exposure to the arts and sciences and had completed some component o f w o r k in a major discipline. T h a t was vague e n o u g h ? b u t the absurdities o f the f o r m u l a are becoming increasingly apparent. When I was an undergraduate in the forties, we accepted without much question that we had to take a course either in an ancient language o r in mathematics; I guess we assumed some equivalence in dry mental rigor. When I became a professor in the fifties, I began to realize how little educational thought and how much academic politics went into the design o f required-course programs. T h e y seemed less a vision of Renaissance M a n than the result o f a need to populate courses taught by teachers w i t h tenure. I t also became evident that when a man told you he had a bachelor?s degree there was no p a r t i c u l a r knowledge or skill you could expect o f him, He had, in effect, been knighted as a g e n t l e man in the Western world. He had put in time: residence requirements seem the most i m m u t a b l e of stipulations for a degree. I f we stopped granting degrees and merely provided descriptions o f what students had actually done in our institutions, w h a t difference w o u l d it m a k e to graduate schools and employers? Perhaps l i t t l e ? b u t it w o u l d makea difference in the c o l l e g e s ? f o r the degree is the keystone o f the 19

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arch, and perhaps the stone we ought to remove first i f we plan any serious rebuilding. W i t h o u t this lock, m a n y courses w o u l d disappear u n d e r the relentlessly c r i t i c a l force of social needs and student interests. I f the degree is o n l y a political agreement among f a c u l t y contending for a student?s time (and a guaranteed i n c o m e ) , we have a m o r a l

obligation to undermine it or redefine it. Transcripts are another practical absurdity. W e m i g h t begin b y asking what an i n s t i t u t i o n can certify, and on what grounds, M a n y features o f our system seem to be modeled on the idea o f mass production, w i t h interchangea b i l i t y of parts, but people and t h e i r learning are n o t interchangeable. F o r example, we can f a i r l y certainly say that a person typed 6 0 words per m i n u t e on a supervised test, b u t what are we certifying when we say he has five credits in the Renaissance L y r i c w i t h the grade o f B? There is a tendency to test for the things w h i c h can be tested for, regardless o f their significance. M a n y , for example, agree that the Graduate Record E x a m i n a t i o n s in t h e i r fields are trivial, outdated, i r r e l e v a n t ? a n d yet they go on using t h e m and congratulating themselves when their students do w e l l o n them. A l l k n o w the foolishness o f adding grade points f r o m history, French, physical education and calculus together, d i v i d i n g b y a n u m b e r of credits and stamping the result on a student?s forehead, but most institutions

go on m a k i n g cumulative averages and paying attention to them. O u r testing instruments could give us very sensitive descriptions o f a person?s qualities and a b i l i t i e s ? i f we could only decide, as a culture, what it is best to d o w i t h o u r apparatus, w h a t matters about a person and how to make use of our knowledge. Since we are collecting data badly, using it b a d l y and w i t h no clear sense of what we are using it for, might we not be d o i n g more h a r m than good b y passing 20

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on transcripts as we now k n o w them? I am reminded of the radical y o u n g professor w h o , as a protest against the use o f class ranks to determine draft deferments, gave all the students i n his classes A?s. Thus he helped send to war students who did n o t choose to take his courses. W o u l d he not have done better to organize his fellow f a c u l t y members and students to refuse to participate at all in the whole grading charade? Classes, courses, degrees, credits, g r a d e s ? t h e s e m i g h t be dismissed as t r i v i a l c o n c e r n s ? e a s i e r to accept as conventions than to revise. B u t a more serious weakness begins to appear when we examine the assumptions about learning implied b y o u r current structures. The model o f knowledge inherited f r o m the Enlightenment, w i t h clearcut ?disciplines? and methods for discovering and verifying the facts, accumulating a delta o f t r u t h w h i c h extends into the u n k n o w n , all this seems increasingly inadequate to describe the w o r l d we live in. Science has raised disturbing doubts about its own m e t h o d s ? b u t these methods tend to be imitated u n c r i t i c a l l y in other disciplines. Even if verification could be relied upon, the sheer burgeoning o f knowledge gathered on this model has led to fragmentation and fossilization w i t h i n specialties w h i c h are less and less able to p r o v i d e a person w i t h coherent grasp o f his own human experience. W h e t h e r our students realize it or not, they need our help in finding new paths to that coherence. I f they succeed in making o n l y a circus o f higher education, they w i l l suffer more than we. But they w i l l not accept the compulsion they once accepted. A s adults we have passed a threshold o f dignity: there is some guff we w i l l not swallow. T h a t threshold seems to be passed now at younger and younger ages. I t never occurred to me or to m y generation to question the 21

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authority o f teachers, parents, the draft, the p o l i c e ? b u t today teenage people ( I hesitate to call them kids; a couple live in m y house) raise valid questions about such authority and insist on their right to answers. Perhaps we should ponder why college students have ever tolerated their second-class citizenship. College education is adult education. Few people who consider themselves adults w o u l d p u t u p w i t h the rules and regulations,

the attendance

require-

ments, dress standards, d o r m i t o r y hours, the made-work, the time-serving, the a r b i t r a r y and unilateral ?assignments,? the n i t - p i c k i n g formats o f term papers and testing forms, the host of practices w h i c h might have some dubious u t i l i t y in g r a m m a r school but w h i c h are ludicrous w h e n mindlessly extended to men and w o m e n o f eighteen years and more of age. Rather than carp at the students, professors need to practice some simple honesty w i t h themselves as the first step in discovering w h a t should be done. Some few professors are able to make a classroom come alive, and a few are good lecturers. Surely the classroom ought to remain as one alternative among others, to be used when it can be used well. But can educators sincerely c l a i m that w h a t happens in most classes three times a week, f o r t y weeks a year, is so sparkling, insightful, eloquent or wise that it need be

tenaciously defended? Should professors not welcome deliverance f r o m the classroom as wholeheartedly as the students do? Should they not be as eager to find solutions in which real learning, true, c r i t i c a l discussion can occur? Those of us in the profession have to ask ourselves w h a t gratification we get from seeing rooms fill up regularly for required courses, f r o m exercising a r b i t r a r y power, from compelling obedience and c o n f o r m i t y to our s t a n d a r d s ? and whether it is good for us, let alone the students, to indulge in these gratifications. W e have to ask ourselves to 22

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what extent our personal security depends upon getting the students into our t e r r i t o r y ? i n the classroom, in the office, into the discipline we have studied for twenty years ? a n d ask whether it is not possible to find new security in friendships, partnerships, engagement w i t h real questions, open-minded approaches, in the c o m m i t m e n t and risk students are now demanding o f us. M a n y o f us stake our psychic security on expertise and are quite u n c o m f o r t a b l e w i t h ourselves as human beings ? a s fathers, lovers, friends, citizens, somehow equal to others when we doff our academic gowns ( l i k e L e a r ? t o discover self and sanity through nakedness and, perhaps, a period o f madness). A colleague objects, ?I was hired as a c h e m i s t ? n o t as a counselor or therapist!? His knowledge was acquired w i t h great expense and difficulty, and now it seems to be devalued. He is being asked to perform in an area for w h i c h he was not prepared. It is possible that the w o r l d needs a m o r a t o r i u m on chemistry, or, at any rate, m a y need to emphasize humane uses o f the chemistry we have rather than new research and discovery. ?Every dollar spent? (writes Ivan [ l i c h ) ?on doctors and hospitals costs a hundred lives. . . . H a d each d o l l a r been spent on p r o v i d i n g safe d r i n k i n g water a hundred lives could have been saved. Each dollar spent on schooling means more privileges for the few at the cost of the many. . . . C o n t i n u e d technological refinements of products w h i c h are already on the m a r k e t frequently benefit the producer far more than the consumer.? T h a t consideration aside, the objection of m y colleague disregards the nature o f education. U n t i l we can create contexts in which, at least, two-way conversation occurs, our special knowledge is wasted anyway. Joy, I w a n t to say to the n e r v o u s professor, is a r o u n d the c o r n e r . I f we r e l a x a little and t a k e t i m e to f i n d o u t w h o

23

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b a r r i e r s to c o m m u n i c a t i o n w i t h t h e i r f a m i l i e s , n e i g h b o r s , officials, e v e n w i t h themselves? U n t i l we are m o r e c e r t a i n t h a t w e c a n k e e p a h u m a n p o p u l a t i o n on the p l a n e t for a n o t h e r decade, s o m e k i n d s o f a c a d e m i c i n d u l g e n c e seem perverse. U n t i l professors r e o r i e n t themselves to the students they are h i r e d to serve and to the m a n i f e s t needs o f the world?s p o p u l a t i o n , they w i l l c o n t i n u e to be not o n l y d i s c o n t e n t e d , b u t b u r d e n e d b y a g n a w i n g sense o f irrelevance, i n s i n c e r i t y a n d p r o s t i t u t i o n .

T h e y are obsessed w i t h evaluation, w i t h defining objectives and measuring progress toward them in quantifiable terms. A g a i n and again when I describe alternative programs such as those considered in this book, m y colleagues look at me w i t h honestly puzzled faces, like that o f a calf at a new gate, asking, ? H o w do you handle evaluation?? T h e assumption seems to be that unless you have something to send to the registrar, experience and learning are wasted o r invalid. T h e rewarding experience o f our private lives (a book, lovemaking, a meal, a symphony) are rarely approached w i t h defined objectives, are rarely evaluated. But the academic habit o f mind often blinds us to what is actually happening in education, what people are actually l e a r n i n g ? s o intent are we upon testing the testable. H o w can we learn to relax w i t h the fact that we m a y never know what our students have l e a r n e d ? a n d that, i n a sense, it is no more our business than it is the librarian?s

business w h a t readers get out o f the library?s books. This preoccupation w i t h k n o w i n g w h a t students are learning is a mother-hen complex. I t is difficult for us as parents not to k n o w where o u r children are and w h a t they are d o i n g ; it seems almost equally difficult for faculty to relinquish control. Often, when we hear professors complaining that students who have been granted some new 25

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freedom are ?doing nothing,? they suspect that they are doing something, but can only imagine what. C e r t a i n l y not w r i t i n g term papers. Some o f ug i n experimental education naively imagined that i f we removed all constraints the students would, of their o w n free w i l l , do all the things the system forced them to do i n the past. Generally they do not v o l u n t a r i l y come to classes or meetings, read the kinds o f books in our bibliographies, or write m u c h o f anything at all. T h e y seem to have very little b u i l t - i n need o f t a k i n g examinations, testing their knowledge against objective criteria, or even t a l k i n g over what they t h i n k they are learning w i t h those o f us w h o have studied the subject. A l l this makes faculty uneasy, not to say cynical. W h e n a c h i c k comes bedraggled back to the coop saying, ?I need direction!? they d o not l o o k upon that as weakness or i m m a t u r e dependency. Rather, it confirms t h e i r deepest c o n v i c t i o n of their indispensability, and they c l u c k a r o u n d the f a c u l t y lounge saying, ? W h a t these kids need is direction!? I t is easy to forget that the educator?s business is to get rid of his customers, and that, as older people living off the beaut i f u l young, the greatest danger we have to face is o u r own dependency o n them. T h e student may not be able to articulate m u c h of w h a t he senses about the academy, but his response to it, though often rude, shows a healthy drive f o r self-preservation. I t is not his business to reerganize education.

educator?s job:

T h a t is the to create climates of open discussion in

w h i c h the risks for trying new attitudes are m i n i m i z e d , i n w h i c h the reward system is changed so as not to encourage educationally disfunctional practices such as an overemphasis upon research, exclusiveness, severity o f judgment, r i g i d i t y of requirements, impersonality and routine. A l l of us w h o want to change the educational system 26

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w i l l first have to liberate ourselves. O u r own education has burdened us w i t h expectations, w i t h ideas of duty, w i t h a sense o f guilt, w h i c h makes it difficult f o r us to approve o f ourselves. T o hide what we regard as o u r inadequacies, we cling to a fabric of lies as a security blanket. N o w that blanket is being stripped from u s ? b y the barbarous and candid young, by social forces intolerant of our established premises, by a w o r l d responding to d o m i n a t i o n by our civilization as to the grip o f cancer. Those of us w h o successfully adapt to that situation in a way that w i l l save our own skins w i l l , I believe, emerge as happier and better people.

27

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2

A t P u b l i c Cost, in the P u b l i c I n t e r e s t

One freshman out o f three begins his college career at a c o m m u n i t y college, usually a public, two-year, urban, c o m m u t e r institution granting associate o f arts degrees, offering ?college parallel? or ?transfer? programs f o r those expecting to complete a bachelor?s degree elsewhere, and ?occupational? or ?terminal? programs f o r those seeking two-year certification in a vocational skill. Because o f t h e i r geographic availability and their generally open admissions policies, c o m m u n i t y colleges are the most democratic institutions o f higher learning we have. A l t h o u g h m a n y o f their personnel, and therefore m a n y o f their assumptions, still come from the secondary schools, the two-year colleges are also the most significant, exciting and problematical development among o u r large-scale efforts to adapt o u r institutions to changing social realities. I reconstruct a visit to a typical one, based on those I have actually visited, taught at, read about. Dozens of new ones open each year; hundreds a r o u n d the c o u n t r y are, like this one, a few years o l d and presently in the process o f defining their mission. The catalogue is characterized by 28

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an array of carefully defined, m u l t i - t r a c k e d curricula, by an abundance o f rules and careful c r i t e r i a ? e s p e c i a l l y pertaining to grade-point averages. E v e r y t h i n g seems r i g i d l y codified and professional; at the same time, there is an ad hoc q u a l i t y about the program, as it responds to needs and pressures not always explicit. T h e college has developed w i t h such speed and m o m e n t u m (to a size of about a thousand full-time students and hundreds more in evening or part-time courses) that a good m a n y basic questions have been swept under, questions now rising puffily to the surface like drowned bodies: W h a t are we, other than a credential service? What is our relation to the c o m m u n i t y ? to the state system? to liberal education? D o we serve the poor by preparing them for vocational slots? M y host, t h e dean o f i n s t r u c t i o n , d r i v e s me to his h o m e f r o m the a i r p o r t , v e e r i n g away f r o m the c i t y , crossing a t i v e r , l e a v i n g the i n d u s t r i a l s m o k e s t a c k s , p e e l i n g o f f t h e s u p e r h i g h w a y to w h i s k t h r o u g h m a n i c u r e d n e i g h b o r h o o d s w i t h names l i k e G l e n v i e w and F o r s y t h e Falls. ? W e m o v e d o u t here,? he e x p l a i n s , ?because o f the schools. B u t I don?t k n o w . I t m a y be t h e w o r s t t h i n g y o u c a n do to a c h i l d t o d a y ? t o send h i m s c h o o l in a s u b u r b . ?

to

an

all-white,

u p p e r - m i d d l e class

T h a t d i l e m m a encompasses m u c h o f what we face in education. O u r notions of q u a l i t y lead to homogenization on the one hand and stratification on the other. O u r dream of democratic education widens the breach between those who are succeeding and those who can?t or won't adapt to society's definition of success. T o progress is, symbolically, to m o v e to the suburbs, and the more we move to the suburbs, the more rot occurs at the core. T h e c o m m u n i t y college itself was m o v i n g in this direction, The dean takes me to the college?s original site, an 29

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abandoned nineteenth-century academy in a genteel but decaying section of the city, a grassy quadrangle w i t h ornate b r i c k buildings: It must have seemed a fortress of elegance in its time. W e pass f r o m

there through

the

ghetto. ?There has been some talk,? m y host says, ?about opening a storefront extension o f the college r i g h t in this part of town, but it?s very controversial. People are afraid there w o u l d be trouble.? W e cross a bridge into open country. ?They built this campus on an old garbage dump.? N o w , on the fringe o f the city, new buildings gleam in rows. T h e empty p a r k i n g lot contains acres of macadam. ?It?s full i n the evening.? I t is clear that if you attend this college you drive, or take the bus; after classes you go home; only a few students live on campus in dormitories. ?T don?t k n o w how m u c h of a t u r n o u t there w i l l be f o r your poetry reading this evening,? m y host says. ?It?s been advertised i n the local paper, but the day students and faculty go home after classes, and the evening people w i l l be in classes at that time.? Part of the reason for the name ?community? college is the c u l t u r a l enrichment the instit u t i o n offers the c i t y ? e x h i b i t s , theater, lectures, readings, concerts; b u t for this f u n c t i o n its location is poor. ? A r e we a c o m m u n i t y c o l l e g e ? o r a college i n a community?? one of the f a c u l t y asks. D i d the i n s t i t u t i o n and its programs grow out of c o m m u n i t y involvement? W a s i t responsive to its immediate public? Should it be? O r was it, like a post office or chain store, s i m p l y located there, offering its standardized program to those who c o u l d m a k e use o f it? The sleek fluorescent h a l l o f the a d m i n i s t r a t i o n building, w i t h its data-processing center (tape reels spinning and jerking, printouts emerging i n zig-zag f o l d s ) , its business office w i t h long counter, the dean?s office, b r i l l i a n t 30

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w i t h surrealist and expressionist paintings over the heads of secretaries who transfer words from electric machines to electric m a c h i n e s ? a l l seemed like the nerve center of a factory, o r an outpatient clinic where residents came to be served. I t is a college rather deliberately outside of and insulated from its c o m m u n i t y . A t times the w o r d c o m m u n i t y seems a euphemism for blacks. The p r o p o r t i o n of black students is m u c h smaller than the p r o p o r t i o n in the city. I see no black faculty. The night before there had been trouble on c a m p u s ? b l a c k intruders disturbing w h i t e students after a dance. Tension has been high for months since a g r o u p of black militants were arrested and convicted for bringing arms on campus. N o w the leader o f that g r o u p has been released, is out there, over the bridge, in the c o m m u n i t y , w h i c h seems to lie on the h o r i z o n like a dark menace. The paradox is p a r t i c u l a r l y acute at every c o m m u n i t y college. College is a means to m o b i l i t y , enabling people to move away f r o m home, away to jobs, away to the suburbs. One function of a college has always been to liberate young people f r o m local ties and p r o v i n c i a l values, just as education in general enlarges vision to enable one to see beyond himself, beyond his f a m i l y and nation and species. O u r educational system is national rather than local; the local college merely absorbs students into the national bloodstream. I n this sense, it serves its c o m m u n i t y as a means o f escape. The c o m m u n i t y colleges, though, have a sensitive relationship to their immediate constituency. T h e i r trustees tend to be local. Often the parents o f the students are a felt presence, since m a n y students live at home under parental surveillance. M a n y residents beyond college age k n o w the institution i n t i m a t e l y through its c o n t i n u i n g edu31

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cation programs. Moreover, since the colleges are committed to giving a chance to l o w achievers and students who wouldn?t otherwise go to college at all, the faculty perforce knows them i n d i v i d u a l l y , copes w i t h t h e i r special weaknesses and the circumstances o f t h e i r backgrounds. The college m a y be deeply involved in the c o m m u n i t y , but that does n o t mean it identifies w i t h it, that it shares the community?s interests and goals, that it perceives itself as governed b y c o m m u n i t y needs and values. There is no more p a i n f u l issue i n A m e r i c a n education. L o c a l c o n t r o l o f schools in Prince E d w a r d C o u n t y and Ocean H i l l - B r o w n s v i l l e means very d i f f e r e n t ? a n d very s i m i l a r ? t h i n g s . So far in our history we have made progress in solving social problems b y emphasizing national, as opposed to local, authority. B u t this is one o f the m a n y assumptions now being questioned in our culture, and one w h i c h we m a y see reversed. Emphasis u p o n p a r t i c i p a t o r y democracy, c o m m u n i t y involvement, b l a c k separatism and self-determination forces us to re-examine w h a t we gain and

lose b y

imposition

of

culture-wide

standards

and

goals. A n analogous p r o b l e m on the i n d i v i d u a l level is whether a person's education should be governed by his own interests and needs as he perceives them, or by a wider social j u d g m e n t o f w h a t it is p r o p e r and necessary f o r h i m to learn. O u r national educational system developed when we had greater confidence that we knew in w h i c h direction a learner should move, w h a t constitutes q u a l i t y , what was ?good? for the student and the nation. M o s t talk o f educational r e f o r m has dealt w i t h i m p r o v i n g the credentials,

increasing

the pressure,

heightening

the

stan-

dards. W e evaluate o u r schools in terms of how well they adapt people to the national system. B u t now we m u s t question these assumptions. It is as i f we were in a bus ???ing down a m o u n t a i n w i t h the brakes gone and we tried to 32

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improve our situation by stepping on the accelerator. T h a t w o u l d help us do better what we were doing, but the question is whether we should be doing it at all. The system, w i t h its standardized routes and spaced points o f exit and entrance, is rather like a superhighway or jet airline system. It w i l l take you o n l y to the big cities. W i t h its sterility, impersonality, vastness and speed, it gets people quickly to standard destinations w i t h o u t m u c h consideration of their differences or dramatically, w i t h i n the past couple been forced to look again at questions local control, decentralization. N o one

desires. Suddenly, of years, we have o f i n d i v i d u a l needs, wants to close d o w n

his vision to n a r r o w l y local concerns, but perhaps we have turned a technological corner so that we can bring i l l u m ination from the larger w o r l d to the smaller w i t h o u t destroying the uniqueness o f the latter, so that we can individualize choice and enrich smali communities w i t h o u t standardizing them. A t this p a r t i c u l a r c o m m u n i t y college, the conflicts and contradictions of local and national values are everywhere apparent. Students w h o have gone on to state universities often come back to visit, expressing their disappointment in the bigger school, where they get not only less personal attention but less lively and imaginative teaching. T h e y complain that they are less stimulated and challenged. I t is not surprising. A f t e r all, the c o m m u n i t y college specializes in the first two undergraduate years and has a specific clientele, whereas state colleges concentrate their energies on the upperclass years or graduate studies and are relatively indifferent to the backgrounds and personalities o f their students. The state university is designed, in part, to weed out the unfit, while a not so small part of the comm u n i t y college?s mission is to salvage the discarded. ? T h e best courses we o f f e r are r e a l l y u n a c c r e d i t e d , ? the

33

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dean says, referring to general potpourris in the humanities and social sciences, offered as enrichment in the vocational c u r r i c u l a ? c r e d i t not accepted in the transfer track. Freed from the constrictions o f university expectations ( w h i c h tyrannically govern most o f their liberal arts offerings) and of their own professional predilections, f a c u l t y in these courses ( w i t h titles such as ? H u m a n A r t and Expression? and ? M a n in Society?) are able to innovate, to introduce controversial material, to use affective techniques, to range freely through popular culture in search o f the excitement and relevance w h i c h w i l l reach aspiring tradesmen and craftsmen. One drama and speech teacher has students cover one another w i t h shaving cream f r o m aerosol cans and improvise to rock music. Teams f r o m the humanities and social sciences took such courses into the state prison - ? a n d made themselves controversial by stirring up a bit of active engagement in learning. T h e standard courses are m u c h more restrained and conventional, bound as they are b y expectations that specific subject matter w i l l be covered, certain skills taught. Yet there is a willingness that new things, even fads, be tried. Since standard academic procedures have not w o r k e d for many o f these students, the faculty is impelled to seek alternatives, and the administration generally encourages exploration. ?The concept most people have of a c o m m u nity college,? an English teacher says, ?is that it?s for idiots, the ones who can?t make it in a four-year school, so it?s going to train them in some sort of useless thing like data programming. The students don?t quite k n o w w h a t they deserve because nobody?s ever treated them like h u m a n beings. T h e y don?t even have enough sense o f identity to rebel. I go on tirades about how they're just sitting there getting chipped away by various deans or teachers, and 34

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they agree, but they feel there?s n o t h i n g they can do about it.? That k i n d o f griping is f a i r l y common, and it is always the other guy who?s doing the chipping. Similarly, m a n y students gripe about the apathy o f their classmates or the conventionality and deadness of their courses. But, as at other colleges, such complaints are often a subtle means of self-congratulation. was impressed b y a veteran of V i e t n a m who, he said, came back f r o m w a r so j u m p y he warned his mother not to touch h i m when she woke him, his brother not to wrestle 1

him; he dove for cover once when a helicopter flew over campus. D i d the c o m m u n i t y college help? ?Definitely,? he said. ?The first thing i t d i d was keep me busy. I take eighteen or twenty credits a semester, as much as they'll let me. A n d of course [ w o r k . Right now, I run a ?deli? during the week, park cars on weekends, go c l a m m i n g pretty regularly, and come here for classes. I like this school, so I spend as m u c h time as possible on campus. . . . W h e n I was in the service I t h o u g h t I knew what I wanted to d o ? architecture. 1 came here and Is t a r t e d finding out that I was good at more things than IJ thought. I wasn?t just interested in architecture; I like design, and I found out that I was good in poetry and all o f a sudden I could put to use all the experience I?ve had i n the service. In the Marines I learned coordination, and I?ve got imagination, so I became interested in choreography, R i g h t now I?m choreographing a dance for little kids. A n o t h e r thing is painting. I did that great big blue mural on the main staircase in the student c e n t e r ? t h e y asked me i f I could fill up that big empty space. I?ve learned an a w f u l lot about all the possibilities o f art. A n y t h i n g f r o m choreography to w o r k i n g on a sports car engine, that?s art to me.?

I n exceptional cases such as this the educational experi35

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ence seems to be t r u l y liberating. I n others it assists in social a d a p t a t i o n ? t h e

quiet, simple g i r l

takes physical

therapy because she likes helping people and knows that w i t h that skill she can get a j o b anywhere. B u t the f a c u l t y thrust here as elsewhere is to awaken an interest i n scholarship and high culture,

in the sophisticated values of

cosmopolitan society. T h o u g h the college is w i l l i n g to start w i t h the roughtest ore, its intention is to cultivate and recruit for the elite. A c a d e m i c contempt for c o m m u n i t y mores, f o r p o p u l a r styles, for the interests and aspirations of the h o i p o l l o i is as strong here as in most colleges. T h e high-powered young faculty are the city sophisticates w i t h beards and beads, or the straight types t r y i n g to publish, to make a name in their professions and, presumably, to move on as q u i c k l y as possible to institutions of greater prestige. T h e i r stake is in being perceived as an intellectual elite, and though they are the teachers most open to student contact, the most involved in campus affairs, they lure students into identification w i t h a more urbane set of interests and values; meanwhile they use their young T u r k influence to push the standards and style o f the college i n the direction of elite colleges and universities, and they have great effect. I n the cafeteria ( I nearly wrote ? l u n c h r o o m ? ) one finds a m i x t u r e of the inanities of collegiate and high school life: beanies, meaningless political signs ( ? G o M o d e r n W i t h Murdock,?

?Dennis:

Dig??

?Sally

Knows

What

You

W a n t ! ? ) , card games and cut-ups, a self-segregated g r o u p of blacks grooving around the j u k e b o x , loose-leaf notebooks embossed w i t h the college insignia, stacks o f identical texts wrapped in identical covers. M o s t o f the students are neatly groomed f o r school or job in Sears? college styles. T h e y are not p a r t i c u l a r l y poor kids. Jencks and 36

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(even though enrollment in them is rising). One of the f a c u l t y announced w i t h pride that a graduate had recently taken a j o b w i t h a major corporation for $ 7 5 0 0 a year. There was a m u r m u r of appreciation around the room. ?We've placed them at $ 7 0 0 0 before,? I was told, ?but $ 7 5 0 0 is a record.? His pride was in beating the system by launching a man on a promising career w i t h o n l y an A . A . But they had not beaten the system very decisively; a m i d d l i n g stenographer w i t h a couple of years? experience can match that man?s $ 1 5 0 a week. The A . A . is like a blue d i s c h a r g e ? w i t h o u t honor. W i t h out dishonor, but w i t h o u t honor. I f a student has means and brains he w i l l go on to a ?real? college and ?finish.? There is a q u a n t u m leap in the m a r k e t value of a college education when it is capped w i t h a baccalaureate. M o r e importantly, there is a leap in the individual?s sense of status. When I helped start the College of the V i r g i n Islands as a two-year institution in 1963 we expected our technical courses ( i n hote] management, secretarial science, construction technology and other vocations locally needed) to be the big attraction. But we had been misled by managers who indeed wanted girls in their offices, clerks at their desks, men on their bulldozers. T h e students themselves opted

for

the

liberal

arts.

They

said

they

wanted to be lawyers, doctors, executives, political leaders. S o m e ? g i r l s ? s a i d they wanted to be teachers. Such life aims were not exactly unrealistic; they were the vague lies young people use to fend off inquiries o f elders, who are always asking what students intend to ?do? w i t h their education. What the young V i r g i n Islanders wanted was exactly what I wanted when I went to the University o f O k l a h o m a in 1943, switching in m y freshman year f r o m a vocational 39

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major, journalism, to an amorphous field called Letters, c o m b i n i n g philosophy, history and literature. T h o u g h I w o u l d not have k n o w n how to say it, I wanted legitimacy. M y parents had n o t achieved it: no one i n m y f a m i l y except one glamorous, rich cousin had been t o college. 1 wanted a degree in the same way Shakespeare wanted a coat o f arms, even if it meant b u y i n g one. I wanted letters after m y name, pedigree, membership. I n the U n i t e d States, starved for heritage and hierarchy and p u b l i c l y defined status, we make extravagant sacrifices to escape the a n o n y m i t y of our classlessness. A vocational d i p l o m a is a license, necessary f o r this or that, but m o r e c o n f i n i n g than liberating. A baccalaureate seems to those w h o do n o t have one a passe-partout. T o make it a key to anything i n particular w o u l d defeat its universal purpose. T h a t was over a quarter-century ago. T o d a y the degree is less like a coat o f arms than an automobile inspection sticker. I f you don?t have it, you are subject to all kinds of penalties, to exclusion, to insecurity. I doubt that the students o f the c o m m u n i t y college know well o r question much w h y they are pursuing the degree. A c c e p t i n g the o r t h o d o x y o f academia, they regard the vocational route as meant for i n f e r i o r students, and they avoid it as l o n g as they can. T h e y accepted w i t h grim willingness g r a d u a t i o n from elementary school to high school and then, graduating f r o m high school, they took another bus in the m o r n ings, accepting college in the same spirit. F e w are motivated by wanting to learn. T h e y are motivated b y w h a t they w a n t to be, and that, for most, is s i m p l y a Graduate. Some a d m i n i s t r a t o r s

and f a c u l t y accept this

situation

w i t h , as s o m e o n e p u t i t , ? a p a t h y ? o r s a t i s f a c t i o n . ? S o m e are m o v e d b y a sense o f social service, t a k i n g p r i d e i n t h e open-door policy

40

of

admission,

resisting

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develop in a variety of ways, helping them reach a threshold

of

employment,

helping

them

gain

the

skills

and

knowledge to restore and i m p r o v e their neighborhoods. T h e y m i g h t b r i n g older and younger learners together in contexts in w h i c h they could understand one another better. They might say i m p l i c i t l y that degrees are n o t i m portant, that what matters is w h o and w h a t you are, w h a t you k n o w , w h a t you can do, how y o u live w i t h others, what c o n t r i b u t i o n y o u can make to those sharing y o u r background and economic destiny. B u t so l o n g as the college has to b u c k the national system, efforts in these directions m i g h t be perceived as another variety of colonialism. Have the colleges any right not to send their students as efficiently as possible onto the national routes to success? T h e y m i g h t develop alternate modes f o r f a c u l t y

and

administrators, too. Free f r o m the publish-or-perish f o r mula o f the national institutions, they m i g h t create a professional model o f good teaching, personal responsiveness, social betterment at the local level, c u l t u r a l e n r i c h m e n t o f the c o m m u n i t y . Rather than adding to the storehouse o f knowledge, they m i g h t concentrate on m a k i n g it p u b l i c l y available and adapting it to immediate c o m m u n i t y p u r poses. T h e y m i g h t take a stance o n the citizen?s side in opposition to T h e System, creating an anti-system of l o c a l loyalty, renewing the schools, the housing, the conditions of life and employment, the q u a l i t y o f c o m m u n i t y relations ? m a k i n g the suburbs less necessary, the escape routes through state universities and national industries less attractive. T h e name c o m m u n i t y college, w h i c h has w i d e l y replaced the term j u n i o r college, implies some such mission. There is a discernible tendency in the c o m m u n i t y colleges to move in that direction. But there is at least as 42

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This is a critical issue?because at the same time there is a distinct possibility that the state w i l l gobble

up all

private institutions, as the latter are f i n d i n g it increasingly difficult to survive w i t h o u t tax support. Recently I visited one o f our most respected private institutions w h i c h is finding it necessary to eat a n n u a l l y into its very small endowment and is considering as a real o p t i o n j o i n i n g the state system. I was t a l k i n g to another visitor who had left a top administrative post at another private institution, C o l u m b i a , t o take a deanship at an obscure state college. ?I?ve never seen so much money,? he said. ?We've got money c o m i n g out of our ears. N o w I'm getting acquainted w i t h the problems

money

won't

solve.?

Meanwhile

the

complicity

between the university system and m i l i t a r y - i n d u s t r i a l research is becoming increasingly e v i d e n t ? a n d both students and f a c u l t y are beginning to recognize that there are definite limits to intellectual and p o l i t i c a l freedom i m p l i c i t in any state system. B u t for most students entering college in the United States, whether they go into the c o m m u n i t y colleges or one of the universities, the situation is not really m u c h different than it was for me in 1943. College means one or another State U. A s I travel among them ! find our state institutions o f higher education blurring. A l l are parts o f intricate systems, different in each state, but w i t h an over-all sameness. One state distinguishes its universities f r o m its colleges by admissions levels. In others, the distinctions seem chiefly geographic. Some campuses are distinguished b y specialized facilities or programs. Some have colleges or universities in the system w h i c h are p r e d o m i n a n t l y black. Each institution seems to have branches, each has an array o f c u r r i c u l a w i t h elaborate variations, like a Chinese menu. In contrast w i t h the private colleges and universities, each 46

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offers a range of programs oriented to careers in w h i c h the bachelor?s degree is the p r i m a r y qualification. H o m e economics and agriculture students crisscross the quadrangles, passing elementary education majors, geologists, physical therapists, c o m m e r c i a l artists, television technologists, historians and classicists. A t a liberal arts college some students don?t select a m a j o r u n t i l their t h i r d y e a r ? and change it in their f o u r t h ; but at State (whichever state, whichever campus) they seem more w i l l i n g to accept labels early and f o l l o w routes, like a commuter tracing the I R T U p t o w n arrows through the bowels o f G r a n d Central. F o r most undergraduate majors there are graduate extensions in w h i c h the more academically successful m a y go on to sponsored research. Everyone seems busy, intent, official, and the traffic intersects and parts for obstacles, merges and fans into separate streams u n t i l a football r a l l y or a r i o t pulls a c r o w d together w i t h a c o m m o n cause. From

dozens

o f visits,

]

will

put

together

a composite

campus.

A scholarly young English professor has picked me up i n an air-conditioned Cadillac w i t h the university seal on the door. Unused to such elegance, he drives the great machine w i t h uneasy glances around him. Ht might be bugged. They m a y be watching. I n this state the campuses are Spanish-American in style. Students have occupied the p i n k stucco student union and are r u n n i n g a free university there. Co-eds are painting revolutionary slogans and quotations on the broad windows. Bold letters are d r i b b l i n g ? t h e paint too thin. A shapely g i r l in a chic pantsuit is lettering a long quotation f r o m Engels onto the w i n d o w . The professor whispers that she has misspelled a word. Inside, f r o m the balcony a r o u n d the central fountain, hang giant posters 47

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of M a l c o l m X and Che. A t a table, students are collecting strike funds. O n a messy blackboard is an i m p r o m p t u d i a g r a m o f the class schedule: hours and rooms in the u n i o n are assigned to courses called M a l e and Female, T h e B l a c k Experience (open to w h i t e s ) , T h e Stock M a r k e t : a Radical Analysis, G u e r r i l l a Theatre, Encounter, M e d i t a t i o n , Elementary Swahili. T h e g i r l supervising the registration looks as harassed as any administrator, pencil in her hair, hands flailing as she i r r i t a b l y explains to a teacher that n o slide projector w i l l be available for his three o?clock in A f f e c t i v e Ed. A knot of students, m a n y eating ice cream cones, watch television in the lounge. I feel as t h o u g h I have walked onto the set o f a Godard film. ?What is it all about?? [ ask the professors in our party. W e are weaving through the crowd toward the cafeteria, leaving our coats and satchels on racks in the cloak r o o m . ?It has something to do w i t h the arrest of those SDS leaders, doesn?t it?? one professor asks another. ?That's part of it. It?s r e a l l y about the f i r i n g of two p o l i t ical science instructors. The administration is h i r i n g them back over the should . . .?

department?s

veto.

I

?Tt all goes back to the BSF demands

think .

.

the

AAUP

.?

There was, they tell me, a b o m b i n g the day before. A secretary reached into a m a i l b o x i n the f a c u l t y lounge and it exploded. She lost a hand, m a y lose her eyesight. I could find m y food blindfolded, as all cafeterias i n this State are arranged identically. M y h a m b u r g e r and french fries are cooked electronically before m y eyes, but are soggy nonetheless. A young m a n stops the E n g l i s h professor to ask permission to t u r n i n his paper late. ?I?ve been putting in a lot o f time for SRR,? he says. Students 48

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T h e student newspaper is out, and I scan the headlines. A large m a j o r i t y voted in a referendum to support an action o f the president; he had a g r o u p o f SDS leaders arrested and expelled. I express surprise. ?They're sick and tired of SDS,? a professor explains, ?It?s exam week. They can?t afford time f o r a boycott this late i n the semester.? ?T'd like you to meet Professor Boggle,? m y host says, adding sotto voce, ?the Joyce scholar.? ?How do you do,? says Professor Boggle. ?Sorry to be late. I was in m y office reading proofs. Just a revision of Journey,? he says deprecatingly. ( ? Y o u probably k n o w The I r i s h Journey,? m y host fills me in. ?Standard background f o r Joyce.?) T h e f u n c t i o n o f the Distinguished Scholar, it becomes clear, is to teach one small seminar and to keep his conversation f u l l o f references to proofs, editions, collections, editors, articles, monographs, N e w Y o r k , c o n f e r e n c e s ? a n y t h i n g pertaining to publication. He is a jovial whiplash continually r e m i n d i n g other f a c u l t y o f their comparative nonproductivity. T h e y w i n c e ? a n d love it. Once this was a m u n i c i p a l teachers college. N o w , incorporated i n the state system, spruced up w i t h a dozen new buildings, i t is a university composed o f a collection of semiautonomous schools, each bent on developing a reputation in graduate studies. ?It?s m u c h better than State,? one of the students tells me, comparing it to the central university in the system. ? F o r the first t w o years at State everything is o n television except the English classes. Fifteen per cent of all undergraduate courses are t a u g h t by graduate students. They use the English sections to f l u n k out h a l f or more o f each entering class.? T h e o t h e r side o f the s t o r y is t h a t most o f these students c o u l d n o t get i n t o State, w h i c h takes o n l y those f r o m the

50

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top half of their graduating classes. This university has to take any graduate above those in the b o t t o m 10 per cent. ?Where do they go?? I ask a professor o f higher education. He says they go to the technical schools scattered around the state. He had never visited one and didn?t know m u c h about them; they are regarded as custodial institutions f o r the mentally handicapped. (1 thought o f ap i n b a l l racing out o f its slot, oscillating from bumper to bumper, zigzagging d o w n the board, d r o p p i n g into a hole, being ejected, shuddering t h r o u g h n a r r o w rubber-lined passages, ringing bells, tripping wires, lighting lights, finally m a k i n g a last slow arc into the boneyard. Even within the university there is a certain p i n b a l l effect as a student is bumped out o f A r t s and Sciences into Engineering, f r o m there into Business, f r o m there into Education or Home Economics, before r o l l i n g into the final slot?scoreless. B u t somewhere in the higher echelons of university policy-makers it was being decided that individual schools w o u l d have to give up their separate admissions standards, soon they w o u l d have to take any student accepted by the university as a whole. ?Standards are going out the window,? a professor says grimly. T h e y had built quite a castle on a sandy base, but now social pressures against university exclusiveness were undermining the whole concept o f a q u a l i t y institution. ?This could have been a great university,? an a d m i n i s t r a t o r tells me. T h e relative autono m y o f the schools enabled them to seek visible scholars, to procure grants and contracts, to attract ambitious graduate students, to build up distinguished libraries, excellent facilities. ? N o w it?s clear that all we?re expected to do is take the pressure off State.

Watch?they?ll

concentrate

all the really specialized stuff there. We?re to baby-sit those who shouldn?t be in college at all.?

?But why play the game?? I ask. ?The way you are de51

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uate w o r k in a subject at the doctoral or post-doctoral level at a m a j o r university. I f such a person can be l i b e r ated f r o m his teaching j o b in a s m a l l - t o w n high school and launched on a career o f research and teaching i n a university,

the cause o f

humanity

and

the

advancement

of

knowledge w i l l have been served. L i k e the c o m m u n i t y college, the second-rank state university is a p o r t o f e n t r y into the national system. Its f u n c t i o n is not so m u c h education as selection; i t is engaged in a k i n d o f talent search through human rubble. A professor scores i f he turns up a few w o r t h y candidates for the ?great? universities, or for industry or research institutes. He also scores i f he is prolific in his own work. H e is usually n o t interested i n administrative advancement i n his own university. D e p a r t ment chairmanships, f o r example, are universally regarded as thankless chores, and i f a professor is co-opted into a deanship or other administrative post, his colleagues regard h i m as having given up his ?real w o r k . ? A n y institutional i n v o l v e m e n t ? i n time-consuming experimental programs i n undergraduate education, for e x a m p l e ? i s a cul-de-sac. The single line o f professional advancement is to get recognition, through his students or his o w n publications, at more eminent universities, and thus tos p r i n g himself f r o m B r a n c h U. There are branches and branches. As we drive b a c k to the airport

I

notice

a highway

sign pointing

down

a

country road to another campus of this same university. ?What's that?? I ask in surprise. ?Oh, there are three of those,? I am told. ?We couldn?t expand any more in the city. These campuses are springing u p everywhere.? He guesses there must be seven or eight thousand students at each satellite campus. He?s never been over there himself ? d o e s n ? t k n o w any o f the faculty, has never talked to any 54

AT

PUBLIC

COST,

IN

THE

PUBLIC

INTEREST

of the students. I t seems misty, strange, whispered about, as the concentration

camps must have seemed to good

Germans. A n d I imagined that over there in the green prairie must be another U n i o n under siege, another g i r l lettering E n gels on a w i n d o w , another referendum w i t h students voting L e P r é s i d e n t ? - O u i . Engineers must w a l k there under hastily planted trees, slide rules slapping their thighs. Girls must hug their standard texts to their standard bosoms. Professors must wheel projectors d o w n grey halls. I n a cage on the n e w l y sodded campus sits a leonine D i s t i n guished Scholar, sipping a m a r t i n i and shuffling long galleys of proof. H o w can we keep them down on the farm after they?ve seen the Hunger Artist? Some state universities, of course, ?rank? alongside or ahead o f the great private universities, as well they might, w i t h their access to tax dollars. A n d there are some quite distinguished smaller state colleges and experimental programs w i t h i n state systems, such as the State U n i v e r s i t y o f N e w Y o r k at O l d Westbury (discussed in Chapter 6 ) . But perhaps it is only the Protestant in me w h i c h reflects that, o n balance, the surprising thing is not what public education has done, but w h a t it has failed to do, given its public charge and public assets.

55

CHAPTER

3

The Climate of Privacy

The catastrophe o f the atomic bombs w h i c h shook men out of cities and businesses and economic relations, shook them also out o f t h e i r old-established habits o f thought, and o u t of the l i g h t l y held beliefs and prejudices that came d o w n to them f r o m the past. H . G . Wells, T h e W o r l d Set Free, 1 9 1 4

?How soon,? I asked the president of a private liberal arts college, ?will we see important colleges closing down?? ?I should say easily w i t h i n the next five years. We're now seeing u n i m p o r t a n t colleges close down.? He t o l d me of one small college w i t h an excellent national reputation, with under $ 5 0 0 0 in the bank, not k n o w i n g h o w to meet its p a y r o l l the c o m i n g m o n t h ; o f another well-established C a t h o l i c college forced to secularize to pay its bills. ?We have a situation in the U n i t e d States,? he said, ?in w h i c h it is i m p l i c i t that people are entitled to education services. But we don?t have any theory, or any policy, that connects it to the economic base. We?re in a trough. The tendency in education seems to be to t r y to invent these theories at the level o f the state rather than the level o f the national gov56

THE

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ernment, w h i c h may well mean that the private liberal arts colleges w i l l be d r a w n into state systems.? ?Is the o n l y solution public financing?? ?That?s the o n l y one I see. O f course, the public institutions are r u n n i n g into ceilings, t o o ? h a v i n g difficulty in managing the gulf between what education costs and what the i n d i v i d u a l can pay. One of the things w h i c h w i l l keep us in an uneasy situation longer than one had thought is

that the public sources o f f u n d i n g are diminishing, too. A lot o f school bond issues have failed lately, and state legislatures are increasingly u n w i l l i n g to extend university budgets, p a r t i c u l a r l y w i t h all the campus disorder. I f the society stops paying more and more for education, this may have the effect of depressing the quality o f education everywhere??and that, ironically, may help keep private institutions in business. But it can?t last long. T h e built-in escalation in the cost o f education is something like ten or twelve percent per year. The cost of education is obviously going up more r a p i d l y than the general economy.? Peter D r u c k e r , in The A g e o f Discontinuity, says we are already spending far more on education ( n o t just higher education) than on the m i l i t a r y , and our society is reaching the l i m i t o f its tolerance, w i t h no diminishment in steeply rising costs and demands. A c c o r d i n g to a recent Carnegie Commission report, ?Total institutional expenditures for higher education climbed from $5.2 billion in 1 9 5 7 - 8 to about $17.2 b i l l i o n in 1 9 6 7 - 8 , an increase o f 231 per cent as compared w i t h a 119 per cent increase in enrollments for the same period. It is estimated that expenditures o f higher education institutions w i l l total about $41 b i l l i o n in 1 9 7 6 - 7 7 for a projected F T E enrollment of nine m i l l i o n students.? Private colleges perform a k i n d o f Research and De57

CULTURE

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velopment f u n c t i o n for higher education generally, and for this purpose the advantage o f a l a c k o f public restraints has usually more than balanced the disadvantage of lack o f public funds. But economic pressures are increasing, and it m a y be that decisions w h i c h affect the future o f h i g h e r education w i l l be made o n the basis o f how institutions can survive rather than w h a t is good educational policy. The p r o b l e m is dramatized b y the situation of an excellent college for w o m e n ( m o v i n g toward at least token co-educationalism) w i t h a well-established reputation f o r progressivism. A couple of years ago when I visited that campus I was impressed b y a w a r m , u n a n i m o u s c o m m i t ment to outreach among students, f a c u l t y and administrators. Since the campus itself is elegant, antique and secluded,

and

since

it

serves

primarily

a

clientele

of

privileged women, all the people there agreed that it was educationally necessary f o r the college to keep in touch w i t h the w o r l d by bringing in those who m i g h t not otherwise come and b y getting the girls into programs o f field experience and social engagement. Since then the financial problems o f the college have continued and increased. A new president f r o m the business w o r l d is determined to find a way for the college to s u r v i v e ? a n d , in his view, this means reversing the direction in w h i c h the college had been moving. ?We've bought all the contiguous real estate we can acquire,? he told me. ?We can?t g r o w o u t ? a n d we can?t g r o w up. Z o n i n g laws prevent that. W e can?t c r o w d this campus meant for u n d e r three hundred w i t h m a n y more than the nearly seven hundred w h o are o n it n o w . One of our options is to j o i n up w i t h the state system. Short o f that we have to raise and keep raising t u i t i o n s ? a n d stop trying to serve those who can?t pay. We have t o stop try58

THE

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ing to save the world. We?ve got a seven to eight hundred thousand d o l l a r annual Operating deficit, o f which three h u n d r e d or so comes straight out o f an endowment w h i c h doesn?t amount to more than two m i l l i o n . Y o u figure it out. Scholarships come directly out o f our hide. I don?t see how we can afford to have more than about a hundred thousand in scholarship funds next year. O u r dabbling in social problems off-campus is naive and presumptuous; moreover, it?s expensive. The most innovative thing we can do n o w is go backwards, pull in our horns. We?re cutting out foreign l a n g u a g e s ? f i r s t as a skill, then maybe literature. We?re cutting out physics. We?re closing d o w n our foreign centers. We?ve got to stick to doing w h a t as

we can do w e l l ? t h e arts, and the sciences o n l y as they pertain to h u m a n development, something our girls are interested in and good at.? It sounded like a vision o f a finishing

school to me, but

I couldn?t argue w i t h

the

figures. I wondered, however, whether. t h i n k i n g o f the campus as the college were n o t a case of what Whitehead called ?misplaced concreteness.? I f the economic potential o f the college is l i m i t e d by the n u m b e r o f on-campus beds available, surely, as the economy and population rise around the green little island, it can o n l y erect higher tuition walls, play increasingly subtle games w i t h admissions, and eventually founder. I f the college conceived o f itself not as a place, but as a set o f functions, a style, a quality, a mode of operation not limited to ivy-covered halls, it might spring itself f r o m that geographical trap. The direction suggested by the new president seems to me at best a short-range response. The pressure for democratization and social engagement is p o w e r f u l these days on most campuses, but it m i g h t be contained f o r a 59

THE

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The p r i m a r y ?service? of colleges to society is not in manning day-care centers or counseling teenagers or whatever other activities students find to become engaged, but in developing well-educated citizens?-and the beneficiaries should get the bill. T h e ones benefiting are only in part the students themselves, only in very small part their parents ( w h o now bear most of the economic burd e n ) . U l t i m a t e l y it is the profit-making businesses employing graduates and depending upon a healthy, functioning social context w h o b e n e f i t ? a n d their payment o f the b i l l should p r o b a b l y be a tax function (though this does not, as I have said, mean that government is the best agency for o w n i n g and operating educational institutions). However the economics are arranged, it is necessary for colleges to m a i n t a i n an extended frontage w i t h the world. In the flux o f our times it is almost impossible to get in printed or simulated f o r m the k i n d o f models we need to understand w h a t is going on. Moreover, improved comm u n i c a t i o n and transportation facilities have made the w o r l d more accessible to learners and have made books and other simulations less necessary than they were fifty years ago. We are also learning much about the weakness of abstraction and simulation as means o f instruction and developing greater sophistication about the use of experience for this purpose. This college, like so m a n y others, is caught in cultural b a c k w a t e r while the stream is flowing off in a quite different direction, ?So few people really consider using their minds here,? a g i r l told me. ?Once you know how to be charming, there?s no more need to be intelligent.? A n other said, ? A l l these rich parents, they're looking for a nice school that w i l l take care o f their little girls and see that they find a nice m a n to marry.? Social concern, like m i n i or m a x i skirts, is another fashion: ?The girls here 61

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really know the liberal rhetoric, and you?d better not say anything conservative,? one student said. One of the investments of the college has been i n ?faculty o f great prestige ? b u t such people are o n l y occasionally educators as well, and, in any case, are very busy m a i n t a i n i n g the reputations for which they were hired. A n administrator complained, ? O u r basic contract is for a f o u r - d a y week, but it is difficult to get many f a c u l t y to put in more than the m i n i m a l time for f o u r days and impossible to get them to come a r o u n d evenings or other times.? It is v e r y difficult to get anyone to take seriously the education o f w o m e n in o u r society, especially o f r i c h women, and the personal, f r i e n d l y a t m o sphere o f the college encourages slackness. ? Y o u come i n for a conference,? a student said, ?and you tell the p r o f right off that you?ve o n l y read the first five chapters o f the book assigned, and then there?sa little discussion about one o f the main characters, and then you say, ?I just couldn?t hack the rest because o f this personal p r o b l e m I?ve been having,? then the p r o f asks, ?Oh, and w h a t is that?? and y o u spend the rest of the hour chatting about y o u r hang-ups.? A n o t h e r said, ?You have to move very aggressively here; but if you do that, you can get what you want.? I t makes sense to demand student initiative, but students m a y perceive this as lack o f deserved service: ?I keep asking myself, what the hell am I paying nearly $ 4 0 0 0 f o r , i f I have to organize a course myself or go to c o m p l a i n that this or that professor can?t teach.? I n d i v i d u a l i z e d instruction, albeit expensive, m a y be a w o r t h y goal, b u t one wonders w h a t it means i f m a n y classes are like one I visited in w h i c h the professor, w i t h t w o students i n his office, did 9 0 per cent o f the t a l k i n g and was not p a r t i c u l a r l y responsive to the comments students were able to squeeze i n ? - a mode of education w h i c h w o u l d have been just as effective i f t h i r t y 62

THE

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OF

PRIVACY

or f i f t y people had been i n the room. The burgeoning, crowded l i b r a r y was i n a d e q u a t e ? a n d had no room nor funds to grow. A n d yet, in view of the options in A m e r i c a n education today, the q u a l i t y o f education available on this campus was excellent. V i t a l , articulate and concerned students and a dedicated, wise staff were locked together in a pattern w h i c h drained and wasted their strengths and failed to correct their weaknesses. It would be tragic to see a great institution such as this fail or be fitted into the Procrustean system o f the state. A sI saw it, the greatest obstacle to survival was not the geographic l i m i t a t i o n of the campus or the college?s social engagement, but a set o f academic attitudes and consequent policies w h i c h negated the educational and economic resources of the college. fts money in the bank is its heritage of progressive educational ideals. A n d this k i n d of stock is such that the more it is used, the more valuable it becomes. A g a i n and again we find that this is the story of experimental education in this country. The impact o f John Dewey and the progressive education movement brought into being new institutions o r transformed old ones w i t h a complete re-interpretation of the role of schools and colleges in society. B u t for manpower those institutions have had to rely upon professionals w h o did not share the dream. Colleges tried to become mini-universities on the G e r m a n i c model. T h e y tried to isolate themselves, on the monastic model, as modified by middle-class spiritual aspirations o f the twenties. T h e y tried to be correctional or custodial institutions. T h e y tried to school an elite in the manners and attitudes o f the ruling class. Sometimes they tried to do all these things, and others, and somewhere the f u n c t i o n of f a c i l i t a t i n g self-motivated learning, p r i m a r i l y through experience, got lost in the c o m p e t i t i o n o f conflict63

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ing models, most o f w h i c h lay one or another definition o f academic excellence upon institutions conceived o f as promoting human g r o w t h andd e v e l o p m e n t . I t is the self-appointed guardians o f quality, preoccupying themselves w i t h questions o f legitimacy, hanging like gargoyles f r o m the eaves discouraging ingress and egress, w h o restrain the trade w h i c h might enable such colleges to survive. L i k e C h r i s t i a n i t y ( a n d perhaps for similar reasons), progressivism has never been tried. The catalogue of this college ( l i k e that o f m a n y others) contains ideals o f great market value, not to speak o f h u m a n value, w h i c h are undermined by restrictive academic practices. F o r example, in theory they have overcome the paralyzing disease of ?essentialism,? recognizing that it is impossible t o prescribe what an educated person ought to k n o w and p u t t i n g the emphasis upon the q u a l i t y o f k n o w i n g : ?Continued personal and intellectual growth, richness o f inner resources, curiosity, compassion and involvement? are the meaningful ingredients o f education. Introduce a p o l i c y that requires each student to take three year-long courses a year, and y o u have not o n l y made the catalogue statement a piece o f hypocrisy, but you have created an unbearably expensive situation in w h i c h you have to provide architecture and personnel to enable students to meet the requirement you have invented. A d d to that the requirement that the courses must, w i t h very rare exceptions, always be i n c o m p l e t e l y different academic disciplines, and the p r o b l e m is compounded by needs f o r laboratories and studios and l i b r a r y holdings and other appurtenances w h i c h are a f u r t h e r econ o m i c encumbrance. Soon demands for tenure, for maintenance, f o r expansion, for modernization, for operating the physical plant and managing personnel begin to d o m i n a t e educational concerns. Subtly educational policy begins to 64

THE

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and compassionate

PRIVACY

p e o p l e ? g r a d u a t e students,

wives of

graduate students, or graduate d r o p o u t s ) . He got his asylum. He got his deferment. T h e atmosphere was f r i e n d l y and morale seemed high. I don?t believe m u c h in absolute differences in human ability, t h r o u g h there are vast differences in background and motivation. I n a generally supportive climate, students marked as failures often flower. Here they were accepted ? e v e n l o v e d ? a n d were grateful for relief from the academic threat and impersonality of larger institutions. There was a certain restlessness because of the college?s smalltown isolation, its leisurely pace, a certain lack of spunk among most students, who neither had nor sought a voice in college affairs. T h e benign paternalism of the institution gave them all the freedom they wanted. Students and faculty w i t h a leaning toward activism found this frustrating. ?We tell the kids about the lake and woods,? said one professor, ?and then we t u r n around we'll keep them under supervision day.? O f course it is a collaborative registrar we live at home,? a student

and tell their parents t w e n t y - f o u r hours a fiction. ?We tell the

told me, ?but lots o f us have apartments in town and tell o u r parents we live at school. N o one raises m a n y questions. So far no one has gotten busted.? Such an institution should thrive so long as it is not lured into the economic

traps conventionally associated

w i t h q u a l i t y in the national system. A l t h o u g h a n u m b e r of liberal arts colleges experienced a decline in the n u m b e r of applications last year, and although overall there is probably an increasing shift to public institutions, the market for higher education continues to expand. ? A new college,? one administrator explained, ?has an advantage relative to the economy. It has m i n i m u m overhead, m i n i m u m fixed 67

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costs, gets public and private subsidies f o r its p l a n t ? t o be written off at low rates over a long period. It can offer its services at a competitive price, and so makes out better than the long-established college, at least in the short run.? Once it gets into the syndrome o f seeking prestige, m a i n t a i n i n g expensive faculty and equipping itself w i t h luxurious facilities, its competitive edge w i l l be dulled. Q u a l i t y education at nationally k n o w n colleges is heavily subsidized in one way or another. F o r example, a t i n y college with a scientific-engineering emphasis is charging about $2000 in tuition and fees for a p r o g r a m costing about $ 5 0 0 0 per year per student. A s it projects its budget a decade hence, it expects to be charging nearly $ 3 0 0 0 ? but expects the cost to be about $ 7 0 0 0 per student per year. A t another elite college the t u i t i o n is considerably higher, but half the students are on s c h o l a r s h i p ? a R o b i n H o o d arrangement, except that the scholarship students are not necessarily poor. The college sets an extremely high stake on getting students w i t h College B o a r d scores over 700. T h e same students have scholarship offers from other colleges and universities, hence are ?bought? in a competitive market. T o attract such students the college has to m a i n t a i n a very low student-faculty ratio, f a c u l t y with outstanding qualifications, excellent counselling, a rather luxurious plant. The president has to raise a m i l l i o n and one-half annually, and his sources are drying up. ?We located in a r i c h c o m m u n i t y , ? an administrator told me, ?thinking local pride w o u l d help support us. B u t longhaired, unconventional college s t u d e n t s ? t h e k i n d you get if you select the b r i g h t e s t ? a n d retired millionaires m i x like oil and water. O u r kids are rather unwelcome i n the c i t y ? s o we?re stuck here as on a compound. A n d to raise money we have to travel f u r t h e r and f u r t h e r afield.? Tn each of my conversations on this c a m p u s ? w i t h stu-

68

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pointed when students reject the academic route. T h e times they are a-changing, but the colleges aren?t sure what they are changing to. A t another liberal arts college - ? s m a l l , new, c h u r c h - r e l a t e d ? I was asked, ? W h a t d o you do w i t h them when they don?t w a n t to go to graduate school??

?Do with them?? I asked. ?Where d o you send them?? I had to confess I didn?t send anyone a n y w h e r e ? n o r am I sure where they send themselves. Increasingly seniors shrug when I ask them their plans. ? I f you don?t k n o w where you're going, any road w i l l take you there,? a colleague said in the forties, meaning it as gentle rebuke. But in the society o f The R o l l i n g Stones, his statement m i g h t be used as a slogan o f liberation. The f a c u l t y is left in the position o f being as directionless as the students, and its efforts t o adjust are sometimes pathetic and amusing. A young literary critic told me the dean had asked him and a half-dozen other f a c u l t y members to develop an innovative program for the c o m i n g year. ?What sort o f innovative program?? I asked. ?It really doesn?t matter, so long as it is innovative,? he replied. ?He simply told me to get sixty or seventy kids together and plan something.? He seemed genuinely enthusiastic about the o p p o r t u n i t y and eagerly listened to suggestions as to what to do w i t h it. The m a n is no f o o l : he is simply more candid than most in a d m i t t i n g he doesn?t k n o w w h i c h w a y to t u r n , and differs from most in that he sees this as an occasion for hope rather than despair. T h i s was one of the few campuses I have visited in recent months w h i c h seemed characterized by a spirit o f w a r m t h , openness, good h u m o r and deep compassion. A senior faculty member told me o f the suffering he had gone through 70

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w i t h several students i n v o l v e d w i t h

drugs. T h e m i d n i g h t

c o n f e r e n c e s , the visits to jails and c l i n i c s , the c o n f r o n t a tions w i t h p a r e n t s ? a l l h a d p u t h i m t h r o u g h an e m o t i o n a l g r i n d w h i c h , o f course, seemed q u i t e a digression f r o m his a c a d e m i c field (a f i e l d in w h i c h he is o u t s t a n d i n g l y c r e a t i v e and p r o d u c t i v e ) . T h i s s p i r i t o f personal, intense c o n c e r n , lightened by whimsy, pervaded the campus.

was at a student p a r t y in the home o f a faculty member when a call came f r o m one of last year?s graduates, now 1

across the c o u n t r y at graduate school in California. He seemed to have k n o w n i n t u i t i v e l y that the group w o u l d be gathered at that teacher?s home that evening. He talked to one after another o f the students and faculty present, staying on the wire an hour or more. ( M o n e y , they told me, was not one of his problems.) T h e students joked a good deal about this fellow; he had apparently been regarded as something o f a freak: m o r b i d l y shy, rigid in personality, simultaneously h a u g h t y and insecure, the natural butt o f vicious practical jokes. T h o u g h they laughed about him, they said he was an excellent poet, doing well in a difficult graduate program. N o t only respect but affection came through; apparently their rough treatment had been tempered w i t h understanding. T h e y had helped h i m cope w i t h his personality problems; he was grateful to them, and they seemed p r o u d to have been part of his life. T h e phone call, w i t h detailed and l i v e l y interest on both ends of the line, exemplified a q u a l i t y of life w h i c h is not c o m m o n even at small colleges. B y contast, a college o f a b o u t the same size, b u t m u c h o l d e r a n d m o r e esteemed, s t r u c k me as h a v i n g an a m b i e n c e o f sullenness a n d p e r s o n a l i n d i f f e r e n c e . T h e students i g n o r e strangers, or g r e e t t h e m w i t h s u s p i c i o n ( a n d i n s t r a n g e r s 1

d o n o t i n c l u d e m y s e l f ) . L e t t e r grades h a v e been e l i m i 71

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nated, tests, papers and other measures o f academic excellence have been de-emphasized, yet a competitiveness persists. Students and f a c u l t y and administrators all seem out to get one another. People rarely speak of absent persons except critically. Groups are characterized b y jockeying, put-downs, barbs, a t t i t u d i n a l posturing. I t is clear that certain opinions and tastes are acceptable beyond c r i t i c i s m ( o p p o s i t i o n to the W a r , socialism, hard rock, astrology) and others are inarguably unacceptable ( r a c i a l integration, the Peace Corps, scholarship, metered p o e t r y ) . T h e game of taste is played fiercely and desperately, f o r to be consigned to the l i m b o of squaredom is a failure more damaging than a poor cumulative average ever was. A n o t h e r terrifying game at such a college is called ?competition for resources.? Student-initiated programs are choking the academic jungle, and white radical scrabbles w i t h b l a c k over the u n a p p r o p r i a t e d dollars in this dean?s discretionary f u n d and that student government committee?s budget. Factions abound, and the life o f the latest study-action group on sociopolitical academic r e f o r m is doomed to be solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short. ?I just don?t find the pleasure I used t o in teaching,? one o f the most respected professors says, leaving the college?s mathematics department to take a j o b as dean at a smaller, more

bucolic

college,

further

back

c h a n g e ? ? t o e m p l o y Riesman?s image

on

the

?snake

of

o f the serpentine

progress of an institution, m o v i n g this direction and that, at any given t i m e m o v i n g in the opposite direction f r o m institutions immediately ahead o f or behind it, parallel to those one degree f u r t h e r ahead or behind. A fortyish professor o f English, doctorate f r o m H a r v a r d , a u t h o r i t y on D i x i e l a n d , noted f o r being close to the students, p o p u l a r at fraternity parties, lively, w i t t y and informed, confesses 72

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wearily, ?I'd just like to go back to the days when students came to class, did assignments, wrote papers and made some systematic effort to cover material.? One wonders in what G o l d e n A g e such students existed. ?When I came to a liberal arts college,? says another, author o f a n u m b e r of

magazine articles on campus social issues, ?I expected to have Negroes in m y classes.? He resents the way blacks huddle away in their A f r o - A m e r i c a n studies; he wants the administration to break up that activity and supply h i m w i t h some Negroes to teach. One need not cite presidential heart attacks to assess the human toll o f campus tensions on administrators and faculty. F a c u l t y are all going through identity crises, experiencing alienation and cynicism, finding the young are imposing upon us a w o r l d we never made. Some o f us entrench ourselves in memories (real or i m a g i n a r y ) of what teaching and education used to be, h u r l i n g grenades o f embittered sarcasm at the hordes storming the barbed wire. Others, like Cadmus in The Bacchae, don Dionysiac costume and adapt: Where shall we go, where shall be tread the dance, tossing o u r white heads in the dances o f god?

Deans seem to lead the way. I was amused at a party to see the professors ( i n c l u d i n g myself) all in ties, the administrators all i n white turtlenecks, with pendulous jewelry, scallops o f hair softly breaking over coat collars. A professor of art w i t h a tempest o f grey curls is sometimes seen sitting in the lotus position in the student lounge, leading disciples in reading the J Ching. Since the Free Speech M o v e m e n t and C o l u m b i a riots, however, 73

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many Ph.D.?s come to colleges directly f r o m radical student activities. Boots o n desk, they represent the establishment i n their offices and move easily across the street to the student union to help plan demonstrations. T h e liberal arts ideal, like that o f general education, is being seriously questioned everywhere. I n the first place, we have come to understand that much education we assumed was ?general? and ?liberal? is actually rather n a r r o w l y preprofessional and vocational. T h e blacks, especially, have forced us to see h o w m u c h o f what we thought was essential intellectual development and core knowledge o f our cultural heritage is really class orientation. L i b e r a l arts colleges have tended to admit those w i t h rather special conditioning and c u l t u r a l background, their degree requirements are skewed to f a v o r those with skills and knowledge c o m m o n to the white liberal establishment. Cynics on the college scene have long noted the c o n f o r m i t y in behavior and the monolithic quality of the attitudes of self-styled student individualists and rebels. W h a t they have failed to notice is that colleges systematically produce that c o n f o r m ity, those stylish modes of rebellion, those h i g h l y c r i t i c a l attitudes, T h e elite is a group always a step or t w o ahead o f the status quo. I can remember this happening to me. C o m i n g out of a very unacademic background, I was s e l e c t e d ? a n d selfs e l e c t e d ? f o r the System. Assigned readings in ?liberal arts? courses-?Patterns of Culture, M i d d l e t o w n in Transition, H u m a n Nature a n d Conduct, Science a n d the M o d e r n W o r l d , The Waste Land, The Grapes of W r a t h , The H u man Use o f H u m a n Beings, The Brothers Karamazov, The W e l l - W r o u g h t U r n ? t h e s e books molded the attitudes acceptable to the social class to w h i c h I aspired. I don?t mean that one can extract a n a r r o w dogma f r o m such

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reading, but one can certainly extract a style o f mind, a vocabularly and a broad b u t very clearly demarcated view o f life w h i c h distinguish one f r o m equally intelligent and able young men w h o are products of ghettos, w h o choose technical schools, or w h o go into ranching, business or the trades. A t the same time that I was getting pre-professional training in literary c r i t i c i s m and scholarship (and not getting it in teaching, except by osmosis and r e a c t i o n ) , I was enjoying a k i n d o f sophisticated finishing school, an indoctrination w h i c h w o u l d enable me to m i x easily w i t h simil a r l y cultivated people. A few Negroes made it, of course. A few, like myself, f r o m the provinces, were imperfectly acculturated. But there is no question that it was easier for those born to it, and they were the ones more able to advance-?-the upper-middle and upper class students from professional families, f r o m schools in prosperous suburbs or intellectual enclaves, people who were groomed much longer than we inductees had been to take a position o f cultural superiority and influence. We were subjected to enormous pressure, felt enormous fear of failure; we sweated to get in. A t the same time we learned the rhetoric of liberal education and convinced ourselves that it was the pursuit of truth and justice and beauty and happiness for all men in w h i c h we were engaged. I n the seventies those attitudes won?t wash. Some studies (e.g., b y James T r e n t and Paul Heist) have indicated that liberal arts colleges do make significant differences in nurturing such qualities as tolerance of ambiguity, interest in complexity, and independence, and these are q u a l i t i e s which, it can be argued, are beneficial for any person in twentieth-century society. N o doubt most people w o u l d benefit f r o m developing an appreciation of Plato and Beethoven and Dante and Galileo. What we have subsumed 75

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under the label o f libera! education is indeed w o r t h y and humane learning, c o n t r i b u t i n g to h u m a n e n r i c h m e n t and welfare. B u t w h a t we can no longer assume is that such learning can or should be required o f everyone, that it is in some metaphysical sense essential to intellectual development. We like to t h i n k of ourselves i n the liberal arts colleges as surviving by w h a t we have to offer, but there is a good argument that we have survived b y w h a t we have been able to compel. I t is a dream to imagine that those droves clamoring to pay the high prices o f our exclusive institutions are seeking wisdom, happiness and goodness. W e are the routes o f access to power and status, h i g h l y efficient in selecting and t r a i n i n g f o r success. On a recent late show I watched a movie about the T i t a n i c : college students in the first-class lounge were singing together the school songs of A m h e r s t and D a r t m o u t h and Purdue, and all k n e w all the words. ?There must be f i f t y o f those songs,? a Purdue b o y said, T h o u g h a social order went d o w n w i t h the T i t a n i c and W o r l d W a r I, m a n y characteristics o f it survive; it is still true that the leaders i n business, education, government, the arts, the media, the social agencies and research organizations have bachelor?s degrees f r o m a d o u b l e - h a n d f u l o f the 2 4 0 0

institutions o f higher learning in

the U n i t e d

States. T h e y m a y not k n o w all the words of the f i f t y school songs, b u t they recognize and acknowledge one another in subtle ways. T h e y welcome black sheep to the herd, but they dissuade their daughters f r o m m a r r y i n g them. Daughters these days, however, are m a r r y i n g w h o m they d a m n please. W e have moved so far toward d e m o c r a t i c education and have been forced to such awareness o f the inequalities and hypocrisies in our system that the constraints we long relied on are no longer constraining. Stu76

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greatest possibility o f change. ?Cohabitation,? shouted one professor at a f a c u l t y meeting, ?is r u n n i n g r a m p a n t in the dormitories!? He might have added w i t h equal alarm that innovation is r u n n i n g r a m p a n t i n the classrooms. There is a good deal o f retooling going on in the colleges, some o f it so indiscriminate that the o n l y value it serves is to impede a rush in the w r o n g direction. Still, one does not often enough hear the colleges asking themselves the most basic questions about what they are doing and why, how they fit into our society, how they should fit into it, and what discrepancies exist between the objectives stated in their catalogues and their behavior day b y day. A n d too often they seem to be raising no significant questions about themselves ( o r anything else) at all. A private college unleavened by democracy and m a k i n g no use o f its freedom to probe and engage itself w i t h its surrounding w o r l d is a perversity much more damaging to the mental health of the young than any public institution. T h e r e must be m a n y colleges still l i v i n g up to H o l l y w o o d stereotypes of the thirties, such as one I visited recently, a cluster of medieval-styled buildings on a steep hill o v e r l o o k i n g a seedy, small Eastern industrial town. The 1800 students are male (though the college is gradually, over considerable alumni opposition, m o v i n g toward co-education), about a third m a j o r i n g in engineering. Chapel and R O T C are no longer required, but have been until recently. T h e students are (as they characterize themselves) generally apathetic about both campus and off-campus issues, preoccupied with m a i n t a i n i n g reasonable cum?s ( c u m u l a t i v e averages) and having a good time on weekends, when girls are shipped in, lined up and pawed over. The bulletin boards are barren, except for occasional notices of ski trips and social events. (Some notices indi78

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cated a vain effort to get volunteer tutors to w o r k w i t h local high-school students.) T h e lounges, w i t h their plastic upholstered furniture, are neat and devoid o f reading matter o r other stimulation. Fraternities and athletics dominate social life. N o t more than about twenty blacks attend. One student bragged to me that the college was ?in the top iwenty-five or thirty? colleges in academic r a n k i n g ( w h a t ever that means), an eminence maintained by sheer imposed grind. ( A student said he had three-hour exams in every course, preceded by one-hour w a r m - u p exams.) The tone is scholastic w i t h o u t being intellectual. None o f the talk I heard suggested interest in the subjects studied, in ideas generally, in culture, in anything except meeting standards, qualifying, and getting out. Students who come say this was their second or third choice, and they stay through inertia. M o s t are unaware that any other kind o f education is possible. I dined with faculty and administrators who grunted and blinked in a m i x t u r e o f complacency and vexation, like dinosaurs at the end of their era w h o are vaguely aware o f a certain sogginess underfoot, where once was solid plain.

So far as they knew, students were happy w i t h the college as it was. ?Sure, we?re slow to change, but we?re getting there.? T h e y were p r o u d that some students had been appointed to some committees. T h e y were considering in the C u r r i c u l u m C o m m i t t e e a plan f o r replacing the present required course structure w i t h a sequence o f core courses ? w h i c h they considered a dazzling innovation, though difficult to bring off. T h e y lived on gifts, chiefly from zealous alumni, and tuitions ( $ 2 1 0 0 plus a thousand for room and b o a r d ? a n d , of course, going u p ) . T h e y spoke condescendingly o f other campuses which, they had heard, had t r o u b l e ? s t u d e n t unrest, finances, public relations. Gen79

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erally they were comfortable w i t h their own f o r m u l a for A m e r i c a n education, which, so far as I could see, in every facet of the college f r o m governarice to academic practices to patterns of social life, emphasized hierarchy, selectivity, elitism, qualifying, belonging. O t h e r colleges, indeed, are having t r o u b l e ? a n d are likely to founder sooner; but T w o u l d predict no more than a decade of life for this one as a private college. Those w h i c h are running greater risks and struggling harder to find ways to keep private institutions viable in o u r society stand a better chance, after all, o f surviving. T h e y are at least struggling to understand their condition. T h e y are noisier, more tense, and t h r o b w i t h more signs o f life. L a t e r I w i l l discuss some long-range goals for education in general, and I see private institutions as playing a very large p a r t in achieving these. B u t some emergency measures are called for to keep these institutions alive in the meantime, and I w o u l d like to conclude this chapter w i t h a set o f recommendations for immediate action. 1, Stop doing as m u c h as possible. C u t requirements,

hours,

assignments, courses, committees, every p r o g r a m

element w h i c h can be eliminated, replacing ?offerings? w i t h opportunities w h i c h enable motivated students to go out and get w h a t the college has been t r y i n g to b r i n g them. T r y to create a campus on w h i c h meditation, serenity, reading, thought and affability are p o s s i b l e ? b u t let the campus, or retreat, be o n l y a p o r t i o n o f each student?s education, which should p r i m a r i l y be in the experiential w o r l d around him. 2. A d m i t everyone possible. T h i s is not a good longterm solution, but, for the present, let the rich pay f o r the poor. Seek diversity. T r y educating those who need i t ? n o t those who guarantee success. W h e n space limitations m a k e 80

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selectivity necessary, draw l o t s ? o r , better, open branches. Ideally, no student should be rejected who is qualified to e n t e r ? a n d colleges ought to be very suspicious of their decisions that some are not ?qualified.? I f there is no room for more on campus, gear up to open new facilities as r a p i d l y as possible, and, instead o f a rejection, send the student a deferred admission date. N o business, especially an educational business, can succeed in our present cultural climate b y being snobbish about w h o m it chooses to serve. 3. H i r e as m u c h diversity as possible. H i r e teenagers, old people, women, blacks. H i r e a Cuban fisherman. A v o i d Ph.D?s. L o o k for new kinds of credentials. T h i n k w h o m it would be t r u l y educational for s t u d e n t s ? a n d for f a c u l t y ? t o relate to. Supporting scholars, critics, artists and scientists is a noble social function, and colleges should do this i f they can, but this should not confuse their prime mission, w h i c h is to enable people to grow and develop and learn. 4. O w n the place; use the place. M u c h of academic life is spent by f a c u l t y and administrators acting like French

r a i l w a y clerks, obsessed w i t h the paperwork, f o l l o w i n g the tules of those above and imposing them on those below. F a c u l t y ought to get together w i t h the students and buy the college, run it as a cooperative. Failing that, they might act as though they had done so. T a c k up signs. M o v e chairs. Meet when and f o r n o longer than it makes sense. Never fill out a f o r m unless you k n o w absolutely for what it w i l l be used and are confident it fulfills some humane purpose. 5. G e t

into

the

field.

Seek

alternatives

to

classroom

t e a c h i n g , t o b o o k l e a r n i n g , i n d i r e c t experience, engagement with

real issues. W o r k

with

students a g a i n s t l o c a l

p o v e r t y , disease, i n j u s t i c e , i g n o r a n c e , instead o f w o r k i n g 81

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against students on the battlefield of assignments, papers and exams. 6. Open the college to the c o m m u n i t y . Get youngsters, w o r k i n g adults, dropouts, elderly people, everyone possible actively involved in college programs. F i l l i n the moat around the campus. Create a sense of public constituency, public ownership, in w h i c h the college can clearly be seen to have an essential relationship to the c o m m u n i t y in w h i c h it happens to exist. T o m a n y educators it is an anathema to speak o f m a r k e t responsiveness and consumer orientation, fearing the dimestore clutter of cheapness and indulgence w h i c h results f r o m pandering to popular taste. There are, o f course, dangers in that direction, b u t at the present time the private colleges err more in the direction of being private clubs w i t h tautological value systems sustaining criteria of superiority w h i c h are increasingly divorced f r o m human and social needs. A t this j u n c t u r e the rigor o f the market place might be a better guarantee o f quality than the rigor o f the academy. W h e t h e r it is or not, it is the rigor o f the m a r k e t place w h i c h w i l l increasingly in the near future determine whether these institutions continue to function.

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As A m e r i c a n as A p p l e Pie

But

I

reckon I got to light out

for

the T e r r i t o r y

ahead o f the rest, because A u n t Sally she?s g o i n g to adopt me and sivilize me and I can?t stand it, 1 been there b e f o r e .

Huckleberry Finn The streets o f our country are in turmoil. The universities are filled with students rebelling and rioting. Communists are seeking to destroy o u r country. Russia is threatening us with her might. A n d the Republic is in danger. Yes, danger f r o m w i t h i n and without. We need law and order! Yes, without law and order our nation cannot survive . . . We shall restore law and order. A d o l p h H i t l e r , H a m b u r g , 1932

In the beginning was Fuck. The Free Speech Movement of 1964 which made Berkeley the prototype of worldwide campus disruptions had official goals that focused on rights to political speech and assembly, but a parallel set of goals focused on the right to be obscene. Obscenity was a political opinion. A memorable picture from those days is of a bedraggled student sitting on a curb holding a sign em83

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blazoned w i t h the single w o r d guaranteed to get the authorities uptight. Questioned, h e w o u l d explain real obscenity was napalm, racial oppression, m i n d I t was obscene that he could p r o v o k e physical against himself b y carrying that sign, b y wearing

that the control. violence his hair

long, b y insisting on being different. We w o u l d call out the riot squad against h i m ? - a n d do little o r n o t h i n g about the larger obscenities. T h e M o v e m e n t , as the youth r e v o l t has come to be called, demands an end to the war, an end to class stratification and racism, a more open and democratic educational system, resistance to the standardization and impersonality of a technological society, a new m o r a l i t y o f greater personal candor, a socialist political structure, e m o t i o n a l expressiveness anda philosophy w i t h f u l l e r acknowledgement of nonrational modes of human sensibility. These are pieces of an emerging vision o f a transformed A m e r i c a to be achieved, if necessary, b y violence. B u t the spearhead of the Movement?s offensive has been at the level o f taste. T h e youth class intends to o v e r t h r o w a way o f life e m b o d i e d in u s ? t h e beneficiaries o f the present system. T h e y w a n t to get us at the gut level, and that is where they have aimed, flouting us w i t h their dope and r o c k and obscenity and hair. Especially hair. The university is not only the scene o f the youth revolt: it is in large part the cause. N o t o n l y are the radicals correct in alleging deep c o m p l i c i t y betwen the university and the repressive and m a r t i a l elements in o u r society, b u t the university embodies and imposes official culture. M o z a r t is a form of violence in this context. A ghetto child is made to feel i n f e r i o r f o r not appreciating classical music. College requirements insist that he recognize classical t h e m e s ? o r f l u n k : unworthy. I f it is not M o z a r t , it is John D o n n e or Thomas Jefferson or Plato used against h i m as a weapon. 84

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It is n o t so much his m i n d as his values w h i c h are assaulted. E v e r y t h i n g about the university from the architecture to the convocations to the dinner-table conversation and evening p r o g r a m o f art films seems designed to make h i m feel wrong and bad and smail and smelly. Rational discourse and due process seem conspiracies to keep him in his place. T h e university is an assemblage o f authorities: experts, elders, men of power. He walks there as a pickan i n n y admitted to the plantation mansion on Christmas Eve to witness ( b u t not t o u c h ) the Tree. I n the parlance o f the Movement, the most c o m m o n charge against the educational establishment is that we are trying to prepare young people to fit into slots. T h e i r resistance is not to vocational education. I f anything, our young educational reformers f a v o r occupational training, for r u n n i n g a lathe or p r o g r a m m i n g a computer or handling a television camera or managing a small business m i g h t be as relevant to the revolution as guerrilla tactics and first aid. The p r o b l e m w i t h vocational training is that it is shortsighted and inefficient: it is easier to get on the j o b than in college. But it is not p a r t i c u l a r l y dangerous in terms of m o l d i n g minds. N o r is their objection, really, to what m i g h t be called the higher vocationalism

of

pre-professional

training?

scholarship w h i c h enables a student to succeed in graduate school, win grants, publish and proceed to academic power. T h a t slot is more irrelevant to than despised b y the Movement. W e get some expression of the radical?s concern f r o m M i c h a e l Rossman, a hero o f the Free Speech M o v e m e n t and currently a traveling campus agitator, organizer and publicist, in a 1969 issue o f R o l l i n g Stone: the colleges are an essential part of the total A m e r i c a n system o f exploitation and oppression and are reluctant to change. I f .

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an engineering department shifts their priorities to the task o f producing livable cities, w h a t w i l l happen to the m u l t i b i l l i o n d o l l a r aerospace industry . . . ? M a l e students must be kept to the grindstone w i t h requirements and h u r r i e d through f o u r lockstep years, or else the o r d e r l y system o f m i l i t a r y deferment and o b l i g a t i o n w i l l be disrupted, and too m a n y malcontents will be allowed to escape scot-free, w i t h o u t even paying the price of a degree and integration into the economic order. . . . O n the campus, students labor to raise the price o f their sale into economic slavery. T h e i r draft deferments are an essential l i n k in a system o f control, injustice, and violence. T h e y are taught to use the intellect to f r a g m e n t and divide, to legislate social c o n t r o l and construct engines o f destruction. I n the classroom, whipped on by the grading system . . . students are conditioned to claw their b r o t h ers in competition f o r a smile.

T h e y object to the slots w h i c h keep people in their places in the system, w h i c h foster mental skills and attitudes that reinforce the system. T h e y see the colleges as being vocational in a t h i r d s e n s e ? d i f f e r e n t from occupational t r a i n i n g and p r e - p r o f e s s i o n a l i s m ? t h e sense of class conditioning. I t is for this reason that the cultural appurtenances o f the e s t a b l i s h m e n t ? i t s genteel language, its manners, its styles, its clothing, its sacred and approved vices, its books and art and m u s i c ? a r e so resented. W h e n I returned from the V i r g i n Islands in 1965 after having been away t w o years, I experienced cultural shock more severe than I had ever felt entering or r e t u r n i n g f r o m a foreign country. Before I left I had witnessed an early campus twist party, conducted as something o f a j o k e by liberal arts students who generally considered themselves above p o p culture. By 1965 rock and the successors o f the twist were universal, along w i t h epicene styles o f hair and dress. M o s t crucial of the cultural developments was the drug cult, w h i c h changed the nature o f socializing f r o m 86

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s e m i - p u b l i c beer busts, w i n e , f o l k s i n g i n g , and f a c u l t y - s t u d e n t parties, t o small, secret, i n t r o s p e c t i v e gatherings. T h e r e was an a r o m a t i c h u s h o v e r t h e d o r m i t o r i e s . I f e l t u n w e l c o m e e n t e r i n g t h e m , t h o u g h I h a d been c o m f o r t a b l e v i s i t i n g student r o o m s before.

T o m u c h o f this I had, along w i t h m y colleagues, a visceral reaction: those kids, I thought, know how to hurt a guy. I tried to cure myself of m y middle-aged uptightness, spending painful hours listening to D y l a n , getting m y daughters to explicate rock lyrics, to no avail. I was hung up on Pete Seeger and T o m Lehrer, on verification and evidence, on irony and e r u d i t i o n , on tragic views of the human condition, on dewey-cyed c o m m i t m e n t to the N e w Frontier. A n d m y idea o f teaching English was to encourage literary criticism such as m i g h t be found in The N e w Y o r k Review of Books. W h a t m y colleagues and I had difficulty in understanding was the relation between this cultural change and educational reform. I n 1965 we had introduced at A n t i o c h a First Y e a r Program about w h i c h I was very enthusiastic. There were no grades, credits or courses. Each student was assigned to a preceptoral g r o u p o f fifteen men and women, under the guidance o f a faculty preceptor and t w o upperclass preceptoral fellows. A fluid program o f public ?presentations? was offered, followed up b y ?seminars,? usually limited to fifteen students, w h i c h met for variable periods, sometimes as short as one meeting, sometimes extending over an entire quarter. Independent study was encouraged anda variety of learning resources were available, m a n y on a r a n d o m access basis f r o m the library. The assumption was that, w i t h the guidance o f his preceptor, the student w o u l d make free use o f the many available offerings and resources. He was guaranteed a year?s credit for the w o r k , 87

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variously seen by different faculty, consists o f confusion, anti-intellectualism, gadgetry, a sick and perhaps dangerous emphasis on amateur psychological therapy, a glorification o f selfhood, disrespect f o r c o m m u n i t y standards, contempt f o r scholarship and authority, emphasis upon sensationalism and immediate gratification, and so on. N o n e o f the things I list as ?bath water? is written into F Y P ; nor are they necessarily predictable on the basis o f the program design. I believe w e h a v e been e x p e r i e n c i n g a f a i l u r e o f l e a d e r s h i p o n the part o f those w h o d e e p l y v a l u e i n t e l l e c t u a l q u a l i t y in e d u c a t i o n . S o m e o f us h a v e t a k e n o u r noses o u t o f o u r d i s c i p l i n e s o n l y l o n g e n o u g h to see w h a t a p p e a r e d to be a n e l e c t r i c c i r c u s interspersed w i t h T G r o u p s a n d h a v e r e t i r e d i n r e p u g n a n c e . I f there are h u c k s t e r s in the T e m p l e , w e o u g h t to c o n f r o n t t h e m ? b u t w e s h o u l d d o so o p e n - m i n d e d l y , f o r t h e y m a y n o t be h u c k s t e r s a f t e r all. S p e c i f i c a l l y , we s h o u l d be g i v i n g serious a t t e n t i o n t o the c h a n g i n g r o l e o f the t e a c h e r a n d to f i n d i n g o u t w h a t w e m u s t l e a r n ourselves to s u r v i v e and to r e t a i n i n f l u e n c e . It is i l l u s o r y to t h i n k t h a t w e c a n cure a n y t h i n g by g e t t i n g t o u g h , b y r e i n s t i t u t i n g r e q u i r e m e n t s a n d c u r r i c u l a r c o n t r o l s . O u r s t u d e n t s are a s k i n g us, s o m e t i m e s i n s o l e n t l y , sometimes b y t h e i r absence o r silence, to s h o w t h e m the r e l e v a n c e o f the t r a d i t i o n s w e v a l u e , o f reason, o r d e r , l e a r n i n g , a u t h o r i t y , standards, to t h e i r lives, I t h i n k m a n y e x p e r i e n c e the same nausea t h a t w e d o at the chaos o f m i s b e g o t t e n f o r m s w h i c h d o m i n a t e s t h e c u r r e n t scene, a n d t h e y h o n e s t l y y e a r n f o r some o f the answers we have f o u n d . O n the o t h e r h a n d , m a n y o f those answers w h i c h g i v e us c o m f o r t m a y w e l l be, as t h e y charge, m e r e l y ?games? w e ? p l a y , ? at the expense o f large

human

potential.

Meanwhile. something

like a required

course p r o g r a m , a n d the a t t e n d a n t p a r a p h e r n a l i a , w o u l d o n l y serve to h e i g h t e n the b a r r i e r a l r e a d y b e t w e e n us, p r o t e c t i n g us f r o m t h e i r q u e s t i o n s and a l i e n a t i n g t h e m f r o m o u r answers. F Y P seems to m e the m o s t r e a l i s t i c d e s i g n f o r e d u c a t i o n [ have h e a r d o f : it p r o v i d e s the g r o u n d f o r an honest a n d o p e n c o n f r o n t a t i o n o f the questions o f w h a t o n e s h o u l d l e a r n , a n d w h y ; it p r o v i d e s a m e e t i n g - g r o u n d f o r g e n e r a t i o n s at w a r .

It

is i l l u s o r y

to t h i n k

w e c a n i m p o s e values

w h i c h o u r s t u d e n t s d o n o t ?dig?; w h a t e v e r m a y h a v e been the case in t h e past, t h e y w i l l no l o n g e r be i m p o s e d u p o n . F Y P has r e m o v e d the a u t h o r i t y

from

structure and

p l a c e d it

in

persuasion.

It

de-

m a n d s t h a t w e ? p u t u p o r shut u p " ? a n d I?m a f r a i d t h a t so f a r , t o o

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m a n y o f us have ?shut up.? I believe it is f o r that reason and no other that the program has seemed dominated by what m a n y o f us regard as undesirable elements. I t has»i n short, not been dominated by ourselves. We should be volunteering to act as preceptors; we should be making the air blue with presentations and ?gifts,? filling the library w i t h tapes and study guides. N e v e r has the f a c u l t y had a more open o p p o r t u n i t y for expression of its ideas and values and i n f o r m a t i o n and f o r influencing individuals. W h y have we failed to make use of the freedom available to us? W h y have we failed to seize these celebrated media and make them our own? I was dismayed at the recent A . A . U . P . discussion o f the role o f the Dean o f F a c u l t y to hear a demand f o r strong leadership. Perhaps it is merely a peculiarity o f m y o w n personality, but I have never cared m u c h f o r leadership. I t h i n k we, collectively, ought to provide leadership and hope f o r a Dean w h o w i l l encourage us to do just that, Do we dream o f some administrative L o c h i n v a r w h o will come in and clean out all those we disagree with? Can?t we answer them o u r s e l v e s ? i n a way that we will all profit f r o m the discussion? Can?t we summon the creativity and energy to make o u r own values count? I w i l l repeat what I said in faculty meeting: since the Fall o f 1965, when F Y P started, there have been a n u m b e r o f cultural developments o f such magnitude as to m a k e o u r Options A , B, C, D or E seem rather miniscule. ] believe that the negative vote on F Y P was, essentially, a reaction to a student culture w h i c h we have to c o n f r o n t w i t h or w i t h o u t F Y P and to intellectual influences w h i c h exist on o u r faculty, but no more p r o m i n e n t l y than they exist outside. It may be that these developments represent the wave o f the future. W h a t we n o w call the D a r k Ages must have once seemed the wave o f the future, as did fascism and c o m m u n i s m . Most o f w h a t I summarize here deeply disturbs me; it represents forces w h i c h J betieve I must resist w i t h all the intellectual force I can summon. O n the other hand, there is m u c h happening w h i c h I simply cannot judge, w h i c h I but d i m l y understand, and some developments seem to promise new, humane possibilities. W h a t does seem clear to me, however, is that we can?t blame everything that has happened i n the last t w o years on F Y P . I f F Y P seems a way o f a c c o m m o d a t i n g evil or exacerbating it, that is

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o u r own f a u l t . I t is up to us to supply the content f o r the structure. But the structure seems to me an excellent one for rapid adapation to a r a p i d l y changing w o r l d , for i d e n t i f y i n g issues and bringing our Tesources to bear upon them. H e r e , then, is a s u m m a r y o f s o m e o f the c u l t u r a l d e v e l o p m e n t s I a m r e f e r r i n g to. Y o u m a y n o t w a n t to read m y a c c o u n t : y o u c a n get it f r o m L I F E o r a n y n u m b e r o f o t h e r r e p u t a b l e sources. A n d y o u m a y disagree w i t h m y i m p l i e d j u d g m e n t s . B u t the d e v e l o p m e n t s themselves, I t h i n k , c a n n o t be i g n o r e d . 1.

The spread of marijuana, w h i c h might be called the moral vice because those w h o smoke it can congratulate themselves for resisting the national addiction to alcohol. As smoking tobacco must have been i n the early part o f the century, it has become a symbol of liberation and daring youth. The laws make it an adventure and create a need of secrecy which, in turn, creates a barrier between users and nonusers.

2.

The takeover of the avant-garde by pop. W h e n Bob D y l a n introduced rock at a f o l k music festival, there was a collapse o f a distinction precious to m a n y o f us. Intellectuals had long accepted f o l k music and j a z z ? s h a d i n g over to social protest songs and a sympathetic identification w i t h N e g r o c u l t u r e ? a s suitable entertainment and art. When D y l a n seized the microphone with electric guitars and the raucous, defiant beat o f pop music, it was like the i n t r o d u c t i o n o f motorboats into a sailing club. M e a n w h i l e M c L u h a n converted f r o m intellectual sniping at mass media to p r o m o t i n g them. D a d a i s m became k i t s c h ? t h e decorative m o t i f f o r everything f r o m nightclubs to classrooms. Movies replaced novels as the focus o f critical discussion, These developments seem to me to have in c o m m o n a vulgarization and adaptation to a mass audience of artistic modes w h i c h had been associated w i t h an intellectual e l i t e ? i n polite, and perhaps phony, alliance with survivals of peasant culture, the labor movement, and the suppressed races. The new masses are middle-class teenagers with bulging p o c k e t s ? a n d they bought art.

3. T h e f l i g h t f r o m

been d i s c r e d i t e d

reason. T h e d e f i n i t i o n o f m a n l o n g ago, o f c o u r s e , b u t

as r a t i o n a l h a d

emotional

man

has

r e a l l y c o m e i n t o his o w n , o n a p o p u l a r level, w i t h i n the last t w o

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years, T h e r e has been an unprecedented expioration and celebra-

tion o f nonrational modes o f perception and expression. A student described f o r me The Tibetan B o o k o f the D e a d as ?a kind o f programmed text f o r an L S D trip.? Orientalism is the hip alternative to Western civilization. People seek to b l o w t h e i r minds w i t h chemicals and other systematic ways o f f r a g m e n t i n g experience. T h e value placed upon the liberation of the emotional self from the hang-ups o f reason has encouraged a resurgence o f Freudianism and C h r i s t i a n i t y i n quaint new c o m binations, o f mysticism o f all varieties, and o f a new eroticism involving everything f r o m sadism and homosexuality to mistyeyed Orgie Porgies of b r o t h e r l y love, all w i t h an emphasis upon the interchangeability of partners, a kind o f active i n d i s c r i m i n a tion symbolized, perhaps by A l l e n Ginsberg kissing a cop. Non-directive, or self-directive, teaching and therapy, T Groups, happenings, the mysticism o f r a n d o m n e s s ? a l l these s i m i l a r l y emphasize emotional expression and relationship as opposed to conceptual understanding and agreement. Enlightened assumptions which underlay o u r education?e.pg., a sense o f progressive knowledge, objective truth, ?humane? values such as those embodied in the Universal Declaration o f H u m a n Rights, a reliance o n verification and e v i d e n c e ? a l l these have been undercut. Remember the days ?Re-examine y o u r judgment?? Those lectual discourse as .

when people said ?Define y o u r terms? or basic assumptions? or ?That?s only a value counters seem as irrelevant to c u r r e n t intelconsubstantiation and transubstantiation.

S t u d e n t a c t i v i s m . T h e e n e r g y s t i r r e d u p b y the C i v i l R i g h t s M o v e m e n t seems to h a v e b e e n s h u n t e d o f f t o e d u c a t i o n a l r e f o r m . T h e c o m b i n a t i o n o f N e w L e f t p o l i t i c s and an a c t i v e interest i n e d u c a t i o n a l i n n o v a t i o n , as e m b o d i e d f o r those o f us t r a i n e d

i n S D S , has b e e n

unsettling

to see e d u c a t i o n a n d p o l i t i c s as q u i t e

separate e n d e a v o r s except i n s o f a r as a c a d e m i c f r e e d o m r e l i e d o n a libertarian, democratic tradition. R i g h t l y o r w r o n g l y , students

are b r i n g i n g t o bear o n us, t h e i r p r o f e s s o r s , the k i n d o f m o b i l i z a t i o n a n d c o u r a g e t h e y w e r e b r i n g i n g to b e a r at l u n c h c o u n t e r s a f e w years ago. T h e y d e m a n d ?guts? r e l e v a n c e o f t h e i r e d u c a t i o n ; t h e y d e m a n d o f us p e r s o n a l l y a c o h e r e n c e b e t w e e n w h a t w e teach, w h a t w e b e l i e v e , a n d w h a t w e d o ? a n d

t h e y are e v e n

r e a d y t o d i c t a t e e x a c t l y w h a t v a r i e t y o f c o h e r e n c e is a p p r o p r i a t e .

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T h e i r impatience with the ?academic games? o f requirements and artificial standards amounts at times to m u t i n y . They find in us a ? c r e d i b i l i t y gap.? Unless we can come up w i t h a more convincing rationale than we have so f a r produced for o u r system o f credits, grades, general education and degree requirements, we will continue to lose their respect. 5. F i n a l l y , i n e v i t a b l y , I m u s t m e n t i o n the escalated w a r i n V i e t n a m

w h i c h ? j u s t l y or not~~has become

a unifying

symbol

f o r the

c o r r u p t i o n , p e r v e r s i o n , a n d d e c a y o f the W e s t e r n w o r l d . N u c l e a r w a r f a r e a n d the N u r e m b e r g t r i a l s h a v e been r e a d as s i m p l e i n j u n c t i o n s t o stop f i g h t i n g and s o c i e t y at

war.

At

the

most

to stop

primitive

t a k i n g orders level

of

from

a

response, the

spectacle o f t h e m o s t p o w e r f u l n a t i o n o n earth b e a t i n g on o n e o f t h e s m a l l e s t is r e p u g n a n t . T h e e x p l a n a t i o n s , h o w e v e r s o u n d t h e y m a y be, h a v e n o t g o t t e n t h r o u g h to the y o u n g o f o u r c o u n t r y , t o o u r i n t e l l e c t u a l c o m m u n i t y , o r t o the w o r l d at large. T h e r e is a c o n s e q u e n t u n a n i m i t y o f f e e l i n g t h a t we are p a r t i c i p a t i n g i n a t r a g i c l i e ? a m o o d w h i c h increases c y n i c i s m and rebellion, personal

causes

people

to

deny

authority

and

seek,

at

least,

authenticity.

We can?t blame all that on the F Y P , but I suspect that m u c h of the feeling aroused by the F Y P has been stirred by a w o r l d which is changing beyond o u r understanding.

W i t h that m e m o r a n d u m I had launched myself into a no-man?s-land, crossfire from students and various elements of the faculty whistling overhead. Personal encounters w i t h students were like scenes f r o m guerrilla theater. T h e weapon o f the students was m i l i t a n t vulgarity. ?He washes his hands after he pees,? a black student said to me, o f one o f m y professor friends. ?You can?t trust a cat l i k e that.? A n o t h e r told me about stealing books f r o m the bookstore where he worked. ?I?m not hung up on that private property thing,? he said. As I analyze m y shock I am made very uncomfortable about myself: I had learned to grit m y teeth and take the c u l t u r a l changes in sex and music and drugs, 93

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but private property seemed somehow the last straw. Especially stealing books, W i t h h i s saucy r e m a r k he had turned a searchlight o n a dark, inviolable shrine i n m y soul. His r e m a r k was not so m u c h p o l i t i c a l as m e t a p o l i t i c a l ; m y reaction was n o t r a t i o n a l argument but outrage. I t was a religious reaction. I t was taste. 1 am still not sure how serious that student was. He was serious in the way the young man w i t h his sign on the Berkeley curb was serious. H e showed me something about myself, and he staked out an area o f freedom for himself. He is a p r o d u c t of b l a c k suburbia, a prep school graduate, and one o f the most b r i l l i a n t students I have ever k n o w n . I n the years I have k n o w n h i m his speech has become increasingly, systematically, dialectial and obscene, A s he talks to me he perpetually picks his nose, slouches, toys w i t h his crotch. There is no question about his serious revolutionary intent. He has been a p o w e r f u l constructive force in creating a separate educational p r o g r a m for his brothers and sisters; he sees little to salvage o f the white culture in w h i c h he finds himself; he is quite capable o f violence w h e n he finds it necessary; he can b r i n g a college to its knees. Negotiating w i t h him is like negotiating w i t h the V i e t Cong. A n d his style, like that o f Pancho V i l l a or F i d e l Castro or Rap B r o w n , is inseparable f r o m the content o f the revolution he stands for. I t is a continual reminder to me that I w a n t h i m to be other than he is. He is deliberately offensive because, as he says, ?I don?t want to hear about acting nice. I w a n t to hear about being free.? One

symbolic

and

actual

battleground

is

admission

standards, w h i c h we have b r i e f l y touched on before. T h e college b o o m made it possible for us to become increasingly selective, and our means o f s e l e c t i o n ? e x a m i n a t i o n 94

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scores, class rank, g r a d e s ? w e r e biased against m i n o r i t y groups w h o did not generally have access to the better schools and, anyway, d i d not share the standard cultural heritage (e.g., language patterns) w h i c h fostered the kind of achievement measured by the criteria. Realizing that their percentages o f students f r o m m i n o r i t y groups were actually going down, colleges and universities began setting up special programs deliberately to recruit what we called ?the disadvantaged.? ?As I get it,? a b l a c k student said in a college assembly, ?you saw you hada hole in your soul. A n d you hired us to p u tal i t t l e soul in the hole.? Since the d o m i n a n t ideal in race relations then was integration, colleges sprinkled blacks through their dormitories like pepper. Since they made af e t i s h o f not acknowledging differences, they did little to set up the k i n d o f remedial programs w h i c h might help students w i t h very poor schooling and a very negative orientation to the academic life to meet the criteria of courses and requirements. Imagine the obstacles to success a black student encountered, wrenched f r o m his ghetto background and popped into an isolated situation in a d o r m i t o r y f u l l of prosperous whites selected for their academic achievement and potential. N a t u r a l l y the blacks began to club together for reinforcement, eating together in the cafeterias, gathering in lounges and d o r m rooms to listen to soul music. Carmichaels slogan, Black Power, gave them a banner under w h i c h to assemble. T h e y were soon demanding more and better means for getting their ?thing? together, free f r o m white interference, p r y i n g and judgment. T h e y wanted to take their education into their own hands, find their own teachers, and change admission standards so that more o f them, especially more of a m i l i t a n t inclination, could be admitted. 95

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Has a college any more r i g h t to choose w h o m it w i l l educate than a barber to decide whose hair he w i l l cut, than a restaurant to decide w h o m it w i l l serve, than a landlord to decide w h o m he w i l l house? T h i s is perhaps the most basic question ever raised about our colleges, one w h i c h goes to the roots o f ownership and legitimacy. I n the past, students have not concerned themselves m u c h w i t h criticizing admission standards, one gathers they have been happy enough to have been admitted and to accept the college?s judgment that others might be less w o r t h y . B u t now all that is changing: the blacks and the M o v e m e n t are never l i k e l y to let us forget how our selective processes reinforce class structure. T h e issue arises as part of a m u c h more general rebellion against established criteria for selectivity. T h e Beats, and the hippies w h o followed, w i t h their deliberately outrageous styles, proclaimed, ?Take me as I am. L o v e me for m y m i n i m a l self or leave me alone. I w i l l no longer twist m y life to satisfy you on your terms.? K a r l Shapiro, in T h e Bourgeois Poet, expresses a mood o f the times: L o w e r the s t a n d a r d : that?s m y m o t t o . S o m e b o d y is a l w a y s p u t t i n g the f o o d o u t o f reach. W e ' r e t i r e d o f f a l l i n g o f f l a d d e r s . W h o says a c h i l d can?t p a i n t ? A p r o is s o m e b o d y w h o does i t f o r m o n e y . L o w e r the

standards.

.

. . Lower

the

standard

on

classics,

battleships,

R u s s i a n ballet, n a t i o n a l a n t h e m s ( b u t they?re l o w e n o u g h ) . B r e a k t h r o u g h to the b o t t o m . Be n a t u r a l as a n A m e r i c a n a b r o a d w h o k n o w s no l a n g u a g e , n o t e v e n A m e r i c a n .

.

.

.

G e t o f f the C u l t u r e

W a g o n . L e a r n to w a l k the w a y y o u w a n t . S l u m p y o u r s h o u l d e r s , s t i c k y o u r b e l l y o u t , a r m s all o v e r the table. H o w m a n y g e n e r a t i o n s w i l l this take? *

W a t c h i n g at first hand the admissions process o f an elite college helps one understand such paranoia. N o w h e r e * From The Bourgeois Poet by Karl Shapiro, New York, 1964. 96

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except by total holocaust and breakdown. T h e same people have visions of a w o r l d w i t h o u t need made possible b y the very technology they attack. T h e m i l l e n n i u m w i l l see injustice f i n a l l y outmoded, racial equality, all diseases curable. E v i l w i l l be seen as chemical imbalance; leisure w i l l be abundant, transportation replaced by c o m m u n i c a tion, and c o m m u n i c a t i o n ? t e l e p a t h i c - ? ? w i l l be instantaneous and complete. They talk in absolutes. N u c l e a r w a r fare either cancels entirely the possibility o f w a r or insures obliteration. T h e N u r e m b e r g trials established that the i n d i v i d u a l conscience is the ultimate authority ( t h e position of A n t i g o n e and T h o r e a u ) . One is t o t a l l y responsible for his acts and, therefore, enjoined not to cooperate w i t h evil, Paradoxically, the very concept of i n d i v i d u a l is becoming invalid as automated systems increasingly treat people as abstractions, as the flow o f c o m m u n i c a t i o n makes consciousness tribal, as bodies are broken d o w n for usable parts. I n their thinking, r o m a n t i c individualism frequently intersects social determinism: ?We are the children o f Spock,? they announce, and hold neither themselves n o r others (e.g., blacks)

responsible f o r their acts. A n o t h e r

paradox is their conception of ?the people.? Often student newspapers speak o f what ?the people? want, w h i c h is usually a m i n o r i t y opinion, while the same editorial m a y complain o f the apathy of the b u l k o f the student body f o r being unconcerned w i t h the issues about w h i c h ?the people? feel so strongly. Tt is easy to poke holes but more i m p o r t a n t to understand. I n apocalyptic thought there is a clear-cut distinction between the saved and the damned, the h i p and the square, the young and the old, the colored ( b l a c k , b r o w n or y e l l o w ) and the white. ?The people? are those who are right, w h a t 100

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see a r o u g h e q u i v a l e n c e in p r o t e s t s a g a i n s t the d r a f t , a g a i n s t w a r research, the m i l i t a r y - i n d u s t r i a l c o m p l e x , g h e t t o l i v i n g c o n d i t i o n s , n a r c o t i c s laws, r e q u i t e d courses a n d a n t i q u a t e d sexual mores. D i v e r s e tactics such as r u n n i n g t o C a n a d a , t h r o w i n g one?s b o d y i n f r o n t o f a p a d d y w a g o n , h o l d i n g a p u b l i c p o t p a r t y , f o r c i b l y d e t a i n i n g a r e c r u i t e r , c h e a t i n g the t e l e p h o n e c o m p a n y , r u s h i n g the P e n t a g o n g u a r d s , b u r n i n g a Selective Service office, t h r o w i n g b r i c k s at w h i t e - o w n e d g h e t t o stores, a n d c o h a b i t a t i o n i n d o r m i t o r i e s are r e g a r d e d as alternate paths t o j u s t ends.

A gentle hippie from a Washington, D . C . , commune describes his plans for setting up an experimental school, expanding their g r o u p to an agricultural commune, organizing communities by use o f theater-of-the-streets. A l l his talk is constructive, positive, informed, but at the same time he says casually, ?This is war.? I t is a strange w a r ? o f t e n a loving and creative w a r ? b u t like all w a r it suspends n o r m a l ethics and mobilizes feelings i n stereotypical ways. It becomes we and they. I f they understand us it is o n l y to defeat us. T h e y evoke an age-old hatred o f the young. A friend writes me, ?We love our children because they are small, weak and s t u p i d ? t h e y have to mind. T h e y are pets. But the ?young? are economic, social and sexual threats, and we really do hate them, as m u c h because they are so resolutely moral as anything else. We have l i t e r a l l y i m prisoned the y o u n g ? w i t h school, laws, T V , e v e r y t h i n g ? in order to make them disappear. A n d they refuse to shut u p and do so. Riots ? birth.? W h a t is difficult to remember in a state of w a r is that m u c h o f w h a t the m i l i t a n t young are seeking w o u l d indeed make a better society and, specifically, a better p a t tern o f higher education. E x t r e m e positions are often taken t e m p o r a r i l y and modified as their excessiveness be102

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comes apparent. Some black educators are becoming aware, for example, of the limitations o f the black studies fad. ( ? B i g money people in foundations,? one says, ?are all o f a sudden ready to finance all this black education. They're

not ready to support black medical schools, b l a c k financing, scientific t r a i n i n g ; they?re sponsoring business and administration and social w o r k ? ? a l l non-essential fields in the productive process. It?s a technique for quieting, isolating and controlling. The establishment w i l l promote black studies to the extent that it w i l l not affect basic r e l a t i o n s h i p s . ?) T h e specific d e m a n d s shift f r o m m o n t h to m o n t h , b u t b e h i n d t h e m is a h e a l t h y desire t h a t e d u c a t i o n serve people?s needs r a t h e r t h a n a d a p t p e o p l e t o society?s n e e d s ? a

revolutionary drive,

indeed.

cism,

c r i p p l i n g p a s s i v i t y are c e r t a i n l y

boredom

and

Vandalism,

alienation,

cyninot

c h a r a c t e r i s t i c o n l y o f b l a c k students. T h e b l a c k s are designing c u r r i c u l a w h i c h are p r o b l e m - o r i e n t e d , tied t o c o m m u nity

development,

which

emphasize

development

of

a

healthy, p o s i t i v e c o n c e p t o f self, w h i c h relate abstractions to c o n c r e t e p e r s o n a l a n d social needs. A b o v e all, t h e y w a n t to repossess themselves f r o m slavery, to take charge o f their o w n lives. F e w c a n d e n y the w o r t h i n e s s o f t h a t g o a l , f o r blacks or whites.

The pressure f r o m black and white militants has forced us to see w h a t authoritarian, hierarchical structures colleges are. I have been reading research done on campus governance f o r the A m e r i c a n Association for Higher E d ucation; the profiles and interviews f r o m campus after campus reveal a dreary sameness o f t o p - d o w n authority, through the board of trustees or regents to the president, through other administrative officers and advisory councils to faculty, and, eventually, to students. Presidential style is persistently perceived as having c r i t i c a l i n f l u e n c e ? a kind 103

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of great-man theory o f g o v e r n m e n t ? b e c a u s e the system, at least nominally, focuses so m u c h p o w e r in one man. ( T h e fact that presidents are actually o f t e n powerless because o f their personalities or conflicting pressures o n l y makes the system inefficient.) Yet every campus carries on a pretense of democratic government, basically through committees. The very w o r d committee has become a joke, suggesting nothing but powerlessness and delay. T o k e n representation of students and f a c u l t y is a palliative. M o s t people o n most campuses seem to recognize that the real and necessary and i m p o r t a n t and swift decisions are made at the u p p e r reaches of the authority ladder, i n v o l v i n g such consultation among cronies as the key administrators choose to ask for. T h e city-state or town-meeting models o f d e m o c r a c y may not be the appropriate ones f o r colleges, but the corporate model of college management is n o t appropriate either. We are generally confused about w h e t h e r students are customers or inmates or r a w material or products, whether our colleges are intended to serve them, c o n t r o l them, m o d i f y them o r select them. I n practice, o f course, we do a little o f e a c h ? o f t e n i n spite of rather than b y means of our institutional designs. As always, most students are docile and accepting, fearful of hassles, hoping to slip through and out unnoticed. T h e m i l i t a n t groups on campuses are a t i n y m i n o r i t y ? bright, visible, influential and barometric. B u t they d r a w adherents q u i c k l y when an i n s t i t u t i o n uses strong-arm methods. Fortune guesses that some 40 per cent o f college students i d e n t i f y themselves loosely (there is no other w a y ) w i t h the N e w Left. The i m p a c t o f m i l i t a n c y has shivered the foundations. The militants have demonstrated that it is impossible for us to govern b y fiat and armed enforcement. T h e y w i l l undoubtedly remain relentless u n t i l such time as 104

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we devise an appropriate mode o f governance and under-

stand better our relation to society in general. Can anything be changed until everything is changed? Sometimes TI t h i n k , as the SDS leaders do, that we should let the whole contraption g r i n d to a halt. L e t government and industry keep their money and do their own research, i f they w a n t employees trained and tested and certified, let them do it. I f foundations want scholarship, let them support s c h o l a r s ? w i t h no undergraduate education to confuse the issue. L e t the rich name office buildings after themselves, I f we want to exempt prosperous youth f r o m the military, let?s figure out a more direct way o f doing it than inflicting them on professors. I f we need to keep the young off the labor market, let?s introduce youth pensions. I f we need to provide ways for young women to meet young men, let?s b u i l d youth centers. I f we want to preserve the culture o f our civilization, let?s expand the libraries and museums. I n short, let?s sort out our needs and resources to see whether there aren?t better ways o f doing things than relying on the Rube Goldberg Edufactory. As for education itself, we seem to have forgotten what it is all about. I have watched a handicapped child go eagerly to school and reflected that the n o r m a l children I know do not want to go to school that badly. The special education people seem to k n o w some things that other educators could benefit by. T h e y automatically accept children for w h a t they are. T h e y are pleased at progress and do not punish failure. T h e y assume that when a c h i l d does something wrong, he does it in an effort to d o right. T h e y recognize they are dealing w i t h a wide variety o f individuals with different patterns and rates o f learning. They assume their mission is one o f assisting growth and development; that i f a child is not interested, not engaged, not learning, 105

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the staff needs to reexamine itself and the program. T h e y assume that hostility has some cause, and that it is better to deal w i t h the cause than to répress the hostility. Faced w i t h tantrums, they do not make speeches about law and order. When there is general disorder, they do not accuse their pupils o f conspiracy. For all our ignorance, we seem to k n o w more about dealing w i t h handicapped children than dealing w i t h n o r m a l children. We do relatively well i n our nursery schools, progressively less well in kindergarten, first grade, and so on. We have h a r d l y a clue as to how to cope w i t h the young adults who come to our colleges, and our graduate schools are an abomination. Stanley Kiesel writes of w o r k i n g for his graduate degree while h o l d i n g a teaching j o b : K i n d e r g a r t e n by d a y , at d u s k , the U n i v e r s i t y ; F r o m t h e d e l i r i o u s s u r p l u s to the p r i s s y d o n a t i o n .

The professors recline in the easy chairs o f t h e i r Minds, cavalierly d i s t u r i b u t i n g t h e i r ideas L i k e so m a n y urine specimens to impoverished Lab technicians, T h e air is ponderous w i t h T h e i r overly-masticated words and dessicated Thoughts. The hours spent w i t h them drag L i k e barnacled anchors along a sea b o t t o m . *

Graduate students are generally too l i m p and too desperate to rebel. T h e y see d i m light beyond the grill. B u t everywhere our schools are b o r i n g children into stupor or insurrection. M o s t of us who have advanced degrees have contempt for them and for the educational process b y w h i c h we acquired them, yet we hire on the basis of such credentials and go r i g h t on subjecting others to w h a t we were subjected to. * From ?Postgraduate? in The Pearl i s a Hardened Sinner: Notes from Kindergarten, by Stanley Kiesel, New York, 1968.

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College education has become de facto compulsory. I f a person is born white and middle class, he is required to serve sixteen to eighteen years o f his life in custodial institutions, never m i n d the A r m y . I have talked to students in dozens of colleges, and I hear what we all k n o w but rarely a d m i t : students are in college because their parents and their society demand that they be there. Socially, we require the degree for serious p a r t i c i p a t i o n ? l e t the chips fall where they may, w h i c h is usually on the underclass. ?Go ahead w i t h your A f r o - A m e r i c a n studies,? a faculty member said to a black student, ?but why ask us for a degree?? T h e student laughed: ?We don?t want the degree. Y o u want us to have it.? In fact, we punish them i f they don?t get it. Let?s not talk any more about the advantages o f higher education. T h e y are like the advantages of obeying the law. I t reminds one of the rites of passage of primitive cultures in which young men assume w i t h gravity and joy the role of manhood in the tribe. T o become an adult should be a sacred honor. But we live in a nation in w h i c h children don?t want to g r o w up. This is not because we have made c h i l d h o o d so delightful and carefree; it is because membership in our society is repugnant to those who stand on its threshold. I t is pointless to berate a whole generation for laziness, weak character, i m m a t u r i t y , lack of commitment, escapism and ambivalence. T o o few A m e r i c a n adults regard their o w n membership as a sacred honor. Something has gone foul in the deep core o f our society. Always in human experience m a t u r a t i o n has been spiced with disillusionment; but has any culture ever so failed to win the allegiance of its young? C o m p u l s o r y education is a contradiction in terms, a central miscalculation about the nature o f learning. W i t h 107

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the best of intentions we made education not o n l y available to but required o f everyone. But in education as in love, compulsion destroys the pleasure?and the inherent rewards. T o lock everyone into a compulsory system we had to resort t o massive standardization. We could not do it w i t h out m a k i n g education p r i m a r i l y a state function, w i t h laws to insure compliance. Education and state are at least as incompatible as church and state. There is n o t h i n g inherently c o n t a m i n a t i n g about using tax funds to make educational resources a v a i l a b l e ? o p e n to the citizenry for free use. But once attendance is required and c u r r i c u l u m is subject to state c o n t r o l there is no protection f r o m indoctrination. We could not do so massive a j o b w i t h o u t collaborative arrangements w i t h the major sources o f power and funds, which means the fabled military-industrial complex. ( I heard a student at Earlham College refer casually to ?the military-industrial-university complex.?) T o make democracy w o r k we needed an i n f o r m e d electorate, but arranged matters so that the intellectual establishment could be manipulated b y anti-intellectual forces. A n d by definition, an establishment must refrain f r o m offending m a n y students, parents, taxpayers or politicians, and so be grey as an Associated Press dispatch. ( T h a t , incidentally, is another system w h i c h seeks to i n f o r m but succeeds in neutralizing; newspapers from M a i n e to Georgia to Oregon c a r r y much the same news, reported in the same bloodless, impotent and official w a y . ) I t is irrelevant that the w i r e services are free enterprises and that m a n y of o u r schools, colleges and universities are private. The fact that the highest credentials available are produced by private universities, such as H a r v a r d , Yale, Princeton, 108

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Chicago

and

Stanford,

does

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mean these universities are any more free of the system. Indeed, they epitomize it. The repressive element is not, finally, the state; it is the nationalized, professionalized orthodoxy of the system itself. The opinions, standards, assumptions and competitive pressures o f academic colleagues at M . I . T . and Brandeis and F o r d h a m and Rice and Duke hold Berkeley in c h e c k ? e v e n more than does the Governor o f California. The business o f the university is the production of scholars and research scientists, in spite of the fact that, once produced, they have nowhere to go but into the system which finds it so difficult to maintain them. The professoriate tends to describe the university as ?an institution that justifies itself by its output of scholarship? (Jacques Barzum in The A m e r i c a n U n i v e r s i t y ) , it tends to oppose any kind of vocational training, any emphasis upon experience or social service or ?life? (a word w h i c h Barzun regards as cant, confusing our educational mission). I n short, professors like to think o f what they are doing in terms of pure intellectual development, and they tend to recognize as indices of success such things as W o o d r o w Wilsons, high scores on GRE?s, acceptance by a ?good? department o f sociology, or publication in a scholarly journal. I f we m a i n t a i n those standards o f excellence and drive as many students as we can toward them, we must support the enterprise w i t h the grants and projects w h i c h enable graduate students and scholars to w o r k together on the forefront of knowledge, to produce visible (publishable) results, and we are back in the cycle. When in doubt, accelerate. I t is a ladder propped against the air. A student?s performance in elementary school is measured in terms of preparation for high school, and so on, i n hierarchical 109

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order, until he is ready for postgraduate research i n an academic discipline. Those w h o fall off the ladder can find their places in the world?s l o w e r ?echelons. But i f b y some miracle all students entering kindergarten next year were equally qualified intellectually and economically, there w o u l d be no reason other than laziness or perversity w h y they should not all graduate some twenty-one years later f r o m C o l u m b i a or its counterpart w i t h d o c t o r a l degrees, prepared t o advance knowledge in the discipline o f their choice. W h a t a society we w o u l d have then. I t is, as H a r r i s W o f f o r d has said, as though we geared the whole machine to produce the .8 per cent who eventually receive Ph.D.?s. I t is as though the teacher?s f u n c t i o n were to m o l d c h i l d r e n in the image o f the teacher?s professor. T o be sure, the professoriat tells us repeatedly that the university is not for everyone and that we are mistaken i n trying to make it so. Some say we should k i c k o u t o f our colleges all but the real students, the gentlemen scholars, those who share the professors? c o m m i t m e n t to w o r k in the academic disciplines. T h a t w o u l d be a good solution except for the fact that most o f such professors w o u l d p r o m p t l y be out o f jobs, and the few who remained w o u l d not have the laboratories, libraries and salaries they conceive o f as necessary for their work. Imagine such a purge of o u r institutions. C u l l those Barzun calls the mandarins, w h o are there not to learn but to qualify.

C u l l the anti-intellectuals, the militants,

the

experience-seekers, the group-gropers and T-groupers, the great washed masses w h o are none o f these but who are content to be herded along, not w a n t i n g to rock the boat, not wanting to risk their degrees and jobs and deferments. C u l l the sycophants, the hustlers, the socialites, the influence peddlers and seekers, the red-necks. C u l l the lost 110

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flower children, searching for their identity, confused about their goals, d r i f t i n g in fuzzy clouds o f introspection. C u l l ? o f c o u r s e ? t h e athletes, the flashy frat boys, the sex hounds, the drug cult, the pranksters, the collegiate rahrah crowd, C u l l the adolescent rebels w h o are chronically opposed to all a u t h o r i t y because they cannot stand. their parents. C u l l women. C u l l draft-dodgers. C u l l the inadequately prepared, the products o f poor schools, thes t u p i d , the lazy, the disadvantaged, the spoiled. C u l l blacks who are not w i l l i n g to accept the standards and goals o f our educational institutions. C u l l the vocationally oriented, the teachers back f o r summer school who o n l y want a raise. C u l l dilettantes, the bored, the culture-seekers. C u l l the childish, not mature enough to be away f r o m home. On one end o f the log remains M a r k Hopkins. On the other end is a m i r r o r . I n a way such professors are like their students, uneasy in prosperity. T h e y won, as Jencks and Riesman say, the academic revolution. T h e y have achieved prestige, influence, security. N o w they are vexed by the responsibilities o f power, sated b y the rewards o f success, and yearn backw a r d t o w a r d a more pastoral image o f t h e m s e l v e s ? t h e r u m p l e d scholar in his book-lined study advising the eager student b u r n i n g out his eyes in tireless, selfless inquiry, the pursuit o f T r u t h ? h o w e v e r arcane and remote from the world?s affairs. T h e y suffered poverty, sure, but had the c o m f o r t o f stimulating intellectual fellowship, the camaraderie o f specialists, the consuming engagement o f the human spirit w i t h the mysteries o f the unknown. I imagine these professors, in bars and hotels of Washington between consultations at the Pentagon, getting together to remember the good old days. T h e y think o f themselves puttering

around

impoverished

labs,

stringing

together 111

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equipment w i t h baling wire, spilling nitroglycerine into fuller?s earth and accidentally discovering dynamite, bequeathing the proceeds to the cause o f Peace. 1 5 l i k e a hippy?s dream of a Canadian homestead. T h e university has its arms up to the elbows in the m o d ern world, but its spokesmen often project an image of Parnassian indifference to the t u r m o i l o f c o n t e m p o r a r y life. Barzun?s preface to The A m e r i c a n University is dated January 15, 1968. H e adds this P.S.: T h e completed typescript of this book was in the hands of the publisher six weeks before the student outbreak o f A p r i l 23 that disrupted the w o r k of C o l u m b i a U n i v e r s i t y . I have since then found no reason to change or add to the substance o f what { had w r i t t e n months earlier. M a y 3, 1968

J.B.

I am reminded of de Gaulle?s cool when the republic was coming d o w n around his ears. A l i f t e d eyebrow is simply not an adequate response to a social phenomenon o f this magnitude. A colleague is reminded of Hegel, ?working to develop his system while the battle o f Jena rages nearby,? and I recognize, o f course, the v i r t u e of academic detachment. When, however, does it shade over into smugness and callousness? A t one point Barzun says it w o u l d be good if students in the university were ?overawed, as at Chartres.? The spiritual a u t h o r i t y and majesty of our universities have been besmirched, i f n o t invalidated, in recent years. Chartres is l i k e l y to seem to m a n y o f o u r students extravagant, h o l l o w and useless at best; at worst, a citadel of injustice and repression, the W h o r e of Babylon. Those whose attachment to academia is deeply ingrained find it difficult to understand this student response. 112

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you are merely exhibiting the exotic coloration o f a hothouse plant. It has been pointed out often that adolescence is a modern invention, and though n o t h i n g in our literature w o u l d recommend that state o f mind, we seem bent on extending it to everyone in the culture f r o m nine t o ninety. B u t be cautions about calling it a privilege or one o f the ?extrao r d i n a r y accomplishments? o f higher education. What has happened is that through i m p r o v i n g n u t r i t i o n and improving the communications media, we have enabled people to mature physically and intellectually at earlier ages, and we have failed to adjust our educational system accordingly; we have, in fact, increased the years o f schooling w i t h o u t accommodating them to physical and intellectual maturity. We have made it extremely difficult for able individuals to be self-directing and independent until later and later in their lives. This m a y indeed have something to do with campus unrest??but it a failure, not an achievement. Its victims see it as part o f a pattern of h u m a n enslavement. The kids are not so brain damaged, yet, that they w i l l let this happen to them indefinitely. T h r o u g h their efforts in conjunction w i t h other social forces, higher education is about to be transformed, and the emerging pattern may be unrecognizable and distasteful to m a n y o f us formed b y and committed to the present system. But q u a l i t y should be possible w i t h i n it if our universities c o m m i t themselves to creating excellence w i t h i n new and necessary forms. W h e n Rap B r o w n said that violence is ?as A m e r i c a n as apple pie? he reminded us o f an element o f our culture which we keep t r y i n g to o u t g r o w but keep returning to. Vulgarity, too, is part o f our heritage. W e came here because back in Europe they knew what was right and wrong, proper and i m p r o p e r , what man ought to be and 115

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how government ought to be conducted. N o w there is no T e r r i t o r y to settle, though hippies in N e o - I n d i a n garb are h o m e s t e a d i n gin neglected pockets. T h e new f r o n t i e r m a y be the core o f our cities, abandoned b y A u n t Sally and her civilization. Those who are outcasts o f the old o r d e r or who cannot find spiritual freedom w i t h i n it w i l l hew that w i l derness and b u i l d new communities. A m e r i c a n civilization has not yet found a way to express its genius in schools, though John Dewey tried to give us a vision in the A m e r i c a n grain. T h e remainder o f this b o o k describes some responses to that challenge. So f a r 1 have been talking about w h y we left the homeland, less in a spirit of adventure than o f desperation. I can imagine settlers on their cleared land finding a yellowed Newsweek, and showing their children how it used to be-?as in this review b y Joseph Morgenstern o f Frederick documentary, H i g h School: N o smiles besmirch

the

faces o f

Wiseman?s

these frozen-souled

kids.

No

gaicty, no j o y o f learning can be seen. N o learning, f o r the most . Even as a recreapart. They're jabbered at, not enlightened . . . the school flunks its o w n course, f o r it also tries tion center .

.

insidiously and incessantly to indoctrinate. Its ideals are u n - A m e r i can by any rational reading o f o u r h i s t o r y ? p a s s i v i t y dressed u p as well-adjustedness, c o n f o r m i t y dressed up as respect for a u t h o r i t y . ?We're out to establish that you're a man and that you can take orders,? a b u l l y o f a teacher tells a boy. A n o t h e r teacher tells a girl who wants to wear a short dress to a p r o m that ?it?s nice to be individualistic, b u t . . . ah . . . there are certain places to be individualistic.? . . W h y should they respond to representatives o f a system that humiliates them, insults them, diminishes them and tries its level worst to demolish their previous-selves? .

The thoroughness o f that educational system perhaps explains why we have such difficulty devising alternatives and m a k i n g them work. 116

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Thresholds o f Change F o r they also drift, they float confused in a void inside themselves i n w h i c h there are no others, no sounds. They are y o u n g and ungrounded and there is a terror in them, and the underside o f ?freedom? is an inexplicable sense of bondage and isolation. M y friends grimace when J say ?free people? because they k n o w that w h a t is space f o r some is f o r others a nightmare in w h i c h all things are possible and n o t h i n g makes sense. Style is not substance, and there is a n u m b g r i e f and d u m b sorrow w h i c h hip music and clothes cannot dissolve. C i n d y wears bells to bed and she chimes when she comes; she wants nothing f r o m lovers but ?hugging and hash,? and she giggles in bed and explains, ?It feels so good to feel good.? N o bra, no pants, and her backless dresses stop at the crotch; she is all nipples and limbs and makes love as softly as flowers, as n i m b l y as T i m e ? and nightly, in the dark, she cries and croons u n t i l dawn: I don?t understand any o f it, 1 want to die... Peter M a r i n

CHAPTER

5

I n s t i t u t i o n s o f Free L e a r n i n g

T h e three colleges considered in this chapter?-Rochdale, Bensalem and College o f the P o t o m a c ? a r e variations on the theme of t o t a l l y self-directed education. Rochdale offers no degree, rejecting the very notion as a corruption of free learning. Bensalem and College o f the Potomac define their degrees purely in terms o f time enrolled. They do not specify what one should do, what one should learn or how, what is legitimately academic or even educational. The b o u n d a r y between life and study, experience and conceptualization is blurred or obliterated in all three. A t Rochdale and Bensalem living in a particular building is, for most, a conscious clement of the educational o p p o r t u n i t y they provide, but for neither is living there essential. Both are on the edges of the campuses o f large universities, and many o f their students take or audit courses, so the content of their education m a y be ( f o r some it is) academically quite conventional. Physically, College o f the Potomac is no more than an office and a meeting place, and its students live where they please, coming to the college only when and if they are interested in doing so. A t Rochdale and Bensalem seminars f o r m f r o m time to time, and some meet regularly, but they d o not seem as 119

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central to the educational program as do those o f College of the Potomac, where it is assumed that f a c u l t y w i l l meet seminars weekly and that these w i l l provide the nexus for student-faculty relations. N o n e o f t h e colleges r e q u i r e s t h a t l e a r n i n g be e v a l u a t e d , o r even r e c o r d e d , t h o u g h B e n s a l e m has a s t r o n g t r a d i t i o n ( a n d a l m o s t an e x p e c t a t i o n ) o f a w r i t t e n ? t r a n s c r i p t ? s u m m a r i z i n g a student?s a c t i v i t i e s and p r o v i d i n g a m e d i u m f o r d i a l o g u e w i t h teachers. Some r e l a t i o n s h i p b e t w e e n t e a c h ers a n d students is c e n t r a l , at least as a n o r m , at b o t h B e n salem a n d C o l l e g e o f the P o t o m a c , b u t t h e r e is, i n effect, no f a c u l t y at all at R o c h d a l e , and o r g a n i z e d , r e g u l a r rel ationships

between

older,

more

learned

or

more

expert

people and those there to learn are t h e e x c e p t i o n r a t h e r t h a n the rule.

Rochdale The only thing you'll find out here is what a f u c k - u p the w o r l d is. . - Because we haven't provided any serious alternatives. We have .

left it wide-open f o r the kids to develop their own, t h e i r o w n way o f doing things. A l l we've learned and all they've learned is h o w fucked up they are and h o w utterly incapable they are of developing any. thing like an alternative. A n y t h i n g they might do in a pretense of getting together and doing anything about education or c o m m u n a l living o r anything else is just the merest beginning. They are just too turned off to do anything. T h e y may abstract a lot o f stuff, and .

.

they k n o w what they don?t want. T h e y can make lists o f that. boy. It's too easy. But when it comes to w h a t they do want. they don?t know.

Speaking was a f o r m e r advertising and p u b l i c relations man in his forties w i t h cheek-length red h a i r and a full beard, a member o f the Rochdale C o u n c i l w h o serves as what they call a ?resource person? (the term f a c u l t y not 120

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being used at R o c h d a l e ) . He hada

file o f interview data

w i t h Rochdale residents (one cannot properly call them Rochdale

students)

to

support

his generalization,

The

?here? he referred to is the building, an eighteen-story grey shaft, like a finger to the world, standing over the low huddle o f d o w n t o w n T o r o n t o . A friend described it as a s i x - m i l l i o n - d o l l a r rip-off, because a government loan intended to supply student housing for the University o f T o r o n t o got parlayed into a separately chartered c o l l e g e ? w i t h no c u r r i c u l u m , no degrees, n o t h i n g resembling a classroom, and no enrolled student body. M o r e than two hundred ?members? have paid the $25 annual fee, which gives them no discernible difference in rights from those of anyone else except the right to run for Council, the body o f twelve who govern the college. M e a n w h i l e some 850 people live in the b u i l d i n g (classified by the city as a resident a p a r t m e n t ) , about 60 per cent o f w h o m are students at the U n i v e r s i t y o f T o r o n t o or elsewhere. 8 5 0 freaks. It is an institutionalized H a i g h t - A s h b u r y with elevators that sometimes w o r k . As the man said after his visit to Kansas City, ?They?ve gone about as far as they can go.? I n fact there is this sign slapped up in black paint on one o f the elevator corridors: GEE, TOTO, I DON?T THINK WE ARE IN KANSAS ANYMORE. One o f the founding fathers completely unrelated to what

told me, ?We are either an educational institution

should b e ? o r so far beyond educational institutions, like in the commune thing, that we can?t see the relationship.? This is a mild-mannered, very straight young m a n who lives with

his wife

(a

graduate student in b i o l o g y )

in

a conventional apartment on Rochdale?s top floor. L i k e most o f the old-timers who were w i t h the Rochdale

movement from

its beginning in

1965,

he has severed 121

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any official relationship w i t h Rochdale and is n o w assistant principal of one of the sub-colleges o f T o r o n t o . T h e couples on the eighteenth o f middle-class version o f a c o m m u n a l open-door policy among the apartments

the U n i v e r s i t y o f f l o o r have a k i n d arrangement, an and some shared

financial responsibilities. Some or all of them m a y split to a commune in the country. A f t e r they ( a m o n g others) set Rochdale in m o t i o n it rolled away f r o m them like an avalanche; their leadership was rejected, and now they constitute a k i n d o f conservative old-guard (men and w o m e n in their twenties) who still share some of Rochdale?s dreams, but do not care to associate w i t h its w o r k i n g reality. On the seventeen floors below them seethes the phenomenon of high-density freedom. Rochdale is definitive. I t is a logical extension of m u c h that is going on, in less extreme forms, t h r o u g h o u t A m e r i c a n colleges and universities. I t stands as one indicator (some w o u l d say ?warning?) of where the search for alternatives m i g h t lead. Incorporated in O n t a r i o in July, 1967, as a ?charitable corporation? ( m e a n i n g that it could operate tax-free and receive deductible donations), Rochdale was the invention o f people w h o tend to describe themselves as dropouts: professorial dropouts, graduate school dropouts, some college dropouts. A g r o u p had for some t w o years before incorporation been p u t t i n g together pieces of a vision of education derived f r o m A . S. N e i l l and Summerhill, f r o m C a r l Rogers, E r i c h F r o m m and m a n y others, of c o m plete self-determination, freedom to do one?s thing, and a close integration o f education and life. T h e y had organized around a concept of student cooperative housing, so f r o m the beginning the place was as m u c ha p a r t o f the concept as w h a t went on there; strategies of education were inextricably involved w i t h matters of real estate, economics and aberrant life styles. 122

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alienation, Younger and younger kids were d r o p p i n g out o f middle-class homes, r u n n i n g away, looking f o r protective havens where they could run their own lives, free f r o m the surveillance and control of parents, schools and the law. T h e rather scholarly and straight old-guard of R o c h dale was not prepared for hordes o f teeny-boppers. C o u n c i l member describes it this way:

A

The newspapers put out the story that there would be this co-educational living. . . . We had hundreds, thousands o f kids come here . arriving by plane, d r i v i n g cars, to get i n on i t . . . . We managed at one point (? ???? 1200 people in this building; at one time there were f o u r or five hundred extra people sleeping in clevator lobbies, in broom closets, stairwells, in garbage r o o m s ? a l l of a sudden the place full of, y o u k n o w , jong-haired freaks. E v e r y b o d y thought they were home. This is it, W e knew it w o u l d happen some day. We've come into our own at l a s t . . . A n d no one w o u l d hear o f any restrictions. I f there were 5 0 0 crashers sleeping in the halls, that?s cool. Nobody's going to t h r o w them out . . . A n d the c i t y health inspectors came in and said, ?What?s this?? A n d the cops .

came in and said, ?You're bastards.? So things began said, ?Okay, you guys are We're in here, too. T o d a y

all smoking dope; we're going to get y o u to change. The bikers came in, and they outlaws, we can see that, and so are we. we move in.? A n d nobody in this b u i l d -

ing would call the cops f o r any reason at all. The fuzz is the enemy, m a n . . . The cops got all uptight, and they set a 24-hour watch on this building. T h e i r cars were going round this f u c k i n g b u i l d i n g all the time. . . . A n d they had narcs in the building, dressed like hippies, with wigs on, and y o u could spot them so easy it was pathetic. . . But the bikers said you got to straighten all this out, you know, so they beat up a couple o f the nares, really bad; they f u c k i n g near killed one guy. . . . A n d the police got frightened to .

come in the building, you k n o w , with all the love children going around grooving, everybody stoned out of their minds all the time, night and day, for about eight months. I got into it, too. Y o u couldn't help it. Just stoned ail the time, everybody doing hash and grass and acid, everybody into everything, everybody saying ?Hare Krishna? . . .

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Eventually a k i n d o f w o r k i n g agreement was worked out w i t h the police according to w h i c h Rochdale w o u l d k i c k out the speed freaks and heroin addicts and the cops wouldn?t harass them about grass and acid. As one Rochdalian put it, their b u i l d i n g was the o n l y place in Canada where amphetimines were illegal and marijuana was more or less officially sanctioned. Rochdale became an eighteenstory hash palace, In every conversation at Rochdale these t w o s u b j e c t s ? the b u i l d i n g and d r u g s ? a r e mentioned. The cafeteria, the elevators, the phone booths, the halls buzz w i t h casual talk of dope. I attended a C o u n c i l mecting where some forty people sat around on the carpet freely participating in the open discussion o f a very specific personnel issue. T h e meeting was chaired by a middle-aged history professor from the University o f T o r o n t o who imposed rigid parliamentary rules in a clipped O x o n i a n accent; he was a huge man in a spattered overcoat with frizzly shoulder-length hair radiating from his head, I n the midst of the meeting I was tapped on the shoulder by a black boy in a dashiki, who was passing mea joint. I took a drag and passed it o n ? t h e n noticed half a dozen circulating in the room. The speeches o f the C o u n c i l members were becoming progressively more eloquent and farther from the subject; after another half-hour, and a few more drags from passing joints, I noticed m y own imagination soaring away from the subject at hand. T h e president of the college, a theologian and specialist on the A m e r i c a n Indian, seemed nearly to be breaking into tears as he interpreted a vote as a vote of no-confidence in the administration. A t issue was whether a middle-aged head, recommended by the executive board, should be hired as a ?resource person? for a few months to publicize a positive attitude toward drugs 125

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in the c o m m u n i t y ; but when it came to a vote in C o u n c i l , the executive b o a r d itself was split, and the m o t i o n was defeated. One interpretation w a s that, again, the young were rejecting the efforts o f the o l d e r Rochdalians to reinforce themselves w i t h personnel o f greater m a t u r i t y and experience and learning. T h e president took it as a refusal of C o u n c i l to accept or exercise any educational leadership at all. The issue was heavy and the air was thick, and the ministerial president, in suit and tie, exploded in anger: The issue that I am posing is an issue that pertains directly to the executive and the Council o f the college over a specific vote o f lack o f confidence . . . Most o f the peopie w h o are involved are concerned as m u c h as anybody else about c o n t i n u i t y , and I am bloody well sick o f all the f u c k i n g around in this place. Y o u k n o w , y o u w o r k y o u r goddamned ass off, and then everything gets screwed up, you know. N o w we have to decide whether this place is w o r t h w h i l e , and y o u have to work to do it. I t doesn?t just happen. Y o u have to w o r k to make this place go and solve that capital financing and do . all the bloody stuff that?s necessary. . .

I k e p t t h i n k i n g o f l i b e r a t e d B a r c e l o n a , as d e s c r i b e d i n G e o r g e Orwell?s H o m a g e to C a t a l o n i a , T h e a n a r c h i s t s h a d t a k e n over, t h r o w n o u t t h e e s t a b l i s h m e n t , a n d w e r e r u n ning the city in their sometimes naive, sometimes clumsy, sometimes oppressive f a s h i o n , b u t w i t h a r e f r e s h i n g s p i r i t o f e q u a l i t y , r o u g h - a n d - t u m b l e j u s t i c e , and c o m m i t m e n t to a better w o r l d . O n e h a d b e t t e r n o t be seen on the street w e a r i n g a n y t h i n g b u t d e n i m . L a t e r in the w a r , w h e n the C o m m u n i s t s r o u t e d the anarchists, this s p i r i t o f a b s o l u t e d e m o c r a c y h a d shaded o v e r i n t o a r e i g n o f t e r r o r .

The power struggle and politics inside the b u i l d i n g are, apparently, a constant source of tension. ( T h e r e seems to be almost no concern w i t h politics outside the b u i l d i n g , except on the part of individuals; of all the posters and graffiti I saw in the place, none was even so m i l d l y activist 126

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as ?Don?t Eat Grapes,? except in the office of the Black

L i b e r a t i o n Front, where, o f course, Che and M a l c o l m X and f a m i l i a r m i l i t a n t symbols and phrases b o l d l y streamed across the walls.) T h e r e is, of course, big money involved ? - b o t h i n the drug trade and the real estate. Since Rochdale had faulted on some o f its mortgage payments (over $ 3 0 , 0 0 0 per m o n t h ) , there was some fear that the government might foreclose; but the value of the property has soared, as the b u i l d i n g is in a prime location, and i f it were sold Rochdale might clear over half a m i l l i o n dollars profit, so the payments themselves are insignificant. Such seamy considerations are at odds w i t h what one might call the co-educational monastic flavor of life at Rochdale. The red-draped picture windows look out across the sprawling grey city, and c o n t i n u a l l y during our conversations there were scornful gestures to the w o r l d ?out there.? C o n t e m p t u m u n d i is a clerical disdain for the world, THE STRAIGHT TRIP IS AN ESCAPE FROM REALITY is scrawled on a wall, and Rochdalians generally agree that ?We're fucked up because we came from out there. A t least in here you have a chance to begin getting your head straight.? A n older Rochdalian said: I t h i n k the intuitive dropout kids understand a lot more things than a university professor. I have a really hard time talking with university professors. . . I used to like to tatk to them, go to their parties . . . all this stuff they?re talking about is all comparative, all relative, about who's f a m i l i a r with K a n t and Aristotle and .

Jacques M a r i t a i n . The game goes on and on, tike a small liberal game, like everybody knows everything, don?t we? We k n o w what's w r o n g with the kids. We k n o w what's w r o n g with the world. We k n o w why there's a permanent state o f war. We know what?s wrong with A m e r i c a n economics. We k n o w w h y our psychology is all fucked up. A n d we're not going to do a damned thing about it. That's a real groove, that is. [t's a real beautiful solid body o f knowledge that everybody knows i f you're in that club. It makes a

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fascinating topic o f cocktail conversation . . . Even the revolutionaries aren?t out of it: they just have hold o f the other end o f the stick. Most o f the kids have t h r o w n the baby o u t with the bath water. Like, they?re curious, to some extent. They are badly damaged. . . . Like they?re not about to read a book. Solitary learning is not a thing that they dig very much. There doesn?t seem m u c h point to them, i f you really get into something, to go into a r o o m and start reading psychology o r philosophy or something. "Cause who knows? N o b o d y knows they?re doing it. So they sort of wander around . , . and all t h e i r kindred spirits are here. That?s the overpowering presence in this building.

One g i r l in her twenties said she thought Rochdale was making progress because it was getting beyond the ?seminar thing.? There are, apparently, dozens o f study groups o f various kinds meeting more or less regularly. Those which seem to go on most steadily are those in w h i c h a definite skill is l e a r n e d ? s u c h as p r i n t i n g (taught at the associated Coach House Press), silk screening, guitar, yoga, Japanese. W h a t does not happen very m u c h is what the founders dreamed o f ? p e o p l e agreeing to read a certain chapter o f Hegel o r Heidigger and gathering in someone?s

apartment

to

discuss

it.

?The

study

of

the

humanities becomes the creation o f living situations,? one said. There is some study o f the biochemistry o f drugs, L a t i n America, life drawing. There is a continuing interest in religious and quasi-religious topics, such as a SEMINAR IN THE TRUE BUDDHISM, and: ? A n open I n q u i r y into being TURNED ON A n d the R e l a t e d S i g n i f i c a n c e o f ?-Drugs ?Music ~ ? R e l i g e o n [sic] ? ? ? ?Relationships

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This was moderated by a white-headed and white-bearded man who had had m u c h experience in the use o f L S D in therapy for alcoholism. A hash pipe was passed around the group of t h i r t y or so who sat on the floor t a l k i n g lugubriously o f their joy and heavily o f their spontancity in the drug experience. There is much rather mystic talk o f vibrations and energy. I t was widely contended that drugs were not important in themselves, except that they b r i n g people together and open them to spiritual experience. I was reminded o f the h a l l u c i n a t o r y effects o f flagellation and fasting, the rites of c o m m u n i o n , the inner trips o f meditation. Rationalist that I am, I have personal difficulty in restraining m y cynicism about any religious practices, but m y days at Rochdale left me convinced that what I was witnessing was a spiritual, sometimes fanatic, rejection o f worldly values. It was pointed out that a young person in T o r o n t o has several choices. N e a r b y is Y o r k v i l l e , a degenerate, hippie section of town crawling w i t h crime, speed freaks, bikers and runaways. A few blocks in another direction is the University o f T o r o n t o , straight and stuffy and scholarly, though a very fine university in conventional terms. A l l around is the w o r k a d a y w o r l d o f jobs, w h i c h the young are l i k e l y to perceive as tedious and moneygrubbing. A n d then there is Rochdale. It was not difficult f o r me to see w h y many chose Rochdale. T h e b u i l d i n g was less t h a n t w o years o l d w h e n I was there, a n d it l o o k e d as t h o u g h i t h a d w e a t h e r e d t h i r t y years, w i t h its c r a c k i n g , s m u d g e d walls, s p l o t c h e d carpets, b a t t e r e d f u r n i t u r e , f l a p p i n g faded drapes a n d scarred a n d c r e a k i n g elevators. E v e r y w h e r e w e r e t h e c r u d e l y p a i n t e d slogans, i n v i t i n g c e l e b r a t i o n , b u t the m o o d ,

nonetheless,

was d e s u l t o r y . Some floors h a d p u l l e d themselves t o g e t h e r 129

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Bensalem There's a camel?s nose called student freedom, and if they really have freedom, Bensalem follows like the night the day. I don't see any h a l f - w a y house. I find that discouraging, because I wish I could envision a half-way house. There?s n o t m u c h difference between Rochdale and us, except we have managed somehow to keep the faculty involved. There is a tendency in these operations for the . . The faculty to get pushed out. greatest victory at Bensalem is that the faculty is still there. N o t the same faculty; there's been a very high turnover. Just one person has been here throughout, and he?s l e a v i n g ? w i t h considerable cynicism. .

Kenneth Freeman, Dean of Fordham?s experimental college, Bensalem, is a bearded young philosopher who is t h i n k ing of shaving. ?Y?ve had this beard ten years, but for the first time I find myself reacting against the connotations. As a symbol i t has been cheapened.? Rochdale and Bensalem seemed to me to resemble one another as a carnival fun-house resembles Versailles, both of w h i c h have a lot of mirrors and open space and strange people passing through. A b o u t sixty students and a half-dozen f a c u l t y members live in a narrow, five-story apartment o n the edge of the F o r d h a m campus. T h e r e are no degree requirements other than three years? participation ( i n c l u d i n g summers}, and even the three-year requirement is not terribly strict, as a student m a y take leaves, travel, work, or otherwise inter???? his c o m m i t m e n t to the house. M i n i m a l l y , i f a student signed a slip of paper w h i c h said, ?I went to Bensalem for three years,? and a faculty member signed it, saying, ?Joe Doaks went to Bensalem for three years,? the student would be awarded the degree. I n spirit, however (and, according to Freeman, two-thirds o f the students r e a l i z e 131

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sumer cooperative movement w h i c h began in England in 1844, What?s in a name? One might ponder the contrast between utopian vision and cooperative arrangements. Utopias generally reflect a faith i n human nature (rather at odds with Fordham?s Jesuit t r a d i t i o n ) , an emphasis upon a design for living, a reliance upon classical learning and values, and an emphasis upon u n i f o r m i t y (at odds with the r a m p a n t individualism of ?Do your o w n thing?). Cooperatives are essentially economic institutions in w h i c h differences are mediated and resources pooled for the sake of mutual gain. O f Miss Sewell?s o r i g i n a l intentions, Freeman says, ?The vision was naive on t w o counts. Because people are friends, it does not f o l l o w that they can live together compatibly. A n d it does not f o l l o w that students can be absorbed in a pattern of friendship. Elizabeth assumed that people w o u l d want to do things together-??Urdu, creative w r i t i n g ? t h a t they would come together and share. I t doesn?t w o r k that way at all. T h e philosophy of ?do your own thing? dominates everything.? The handful o f idealistic and learned, sensitive faculty and t h i r t y - t w o freshmen moved into an apartment b u i l d i n g with m a n y cubicles and no boundaries. A f t e r an i n i t i a l period o f euphoria, the program spiralled into gloom. By January o f 1968, when I first met her, Elizabeth Sewell spoke of Bensalem w i t h the spectral voice o f one who had seen into the o t h e r w o r d l y depths o f human disorganization. She had experienced for the first time h u m a n relationships w i t h no holds barred, no protective artificialities, no institutional havens. It had been an encounter w i t h terror and despair; she had been torn by love that both poisoned and sustained. A n d yet she was more deeply than ever c o m m i t t e d to this pattern o f education, for any other 133

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w o u l d merely protect one from the knowledge which, however painful, is the o n l y rock o n w h i c h one?s faith m a y be founded.

`

A g a i n and again I have said, and have heard other people say, when faced w i t h the squalor and anguish o f these programs w h i c h launch people into arenas barren o f the usual expectations, requirements, schedules and monitoring, ? A t least it is real!? Freedom, when defined as absence o f form, is not liberating; it is difficult, frightening, and savors o f blood, sweat and tears. Survivors are generally exhausted, pale and shaken, but the experience is addictive because it gives one the sense of at last seeing life w i t h o u t pretenses. A little over a year later Elizabeth Sewell and I were comparing notes, weeping, as it were, in our martinis, about our e x p e r i e n c e s ? m i n e in Antioch?s Inner College, hers at B e n s a l e m ? a n d w o n d e r i n g whether there were some Freudian dynamic in these little programs w h i c h created a necessity f o r k i l l i n g the father ( o r mother, as the case may b e ) . She was p l a n n i n g at least a temporary

retreat, to a nice little conventional college where she w o u l d have a light load as a distinguished scholar. T h e toll on the nervous system and body can become too great, and one gets ill, creates defenses or flees. M a n y o f the experimental programs have been started by people, like Elizabeth Sewell, o f great personal charisma and achievement: H a r r i s W o f f o r d at O l d Westbury, James Russell at College of the Potomac, and M o r r i s M i t c h e l l at Friends W o r l d College are examples w h i c h come immediately to mind. A p o w e r f u l personal presence, particularly in a position o f authority, is a great burden for a program to endure, especially i f it emphasizes egalitari-

anism and self-direction. Love-hate relationships o f great intensity develop, and problems o f identification w i t h the 134

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leader and resentment of h i m are equally oppressive. It is probably w e l l that such leaders move on, after they have contributed their creative force. Even when the programs go well, they have not been t r u l y tested until they show the a b i l i t y to survive their i n i t i a t i n g leadership. I t is probably difficult for those who have not seen such programs at first hand to realize h o w fierce they can become. I have watched with a k i n d o f sickening fascination how needs of people emerge to destroy themselves and one another. Periods of heady j o y and w a r m t h and optimism are followed by black storms and bleak periods o f spiritual numbness. Y o u n g people are not prepared by their home lives or schools to make decisions and often are nearly

incapable

of

discovering

within

themselves

the

grounds for order, discipline, direction and purpose. T h e y have dreamt of w h a t they would do if i t weren't for the limits and demands imposed upon them, b u t when they are free they are likely to unzip and find nothing inside. I f y o u believe you w o u l d be creative, industrious and productive except for external restraints, you can retain some hold on dignity, though you feel c o n t i n u a l l y frustrated. But i f you discover that you d o not, in fact, spontaneously c r e a t e ? or even read, that you are not really very interested i n cultural or political events, in ideas, in intellectual issues, that you have little drive to achieve, that there is nothing in particular that you w a n t to do with your life, and that you cannot blame these things y o u perceive as deficiencies upon some system beyond your control, you are l i k e l y to suffer waves o f guilt, self-hatred and paralysis o f w i l l . People disappointed in themselves are often inclined to cut up one another in compensation. People u n w i l l i n g to make commitments are distrustful of those w h o w a n t t o act. Being ?open? is celebrated b y most o f those who enter 135

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experimental programs; but if it means exposing an inner vacuum, they feel u n w o r t h y and ashamed and close themselves up tighter than ever in fear?of being rejected. Experimental programs are always the subject of salacious interest and gossip because most of us imagine that i f the restraints were removed we w o u l d ourselves be unbridled hedonists. A garage mechanic who gets his kicks beating up hippies said, ?You t h i n k I wouldn?t like to let m y hair grow and run around smoking dope and screwing everybody in sight and never h o l d i n g a job? Y o u ' r e damned right I?d like i t ? b u t that?s not reality. Y o u got to face reality.? The envy o f boards o f trustees and pillars of the c o m m u n i t y is usually better disguised, but is no less strong. On the F o r d h a m campus Bensalem is p o p u l a r l y regarded as an ?honors? c o l l e g e ? w h i c h is amusing, since Bensalem admission interview teams (theoretically a faculty member and two students, but more often in practice three students) do not consider scholastic records, but base their judgment upon w r i t t e n answers to essay questions and personal interviews. F o r d h a m students feel put-down b y Bensalem students (¢.g., for being ? r a h - r a h ? ) ; they are envious of them and do not see the negative side of Bensalem?s freedom. There is, o f course, sexual p r o m i s c u i t y

and a certain amount of dissipation

within

Bensalem?s

walls, though it w o u l d be hard to measure whether there is more or less than in other colleges. B u t inside experimental programs, just as outside them, there are more people miserable because o f lack of self-fulfillment, lack o f sensual gratification, lack of experimentation w i t h life than are engaged in intemperate reveling. P r o b a b l y there is more exploitative behavior in conventional programs than i n experimental programs. I f all the rules and customs are against you, you ?score? when you can, w i t h little regard for sensitive feelings. A fellow f r o m Stanford?s coed fra136

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ternity said, ?You think twice about sleeping w i t h a g i r l when you k n o w you have to face her the next m o r n i n g at b r e a k f a s t ? a n d at l u n c h ? a n d at d i n n e r ? a n d at breakfast. . .? A psychologist, c o m m e n t i n g on that situation, said a kind of ?incest taboo? develops in coeducational living arrangements. Similar restraints are l i k e l y to surround other kinds o f behavioral license. Frustration, deprivation and inhibition are harder to take in experimental programs. I f you know, or strongly suspect, that your housemates are m a k i n g it in the adjoining bedroom, your sense o f personal isolation is l i k e l y to be increased. I f a student is lonely, unloved, bored, trapped in routine, fearful o f new experience, unresponsive and unimaginative, he can find no one and no condition to blame outside himself. T o discover that repression, like body odor, is something one carries w i t h h i m even into Utopia is devastating. T h e mood in these programs is often m o r b i d , intense and sticky. ?It?s the most hostile place v e ever been in m y life,? Kenneth Freeman says. Because there are no boundaries, individuals and groups are forced into defensive postures. A perpetual competition for resources develops, which symbolizes the need to define self. ?I am a more abrasive guy than I was when I came,? he says, ?because in the usual academic w o r l d there is so m u c h you can take for granted. W h o w o u l d ever question m y right to m y own domicile? M y right to get eight hours sleep at night? M y right not to have students in twelve hours a day? A t Bensalem every one o f these things has to be made a personal decision. Last night a gir) w i t h a part in a play that just opened wanted to talk to me after the performance. I had to say no. | was tired. T h e edges of m y personality are getting m u c h more clearly defined.? T o be h i r e d a f a c u l t y m e m b e r h a s to w i n , as it w e r e , t h e

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periences in the various groups has shown us that we are not trustworthy.? I n spite of the allegations o f outsiders and the protests of those within, Bensalem is a very academic college. A prospective faculty member was l o o k i n g over a student?s t r a n s c r i p t ? w h i c h happened to contain a 65-page study o f Czechoslovakia, w i t h eight single-spaced pages o f annotated bibliography. ? M y god!? he said, ?this represents an excellent college education.? But the girl was o n l y a freshman, half-way t h r o u g h her first year?s w o r k . M o s t o f the students take at least some courses at ?Big F o r d h a m ? (as they call i t ) , though they need not enter such courses for credit. One faculty member writes: Bensalem remains, like most colleges, a place f o r academic m o n k ishness (to use Goodman?s phrase), f o r arts, letters and other afftuent-middle-class luxuries. Bensalem does not point t o w a r d vocations, in the best sense o f that term, ways o f being in the w o r l d . . . . Being a college, imbued still with the values o f academe (at least manyo f t h e m ) , w o r k i n g as part o f a m a j o r university w i t h pressures t o w a r d conventionally credentialed faculty, having a budget w h i c h pays faculty members decently for teaching w i t h o u t i n v o l v i n g them in fund-raising and housing p r o b l e m s ? a l l this and m o r e militates against Bensalem having a faculty oriented t o w a r d i n v o l v e m e n t with the w o r l d beyond Bensalem. Indeed, 1 can t h i n k o f only two places, off hand, w h i c h have or have had faculties c o m m i t t e d to the kind o f learning that goes hand in hand with radical personal and social change: the famous Black M o u n t a i n College, and Friends W o r l d College. A n d even those two, largely by v i r i u e o f being colleges, have had histories falling far short o f that purpose.

Though people can do anything, what they choose to do sounds a great deal like what they do at other colleges. A student says, ?Myriad private little things fill the day: 140

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s e m i n a r s on N i e t z s c h e , p o l i t i c a l science, G r e e k t u t o r i a l s , L a t i n t u t o r i a l s , c h a r a d e s u n t i l 5 a.M., a m a d m o n k w h o plays the h a r p s i c h o r d all day, p e o p l e s m e l l i n g t h e i r o w n a r m p i t s , l o v i n g , a n d w a k i n g u p every d a y k n o w i n g

that

y o u c a n m a k e the days y o u r own, n a m e y o u r o w n days ? a n d n o t just w e e k e n d s ? a s M u r r a y said in A T h o u s a n d Clowns.?

A n exception to what might be called a prevailing intellectual narcissism is the L o r i l l a r d Children?s School, a freelearning

environment serving some thirty-three

children

between the ages of three and seven, half of w h o m are from m i n o r i t y groups. Bensalem students and faculty started the school and got it approved by the state for teacher c e r t i f i c a t i o n ? s o that t w o o f the seniors graduating in } 9 7 0 have teaching certificates. T h e i r argument to the state was that the best way to learn about education is to start f r o m scratch, to deal w i t h laws, real estate, parents, tuitions, supplies, and to learn b y ?teaching? ( i f that is the word for f a c i l i t a t i n g learning in a Summerhillian type o f school). In a curious way experimental programs tend to cast off all conventional standards and requirements and then take pride in themselves when the old forms reappear, as though we could score points for c o n t i n u a l l y re-inventing the wheel. One professor hopes to solve the problem of the constant drain on his time in one-to-one tutorial and advisory relationships by getting groups o f students together to study a subject. He has t w o such groups going, o f seventeen and six students each, studying, respectively, logic and love. They are carrying out their c o m m i t m e n t to do the w o r k ? w i t h the understanding that if they don?t they w i l l be dropped f r o m the group. He gave a surprise examination in the logic class, based entirely on questions he had 141

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used at another college, and was delighted that thirteen of the seventeen are doing very well, b y standards w h i c h he used elsewhere. I n the context ?of Bensalem this is w h a t might be called educational innovation. T h e students o f Bensalem seem h i g h l y critical of, but loyal to, their college. T h e y insist on an onerous interview process ( w i t h a de facto b l a c k b a l l means of e l i m i n a t i o n ) in order personally to select new members, and the small record and leaflet they put out in 1969 for prospective students was f u l l o f warnings: ?He should also study Bensalem, its environment, and its problems before c o m m i t t i n g three years of his life to an experiment whose goals are ill defined and whose m e d i u m is utter confusion.? The effort to discourage rather than sell seems to me to i m p l y strongly that ?we who can take it are rather special.? T h e b u i l d i n g is dilapidated and noisy; almost the o n l y p u b l i c space, aside f r o m the stairwell, is a barren, g r i m y cubicle of a common r o o m ? t h e scene o f house meetings and some social activities. There is a gaiety and intellectuality ( a n d self-consciously r e v o l u t i o n a r y ) q u a l i t y about the graffiti, the bulletin boards and psychedelically painted decorations. O n e wonders to what extent the fact that those interested in Bensalem are likely to come f r o m C a t h o l i c backgrounds influences the i n s t i t u t i o n ? t h e sense o f guilt, o f judgment, of erudition and sarcasm w h i c h seem to be in the air. Perhaps it is so t i g h t under Fordham?s academic w i n g that the air is close. O r perhaps it is the small size and intimacy w h i c h create t e n s i o n ? a k i n d o f m o r a l expectation that it should have greater i n s t i t u t i o n a l coherence, and the frequent reminders that it lacks it, as though this were a k i n d o f failure. F o r whatever reason, as one comes to Bensalem f r o m Rochdale he is l i k e l y to be aware of a pervasive uptightness, a defensiveness and sus142

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piciousness, w h i c h makes Rochdale seem a place of relatively wide-open abandoned. This tension m a y be very valuable educationally. N o t even at Rochdale have they been able to combine, as George L e o n a r d w o u l d have us do, education and ecstasy. Whether man is depraved absolutely, or o n l y c o n d i t i o n a l l y (e.g., in the seventies in the B r o n x ) , it m a y be that he can learn through the pain of self and m u t u a l flagellation.

The

C o l l e g e o f the P o t o m a c

We're very conscious o f precisely what we're doing, very conscious o f who o u r enemies are, where they are, and precisely w h a t they're going to be doing, It?s no accident that we are sitting on both sides o f the Potomac River. We've got offices on both sides. We've got ourselves fixed so that when they attempt to attack us we can move. The people w h o are going to perceive o f us first as enemies are going to be the private universities. The students are d r o p p i n g out o f those schools one after another, c o m i n g over to us, and t r y i n g to get their t u i t i o n back f r o m the universities, T h i s fall we're going to have a crowd of students here f r o m universities in the area. By the f o l l o w i n g year, the universities will k n o w they're losing. A n d they?re going to k n o w what they're l o s i n g ? m o n e y , the kind they run on and the kind we run on. One o f the reasons we insist .

.

.

upon r u n n i n g on student m o n e y is that this is h o w you have student control.

James Russell, the President of T h e College of the Potomac, has a remarkable and varied career, i n c l u d i n g teaching at T h e W a r College, where he had the simulated rank o f M a j o r General, and serving ( w h e n he was a Naval L i e u t e n a n t ) as C h i e f of Staff to the D e p u t y C o m m a n d e r o f the European Theater. He was logistical planner of the N o r m a n d y landing and in charge of ?policy for the forces a s h o r e ? w h i c h meant the postwar settlement of G e r m a n y 143

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objects and books reflecting the range of Russell?s intere s t s ? f r o m mushrooms to professional skiing. The entry is papered w i t h announcements and graffiti. T o the right is the desk o f a secretary and the office of the development officer, A r t h u r Webster. T h e basement is a disaster area, crowded

w i t h a collection

of j u n k

i n c l u d i n g some art

equipment and a k i l n ; there is talk of putting in a silkscreen studio. Upstairs are a couple o f small seminar rooms and a ?lounge,? actually t w o rooms separated by a large doorway, w i t h an unusable fireplace at one end and a few run-down chairs and couches at the other. A huge pile of scrap leather covers most of one wall, and a mobile of scrap leather hangs f r o m one o f the non-functioning light fixtures. The windows are g r i m y , some w i t h remains of Venetian blinds. The one w o r k i n g light is an indirect lamp, without shade, placed in the middie o f the room w i t h its cord stretching to the wall. There is n o library, no classroom in the conventional sense, Students live in apartments, some in the immediate neighborhood, some scattered over the city. One senses that the college is actually, like the business of a small broker, a set o f telephone numbers and a few papers in the president?s coat pocket. Aside f r o m Russell and Webster and the secretary, there are no f u l l - t i m e employees. T h e other seven faculty are part-time, teaching one, t w o or three seminars for what averages out as about $500 per seminar per quarter. ( A t this rate one w o u l d have to teach eight s e m i n a r s ? o r about two-thirds of the 1 9 6 9 - 7 0 c u r r i c u l u m ? e a c h of three quarters to earn a m i d d l i n g salary for a professor at a conventional institution.) Theoretically, a seminar enrolls about ten students and the faculty member is supposed to see each o f them i n d i v i d u a l l y each week (?for from five minutes to five hours?)

as well

as in the weekly group

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meeting. There

is wide

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these norms

in

practice. Seminars may be either ?focused? ( i . e , on an announced t o p i c ) or ?open? (i.e., meetings of people who want to get together and f o l l o w their interaction where it leads t h e m ) . There is no concept such as credit for these activities. A student m a y take no seminars o r as m a n y as he pleases, but the bulletin advises, ?In most cases we t h i n k that one seminar per quarter is about right.? There is no f o r m a l or required process of evaluation. O b v i o u s l y a good deal of m u t u a l evaluation goes on all the time. I f a student wants something recorded, he has to take the initiative. He m a y file evidence o f his achievement if he wishes. I f he needsa iranscript (e.g., to transfer), it is his responsibility to supply what i n f o r m a t i o n he wants to appear on it. T h e r e are no stated degree requirements; presumably i f one registers f o r three quarters per year for f o u r years, he gets a degree. Some of these quarters may, with college permission, be o f f - c a m p u s ? t r a v e l i n g , w o r k i n g , serving w i t h the Peace Corps or Vista, o r in some other experience judged to be of educational v a l u e ? i n w h i c h case the tuition is $50 (instead of $ 6 0 0 ) per quarter. D u r i n g its first year, w i t h o u t federal w o r k - s t u d y money or other scholarship aid. the college managed to devote some $ 1 2 , 0 0 0 per quarter in aid to its eighty students. Simple arithmetic indicates how thin is the shoestring on w h i c h Potomac swings. W h i l e some princely administrators of establishment institutions m a y sniff in disdain at what seems to bea flyby-night parasite on the flank o f academe, T h e College of the Potomac is nonetheless a force to be reckoned with, p r i m a r i l y because o f the personal power and philosophic range of its president. A f o r m e r Professor of E d u c a t i o n at Teachers 146

College, C o l u m b i a

University,

James

Russell,

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Against that sort of perspective, h o w should we seek to mold the young today? Should we be trying to get them to revere the past? Should we continue o u r present stress on the A m e r i c a n W a y of Life, . . on the A m e r i c a n Heritage? In a time when a u t o m a t i o n is greedily gobbling up jobs, what sense can a y o u n g man make out of advice that tells h i m that getting a job is the p r i m e end o f life? . . . N o n l i n e a r i t y is increasingly being found in the advance o f the sciences. In physics, we have seen Heisenberg?s uncertainty principle; in chemistry Pauling?s indeterminacy; i n mathematics, f o r m a l undec i d a b i l i t y as in the w o r k of K u r t Godel. In almost every advancing field o f knowledge, i n c l u d i n g such disciplines as economics, political science and psychology, the handling o f data is increasingly bec o m i n g statistical, or, to use the technical term, probabalistic. . . W h a t this suggests is that the future is not l i k e l y to be a simple direct response to present i n p u t s . . . In short, the substantive approach to education planning is no longer appropriate. In its place we should be aiming at enabling o u r students to handle the processes o f inquiry, the processes o f c o m m u n i c a t i o n , and the processes of creation. .

.

H o w do we do that? W e ?involve the learner in freely given, uninhibited responses.? W e must help the learner feel ?free to search, to inquire, to respond as he wishes . secure in himself and free from external threat.? Everywhere after the elementary level a student finds curr i c u l u m and staff organized in terms o f substantive k n o w l e d g e ? a n d ?that leads to the m a j o r flaws in the system: the a u t h o r i t y asserted by the school, the d u l l and irrelevant courses, the inane requirements, the diversion o f teachers? energies f r o m the encouragement o f learning, the incessant evaluating and grading.? B y creating a context f o r completely self-directed learning he sees an answer to the ?sense of lost relevance,? the blacks? ?yearning for dignity,? the deadening ?puritan job ethic,? and the ?swift change? o f our age. He hopes to ?regain the allegiance of our youth. It might even become fashionable, as it once was, to be patriotic.? 148

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A great deal of experimental education seems to have a merely negative thrust: to eliminate grades, courses, disciplines, requirements and other academic paraphenalia, but it is o f a piece with m a n y advances in twentieth-century art and science as well as the direction o f cultural change. The energy of the atom is released b y breaking d o w n containing patterns and forms. T h a t energy seems uncontainably destructive; but it challenges us. to find ways to use and contain the power. There is no way o f putting the genie now back in the bottle. It is extremely difficult at Potomac, as i n most experimental programs, to discover w h a t students are actually doing. One researcher, doing a dissertation on Potomac under the direction o f Carl Rogers, concluded that the three areas of focus are adjustment to independence and living in the city, efforts to establish a sense of c o m m u n i t y in the college itself, and sensitivity to one another. ?Again and again,? she says, ?I have seen students really pull themselves together, to get out o f the drug thing and begin functioning.? But it is unclear, when they are functioning, what they do. ?They wanted this film thing, so one o f the faculty who has done some experimental film w o r k set up a film seminar and brought in his cameras and equipment

and made it all available. O n l y one or two w o u l d show up for meetings of the seminars. T h e y were all supposed to make films, but none of them made films. T h e y seem to say, ?Wow, that?s a great idea,? and then not do anything.? N o product is r e q u i r e d ? f o r example as evidence o f the educational worth o f a few months spent in California. T h e y don?t even have to discuss w i t h anyone what they have done, how they are p u l l i n g things together. A critic said, ?They d u m p it all on the kids, saying, ?Go do your thing,? then sitting back and saying, ?I?m the liberal edu?????.? That?s the real cop out.?

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self, about the absurdity of conventional modes o f education and the virtues o f the college?s approach; it was as though they were h a m m e r i n g out together a d o g m a ? a n d I did not hear any serious questions raised about the worth or effectiveness of their own mode. A p p a r e n t l y the members o f this seminar decided to go out into the high schools and interview students, as a follow-up. Incidentally, they are serving as recruiters f o r Potomac. J

was struck b y the high degree o f loyalty to the college

among the students. K n o w i n g that many programs w i t h strong father figures had run into trouble, w i t h personality cults developing, resentment, impotence and over-dependence, I asked specifically whether Russell was looked upon as Big Daddy. ?TI guess he is,? a girl said, who seemed not to have worried about it before, ?But I don?t m i n d that. He?s great.? He seems to them to convey a coherent philosophy, have a broad range of i n f o r m a t i o n f r o m m a n y fields (e.g., he taught a seminar in Field Identification of the H i g h e r F u n g i ) , and radiate an acceptance of the students. Russell seems i n fact, to know most by name and to have an intimate, concerned knowledge of what they were doing. A t one point a n u m b e r of students turned against h i m ? a s it happens, when he was in Europe. T h e y perceived him as having manipulated the Board of Trustees to back h i m in an unpopular personnel decision. Otherwise his level o f credibility seems high. T h e books are open??and in T o w n Meeting the affairs o f the college are f r a n k l y discussed. When there was a $10,000 deficit because some students weren?t paying their bills, they decided to form a committee, to raise money, and then one said, ? W a i t a minute: this problem is us. We don?t need a committee; we need to deal with it r i g h t here.? One way Russell avoids the Big D a d d y image is by refus151

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is apparently little p o l i t i c a l strife; but there

is also less

cohesiveness than might be desired. One observer said the ideas of the college flow from Russell to the students and from them to the other faculty. A young psychologist seems to have a f a i r l y strong identification w i t h the college ? b u t to make such an unconventional program w o r k a greater team c o m m i t m e n t needs to be developed. F a c u l t y are hired less for their ?fields? or ?disciplines? or ?knowledge? than f o r their c o m p a t i b i l i t y as ?whole people.? Students interview and interact w i t h them, and communicate their intuitions as to whether they w i l l w o r k out. F a c u l t y and all-college retreats have been used to create a greater sense o f mutual c o m m i t m e n t and c o m m u n i t y . Nonetheless, the college is still a one-man show, by and l a r g e ? a n d one wonders what wil! happen when Russell is required to be away for any extended period o f time or when, as must eventually happen, resentment o f h i m develops among a large p r o p o r t i o n o f the college. Even if there were no practical concerns, a strong dependency upon a single

personality is theoretically inappropriate for the revolution w h i c h Russell wants to occur. He is talking o f opening a second campus, and then a third and fourth, creating a network of units, each w i t h no more than about 200 students (small enough that the T o w n Meetings can function effectively). W h a t we need to do is to maintain the capacity to expand the activity. A n d to feed in o v r own people. A s this thing expands, the careers are here f o r these people to lead. Y o u can call them students now. T o m o r r o w they'll be professors in these same sorts o f institutions. We're engaged in large-scale expansion. This thing is going to become very large before it calms down.

Russel! is intent on creating an alternative system which will d r a w f r o m the old one until it collapses. Potomac has 153

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a toe-hold on accreditation in V i r g i n i a ,

and so far members of the establishment have been w i l l i n g to give them land and money. Russell showed me a recent gift o f $35,0 0 0 w o r t h of I B M stock. I f he can r e m a i n effective personally and can find others w h o share his philosophy, he may make a viable network before being noticed b y those who should, theoretically, be bent on stopping him. But I have doubts that he can continue to bear the personal] load. He has no reinforcements at Potomac, let alone the support o f any other institution. I t h i n k that experimenters are going to have to recognize, in their i n d i v i d u alistic institutions, that they need one another. A c creditation agencies are still very powerful, t h o u g h the proliferation o f new colleages is u n d e r m i n i n g their authority, and their legality is currently being questioned on the ground that they constitute a k i n d o f ?restraint o f trade? (since certain government funds and legal privileges are linked to an ?accredited? status, t h o u g h this has little more meaning than membership in a private c l u b ) . E x p e r i m e n tal schools m a y need to develop their o w n accrediting agency and define q u a l i t y in terms that make realistic sense in regard to what they are doing: there is a l i m i t to h o w long they can fake it w i t h the conventional agencies, pretending that they measure up to standards to w h i c h they don?t even aspire. As it stands now, for all his persuasiveness and candor, Russell must have to use t w o languages, as Kenneth Freeman says he does when explaining Bensalem to the administration at Fordham. M a n y w i t h impeccable professional credentials are n o w committed to a range of values and a line of action to w h i c h those credentials are largely irrelevant, if not, inded, a mockery. T h e y are nonetheless useful when one crosses the street to speak to the estab154

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lishment, to get w h a t is needed to f u r t h e r present ends. But part o f the intent is to displace that very establishment, and when they find out w h a t such innovators are really up to, the colleges m a y find their credit lines rapidly diminishing in value. T h e y had better use the interlude not only to build up alliances, but to c l a r i f y for themselves the rationale and criteria according to w h i c h they are willing, without duplicity, to be measured.

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6

E x p e r i m e n t s in P r e s c r i p t i o n

W i t h i n a few miles o f one another on L o n g Island are t w o small c o l l e g e s ? F r i e n d s W o r l d College and the State U n i versity of New Y o r k at O l d W e s t b u r y ? w h i c h , though they offer students great latitude in self-direction, nonetheless prescribe to some degree w h a t constitutes, in the institutional view, a valid education. Both represent p r o f o u n d revaluations o f liberal education, efforts to find true alternatives to older definitions o f what a ?college? means. In both there is a strong emphasis upon experience in the w o r l d as well as (and sometimes instead o f ) in books. B o t h grew out of visions o f educators who had a vision of what man should be and d o ? a n d both are currently vexed institutions, undergoing changes in leadership and direction, questioning the principles o f prescription implanted by their f o u n d i n g fathers. B o t h , too, derive something o f their special character (and their p a r t i c u l a r p r o b lems) from their s p o n s o r s h i p ? b y the Society o f Friends and the State o f N e w Y o r k . This is not to i m p l y that they resemble one another in the least. ( F e w on either campus are aware of the existence o f the other, i n c i d e n t a l l y . ) I n one case the p r e s c r i p t i o n 156

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grows out of a drive for h u m a n betterment through scientific problem-solving and the development of cooperative social organizations. I n the other the prescription is more purely educational: to fulfill himself man should know something o f the abiding legacy o f h u m a n culture, tempered and tested b y direct engagement in contemporary issues. Both f o u n d i n g fathers are internationalists; both believe in a w o r l d society based upon universal principles and truths, in peace through international law and nonviolence. But, ironically, the o l d e r man at Friends W o r l d feans toward action and enterprise, the younger man at O l d Westbury toward reflection and conceptualization, One campus is a c a m p of reformers, the other a nest of intellectuals.

Friends World College 1

a w o k e to the s c r e a m s o f c h i m p a n z e e s and b a b o o n s , and the m u r -

m u r o f c o n v e r s a t i o n in the n e x t r o o m . T h e m o r n i n g was d a m p and w e t at times, and the green seemed m o l d y i n the hazy l i g h t . W e t b l a c k shapes m o v e d q u i c k l y , a f r a n t i c d i s p l a y o f s t r e n g t h , a n d then as s u d d e n l y , a n a b s o r b e d i n t e r e s t in g r o o m i n g .

.

.

.

I?m b e g i n n i n g

to realize the e x t e n t o f m y fears. T h e m a l e chinyps t e r r i f y m e w h e n they b e g i n to d i s p l a y , t h r o w i n g stones, s t a m p i n g , and c h a r g i n g all around wildly. They put their h a i r out, l o o k i n g twice their natural size. T h e y g i v e one t h e i m p r e s s i o n o f great p o w e r , and H u g o said t h e y w e r e f o u r t i m e s as s t r o n g as w e arc. I?m b e g i n n i n g to l e a r n w h i c h males a r e u n a f r a i d o f us, w h i c h ones to a v o i d . D a v i d G r e y beard is o n e w h o d e f i n i t e l y k n o w s he?s s t r o n g e r t h a n us. M i k e is d o m i n a n t to all; he?s the K i n g at the m o m e n t , but he u s u a l l y m a n ages to a v o i d y o u w h e n he?s d i s p l a y i n g . H e h i t C a r o l e w i t h a r o c k t h o u g h . I f y o u d i s p l a y b a c k at F i g a n he u s u a l l y runs a w a y , but yest e r d a y he ran at Patti a n d k n o c k e d her d o w n . C h a r l i e , R i x , and H u g h we are c a r e f u l

with.

Charlie

came

into

the

house

today,

and

r e t r e a t e d h u r r i e d l y i n t o the k i t c h e n ,

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Tanzania. I imagine a girl with pencil stub recording these words b y l a m p l i g h t on a slab table (though, in fact, she p r o b a b l y had her typewriter w i t h h e r ) , w i t h jungle sounds as in o l d Tarzan movies t r i l l i n g and screeching in the sur-

rounding darkness. A f t e r giving several h u n d r e d shots, K e l v i n decided that he wanted me to start giving shots. H e then went off and left me alone with perhaps seventy-five to a h u n d r e d anxious and somewhat skeptical Guatemalan peasant women, each with her three to five kids. W e had, in vain, tried to make the w o m e n stand in line, b u t they w o u l d re-group around the table as soon as we turned o u r backs. When Kelvin Jeft they grouped around me, pushing and shoving. A p a r t f r o m m y practice injecting a lemon, I had never given an injection before. I t was hot and I was nervous and p r o m p i l y stuck a needle into m y thumb. T h e anxious, n o w very skeptical w o m e n all looked at one another as the blood d r i p p e d f r o m m y t h u m b . A t the center in H o u s t o n they had told us: ? A l w a y s keep up a professional air, so you'll gain t h e i r confidence?!

A faculty member cynically regards the F W C carrousel of experiences a r o u n d the w o r l d as ?a glorified c u l t u r a l exchange program . . . all the time exposure, e x p o s u r e ? it?s appropriate for the television age.? O f the n e a r l y 2 0 0

F W C students enrolled, o n l y about 5 0 ( a l l i n c o m i n g freshmen and transfers) are in the N o r t h A m e r i c a n Center ? p r e s e n t l y a set o f dilapidated barracks at Westbury, L o n g I s l a n d ? a t any given time. T h e college has established centers in A f r i c a , Japan and I n d i a ; it conducts a L a t i n A m e r i c a n program of g r o u p tours, w i t h students and f a c u l t y traveling in V W buses, separating and r e - u n i t i n g in a variety o f countries; i n d i v i d u a l and group programs have taken the students into Western and Eastern E u r o p e ; a M a r c o Polo expedition o f f o u r students travelled overland 158

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to India. F o r g r a d u a t i o n each student is required to study one culture other than his own in ?greather depth than is permitted by residence o f one semester? and to gain ?firsthand knowledge? of several other cultures and developing regions, spending a m i n i m u m o f t w o years in threes e p a rate r e g i o n s ? L a t i n A m e r i c a , A f r i c a , West and South Asia, and East Asia. The student journals, from w h i c h the above quotations are taken, run like visible threads through the four years? experiences. Seniors return to the N o r t h A m e r i can campus fora final semester, w r i t i n g ( o r d o i n g ) a senior project, and taking an oral examination w i t h an outside examiner. Learning, as these j o u r n a l extracts suggest, is p r i m a r i l y through direct, experiential engagement rather than t h r o u g h courses and c u r r i c u l u m . As compared w i t h other colleges considered in this book, F W C is a well-established institution, having started w i t h thirty-eight students in 1965 and having graduated its first class. Some o f its own alumni serve o n the staff. George N i c k l i n , a psychiatrist, conceived of the college and H a r o l d T a y l o r was prominent in the early planning and directed the first experimental summer semester in 1963, but the major influence in designing the program was that o f M o r r i s M i t c h e l l , f o r m e r l y D i r e c t o r o f the Putney Graduate School of E d u c a t i o n , w h o became president o f F W C in 1964 and wrote a book, W o r l d Education, R e v o l u t i o n a r y Concept, summarizing various efforts to create w o r l d educational institutions, the philosophic basis o f the F W C approach, and some o f his experiences w i t h early groups o f students traveling through the southern states and observing at first hand examples of economic and social progress as well as participating ( t o the extent of j a i l sentences) in the struggle for racial equality. L i k e m a n y strong-minded, idealis159

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tic leaders, M i t c h e l l was felt to be an oppressive a n d a u t o c r a t i c f o r c e b y some i n the college. M o r e o v e r , he is aging. A new p r e s i d e n t ? - a businessman a n d n o n - Q u a k e r ? S i d n e y H a r m a n , t o o k office i n 1969, a n d M i t c h e l l r e m a i n s , l i v i n g a l o n g w i t h o t h e r f a c u l t y a n d students i n t h e b a r r a c k s , as Provost, a wise-man-in-residence o f great personal p o w e r a n d c h a r m , a n d , it m a y easily be i m a g i n e d , a presence o f some i m p l i c i t t h r e a t to those w h o seek to revise his o r i g i n a l vision.

V i s i t i n g the campus one is struck immedately b y inf o r m a l i t y , affection, gaiety combined w i t h ethical seriousness, a high level of energetic engagement and silent, deep c o m m i t m e n t , such as m i g h t characterize a religious order. T h e college has been given a beautiful b u t decaying waterfront estate, w h i c h m a y become its new campus; but its beginnings are inseparably bound up in those marvelously ramshackle barracks strung along dreary streets in the midst o f L o n g Island?s urban sprawl. A student describes them this way: Imagine an early slum-clearance project, a boxy high-rise apartment building. T o p p l e it. A l l o w the pieces to fall in a d r y b r o w n field, scored by even asphalt lines. L e t the apartments die, gutted by vandals, their carcasses ravaged by sun and storm, concealed by the encroaching foliage. Bushes pruned and stunted n o w live, expand to cover man?s grotesque, ugly creations. A b a n d o n f o r eight years, . . . T h e n introduce work-campers . . . This is M i t c h e l Gardens.

A f e w o f the boxes are office-space, a r r a n g e d so t h a t y o u pass t h r o u g h one o f f i c e t o reach t h e n e x t , s t e p p i n g , as i t were, o v e r secretaries. O n e o f t h e m is t h e d i n i n g h a l l , w h e r e f i f t y students a n d assorted f a c u l t y squeeze in f o r e c o n o m i cal meals

160

(tuna

salad,

peanut-butter

s a n d w i c h e s ) , eaten

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demic values versus those o f experiential and self-directed education, and i n d i v i d u a l i s m versus c o m m u n i t y . In any given case these issues are likely to be mixed. T h e faculty member who is suspicious o f ?do your own thing? when it comes to study may be the same one w h o upholds individualism as opposed to c o m m u n i t a r i a n conduct. He may support the c u r r i c u l u m and oppose T-groups. He m a y desire institutional c o m m i t m e n t to certain educational standards and oppose institutional c o m m i t m e n t to a political position. A t F W C he m a y say that certain o f his colleagues who do not have conventional academic credentials are hired ?merely because they are Quakers,? and see Quakerism, again, as the enemy i f it seems to move the college in the direction o f creation of an intentional c o m m u n i t y , diverting it from more scholastic ends. He may see the emphasis upon field experience as d i l u t i n g the N o r t h A m e r i c a n program and yet oppose, as ?enclaves o f Americans,? those foreign centers which attempt to structure student learning. Pertaining to each o f these issues there are, surely, many variations and mixes o f opinion, but around them the college seems to be not so much split as splintered. One must beware o f the tendency that all seem to share, to some degree, to regard the N o r t h A m e r i c a n Center, w i t h its semester of orientation, and semester f o r returning seniors, as equivalent to the college program. F a c u l t y complain, understandably enough, that no sooner do they get acquainted w i t h the students than they are whisked away, not to return for years. It must be continually frustrating to process t w o classes of fifty freshmen per year in a program which emphasizes individualized learning and intimate personal contact. T h e students on campus seem less concerned w i t h this than the faculty, as they are looking forward, i n mixtures o f anticipation and fear, to their travels; but sen163

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iors reflect some frustration at c o n t i n u a l l y m o v i n g around, and there is a tendency among students abroad to w a n t to stretch their stay in an i n d i v i d u a l c o u n t r y f r o m six months to nine or more. T h e r e is a tendency for teachers to w a n t to teach, and their need to relate to their students and to have some sense that they are i m b u i n g in

them

basic

knowledge, useful as background for their foreign experiences, has to be balanced against the need to create qualities of camaraderie, good sportsmanship, toughness, cooperativeness and sharpness of observation in travel experience. Faculty are inclined to define as essential those aspects of the p r o g r a m in which they find the greatest f u l f i l l m e n t and for w h i c h they feel best qualified. A n overarching concern is the meaning o f ?Friends? in Friends W o r l d College. One f a c u l t y member regarded it as a contradiction in terms. ? A l l m y life I have been fleeing

s e c t a r i a n i s m ? b a s e d on r e l i g i o n , on language, o nr e g i o n or what have you. The intellectual and social heroes of the col{ e g e ? m e n like G a n d h i and M a r t i n L u t h e r K i n g ? a r e not Quakers. N i x o n is a Quaker. T h e idea o f a w o r l d college being Quaker is inconceivable.? O n the other hand, m a n y of the strengths of the college derive directly f r o m its sectarian cover. ( I say cover, because less than half of the students and staff are actually Quakers, and the religion involved is n o n - t h e o l o g i c a l ? a q u a l i t y o f spiritual c o m m i t ment and love, a belief that life has meaning and p u r p o s e). First of these is the college?s sense of mission. C u s t o m arily colleges pretend to intellectual neutrality, standing for no ?position? except a c o m m i t m e n t to freedom o f inquiry. F W C is explicitly c o m m i t t e d to creating change agents to b r i n g about a better w o r l d along lines spelled out by M o r ris M i t c h e l l : ?. . the discovery for each time period o f .

universally applicable concepts by w h i c h a creative cycle 164

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s o m e t i m e s I feel I ' d h a v e a b e t t e r c h a n c e if t h e r e w e r e a f e w stable p e o p l e a r o u n d , a f e w i n t e r e s t e d in the p r o g r a m w h o w e r e n ' t staff o r f a c u l t y , s o m e w h o s e e n t h u s i a s m w o u l d h e l p me to h a v ea l i t t l e m o r e h o p e . . . A l s o I w i s h I w e r ea l i t t l e o l d e r , a l i t t l e m o r e able to overcome or rationalize m y sensitive to o t h e r p e o p l e . . .

emotional

hangups,

a

little

more

Reading such journals and t a l k i n g to individuals, both students and staff, one continually encounters what amounts almost to a compulsion to reveal what others might be inclined to hide. So m u c h academic life is a gameplaying in w h i c h the point is to conceal deficiency and score either by k n o w i n g or faking the answers, it is refreshing to find a p r o g r a m in w h i c h there is an effort to anticipate one?s awareness of its defects. It conditions the learner continually to search out his own weaknesses, confess them and w o r k relentlessly to correct them. When these people show their worst, they are showing their best. I t is hard to imagine such values being so pervasive if the Friends were taken out of the title (which, in any case, is not l i k e l y to h a p p e n ) , but it is important to recognize that

there is also a negative and oppressive side to institutional commitment. There is much pressure from the young these days f o r advocacy, but this pressure runs counter to most definitions o f academic freedom. H o w free is one at F W C to disagree? T o w h a t extent does the position o f the college and its program seem frozen, unyielding to change w i t h new conditions? T o w h a t extent do the dynamics of self-sacrifice and socialization l i m i t choice, create dependency and foster the complex of m a r t y r d o m in w h i c h people j o c k e y for positions of moral clout over others? T o what extent is the very idea of training agents o f social change antithetical to the ideals of liberal education? Is the college more concerned about i m p r o v i n g the w o r l d than about the growth 167

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and i n d i v i d u a l d e v e l o p m e n t o f its students, the i n d i v i d u a l f r e e d o m o f i n q u i r y and a d v o c a c y o f its f a c u l t y , the free p u r s u i t o f k n o w l e d g e a n d f u l f i l l m e n t , the c a p a c i t y o f the i n s t i t u t i o n itself to change?

???? lines are pretty clearly drawn,? says one o f the administrators, ?between those who have a definite idea o f what the school ought to be like and what it ought d o do to the students, and those who say we can?t design a structure and put people through it, but that it must be continually designed and revised by its participants.? ?Agents o f change?? remarks a returnee who is now in a graduate program i n special education. ? M y experience around the w o r l d just showed me how complex the forces are, how difficult it is to conceive o f change, how arrogant it is to t h i n k I know how to change it o r even that it ought to be changed. T h e most I can say is that this k i n d of education brings you to the point that you?re ready to begin becoming an agent o f change.? A f a c u l t y member says ,?I can see the attraction o f Morris? idea of developing cadres of change agents, but this k i n d of program tends to force people to adjust. I f you associate yourself w i t h anything controversial in most o f these countries, you get t h r o w n out.? A n o t h e r says, ?The idea o f w o r l d education was confused in the conception o f the college. Was it to be an intentional c o m m u n i t y , a problem-solving approach like a Q u a k e r w o r k camp, or an honest exploration? A l l these ideas were in Morris? head, and they do not go together well in practice.? T h e o r i g i n a l c o n c e p t i o n is repeated i n the c a t a l o g u e , a n d often in conversation: The College is c o m m i t t e d to three principal objectives: to go o u t f r o m the classroom and to study actual situations, thus treating the entire w o r l d as its university and its campus; to take actual social

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problems as the basis of its c u r r i c u l u m ; and to search

for new

emerging concepts w h i c h are shaping the future o f mankind,

It is the third objective, the ?search for new emerging concepts,? which becomes the p r i n c i p a l item of debate. W h o defines what an ?emerging concept? is? M o r r i s M i t c h e l l has a pretty definite notion. ?How m a n y are aware,? he asks, ?that the w o r l d is just breathing rays of life and hope?? H e wants to build a papier-mdché globe w i t h pinpoints of light indicating the various intentional communities, regional planning projects, cooperatives and other developments which, in his view, are transforming the w o r l d for the better. He would nor, for example, have a pinpoint in L o n d o n for the therapeutic c o m m u n i t y around R. D. L a i n g , where, as some college students understand it, one is invited deliberately to go mad, aided by L S D and other drugs, as a step toward curing one?s incipient schizophrenia. Obviously some F W C students have been attracted to L a i n g and regard his approach as an emerging concept w o r t h y of their experiential involvement. M i t c h e l l believes that students w i t h schizophrenic tendencies should not be admitted, that F W C is not a therapeutic institution, and that i f students w a n t to study w i t h L a i n g they should drop out and go study with h i m on their own. It remains to be demonstrated that Laing?s is an ?emerging creative concept.? A related issue is i n d e p e n d e n t study. Some 35 p e r cent o f the students are, a p p a r e n t l y , on a p p r o v e d i n d e p e n d e n t s t u d y plans. M i t c h e l l a t t a c k s this as a f i n a n c i a l c o n c e r n ? h o w c a n w e b u i l d seven centers a r o u n d the w o r l d , w i t h some

sub-centers,

how

can

we,

for

example,

maintain

t w e n t y - s i x b u i l d i n g s in K e n y a , i f so m a n y of o u r students are n o t using t h e m ? B u t b e h i n d his c o m p l a i n t one can hear an e t h i c a l c o n c e r n , a n d one o f e d u c a t i o n a l t h e o r y , W i t h all 169

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his gentleness and Georgian courtliness he protests that he really never meant to t u r n a Jot o f kids loose to run around ` the world on their o w n :

We have to define w h a t problems are and then to study alternative sofutions. T r u e , o u r method o f education is pragmatic in the best sense, as opposed to Aristotelian authoritarianism, but that is not to say it is a hit or miss, r a n d o m thing. I t is h i g h l y disciplined. . . . The M a r c o Polo expedition, in w h i c h two boys and two girls went by Land Rover f r o m A f r i c a to India, m a y have given them a good time and helped them mature, b u t | doubt it had v e r y m u c h to do with this program. I t cost them $ 1 8 0 0 apiece, and we shouldn't be encouraging them to spend that kind o f money. W e can send a student around the w o r l d in f o u r years f o r six or seven hundred dollars, if he is w i l l i n g to go with the others in an o r d e r l y w a y . . . . For people to go out aimlessly wandering gets us i n all kinds o f trouble. There is a girl in Thailand now. I don?t know what she's doing there; there are 45,000 Americans there w h o shouldn?t be. W i l l she see the gilded domes, or the stinking canals w i t h people d r i n k i n g the water [which] rats are floating in? I gave some people a list o f about seventy things they ought to see in the South, such as T V A and intentional communities, and they said, ?Listen to M o r r i s , b u t don't pay any attention to h i m . We'll have a ball.? This girl went to a home near m y own in Georgia and wrote FUCK THE DRAFT on the toilet, which did great things for public relations. She and some others were put in jail for putting peace stickers on c a r s . . . [ think the college paid the bail, and they were advised to j u m p bail, since they weren't going back to Georgia . . . N o w that girl is in Thailand . . . People went to the C o n g o w i t h o u t proper preparation, n o t even k n o w i n g that they c o u l d n ' t take money f r o m Kenya to the Congo. They ended up w i t h some missionaries w h o were there r i g h t l y or w r o n g l y ( I t h i n k w r o n g l y ) , w h o gave them some money and w h o complained to the college about it. . . . Are these people looking for alternative designs f o r t o m o r r o w through emerging concepts? W e can?t have people w a n d e r i n g all over on safaris and M a r c o Polos. We r u n a summer Studytravel Service w h i c h sends people around the w o r l d ? e c o n o m i c a l l y ? b u t we don?t give college credit for that

170

.

.

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W e had a tour arranged f r o m A f r i c a to

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programs train people for specific functions; some t r a i n nuns, to be brides of C h r i s t ; some t r a i n m i l i t a r y o f f i c e r s ; some train machinists or lawyers. W e could train a specific k i n d o f change a g e n t ? b u t I don?t sense that that is w h a t we want to do.? He visualizes the centers as agencies. Staff members would have o n tap i n f o r m a t i o n about educational opportunities i n the region and relevant studies w h i c h have been done in the past. T h e student c o m i n g into the center w o u l d be consulted about his particular interests and goals ? a n d be given advice, tips, leads, contacts, learning materials, w h i c h w o u l d help h i m pursue his interests i n d i v i d ually. A f t e r a period in the field, students w o u l d gather at the center and pool their experiences and studies in a seminar, one i n w h i c h the students themselves w o u l d be the professors.

A

kind

of

computerized

reservation

system

might be used to coordinate student travel and use o f center accommodations. H a r m a n does not conceive o f this as his d e s i g n ? b u t as his interpretation o f the collective w i l l of the institution, his prediction o f the way i n w h i c h it is moving. His own f u n c t i o n is that o f interpreter. F W C as 1 view it seems now sharply and anxiously divided between two broad impulses. O n the one hand there are those i n c l u d i n g some trustees, administrators, faculty and students w h o believe in a college which has been f u l l y designed and through which students move and study. Thus the concept o f seven fixed centers and six m o n t h rotation through those centers, actively studying emerging c o n c e p t s ? a n d graduating sober c o m m i t t e d students deeply concerned about the human c o n d i t i o n and determined and equipped to act on that concern. The second broad impulse says in effect, ?That won't work. W e must first set the circumstances in w h i c h young people can deal effectively w i t h themselves before we plug them into the world?s great problems. F u r t h e r that F W C should be t r u l y open to examine and re-examine its assumptions, its decision m a k i n g and other p r o c e s s e s ? i n brief, its o w n design, that it should in fact be a transitional school, designing and redesigning itself as it goes,

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seeking always in that way to make it more effective, more relevant and more rewarding. I have f o u n d myself moved increasingly by the latter view o f the school and have actively identified and articulated that growing conviction. I have become convinced that if it is to be transitional, i f it is to seek new more effective alternatives in education, it must avoid decisions w h i c h freeze and institutionalize it.

One o f the problems o f utopian vision is that it cannot contain a change factor. I f one discovers the best way, there is, o f course, no p o i n t in f u r t h e r exploring alternatives. Difference becomes error, i t is an ironic, and perhaps an unfair extension o f the dilemma o f F W C , to see the conflicting viewpoints embodied in, on the one hand, an elderly teacher who has found a c o m b i n a t i o n o f religious, scientific and socialistic solutions as the pathway to human betterment and, on the other, a younger businessman w i t h great responsiveness to his market. The comparison is i m p u r e ? and the connotations too d i s t r a c t i n g ? b u t among the elements in the contrast is that of a normative vision o f human society and /aissez-faire pluralism.

Old Westbury The tragedy o f the w o r l d is that those who are imaginative have but slight experience, and those who are experienced have feeble imaginations. Fools act on imagination w i t h o u t knowledge, pedants act on knowledge w i t h o u t imagination. The task o f a university is to weld together imagination and experience. A l f r e d N o r t h Whitehead, in T h e A i m s o f Education, as q u o t e d o n the ? O r a n g e J u l i u s , ? the f i r s t c a t a l o g u e o f the State U n i v e r s i t y o f N e w Y o r k C o l l e g e at O l d Westbury ( S U N Y C O W )

W o f f o r d : D o y o u t h i n k some o f us are on the w r o n g track in o u r effort to get the idea o f service, work, and experience as part o f the scheme o f higher education? .

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Buchanan: . . you have to have both. K a n t has an a p h o r i s m ; concepts w i t h o u t intuitions are e m p t y ( b y intuitions he means sensations in time and space and so o n ) ; and intuitions w i t h o u t concepts are blind. This is what experience can do, it can blind you. .

? T h e C o n s t a n t Q u e s t i o n e r : an i n t e r v i e w B u c h a n a n , ? by H a r r i s zine, J a n u a r y ,

Wofford,

with Scott

The Center Maga-

1970

T w e n t y years ago, at the University o f Chicago, i n those rare college years when I had a chance to read some great books regularly, I was so involved in social action that late one n i g h t a good friend came in and w i t h some reticence delivered a warning to me f r o m The Brothers Karamazov. Dostoyevsky was describing Alyosha, the young man o f shining eyes w i t h a ?thirst f o r swift achievement? and f o r ?self-mastery.? L i k e m a n y in his generation he was, m y friend read f r o m the book, ?honest in nature, desiring the t r u t h . . . and seeking to serve it at once with all the strength o f his soul, seeking f o r immediate action, and ready to sacrifice everything, life itself, for it.? But, Dostoyevsky added, ?the sacrifice of l i f e is, in m a n y cases, the easiest of all sacrifices.? ?To sacrifice, f o r instance five or ten years o f their secthing y o u t h to hard and tedious study, if only to m u l t i p l y tenfold t h e i r powers o f serving the t r u t h . . . such a sacrifice is utterly beyond the strength o f m a n y o f them.? ?Is this really beyond y o u r strength?? my friend asked me. F o u r years later I succumbed and went to law school; he left law school and went as a fighter p i l o t to K o r e a and died. H a r r i s W o f f o r d , address to E d u c a t i o n , O c t o b e r 12, 1 9 6 7

American

A n S D S leader has c a l l e d me ? T h e G r e e n S l i m e ? anda

Council

of

tess p o l i t i c a l

s t u d e n t has c a l l e d me a t r a g i c h e r o ( n o c o m p l i m e n t i n t e n d e d , she insists, because she m e a n s I h a v e a f a t a l f l a w : I am b l i n d a n d d o n o t u n d e r s t a n d h e r o r h e r g e n e r a t i o n a n d the d e p t h o f t h e i r a l i e n a t i o n ) . H a r r i s W o f f o r d , ?Case S t u d y o f a n E x p e r i m e n t : T h e N e w C o l l e g e at O l d W e s t b u r y , ? D a n f o r t h F o u n dation 1969

174

W o r k s h o p on L i b e r a l A r t s E d u c a t i o n , July,

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scholarship aid, rather elegant facilities (given the conditions of newness and a temporary c a m p u s ) , good salaries, and, right around the corner, the bonanza of a m u l t i - m i l lion-dollar campus (a bonanza, o f course, chiefly for the architects, builders and suppliers o f educational h a r d w a r e ) . Friends W o r l d College is considering whether it can, in conscience, accept any government m o n e y at all. M a n y o f us are tempted at times to believe that money, especially

tax money, w o u l d solve our problems. I f O l d Westbury?s example means anything generally (and this m a y be doubtf u l ) , it is that of all the strings on money, those f r o m the state are the most snarled and unbreakable. Excerpts from the mandate for the new college, f r o m the State University?s 1966 Master Plan, were printed in the catalogue w h i c h came to be called the Orange Julius: The State University will establish in Nassau C o u n t y a college that pays heed to the individual student and his concern with the m o d e r n world. . . . Specifically, this college will: 1. End the lock-step march in w h i c h one semester f o l l o w s on another until f o u r o f youth?s most energetic years have been consumed; to this purpose qualified students will be admitted to college w i t h o u t high school graduation, and those w h o attain competency w i l l be granted degrees w i t h o u t regard to length of collegiate study. 2. A d m i t students to full partnership i n the academic w o r l d and grant them the right to determine, in large measure, their o w n areas of study and research. 3. Use mechanical devices to free faculty scholars f r o m the academic drudgery o f repeated lectures, c o n d u c t i n g classes devoted to drill, and m a r k i n g m a n y examinations, thus allowing faculty scholars to turn their f u l l creative powers to meaningful exchange w i t h students, to research, and to artistry. Since the campus is to be built literally f r o m the ground up, the president and the faculty members the president recruits will have an almost unrestricted o p p o r t u n i t y f o r innovation and creativity.

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Lest the implications of top-down authority in the last paragraph be lost, ?Chancellor G o u l d or his key staff in A l bany? followed up Wofford?s appointment w i t h this counsel, as the latter reported it to the D a n f o r t h Foundation W o r k s h o p in the summer o f 1969: ?Take your t i m e ? y o u are not supposed to open until 1970. Begin b y finding the best possible men to head your main academic departments, then let them later locate the j u n i o r faculty. M a k e your first programs so academically convincing, even conventional, that you w i l l be accepted by academia before you experiment w i t h novel programs. D o not arouse undue expectations of Student P o w e r ? a n d never let students call you by your first name.? H a v i n g worked for Sam G o u l d as Assistant to the President d u r i n g part of his five years as president o f A n t i o c h , ] am deeply f a m i l i a r w i t h the icy, martinet tone of that last sentence. W o f f o r d was not so foolish as to f o l l o w that a d v i c e ? either to have departments or department heads or to start with distinctions between major and j u n i o r people or to aim for excellence b y the ruts o f conventionality or to douse hopes of power or make a fetish o f personal v a n i t y ? t h o u g h he might have been more candid if he had made plain some o f his own sticking points. T h e chief reason he disliked departments was the ?anarchy? they implied-?-or autonomy. He didn?t want faculty who did their own thing any more than he wanted students who did. T h o u g h he did not want to start w i t h major appointments, he did strongly believe in empowering individuals, rather than committees, to act. Thus he wanted c o m m o n a l i t y , but not participative d e c i s i o n - m a k i n g ? a f o r m u l a for strong-man government. I f he was opposed to convention, he was certainly not opposed to t r a d i t i o n ? - a n d m i g h t have objected that w h a t was conventional was not t r a d i t i o n a l enough. F o r example, he 179

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hoped that the undergraduate c u r r i c u l u m w o u l d be b u i l t around the ancient professions of law, theology and medicine. His relaxed and d e m o c r a t i c manner m a y be genuine, but it is also a tactic; he quotes a student as saying, ? Y o u can?t fight so well against a president when you call h i m by his first name.? But the biggest issue of the new college was to be around the issue o f Student Power and the ?undue expectations? w h i c h were, indeed, aroused. Here W o f ford had several sticking points, one o f them reached the very first night students were on campus and wanted to desegregate sexually the living quarters and showers. A u t h o r i t y was rolled out like a tank. ?Betrayed!? cried the students, and the lines were drawn. Sexual discrimination m a y strike some asa t r i v i a l cause on w h i c h to base a rebellion, but students m i g h t w e l l ask, i f it is trivial, w h y should it be so absolute? I f you tell us we can study what we please but you w i l l govern where we sleep, w h i c h o f us is m a k i n g w h a t the sine qua non o f education? But sexual behavior was indeed q u i c k l y to become a m i n o r consideration in the tempest of events w h i c h led to a six-day sit-in o f the administration b u i l d i n g the f o l l o w ing spring, rifling o f presidential files, paralysis o f academic planning, firings, resignations and general demoralization. That term from the mandate, ?full partnership,? was, according to W o f f o r d , ?taken f r o m an early m e m o r a n d u m on the explosion at Berkeley, at a time when the U n i v e r s i t y was anxious to get ahead of the student revolution.? W o f ford liked the phrase, and, against the advice of several, used it repeatedly in publications pertaining to the college. He and others over f o r t y meant a ?federal and republican system? in which power was checked and balanced. But the students, especially, took it to mean s i m p l y one-man, onevote. Harris is inclined to blame the ?moral imperialism? 180

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(a phrase he borrows f r o m D a v i d Riesman) of the radical make-up of the first student advisors: ?three students on work-study f r o m A n t i o c h . . . and four others from Berkeley, San Francisco State, G o d d a r d and Stony B r o o k (a d r o p o u t ) who had come k n o c k i n g at our door. T h e y were attractive, dedicated, idealistic, intense, impatient, intolerant, perfectionist and otherwise radical or ready to be radical. T h e y had been d r a w n b y our rhetoric, and would accept no gap between it and reality. A n d they w o u l d accept no reality but our peculiar little c o m m u n i t y and their particular visions of the world.? W o f f o r d often attempts to blame the ensuing trouble on the idiosyncrasies of a self-selected group of reformers, but he himself gives testimony that they were more representative of students generally than believers in the ethical rudder o f the Silent M a j o r i t y like to admit. The second summer of planning they thought they w o u l d round up some straight students from the state system. ?When those thirteen students arrived from colleges like Geneseo, New Paltz and Potsdam, we thought the voices o f moderation and p r a c t i c a l i t y w o u l d at last be heard. But to our amazement they seemed to be just as alienated from academia, from scholarship and f r o m all forms o f A m e r i c a n authority as the first group. ?Just come to Potsdam,? one of them kept saying as p r o o f of his general indictments. T h e i r ed-

ucational p l a t f o r m was m u c h the same?-action now against injustice everywhere, personal exploration o f psyches and the by-now f a m i l i a r anarchy of no requirements, no evaluation and ?let everyone do his thing? except the president.? It must have been apparent to the students, as it must be to anyone now reading Wofford?s words, that he was not about to be m o v e d ? a n y more than N i x o n was by the M o r a t o r i u m marchers ( o f w h o m W o f f o r d was one) seeth181

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flicting dreams, their problems compounded by a good dose of mismanagement. ?People come i n flashing on the language o f the catalogue, the course?titles, on what they think that m e a n s ? k i d s w i t h their self-image p r o m u l g a t e d b y guys who are f o r t y or so, the interpreters of youth. T h e y don?t k n o w what the f u c k they w a n t ? a n d are invited to help invent it, being told y o u are copping out i f y o u want to do the things n o r m a l people do.? The black students, w i t h very good f a c u l t y leadership, are among the happiest and most conservative students there, though some are ?messed up by the trees? and go fleeing to the f a m i l i a r city. A debate continues among them. ?The black students get fucked,? a black g i r l said. ?People are brought here w h o can?t read o r write and are asked whether they want to be in Disciplines or U r b a n Studies.? These are the first-formed o f what are intended to be some dozen constituent colleges, m a k i n g up the university, replacing departmental structure. She was answered sharply by a y o u n g black m a n w h o said that was ?benevolent shit,? that black students were quite as able as white students to deal w i t h a lack of structure. ?It?s just harder for m i d d l e class whites to admit they are freaked out by freedom and ambiguity,? one said. ?If I need structure, I can get it; I don?t need somebody tell me what to study.? ?But,? said another, ?this place is so loosely woven you c o u l d fall through.? M a y b e there should be parallel routes, w i t h and without structure. ?Some need freedom to float, to f o l l o w a question to the bitter end.? A n o t h e r objected to being labeled a floater. ?I have more choice and can do w h a t J w a n t ? n o t like in a straight up-and-down school.? But, ?We want some things to be here for us when we come. W h o wants to spend ten years i n a learning experience? We w a n t to come in and learn and take what we learn back to 184

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the streets.? ? A l l this college-building is a game some of us didn?t come here to play!? That k i n d of debate is much more likely to surface among the black students than among the white, who m a y be equally perplexed by the non-directiveness but are themselves m u c h less likely to have concrete educational goals and so resist anyone else?s definition o f them. A s at Friends W o r l d College, independent field studies are perceived as the ultimate freedom, a way, as one faculty member put it, ?not to be in college while in it.? Some of the field-study programs are relatively focused, as in teaching in Harlem schools d u r i n g the strike, court-watching in Albuquerque, study in Israel or at C I D O C in Mexico. Others are so individual and e x p l o r a t o r y that many faculty do not regard them as legitimate academic activities at a l l ? s u c h as traveling around the c o u n t r y making and selling jewelry. ?The field studies component, w h i c h in part was patterned on A n t i o c h , has collapsed. It?s in a state o f chaos,? one faculty member s a i d ? b u t it was still obviously a precious ingredient of the program to the students. Some students testify that the faculty are ?inspiring,? but aside f r o m some w i l d course titles the academic program on campus is ?utterly conventional,? as one faculty member put it. A n o t h e r said, ?We haven't really done much experimentation academically. E v e r y b o d y says we have, but when you really look at it, we?re a state school.? He continues, ?The whole student revolution was addressed to the w r o n g people. T h e y attacked the multiversity, but really it boils d o w n to the classroom; it boils down to degrees that are established by requirements that are established by faculty, not by administrators.? A n o t h e r said, ?It?s easier to sell public administrators and trustees on innovations than it is to sell the faculty.

.

.

.

It?s a m o n u m e n t a l cop-out to point

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the finger at the state. T h e students are pretty naive, using a k i n d o f vulgar M a r x i s m , m a k i n g the administrators out to be the bosses and the faculty to be the exploited laborers, so they figure they'll make c o m m o n cause w i t h the faculty, and what they don?t understand is that the f a c u l t y is interested in getting more money for less contact w i t h them, and the administrator is interested in getting more contact between faculty and students of a more taxing sort.? Faculty absenteeism was described as chronic. One g i r l pointed at office after office d o w n the hall: ?He?s not functioning, and he?s not functioning, and he?s not functioning. . . ,? she said. I asked one faculty member whether she preferred teaching at O i d Westbury, for example, to teaching at Sarah Lawrence or Bard. She said she w o u l d n ' t w a n t t o

teach at Bard because she had read that experimental colleges were very exhausting. She wouldn?t m i n d teaching at Sarah Lawrence, but, on the whole, she finds O l d W e s t b u r y ?leisurely . . .? and she added, her voice d r i f t i n g away, ?sometimes too leisurely.? I t seemed a strange way to evaluate one?s job. O f the t w o constituent colleges, U r b a n Studies seems fairly lively, though it has little to do w i t h urban studies. ?People j o i n up w i t h the colleges o n the basis o f w h o m they w o u l d like to w o r k w i t h ? o r , better, w h o m they w o u l d n ' t like to w o r k with.? Urban Studies had ratified its own constitution, finally t r y i n g what most students and m a n y faculty wanted since the college began, rule b y one-man, onevote, and so far morale seems high. N o one was able to explain what Disciplines meant, exactly, but it sounded to me like conventional preparation for graduate school. Several o f the Disciplines f a c u l t y had left o r left in spirit. I n addition to these two ?colleges? there is a ?General Program,? intended p r i m a r i l y for freshmen who had not made 186

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up their minds w h i c h of the colleges to j o i n ? ? b u t open to upperclass students as well, who might r e m a i n in it throughout their four years. One degree pattern, called O p tion X , is simply for a student to earn 120 credits in any subjects he chooses. General Studies is a coherent, interdisciplinary program, focusing on a different theme each quarter w i t h c o m m o n readings, movies and lectures and small, more specialized s e m i n a r s ? b u t the two principal faculty members o f that program are leaving. One said: T h e y m a d e s o m e h o r r i b l e mistakes.

.

.

.

T h e y didn't hire anyone

w h o ' d h a d a n y e x p e r i e n c e at all in a n y e x p e r i m e n t a l o r i n n o v a t i v e p r o g r a m at the c o l l e g e level, n o t a single p e r s o n o n this c a m p u s h a d ever d o n e w h a t t h e y w e r e p r o p o s i n g to do. Instead t h e y ended u p w i t h some y o u n g , b r i g h t , e m o t i o n a l l y u n s t a b l e f a c u l t y w h o i m m e d i ately set a b o u t to w o r k o u t t h e i r o w n a u t h o r i t y h a n g u p s by g e t t i n g d o w n i n the s a n d b o x w i t h the a c t i v i s t students. T h e y h i r e d some people w h o ' d

never taught before,

not

a single y e a r o f t e a c h i n g ,

fresh Ph.D.?s to h e l p p l a n a c o l l e g e . T h e y h i r e d a c o u p l e o f e x o t i c people w h o had n o a c a d e m i c c r e d e n t i a l s , a n o v e l i s t , a d r a m a t i s t , a m a g a z i n e e d i t o r , p e o p l e w h o s i m p l y don?t have a n y t h i n g t o o f f e r w h e n it comes to design o f a college. M o s t o f t h e m l i k e s t u d e n t s i n one w a y o r a n o t h e r , b u t t h e y are not at all interested i n p u l l i n g together,

getting

in

the

harness

together

to

develop

cooperative

. Their enterprises. . f a v o r i t e m o d e l o f the a c a d e m y is s t r i c t l y laissez-faire: give me m y t u r f and I w i l l be s o v e r e i g n o f i t . Don?t .

b o t h e r m e a b o u t w h a t I d o w i t h m y k i d s . A n d o f course s o m e o f the titles w e r e p r e t t y s c r e w y and a t t r a c t e d a l l the s c r e w e d u p kids.

I n spite o f the emphasis u p o n i n n o v a t i o n , these c o m m e n t s reflect 1 9 7 0 - s t y l e a c a d e m i c c o n s e r v a t i s m , as does this c o m plaint f r o m a young administrator: This place is not a college in any traditional sense o f the w o r d . W h a t y o u have here is a conflict between education and comm u n i t y , Y o u can t h i n k o f c o m m u n i t y as educational, as learning to .

.

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overly protective system, subject to c o n t i n u a l review by the p u b l i c and the legislature.

A n d yet he, t o o , wants f r e e d o m in a c o n t e x t o f f o r c e ? academic criteria: We're not able to p o i n t c o n v i n c i n g l y at the q u a l i t y o f our academic program as defense against the free-love, c o m m u n i s m kind o f charges f r o m this very conservative c o m m u n i t y . W e could do more unconventional far-out experiments if we had a core of more traditional, professional educational programs to use as protection against attacks.

The question is not so much whether there is actually money, actually freedom o f choice, but h o w m u c h self-determination is felt. I f the atmosphere is repressive, people w i l l behave as though repressed, though f r o m o f view they may be spoiled rotten. I f the comes through is that you may goof off on vided you c o n f o r m on weekdays, people w i l l

another point message that Sundays p r o goof off every

chance they get. O l d Westbury was given resources and academic latitude by D a d d y (a c o m p l e x daddy: A l b a n y plus G o u l d plus W o f f o r d ) , whose demeanor was benign, but w h o retained (however swathed in c o t t o n ) a r i g h t o f veto. We k n o w this story f r o m the suburbs: kids w i t h every advantage in the w o r l d , and look h o w they behave. The instances when the veto was used are a c t u a l l y insignificant. When we look back at most campus rebellions the concrete issues always seem rather t r i v i a l and ephemeral considering the magnitude o f emotion (and sometimes destruction) they arouse. A n d the uses o f presidential power may well have reflected good judgment. T h a t is not the point. T h e educator?s p r o b l e m is to get the good j u d g ment into the heads of students, along w i t h a sense o f 190

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hem of the cloak of essentialism. I f one kisses the hem he needn?t necessarily read the books. I groaned at the fat presence o f G i b b o n on the shelf. ? l l die w i t h o u t having read half of them,? W o f f o r d said, w a v i n g at them, ?but I acknowledge their importance.? College students these days not only won?t read them; they won?t acknowledge their importance. The emphasis W o f f o r d puts upon f o l l o w i n g the idea wherever it leads brings out the old suspicion I developed in philosophy classes about the ?dialectic? o f Plato and Hegel and M a r x . I t is like the unfettered investigation of a detective in a mystery novel: someone already knows the murderer; it is in the back o f the book. Socrates sounded like the least open-minded, least questioning man I had ever encountered. T h e dialectic game, in Plato or in his M a r x i s t counterparts, or in any utopian scheme w h i c h attempts to liberate man by assigning preconceived limits, is a game in which the teacher always knows the answer. He w o u l d prefer to lead you there by reason; but if that fails, and he has p o w e r at his disposal, he w i l l take you there b y force, or run the poets out of the country. I f his power is insufficient, he may, of course, resign, and keep his dialectics intact, his Ideas Absolute.

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7

T h e P l u r a l i s t i c Response

In A m e r i c a (where else?) there is such a thing as an oldfashioned experimental college. Such places as Reed, A n tioch, Goddard, Bennington, Sarah L a w r e n c e and N e w College (Sarasota) have reputations for unconventionality of c u r r i c u l u m w h i c h set them apart f r o m colleges in the model o f the I v y League. Nonetheless they share m a n y characteristics of ?university colleges? w h i c h basically prepare students elite positions in admissions non- ( o r even

to achieve in graduate school and to take in society. T h e y tend to be h i g h l y selective (in large part on academic c r i t e r i a ) , to be anti-) vocational, to remain neutral on most

social issues, to value impartial i n q u i r y above action, to be highly competitive ( t h o u g h they m a y de-emphasize grades and scores), and (especially in recent years) to tend toward a pre-professional orientation, w i t h faculties strongly committed to cognitive learning, scholarship, research and the disciplines. T h e i r methods m a y be open and flexible, but they prove to be c o l o r f u l and varied routes to similar goals, their conception o f their own q u a l i t y strongly conditioned by the expectations o f the universities. M o s t have done little to change themselves significantly since their inception. H o w e v e r progressive some educational 194

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creatc means t o h e l p s t u d e n t s d i s c o v e r w h a t t h e y w a n t

a n d need

to l e a r n and h o w t h e y can best l e a r n it. W e b e l i e v e t h a t i d e a l l y those means are not ? t e a c h i n g ? b u t a r é a selective e n g a g e m e n t w i t h , r e f l e c t i o n u p o n , and research i n t o real p r o b l e m s and issues i n the environment,

So read the first brochure, and as a statement o f belief it still p r o b a b l y held up for most of us in the program by the end of the first year. A n d perhaps we are learning a little about how to create such means and make such things happen, but the glad idealism w i t h w h i c h we began has been tempered, or has matured, considerably, and as we remember some o f our expectations in the months before students actually arrived in the new, planned c i t y o f C o lumbia, M a r y l a n d , we are sometimes inclined to blush, F o r example, we said, ? A d m i t t i n g students regardless of their ability to pay and enabling all of them to earn or b o r r o w funds for their t u i t i o n and living costs,? and we have discovered that we simply do not yet k n o w how to make education o f the q u a l i t y we think desirable available to the people we w a n t to serve. We placed great reliance u p o n the concept of ?work-as-study,? hoping t o help students find jobs of educational value and to derive substantial learning from their w o r k or ?involvement w i t h the c o m m u n i t y . ? Some o f us imagined that this w o u l d largely be paid w o r k ? thus helping students meet costs. T o a very l i m i t e d extent this proved true. We hoped that a large loan f r o m a foundation w o u l d enable us to set up a loan program w h i c h extended beyond the $1500 available t h r o u g h federally guaranteed loans, thus m a k i n g it possible f o r any student who wished, to be independent of his parents or attend w i t h o u t outside support-?-but we didn?t get the necessary loan, and, anyway, m a n y came to doubt the value o f ap r o cedure which, in effect, saddled a graduate w i t h a heavy 196

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indenture. H a v i n g relinquished the usual forms for providing academic stimulation and guidance, we were less successful than we hoped to be in cultivating intellectual growth. O u r students seem to be learning a lot, but we have a hard time relating it to academic expectations, or even k n o w i n g what it is and how to facilitate it. ?I know,? one gir} said, ?a fantastic amount is happening to m y head, but I?m having trouble packaging it, and the faculty isn?t much help.? As a faculty member I am myself having a l i t l e trouble w i t h packaging. Preoccupation w i t h financial and organizational matters sometimes seems to weigh us down, p a r t l y because most o f us on the staff are as m u c h concerned w i t h replicability o f our experiment as we are with the successful operation o f this pilot model. W e feel an urgency about creating an alternative system w h i c h w i l l serve a much larger number o f the seven m i l l i o n college students than we can now reach, Each year o f t h e i r lives is i m p o r t a n t ? a n d many now feel trapped in institutions w h i c h are inappropriate to their needs. W e w a n t to create units w h i c h can be set up rapidly, which w i l l w o r k , and which do not depend upon long processes of institutional approval, enabling legislation, or other

social changes in order to happen. We want to create regional colleges w i t h dispersed campuses, using the environment as the m a j o r learning resource, p e r m i t t i n g almost total self-direction of students o f their own education and a broad-based participative model o f governance,

and we

want to do it on terms w h i c h people can a f f o r d ? o r to create devices so that society pays for the education o f those who can?t afford it. We are hacking out the structures to support and contain u s ? a n d may, in the process, give insufficient attention to the q u a l i t y of the education that occurs within them. 197

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and d e v e l o p m e n t . T o m a k e t h e first task possible we h a v e t o find a w a y o f d o i n g the second, and that?s w h e r e we?re at n o w .

Parents finance education throughout the c o u n t r y becatse they're taxpayers, but the problem w i t h that kind o f financing is that the kids have m i n i m u m control and adults have m a x i m u m control, and parents have accepted a very passive voice, assuming that their concerns are met through the electoral process f o r selecting public officials and through the h i r i n g of competent professionals. But one o f the things we have learned is that the competent professional is an i n h i b i t o r o f educational change. We have legitimated the professional so h i g h l y that the parent says I?m not expert enough really to debate the issue, and he socializes h i m s e l f so that he can?t do anything about it, and he teaches his kid that. It is a self-defeating process, I f the parent begins to fund the kid's higher education, and we view it as legitimate that both students and teachers should be able to affect the educational process, I don?t see anything w r o n g with their financing it, and the college is the agency which makes it possible for them to do so.

O u r problem is c o m p o u n d e d by the strictures under which we operate. T h e creation of A n t i o c h C o l u m b i a was opposed on the home campus by strange b e d f e l l o w s ? academic conservatives w h o believed that the q u a l i t y o f A n t i o c h education w o u l d decline as our programs proliferate off-campus, and the R a d i c a l Studies Institute, an organization of students and faculty who believed that though we have no f o r m a l relationship w i t h the Rouse Company, developers of the new town of C o l u m b i a , we w o u l d nonetheless be contaminated b y a capitalistic approach to u r b a n development. W e were tolerated by the mother institution o n l y on the c o n d i t i o n that we operate (after a set-up p e r i o d ) in the black, returning overbead to the System. A n t i o c h Y e l l o w Springs is budgeted so that it has to count on endowment income, unrestricted contributions and special gifts, plus a plant which, for the most part, requires no annual capitalization. A n t i o c h C o l u m b i a 199

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and not shared by all members o f our staff. I think we have two commodities to m a r k e t ? f r e e d o m and education. O f the t w o the first is at least i n i t i a l l y the more attractive to m a n y students, p a r t i c u l a r l y those f r o m prosperous backgrounds who have felt stifled by f a m i l y expectations of them and the life-style o f their home c o m m u n i t y . In the present state o f our society, it means a great deal for a young person to have student status, p a r t i c u l a r l y at a college o f national reputation. Wherever he goes, whatever he does, that status is a k i n d o f pass card, explaining his lack o f c o m m i t m e n t , his drifting, his experimentalism, his freedom f r o m responsibility. A young man f r o m O l d bury put it to me b a l d l y : ?I w a n t to be a student, want to be able to go and be and do what I w a n t to. tually I w a n t a degree f r o m a well-known college,

Westbut I Even-

but I want there to be absolutely n o restrictions or requirements

about how I get that degree.? Specifically what he wanted to do was to e n r o l l in some college other than O l d Westbury, then go to live in a rural, religious commune for a year or t w o or more. ( I have visited the place: no drugs, no smoking, no d r i n k i n g , a disciplined religious life, with a great deal o f active educational and political involvement ? i n m y view not a bad w a y of going about learning.) Because o f the draft, because o f his parents, because of the expectations o f society, he needs the validation of college enrollment. This situation is not desirable, but it is r e a l ? and all around us. I r o n i c a l l y , student freedom is a c o m m o d i t y one has to b u y ? a n d he is l u c k y to find a place where he can buy it for any price. On the other hand, some young people t r u l y want an education. T h e y m a y want it f o r social m o b i l i t y ; they m a y recognize that they need to k n o w things and have certain skills to hold jobs, and they need jobs; they m a y be 201

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g e n u i n e l y c u r i o u s a n d s e a r c h i n g a n d m a y h i g h l y v a l u e the k i n d o f f a c u l t y a n d o t h e r resources w h i c h colleges assemble. A s c o m p a r e d t o f r e e d o m , e d u c a t i o n has a l o w e r m a r k e t v a l u e ? p a r t l y because so m a n y students w h o w a n t the latt e r have less m o n e y

(and come from

families with

less

m o n e y ) t o spend. I have c o m e t o the r e l u c t a n t c o n c l u s i o n t h a t perhaps w e h a v e to s u p p o r t e d u c a t i o n , i n o u r present c o n t e x t , b y s e l l i n g f r e e d o m . I f a r i c h k i d w a n t s to p a y a n d split, l e t h i m d o so, and use the b r e a d t o e d u c a t e t h e p o o r .

W h i l e I say I reached this conclusion reluctantly, that does not mean I do not believe in its educational validity. There is no compulsion in the w o r l d w h i c h w i l l c r a m education into the head o f a person who resists it, Moreover, we cannot k n o w , w i t h o u t u n w a r r a n t e d intrusion, w h e t h e r people are learning or n o t ? a n d what the q u a l i t y o f their learning is. I n the case o f the young man f r o m O l d Westbury, I believe the alternative he has chosen is valid; i n other cases I d o u b t the v a l i d i t y of what people choose to do w i t h their lives, but, in truth, I have no way o f k n o w i n g what they are doing or learning, and w o u l d have little confidence in any absolute j u d g m e n t about v a l i d i t y i f I d i d know. I remember m y own y o u t h ? a n d h o w much diff?ic u l t y parents and others sometimes had in understanding the value and ( i t seemed) necessity o f some o f the things I chose to do w i t h m y life. As m y own c h i l d r e n break out of the o r b i t of home (a daughter of 16 has recently left high school to go live and w o r k in a big c i t y ) I find it exceedingly difficult to be sure that 1 k n o w better than they what constitutes valid education, and k n o w that compulsion, anyway, w o u l d negate validity. Besides, it wouldn?t work. W i t h the threat of rebellion on the one hand and induced neurosis on the other, I am inclined to let the young decide. 202

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Once the limits have been tested, once the v a p i d i t y of certain kinds of indulgence has been discovered, once people recognize how powerless they are w i t h o u t knowledge and skills, they m a y well be in a f r a m e of m i n d to use the educational opportunities available to them. I am ???cerned that these be t r u l y a v a i l a b l e ? a n d o f the highest quality. A period o f dissipation and d r i f t m a y be, for many current products of o u r society, a k i n d of required course, a de-briefing period w h i c h results in readiness to learn. I f the freedom to take that course can be had only at the price of tuition I can criticize the society w h i c h is so inescapably oppressive, but I do not criticize the person who takes that option, nor do J think it is an illegitimate function for an institution to make it open to him. For these reasons I have favored for A n t i o c h C o l u m b i a an absolutely open admissions policy, perhaps rejecting only those with such clear-cut mental disability that they are unable to function w i t h a reasonable degree of independence and responsibility w i t h o u t surveillance and custody. The admissions policy we have adopted leans in that direction, though we are l i m i t e d by the availability o f housing in Columbia and the need m a n y feel to recruit a substantial proportion of highly focused students who w i l l be able to carry out research and social-action projects, w o r k as apprentices to artists and p e r f o r m other specific tasks necessary for the program to function. We have said that we w o u l d never senda rejection letter to a student w h o m we deem acceptable, but, i f our ability to accomodate h i m is l i m i t e d b y space and staff, we w i l l gear up to open a sub-center and give the student a deferred admissions date. In 1 9 7 0 - 7 1 we have an arts apprenticeship program and a center dealing w i t h problems o f oppressed people in Washington ( a c c o m m o d a t i n g between 203

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them more than a hundred students), a community-studies program in B a l t i m o r e and in a r u r a l town o f M a r y l a n d , and programs for a hundred students in C o l u m b i a . O u r theory is that i f we have support f o r sufficient core functions in Columbia, we can sponsor perhaps a dozen very transient sub-centers w i t h small staffs and f r o m 2 5 - 1 0 0 students. Steve Plumber says, ? I f we can sustain the critical mass here in the central program, we can give studentsa lot o f latitude i n how to use that portion o f his t u i t i o n we don?t really need f o r maintenance purposes.? He asks: H o w can we create a developmental style? We've fallen b a c k into experiments with different kinds o f teaching because we haven't yet developed an attack on some of the bigger questions. M y sense o f the experiment is that we have to be able to create a solid enough core unit which, because o f its existence, allows all k i n d s of experiments to flourish. H o w can we create a college t h a t facilitates, where people can define what they w a n t to learn and h o w they can learn most effectively, and the p r o g r a m helps them do it? That?s really h o w I sec us m o v i n g ? n o t toward any particular mode.

O n e miscalculation in our o r i g i n a l problem-focused design was that we did not take into account h o w some students need a period o f d r i f t i n g and vegetation, h o w u n w i l l i n g they are to focus on problems and w o r k toward t h e i r solution in any sustained way. T o put that more positively, all students at some (perhaps r e c u r r e n t ) periods i n their careers need to break free from purposive, directed engagement and to explore. Should we help them out o f such states? A t least some on the staff believe we should n o t intrude. ?Everyone has a r i g h t to slob around,? one staff member said. W h a t actually went on at A n t i o c h C o l u m b i a i n 1 9 6 9 - 7 0 resembled in m a n y ways w h a t goes on in the other programs 204

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I have discussed, except perhaps f o r a more frantic dither of activity at C o l u m b i a and a greater preoccupation w i t h jobs. A f t e r showing a student visiting f r o m Y e l l o w Springs around the new city, w i t h its raw and sometimes flashy newness, its systematically varied houses, its clumps of apartments and town houses, its carefully plotted neighborhood centers, village centers, s w i m m i n g pools and playgrounds and woods, its curving, h i l l y streets w i t h story-book names, its rather sterile surface of middle-class respectability and conscious modernity, I take h i m off the highway, up the long drive to O a k l a n d M a n o r . T h i s grand old b u i l d ing, once a plantation home, is the place we mean when we talk about the ?college,? though we have additional office space in an industrial complex across the h i g h w a y and w i l l be operating from a variety of sites in the future. We rent space, sharing the M a n o r w i t h the Peabody School o f M u s i c ( w h i c h has a dance studio there) and the K i t t a m a q u n d i Religious C o m m u n i t y , w h i c h uses it for educational programs, T-groups and Sunday services. I n the foyer clumps of hairy and disheveled students are (on this day, as usual) lounging on the stairs and stretched out on the carpet, so that one has to step over blue-jeaned legs to get through to the offices. There is a student lounge w i t h dilapidated f u r n i t u r e in the basement, but students prefer gathering in the foyer, apparently attracted by close quarters and the inevitable b u m p i n g o f bodies: it gives them the sense o f being near the action. A student receptionist is reading at her typewriter on a desk awash w i t h unsorted dittoed sheets, a newspaper, books, knitting, plastic coffee cups and coke cans being used as ashtrays. The walls around her are transformed into bulletin boards. Downstairs in the lounge are acres of bulletin boards, but i f you w a n t something really to be noticed, 205

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you stick it on the w a l l i n the f r o n t hall: GEORGE, SUE CALLED AND WON?T BE BACK UNTIL MONDAY. SELF AND OTHERS SEMINAR MEETING CANCELLED. DOCUMENTARY ARTS

POLICY

BOARD

MEETING

WEDNESDAY

8:00

P.M.,

JUD?s OFFICE. RIDE TO DC WANTED THIS AFT, RICK. ANYONE WANT TO LEARN CALCULUS, SIGN HERE. Conversational

knots obstruct passage into the inner offices. I am stopped by t w o or three people w h o need to tell or ask me something as I try walls, obscene and makeshift. l a c k o f shelves

to push through. H i p posters are on the language in the air. F u r n i t u r e is battered Books and papers are piled everywhere for and cabinets. M y chairs in the office are

missing, sO we sit on the carpet. ?Well,? says the v i s i t o r f r o m Y e l l o w Springs, ?back to reality.? A n t i o c h i a n reality is peculiarly a k i n d w h i c h exists in the m i n d o f the beholder. Sometimes i t is called a life-style ? m e a n i n g a studious absence o f style. A guy has to wear a tie or a girl has to wear hose to be d i f f e r e n t ? a n d a number do f o r that reason. It is a style w h i c h tolerates, o r even values, clutter, confusion, i n f o r m a l i t y to the point o f rudeness or sloppiness, conscious crudity, vagueness, b l u r ring o f distinction, inconsistency and a high noise level. I t is also a style characterized b y candor, affection, a sense o f equality, lack of pretense and a respect for facts. C h r o n i cally people interrupt one another, l i k e a r o o m f u l o f readers w i t h different books w h o feel a c o m p u l s i o n every f e w m i n utes to read interesting passages aloud. W h i l e we are chatting on m y floor, one person after another knocks, sticks in a head, then a body, joins us, sometimes unabashedly diverting the conversation to his own concerns. Everyone seems to be extremely busy. Students hunch over projects in social-science research in various cubicles. A H a w a i i a n g i r l is p u n c h i n g the keys o f a W a n g 206

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calculator. A boy and g i r l are cleaning a silk-screen on someone?s desk. Staff members (some are faculty, some students, some a d m i n i s t r a t o r s ? t h e tendency is to m i n i m i z e differences, at least on the surface) wander from office to office, open letters in hand, asking: W h a t shall I do about this? T y p i c a l l y they call together the first t w o or three people they see to consult on issues. Decisions are made on the basis o f these spontaneous one-shot groupings, and there is a gentle accretion o f p o l i c y f r o m the way correspondence is

answered, memos are issued, allocations made on the basis o f loose verbal understandings. I send the visitor to go snooping around on his o w n ? w h i c h m i g h t be to offices in the other wing, meetings in the unoccupied rooms of the K i t t a m a q u n d i C o m m u n i t y upstairs, or downstairs in the l i b r a r y (consisting almost entirely of m y o w n books and those of other staff members loaned to the college, now half-arranged on shelves; he might visit the f i l m - p r o d u c t i o n l a b o r a t o r y (almost unused), a d a r k r o o m b u i l t and managed b y students, o r a rabbit-

warren of study-rooms and offices p e r f o r m i n g overlapping functions.

( E v e r y t h i n g at A n t i o c h C o l u m b i a is overlap-

ping.) I begin to hold conferences. A student staff member has been waiting for a chance to t a l k to me about a personal problem: he is finding that his j o b and c o m m i t m e n t to the p r o g r a m are draining all his energy from his creative w r i t i n g ? a n d he wonders how I resolve that conflict i n m y own life. ( A n s w e r : o v e r l a p ! ) M y assistant wants me to help her schedule an arts festival she is planning for the village c o m m u n i t y center. I am no help. A n a r m y veteran brings in some poetry he has been w r i t i n g and, after we t a l k about that, asks some questions about some very difficult poetry he has been studying. We sweat over the obscurities. 207

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I go out to the X e r o x machine behind the receptionist,

and while | a m r u n n i n g papers t h r o u g h it I t a l k w i t h h a l f a dozen people. Usually this is social chatting: D i d y o u get that job? How?s the flu? W h a t do you t h i n k o f that b o o k you've been reading? But business is indistinguishable f r o m sociability. I accost an a d m i n i s t r a t o r t r y i n g to pass t h r o u g h to his office on a matter o f policy. T h e student offering Listening to Blues tells me its meeting time conflicts w i t h m y seminar in poetry. W e commiserate about h o w crowded the evenings are (when most meetings and seminars are held, out o f consideration for the m a n y students h o l d i n g jobs d u r i n g the d a y ) . We shrug and he leaves, the conflict unresolved. I take a couple o f phone calls, p u l l i n g the cord over the receptionist?s shoulder so 1 can continue to run the machine while I talk, taking a pencil f r o m her hand to make a note. I b o r r o w a felt pen f r o m her desk to m a k e a sign, w h i c h I tape to the wall already crowded w i t h announcements. A g i r l asks me i f we can talk about her w r i t i n g , so I pack u p m y papers and go w i t h her to find a place we can be alone, b o r r o w i n g a stapler f r o m a secretary's desk on the way. M y office is now crowded w i t h students i n t e r v i e w i n g a faculty candidate, so we find the t i n y office of the f i l m maker, t e m p o r a r i l y unoccupied. I ask the girl to read me her short story while I sort and staple copies o f a f o u n d a t i o n proposal. T h e n we talk about her w r i t i n g u n t i l someone finds me to say that A C C I L is convening upstairs. A n t i o c h C o l u m b i a C o u n c i l is the governing body o f the college this month. Representative government was rejected b y student staff members early i n the program, and no one dared suggest we try it again for three months. O u r version o f p a r t i c i p a t o r y democracy had been to reject all notions o f structure, organization and hierarchy. A n y o n e 208

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( o f the original eighty students and eight faculty) who wanted to could call a meeting. A n y o n e present had a vote. A t the next meeting of whatever g r o u p it m a y have been the membership might have shifted entirely, and decisions made by one group were often reversed or distorted by another. Some committees became quite embittered because they worked hard on a task (e.g., admissions) in ignorance o f the facts, such as p r i o r agreements w i t h Y e l low Springs, and their labor might be nullified by a d m i n istrative fiat. A s B a r r i e Z w i c k e r wrote about Rochdale, ?The council governs only insofar as those w h o happen to learn of its legislation happen to agree w i t h it.? M e a n w h i l e , because a n u m b e r of practical problems had to be faced and planning had to be done, the paid staff exercised great power, in default o f any other means to proceed and any f i r m checks to restrain them. Since all process seemed equally acceptable, people tended to act b y those most convenient to them. F o r example, J was once part of a group w o r k i n g on a proposal to the D o c u m e n t a r y A r t s

Policy Board. W h e n we decided what we wanted to propose, we adjourned and reconvened ourselves as the D A P B ? a n d passed our recommendation. A f t e r Christmas some of the students felt there should be more governmental order and proposed we elect a council. This recommendation was finally p a s s e d ? i n the face of widespread reluctance to give up our open,p a r t i c i p a t o r y s t y l e . There is a curious mixture of affection and distrust among us, w i t h great resistance to any agreement w h i c h permits anyone to make decisions for anyone else-?-though such decisions have to be and are being made every day. T h e freely elected (one man, one vote) A C C I L of six students and three faculty was in its very inception surrounded w i t h provisions f o r recall and referendum w h i c h 209

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and visitors, i n c l u d i n g a colleague, come to m y l i v i n g room for the seminar in poetry. A few have read the chapter we agreed last week to read, but the discussion is frustrating. I am not sure w h y people are there: they don?t have to be, and there is not much indication that they have a serious intent o f studying poetry. A r e they lonely? Is it inertia which brings t h e m ? a feeling that i f they are in college they should be going to meetings? A t times I t h i n k it is not poetry or literature but life they want to learn a b o u t ? and they have some vague memory of English classes in w h i c h some i l l u m i n a t i o n on that subject seemed to be cast. ( I needn?t w o r r y ; few or none w i l l be there next w e e k ? b u t if I cancel the seminar there w i l l be a torrent of complaints.) Sometimes I think they want to hear m e ? a n d , succumbing to old habits, [ get excited about a poem and streak off into a lecturette. M o s t seem content w i t h passive listening. We d r i n k coffee. Several, on leaving, say they ?enjoyed? the class, as though it had been a movie or a party. Some dawdle until midnight, pursuing their hidden agendas, such as showing me some o f their recent writing. Seminars, like forms o f government, come and go at A n tioch C o l u m b i a . W h e n someone asks what we are ?offering,? we are likely to point to the schedule o f meetings on topics such as E n v i r o n m e n t a l Studies, Influence of Science and Technology on H u m a n Values, Creative W r i t i n g , Statistics Workshop, Political Science, Karate and Taoism, History of Social Welfare, F i l m Workshop, A c t i n g , Ethics, A n t h r o p o l o g y Psycho-Behavioral S c i e n c e ? a b o u t six of w h i c h are conducted b y one man, M i k e M e t t y , D i r e c t o r of the Center f o r Social Research and A c t i o n , w h o seems to have remarkable success in eliciting systematic involvement in productive work.

But the bulk of the educational iceberg rides beneath 21

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the surface. Sometimes a student w i l l not be seen around the M a n o r f o r weeks at a time, but it m a y t u r n out that he has been deeply involved in educating himself nonetheless. A b o u t ten have left ( t h o u g h it is not clear whether all have dropped out o f the p r o g r a m ) because they couldn?t stand C o l u m b i a ( w h i c h at this stage o f its development offers very little i n recreational and social life to young a d u l t s ? a n d reminds some suburbanites too m u c h o f h o m e ) , because they found nothing in the program to engage them, or because they discovered better learning opportunities in C a l i f o r n i a o r West V i r g i n i a or somewhere else. One girl, after participating in a seminar on communes, set out across the country to visit some she had on a list. T h a t was months ago. I f she ever turns u p and has

something to report, we w i l l help her organize her learning and apply f o r credit. D u r i n g the first quarter credit was a vexed subject. T h o u g h we intend to w o r k out some alternative degree requirements, we began w i t h those o f A n t i o c h Y e l l o w Springs ( w h i c h are themselves due to be changed). W e said we w o u l d interpret their w o r k i n appropriate terms. M y o w n i n c l i n a t i o n was to say, ?Do whatever you w a n t ? and V l help you figure out something to call it later.? Other staff preferred more planning and a more thorough process o f assessment. Often some of the most creative w o r k was being done in areas w h i c h none o f us could evaluate anyway (e.g., jazz, setting u p a draft-counseling center, i m p r o v i n g personal relationships and personal adjustment). T h o u g h there was a lot o f brave rhetoric f r o m students who claimed that they were not interested i n credits o r the degree, but in studying, some experience and franker discussion proved that they were, in fact, not very 212

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interested in studying at all and very much interested in the degree. A faculty member said: ['ve been talking to students about the various kinds o f free schools available, wide-open d o - y o u r - o w n - t h i n g programs in all kinds of interesting settings, communes w i t h educational components, and so forth. W h y don?t y o u go to one o f these? I ask. I t boils d o w n to the fact that they?re not accredited, that the kids can?t earn credits toward a degrce. I n order to get the bread f r o m their parents, so they don?t have to do anything else, they have to be in an accredited college. So if the degree, at one level or another, is what really makes this place different f r o m any o f the really good alternatives among free schools, we have to take o u r licensing f u n c t i o n seriously and provide some diversity in h o w it is handled f o r people o f different needs.

The problem, as we encouraged students to apply for credit for w o r k they had done, was not that the faculty regarded their activities as academically illegitimate, but that the students themselves d i d not value o r see learning in what they were doing. W r i t i n g up and getting signed a request for credit is a relatively simple process, but few students do it, and some w h o do so go about it haphazardly and guiltily, as though it were some d i r t y little shame. T h e y may have picked up this attitude from the staff. Some o f our f a c u l t y see academic credit as meaningful and are concerned that it not be devalued. I see it as a major obstacle to responsible engagement in learning and feel that i f we must go through the motions we should do so w i t h as little fuss and attention as possible. I find myself fighting an attitude o f students that i f w h a t they are doing is regarded as academically legitimate, that is sufficient rea-

son for doing it, and their only concern with q u a l i t y is being accepted. P l u m e r says: 213

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We came in with a negative concept o f education, which got us into feeding into student frustrations w i t h t h e i r experience. We had a very down view, pessimistic about A m e r i c a n education, saying we?ve been brainwashed, we need to get u n p r o g r a m m e d . What we did inadvertently was create a p r o g r a m which was defined as an escape f r o m ? e v e r y t h i n g , w i t h o u t defining what the escape routes were. W e hadn't really thought those through except in terms o f w h a t they shouldn?t be. T h a t t o o k us through a very frustrating period, clutching at straws, n o t dealing w i t h problems, not k n o w i n g w h a t they were, W i t h that kind o f beginning it was almost a constant battle for survival. Once y o u get into a survival t h i n g it tends to be v e r y competitive, scrounging f o r resources, since that?s what y o u need to survive. We moved f r o m our negative period to our survival period, w h i c h was also non-positive, m a k i n g it very difficult to b u i l d collaborative modes, to have a sense o f direction. We didn?t remember what we knew already about w h a t c o m m u n i t y is. W h e n y o u have people w h o feel ( A ) powerless, and ( B ) fucked over, and ( C ) frustrated because they don?t see any hope f o r action, they feel isolated f r o m people w h o have comparable concerns and go through this thing o f search for c o m m u n i t y . They need a chance to get together in small self-interest groups. We need to help them sec that they really can do something because they are n o t alone, that there are others w h o share their concerns, So n o w we have small groups f o r m i n g around degree requirements, c o m m u n e interests, use o f space, radical financing p a t t e r n s ? a b o u t eight such groups. A s they operate and reciprocate they ought to generate a sense of community.

The ?we? he means are, in fact, only a few o f us. Others o n the faculty did not i d e n t i f y w i t h our negative views. W h i l e I, for instance, refused to teach classes, others t a u g h t such things such as creative w r i t i n g , c h i l d psychology and f i l m making in relatively structured formats and course designs.

Perhaps the most serious miscalculation we made was regarding the extent to which employment would serve as a means of study. We agreed that the substantial learning in the program would be through what we called ?involve214

THE

PLURALISTIC

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ment in the community.? W e knew that our students w o u l d need salaries to pay expenses (the most c o m m o n pattern being f o r parents to pay tuition and students to earn their rent and living costs), and some o f us believed that comm u n i t y engagement could p r i m a r i l y be through paid w o r k . O u r statement in the original b r o c h u r e ? w h i c h attracted students to u s ? n o w sounds naive on this point: W o r k a n d S t u d y . A s w e n o w i m a g i n e it, students w i l l c h a r a c t e r i s t i c a l l y be engaged f o r 2 0 to 4 0 h o u r s a w e e k in w o r k p r o j e c t s that provide both

educational

costs

guidance

of

the

opportunities

and

facilitation

and of

help

the

in

meeting

program.

the

Antioch

C o l u m b i a hopes to f i n d jobs and create n e w roles i n research, social a c t i o n , a n d service; s t u d e n t s w i l l w o r k in the arts, i n schools a n d other p u b l i c i n s t i t u t i o n s , i n l a b o r a t o r i e s , i n d u s t r i e s

and businesses.

T h o s e e m p l o y e d i n a p a r t i c u l a r area such as u r b a n affairs or mass m e d i a w i l l meet w i t h f a c u l t y in s e m i n a r s t o e x p l o r e the t h e o r e t i c a l , i d e o l o g i c a l , aesthetic, social, a n d o t h e r i m p l i c a t i o n s o f t h e i r w o r k , e n g a g i n g i n a p p r o p r i a t e r e a d i n g and research t o deepen and b r o a d e n their understanding.

D u r i n g the year, a student w i l l take part in a variety o f w o r k and study expericnces in a fluid, continual mediation o f individual interests and needs with available opportunities.

I n spite o f the newness o f the city, there were p r o b a b l y enough jobs for the eighty students who came in October and the t h i r t y more w h o came i n February, b u t few were, or were perceived to be, o f much educational value. Students arrived to find housing problems ( n o t enough of the reserved apartments had been completed; all were u n f u r nished), crowded and inadequate facilities in the M a n o r , transportation problems (infrequent and inconvenient public transportation, distances too great to w a l k ) , and not enough jobs w h i c h students were qualified for and found exciting. ?In-house? jobs as student staff members and 215

CULTURE

researchers w e r e at a p r e m i u m

OUT

OF

ANARCHY

( m a k i n g for jokes about

o u t - h o u s e j o b s ) ; t h e best h a d been g o b b l e d u p b y e a r l y a r r i v a l s , a n d n e w ones w e n t t o hustlers. A s w e w a r n e d i n the b r o c h u r e , t h e p r o g r a m d e m a n d s i n i t i a t i v e , s e l f - d i r e c t i o n a n d aggression.

Passive students slid into doldrums. A g i r l says: T o do w h a t y o u w a n t to do, t o feel l i k e y o u a r e s o m e o n e , y o u h a v e t o be aggressive and c o m p e t e n t . C h i c k s a r e n ' t b r o u g h t u p to b e h a v e l i k e that. W h e n y o u d o , a n d y o u get a j o b , y o u f i n d i t h a r d t o put i n t o p l a c e n o t o n l y h o w y o u react t o y o u r s e l f and t o o t h e r p e o p l e , b u t h o w peopie react to y o u .

One of her apartment-mates added: A t the staff m e e t i n g one o f the guys said t o me, ? A l l y o u are is a m a n . Y o u act so businesslike, a n d all 1 w a n t to d o w i t h y o u is f u c k you.?

A n d the other apartment-mate, a black guy, said: People fail here, They run into things they can?t handle. T h e n they lose confidence and it makes the next time harder. Pretty soon they don?t try at all. They retreat. Some o f them split. T h e y feel inadequate and guilty.

Frustrations were cumulative, and m a n y students fell into chronic depression, much o f w h i c h was blamed on job disappointments. ?The whole work-study t h i n g is a joke,? one said. A faculty member says, ?We haven't faced our ina b i l i t y to deal w i t h that whole j o b thing, w h i c h works f o r a few people; but we should have k n o w n it wouldn?t w o r k for most. People don?t have the requisite skills. H e l l , they don?t even have the requisite aspirations.? A n o t h e r faculty member has this analysis: 216

THE

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It strikes me that one of the critical problems

.

.

.

is that most of

the ?work? ( o t h e r than that w h i c h is essentially research) depends on the structure and initiative o f the business c o m m u n i t y . We have believed that by inserting students into regular jobs in that c o m m u n i t y , two things w o u l d happen: students w o u l d be educated and the c o m m u n i t y w o u l d be changed. W h a t has happened is this: students have been educated, b u t the best of it has occurred in a tiny segment o f the business c o m m u n i t y ? p r i m a r i l y the service and social action agencies. F o r the rest, we have been forced to say that it m a y n o t have been m u c h f u n but at least the student learned how g r i t t y the business w o r l d really is, and that is i m p o r t a n t learning. Maybe so, b u t I t h i n k y o u can Iearn that in y o u r first two weeks on any job. W h a t is more i m p o r t a n t is to demonstrate h o w w o r t h w h i l e and effective an enterprise might be, not only to the student b u t on the c o m m u n i t y at large. M o s t businesses welcome the influx o f idealistic students into their ranks; the students can occupy themselves with doing good and the businesses are free to chase after profits with a clear conscience. N o t h i n g is changed, unless it is the student w h o loses his economic v i r g i n i t y .

The most exciting examples o f the theory w o r k i n g right are the instances in w h i c h students, i n effect, created their own jobs,

writing

proposals and

talking

someone into

f u n d i n g them. One convinced the local recreation department that they should b u y tools and supplies and pay h i m a salary for teaching carpentry and metal w o r k in neigh-

borhood centers d u r i n g after-school hours. O n e young man was interested in starting a r a d i o station and in the process has created a concept of c o m m u n i t y communications, w i t h c o m m u n i t y management, supplying a means o f responsive, t w o - w a y i n v o l v e m e n t ? n o t just a source of i n f o r m a t i o n and coverage o f local affairs, but a m e d i u m for eliciting reactions and m o b i l i z i n g ideas and energy. He is hoping for m a j o r f o u n d a t i o n support o f a research project studying radio c o m m u n i c a t i o n i n planned cities. A n o t h e r got f u n d i n g f o r research into m a n p o w e r needs and related 217

THE

PLURALISTIC

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hell to establish w h a t you might call respectability because, y o u know, we can?t be off just having our own thing. Part o f our reason for being here is specifically to change this place. So now we're t r y i n g to set ourselves up so when we say we?re f r o m A n t i o c h C o l u m b i a they'll say, well, well, come on in!

There is little external evidence that m a n y are involved in that effort, but some have had to deal w i t h the consequences of their appearance and behavior. A couple o f evictions have occurred as the result o f complaints from straight n e i g h b o r s ? t h o u g h there has been much less friction in that respect than we anticipated. T o those w i t h deviant life-styles I w o u l d advise that i t is above all loud music, but also other noise, w h i c h gets under middle-class skin, When there are several cars to an apartment, crowding the lots, that also arouses resentment. Complaints about co-habitation and other quiet activities are likely to come o n l y as rationalization and support o f objections to other nuisances. Several were teaching art on a volunteer

basis in

a

county s c h o o l ? t r a v e l i n g miles to get there and put in long afternoons w i t h grateful kids. But some of the mothers objected to the long hair on the men, and they were asked not to return. ?I cut m y hair to get a straight j o b and ended up as delivery

boy f o r the Washington

Post,

working

mostly before dawn,? one said, ?but I quit because I was the only one in m y apartment working.? ( C o m m u n a l living arrangements can be demoralizing under such conditions.) Perhaps more i m p o r t a n t than student adaptations are the adaptations of the c o m m u n i t y . T h e initial alarm when our students began appearing in their strange styles on these manicured streets abated quickly, and as people have gotten t o k n o w them, m a n y have learned to like and respect them. Some say, ?This place was dead before A n t i 219

CULTURE

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och arrived.? Some businesses call us w h e n they need talented help. The level o f education i n C o l u m b i a is relatively high, and there arem a n y liberals w h o perceive the college as a cultural and p o l i t i c a l ally. Some students go f o r months w i t h o u t jobs because they claim there is n o t h i n g available related t o their interests. (Some o f these make little effort to find out; what they are saying is that the activities in our society for w h i c h m o n e y is paid are not of interest to them. Some, w i t h sufficient income f r o m home, s i m p l y never face up to the threatening question of whether or not they are e m p l o y a b l e . ) M o n e y pressures drive t h e m eventually to take jobs as waitresses, copyboys, carpenter apprentices, delivery drivers. One eighteen-year-old arrived at college late because he was c o m p l e t i n g training as a bulldozer operator; the s k i l l has stood h i m in good stead. Some t u t o r m a t h o r give music lessons for spending money. A g i r l interested in special education got a good j o b as an assistant teacher o f handicapped children in the p u b l i c school system; i t happens that they have an on-the-job training program, so she is getting an excellent seminar i n her f i e l d ? f o r w h i c h we w i l l give her credit, as w e l l as for her learning f r o m the job itself. A n u m b e r of students have worked w i t h handicapped and retarded children i n the area, and a C h i l d Study Institute to develop research p r o j ects, internships and new programs has been f o r m e d as a part o f the college. O n e girl started as a copygirl for Associated Press i n Baltimore, and w o r k e d u p to become a news photographer; a b o y met their stringent requirements for a reportorial job. Others w o r k in Washington and B a l t i m o r e in professional theater, the U r b a n League, a magazine,

a

C o m m u n i t y A c t i o n Program. A b l a c k g i r l tutored English 220

THE

PLURALISTIC

RESPONSE

at Federal C i t y College, worked on a project to set up a

data bank for the ghetto, attended a seminar given b y Nader?s Raiders, and helped set u p the c u r r i c u l u m and organizational plans f o r the Center for the Study of Basic H u m a n Problems, a program o f the W a s h i n g t o n - B a l t i m o r e Campus in Washington. M o s t o f o u r black students have found more relevant opportunities and resources i n Washington, and we have encouraged them to w o r k there independently if they so preferred. N e a r l y twenty students are o n the college staff, some teaching seminars ( i n fiction, photography, sexual differences, dance, theater, K a r a t e ) , some conducting sponsored research projects ( i n higher education, problems of the aging, l i b r a r y services), and most f u n c t i o n i n g as administrators (admissions, housing, registrar, arts coordination, j o b development, b o o k k e e p i n g ) . M y assistant on this book, who gathered m u c h of the i n f o r m a t i o n I am using here, reminds me that he traveled w i t h me to the colleges I have discussed, interviewed people, wrote u p his own impressions and ideas, transcribed tapes and collected and digested relevant written material. Student-faculty teams, d u r i n g the first months o f our program, were contracted to go as consultants, resource people, speakers, g r o u p leaders and stimulators to a number o f conferences and other campuses??including

Seattle Pacific,

Western M i c h i g a n ,

Gonzaga, A l v e r n o , Oberlin, Lafayette, Kansas State and O h i o Wesleyan. There is a contagious tendency for people to want to be paid for the w o r k they do, not so m u c h because they lack c o m m u n i t y spirit as because the expense of the program and of living conditions in C o l u m b i a forces them to scrounge. Students have been on salary to produce a newsletter, to b u i l d walis, f u r n i t u r e and shelves f o r the college, 221

THE

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t u r e ? c a c t u s and marijuana,? one g i r l said. ?I water m y plants.? When m y assistant asked one fellow what he had done since he arrived, the response was, ?I was just sitting here wondering that myself. That?s w h y I put on the Mothers. I?m not sure if I?ve done a n y t h i n g or i f 1 want to be here. I?ve learned to play drums.? A dropout said, ?I arrived as a freshman and freaked out in the typical freed o m trauma. I found out that A n t i o c h is irrelevant. J see A n t i o c h as a means of achieving a g o a l ? b u t I have no goal at the m o m e n t ? s o A n t i o c h is a very expensive irrelevancy.? A n o t h e r said, ?The seminars I liked fell apart,? as though that justified his lassitude. A faculty member said: T h e r e is a deep-seated h o s t i l i t y against s o m e t h i n g w h i c h is c o n c e p t u a l i z e d as a u t h o r i t y , w h i c h r e a l l y b o i l s d o w n to o t h e r people. A l s o t h e r e is a sense t h a t p e o p l e are i n a d e q u a t e , t h a t t h e y don?t k n o w h o w to p l a y the r o l e t h e y are t r y i n g to play, b u t w a n t to k e e p o t h e r p e o p l e f r o m d o i n g it. T h e r e are m a n y w h o have n o c o m m i t m e n t to A n t i o c h C o l u m b i a b e c o m i n g an i n s t i t u t i o n , to m a k e it w o r k w e l l , m a k e i t s t r o n g . A l o t o f p e o p l e are m o b i l e w h e n t h e y c o m e here, feel m o b i l e , and this is a b u s s t a t i o n f o r t h e m . T h e y got here a n d

already

are t h i n k i n g a b o u t

leaving,

as

though

to

say,

? Y o u b l e w i t , and I?m s p l i t t i n g , ? instead o f a s k i n g w h a t t h e y c a n d o to m a k e i t w o r k , T h e m o d e l assumes some k i n d o f c o m m i t m e n t to the e n t e r p r i s e ; it assumes m o r e c o m p e t e n c y , o r m o r e w i l l i n g n e s s to g a i n c o m p e t e n c y . W e get s o m e r e a l w e i r d o s h e r e w h o aren?t the least i n t e r e s t e d i n a n y k i n d o f p r o g r a m d e v e l o p m e n t , c o m m u n i t y relations, all t h a t stuff, n o t i n t e r e s t e d in c r e a t i n g a v i a b l e a l t e r n a tive w h i c h w i l l enable us to t u r n o u t e f f e c t i v e p e o p l e ? a b o u t w h o m w e c a n say, l o o k w h a t t h e y c a n do, are d o i n g , have done.

That k i n d o f analysis was c o m m o n among students and staff for a period, but after a point we began to realize that we were ? d u m p i n g it on the kids,? and they picked up the habit. A t meeting after meeting it w o u l d be said ?There 223

CULTURE

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are people around here who aren?t doing anything,? but i t w a s a l w a y s the other guy referred to. A student got a good l a u g hin one large gathering by? a s k i n g , ? W o u l d all o f you who are f u c k i n g off please raise y o u r hands?? People expressed great compassion for the poor, lost, unfocused individuals who were letting their youth d r i f t away i n clouds o f grass smoke. I t is p r o b a b l y t r u e t h a t some w e r e i n v a r i o u s states o f m e n t a l a n d e m o t i o n a l paralysis, b u t w e b e g a n t o r e c o g n i z e , f o r one t h i n g , t h a t such p e r i o d s are p r e d i c t a b l e , c o m m o n a n d r e l a t i v e l y s h o r t i n m o s t people?s lives. F o r a n o t h e r , t h e a t m o s p h e r e i n the M a n o r a n d i n m o s t a p a r t m e n t s was o n e of

almost

too

much

busyness:

people

intersecting

and

c o n f l i c t i n g , n o t h a v i n g t i m e f o r o n e a n o t h e r , n o t b e i n g able to a r r a n g e meetings, b e i n g f r u s t r a t e d b y b e i n g i n v o l v e d i n too m a n y activities, too m a n y projects simultaneously. I f one

stood

back

and

looked,

the

student

products

a c h i e v e m e n t s , even i n the first f e w m o n t h s w h e n

and

people

were going t h r o u g h terrific p r o b l e m s o f personal a n d practical adjustment, were impressive. T h a t perpetual, nagging sense o f g u i l t a n d waste a b o u t o u r live s m a y be t h e r e s u l t of an extremely high energy.

level

Dissatisfaction with

of m o t i v a t i o n , idealism and self a n d one?s a c h i e v e m e n t s

m a y w e l l be an e d u c a t i o n a l g o a l d u r i n g t h i s t r a n s i t i o n a l state o f o u r society, t h o u g h m y p e r s o n a l f a i t h is t h a t u n l o c k i n g h u m a n p o t e n t i a l , l i k e u n l o c k i n g the e n e r g y o f the a t o m , w i l l be a n u n c o n t a i n a b l e f o r c e , i f w e d i s c o v e r t h e f o r m u l a , i n w h i c h such p r o d s as g u i l t w i l l be o b l i t e r a t e d a n d irrelevant.

We have brought w i t h us a paralyzing P u r i t a n ethic w h i c h places such a high value o n w o r k , service and achievement that we destroy one another in o u r disappointment w i t h ourselves and vicious judgments o f others. I n 224

THE

PLURALISTIC

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designing this p r o g r a m we thought o f involvement and w o r k as a substitute f o r artificial academic measures. A student should c o n t i n u a l l y test himself against the world, measure his results, learn f r o m his failures; we thought that m u c h resentment o f academic institutions was justified because they erect other standards and expectations w h i c h not o n l y d i d not predict success in the real w o r l d but w h i c h consume energy unnecessarily and create a false sense o f personal w o r t h , equally damaging i f it were inflated or deflated. We are learning that in this theory, as i n so many, we used too simple a grid. A faculty member says: The real w o r l d we are coping with varies f r o m person to person. For some it is society; for some it is the college; for some it is still themselves. We have to b u i l d a college to respond to all different kinds o f needs; we can't define the reality they will cope with. . . . I f y o u mistrust the w o r l d or anyone outside yourself, then w o r k o r c o m m u n i t y engagement is no solution to distrust o f the academy.

T h e explicit ethic o f the p r o g r a m f r o m the beginning was one o f advocacy. W e set u p i n i t i a l l y (instead of academic d e p a r t m e n t s ? b u t w i t h some o f the same inherent deficiencies as organization units) t w o programs, the Center for D o c u m e n t a r y Arts, ?concerned w i t h applications of the arts in interpreting events so as to i n f o r m and influence public o p i n i o n and action,? and the Center for Social Research and A c t i o n , w h i c h e x p l i c i t l y disclaimed n e u t r a l i t y and passivity. A s soon as the program began, our black students set u p a t h i r d unit, the Center for the Study o f Basic H u m a n Problems, w h i c h defined its mission as dealing w i t h problems o f the oppressed. A

student c o m i n g

into this atmosphere immediately felt declassé unless he was p o l i t i c a l l y oriented and actively concerned w i t h social 225

THE

PLURALISTIC

RESPONSE

When we began to recognize our schizophrenia and to recognize that we could not resolve it, that we had to find some way to live w i t h it, to cheer on both halves of our heads, that, moreover, we should not resolve it, for any solution w o u l d drive us into a dogmatism w h i c h was at odds w i t h our belief in self-determination, we began setting pluralism as a conscious goal. H u m a n relations began to improve. W e realized that to be one place on the cont i n u u m between extreme m a m a i s m and extreme papaism was no reason to put d o w n someone who was somewhere else on the scale. W e could recognize, however, a certain conflict between two of o u r strongest v a l u e s ? a d v o c a c y and pluralism (papa and m a m a under new names?). M u c h o f the rhetoric of education has an air of n e u t r a l i t y about it w h i c h is at odds w i t h the k n o w n ethical intention o f educators. ?Problem-solving,?

Pansy

?cultivation of the intellect,? ?growth

and development,? even, written in red letters, ? c h a n g e ? ? these terms, like adding machines or typewriters, can be used indifferently for h u m a n good or human ill. Is A n t i och?s p l u r a l i s m completely laissez faire? Is there a universal good w h i c h encompasses a wide range o f pluralistic manifestations? I p u t that question to ?good grey M o r r i s Keeton,? as a C o l u m b i a businessman described him. Keeton is a k i n d of W i z a r d of Oz administering m a n y o f the changes A n t i och is going through, behind the curtain, turning the handles and f l i p p i n g the switches. Keeton chaired the task force w h i c h designed A n t i o c h C o l u m b i a ; he and J were the o n l y faculty who came t o C o l u m b i a f r o m Y e l l o w Springs; and he was the A d m i n i s t r a t o r o f the p r o g r a m until it was well under w a y and Plumer had demonstrated his a b i l i t y to manage it, at w h i c h point, as is his style, Keeton with229

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drew to a higher level o f abstraction, resuming his functions as A c a d e m i c Vice-President o f the A n t i o c h System, though he w i l l continue to operate f r o m a base in C o l u m bia. He is an austere minister and philosopher, an excellent administrator, particularly in budget design and management, who has become nationally significant in recent years for his research and w r i t i n g about h i g h e r education. M u c h o f his philosophical w o r k has been i n ethical theory, so the question of whether we could be pluralistic and still seek the good is one of natural concern, He said: Superculture makes everything u n i f o r m , gives great advantages o f efficiency and standardization but takes a lot o f the interest and individualization out, though computers can give unique combinations, But it takes a lot o f color out of life. T h e reason J w i l l not opt for Esperanto is that all kinds o f meaning are lost w h i c h individual languages can express. B u t I wouldn?t w a n t a w o r l d w i t h no means of c o m m u n i c a t i o n among the linguistic groups, because then we have lost something else. We cherish pluralism, not because anything goes, but because variety and i n d i v i d u a l i z a t i o n and a u t o n o m y make f o r a richer, more interesting life. W h a t controls have we over purposelessness and anarchy? T h e control is chiefly in the people i n v o l v e d . . . . A core o f convictions determines choice. T h e c o m b i n a t i o n o f c o n v i c t i o n s w h i c h a r e genuine a n d n o t c o n t r i v e d c o m b i n e d w i t h a c o n v i c t i o n i n the v a l u e o f i n q u i r y generates some

conflict

within

the

institution;

the

inquiry

side f o r c e s

the

g r a d u a l a n d s o m e t i m e s r a d i c a l c h a n g e o f o t h e r c o n v i c t i o n s , b u t the conviction tactics.

side

prevents

laissez

faire

and

prevents

exploitative

When we come right down to rock b o t t o m we must respect each individual we are dealing with. We can?t w r i t e h i m off or be i n d i f ferent. . . . W h e n we find ourselves in conflict w i t h the C o u n t y , for instance, if we listen to them we find they aren?t as terrible as we thought, and in fact we end up in coalition with them on certain issues and absolutely against them on others, but we w a n t them to be p a r t o f the h u m a n race, after all. That?s a piece of o u r conviction w h i c h overrides e v e r y t h i n g else, even inquiry.

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That's a paradox f o r me. Institutions have said they are committed to i n q u i r y and are neutral about everything else. I t h i n k that?s wrong. Learning, while enjoyable f o r itself, has in the end to be instrumental to h u m a n fulfillment, w h i c h has to be rooted in tespect f o r the individual. A n institution is just the habits, policies and attitudes that govern the relations o f a group o f people. I t isn?t a thing or a place. I f the i n s t i t u t i o n has respect f o r the individual built into it as its most fundamental building block, the choice of inquiry will be dictated by that, and the mode o f inquiry will be colored by it, as will what we do with the findings. I don?t k n o w how A n t i o c h got that way, b u t there?s a lot of that feeling in Antioch.

Keeton?s modesty about his own role (?to unsnarl the snarls and l i n k people w i t h opportunities, without controlling them?) results from another customary step to a higher level o f generalization. Less significant than any particular ?grand design? is a c o m m i t m e n t to problemsolving, w h i c h m a y result in new designs and patterns. ?It is i m p o r t a n t that you be ready for those to change.? A l s o

it is a c o m m i t m e n t to this overarching principle of respect for the i n d i v i d u a l ?colored by such considerations as that an i n d i v i d u a l is u n f u l f i l l e d unless he is in a m u t u a l l y beneficial relation w i t h o t h e r s ? w h i c h is where society comes in.? He has moved behind the scenes at A n t i o c h C o l u m bia, w o r k i n g on development of that and other programs w i t h o u t a direct hand in administration. ?I don?t t h i n k the parts of the System should, however, be self-sufficient,? he says. ?They m a y be independent in certain respects, but i f you look at how they d o their w o r k , they use the credit line, they use the accreditation, they use the f r a n c h i s e ? and do it ( o r they had better!) in ways that don?t damage the franchise and do not involve other people very heavily in its protection,? Antioch Columbia

is f a r f r o m d e v e l o p i n g a f o o l - p r o o f

a n d effective f o r m a t , h a v i n g raised m a n y p r o b l e m s w h i c h

231

THE

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w r i t i n g a biography for children of Benjamin Banneker, the black mathematician who helped lay out Washington, as a project in history, studying physical sciences in seminars w i t h A n t i o c h C o l u m b i a faculty, and w o r k i n g more than f u l l time f o r a part-time salary (on federal w o r k study m o n e y ) teaching creative w r i t i n g and agonizing hours of personal counseling as a our faculty. One m e m o r y of the year w h i c h particularly is the report of a ?seminar? in w h i c h Joyce

engaging in member of delights me

V a r n e y and some A n t i o c h C o l u m b i a students were studying prosody, taught b y m y sixteen year-old daughter, a high-school dropout. A t the end o f a tough year Joyce V a r n e y has her M . A . and an appointment as a regular member of our factulty at a good s a l a r y ? a graduate education and a gigantic leap in professiona) standing w h i c h w o u l d have been inconceivable in any other system. I n the early planning stages of A n t i o c h C o l u m b i a wrote:

I

M y a i m is t o c r e a t e a free s o c i e t y by f r e e i n g people w i t h i n i t ? o r , b e t t e r , e n a b l i n g t h e m to f r e e themselves. T r u l y i n d e p e n d e n t people are those w h o are n o t m e r e l y f r e e d t o d o w h a t t h e y l i k e , b u t those w h o are i n some sense s e l f - s u p p o r t i n g . ? S e l f - s u p p o r t i n g ? means, o f course, d e r i v i n g s u p p o r t f r o m

o t h e r s in s o m e m u t u a l l y b e n e f i c i a l

r e l a t i o n s h i p ; the i n d i v i d u a l a v a i l s h i m s e l f o f the services o f others by s e r v i n g t h e m . I n t h a t c o n t e x t o f m u t u a l d e p e n d e n c y , f r e e d o m is possible o n l y i f the i n d i v i d u a l has as w i d e a range as possible o f c o m p e t e n c i e s so t h a t he m a y c h o o s e t h e ways in w h i c h he w i l l serve, so t h a t he c a n c h o o s e the services o f o t h e r s w h i c h w i l l enable h i m to pursue his purposes.

M a n is also not free i f he /acks purpose. He needs an ambience in w h i c h he can discover a sense of mission, a calling, w h i c h will give his life purpose. Otherwise he is in i r o n s ? i n the sense that a sailboat is in irons when it is headed directly into the w i n d . I f you release the sheets and tiller o f a boat it will automatically head into

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the w i n d and r e m a i n there, sails f l a p p i n g . I t d r i f t s at the w h i m s y o f the

surrounding

movement

currents.

It

won't

go

anywhere

fast,

it does m a k e is b a c k w a r d s .

Similarly,

a

but

man

what

without

i n t e n t m a y have the i l l u s i o n o f f r e e d o m , f l a p p i n g loose, n o t e n s i o n on the t i l l e r , n o r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s . n o d e m a n d s o n his day. B u t i n f a c t he is in i r o n s ? d o o m e d driven

on the rocks.

merely

to exhaust

his

provisions

Self-direction requires c o m m i t m e n t .

or

be

All

we

can d o t o h e l p a n o t h e r p e r s o n d i s c o v e r c o m m i t m e n t is t o c r e a t e a s i t u a t i o n in w h i c h he c a n see w h a t needs t o b e done. I n the c r u d e s t sense, t h a t means e n a b l i n g h i m t o see h o w t h e w o r l d w o r k s .

Such ideas are being translated into programs. I n the midst of o u r first year Plumer said, ? M y sense is that the acceptance o f self-centeredness is very i m p o r t a n t . Since people have been taught to deny themselves all t h r o u g h their lives, this becomes a problem. W e m a y need an I n d u c t i o n Center to help people through this k i n d o f learning. The seminar a couple of students started o n male-femaleness may be an expression o f this need.? F o r people who are out of irons we are developing an array o f program foci, draw. ing students into research and action. ?Our survey is raising all kinds of hell,? said a f a c u l t y member, referring .

.

to some evidence of c o r r u p t i o n the students have f o u n d and the steps they are taking to get some legal sanctions enforced. ?It?s too soon to say whether we are succeeding, but we have a substantial n u m b e r of students, about twenty, really digging it. W e are approaching this comm u n i t y in a non-neutral way, taking stands o n the issues we are involved in.? T h e t h e o r y is that freedom radiates o u t w a r d from people of strength. T h o u g h the costs are high (perhaps as m u c h as $ 5 0 0 0 or more per year for t u i t i o n plus l i v i n g expenses), the program provides a f a i r l y high ( t o o high, some of us believe) level of f a c u l t y i n p u t ( a b o u t ten f u l l - t i m e staff at the f a c u l t y level for about a hundred c o n t i n u i n g students), 234

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and some program funds go back to students. T h e total budget for the first year grew to about $380,000, o f which some $ 5 0 , 0 0 0 was accounted for b y contracts and grants for projects, most o f w h i c h employed students, some $15,000 by honoraria ( w h i c h f a c u l t y turn back into thep r o g r a m ) , and $ 5 0 , 0 0 0 b y as e t - u p grant from the Carnegie C o r p o r a t i o n , w h i c h w i l l be paid b a c k i n t o a student loan fund. A b o u t $ 1 1 0 , 0 0 0 went for wages o f student staff members ( o f w h i c h about $ 3 0 , 0 0 0 was federal w o r k study m o n e y } , an indirect f o r m of student aid. Some 4 0 per cent o f our students received federally guaranteed loans and tuition reduction directly f r o m our budget. Over 10 per cent of our students are black. A b o u t 10 have total t u i t i o n reduction

and

another

10

have

financial-aid

packages

(loans plus t u i t i o n r e d u c t i o n ) enabling them to pay nothing at all. Aside f r o m the shortage o f good educational jobs and the social sterility o f Columbia, the biggest student complaints concern loneliness, a lack of a sense of community, shortage of w o m e n ( w e started with a balanced enrollment, but a heavy male influx in February brought us up to two-thirds m a l e ) , and an insufficient number o f faculty. Regarding this last complaint, many of the full-time staff, because of research and administrative duties, have little student contact; those available to students find their time gobbled b y one-to-one contacts, a clinical mode which, according to one faculty member, ?saps people?s energy to do a n y t h i n g about their concerns . . We w a n t to discover ways people can act on their o w n behalf.?

I t also saps the faculty; one o f the dangers of experimental programs is that they have a high burn-out rate. Compared to a n o r m a l teaching load at a college, the demands here are e x h a u s t i n g ? r e q u i r i n g full days and 235

P a r r

ITI

Tomorrow?s School... Tomorrow?s school will be a schoo! w i t h o u t w a l l s ? a

school built of doors w h i c h open to the entire community. Tomorrow's

school

wil!

reach

out

to the places

t h a t e n r i c h the h u m a n s p i r i t ? t o the m u s e u m s , the theaters, the a r t galleries, t o the p a r k s and r i v e r s and m o u n t a i n s . It w i l l a l l y i t s e l f w i t h the c i t y , its busy streets a n d f a c t o r i e s , its a s s e m b l y lines a n d l a b o r a t o r i e s ? s o t h a t the w o r l d o f w o r k does n o t seem an alien place f o r the s t u d e n t .

Tomorrow?s school will be the center of c o m m u nity life, f o r grown-ups as well as c h i l d r e n ? ? a shopping center o f human services.? It might have a c o m m u n i t y health clinic or a public library, a theater and recreation facilities. I t w i l l provide f o r m a l education for all citizens ? a n d it will n o t close its doors any more at three o'clock. I t w i l l employ its buildings round the clock and its teachers r o u n d the year. L y n d o n B a i n e s J o h n s o n , at the a n n u a l conv e n t i o n o f the A m e r i c a n A s s o c i a t i o n o f School Administrators, February

16,

1966.

CHAPTER

8

T h e E d u c a t i o n a l Supermarket

Kauai, H a w a i i , the westernmost fringe of t h e United States, may seem an u n l i k e l y place to find evidence o f the coming t r a n s f o r m a t i o n o f education, but frontiers have always generated creative minorities and revitalized culture. On that island is a w o r k i n g example ( a n d interesting case study)

of a new type o f educational venture. The

Kapaa C o m m u n i t y Center m a y be a prototype of future institutions. Someday every c o m m u n i t y may have such places, at first to supplement schools and eventually replacing schools and colleges altogether. T h e Kapaa C o m m u n i t y Center is one of a f a m i l y of innovative

programs

in

storefront

settings.

Storefront

churches are the most f a m i l i a r example of this approach; educational counterparts are sometimes called ?colleges,? sometimes ?children?s museums,? sometimes s i m p l y ?comm u n i t y centers.? T h e y have some relationship to the educational programs of such institutions as Jewish C o m m u n i t y Centers,

YMCA?s

and

civic

recreation

centers.

Essentially the idea is to b r i n g education to people where they live, to provide an open environment in w h i c h people can discover and pursue their educational needs ona free239

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flowing basis, and associate the pleasure of learning w i t h those of social interaction and recreation. M a n y o f these programs have been in ghettos, but the village of Kapaa, on Kauai, is semi-rural, where garish tourism is encroaching ona plantation town. The approach o f the storefront center is almost the opposite of what we usually associate w i t h schooling. Teachers and schools, no matter h o w k i n d l y and colorful, take a stance w h i c h seems somehow to be against their clientele of learners, administering education, like whipping, for the student?s own good. Hurdles, boxes and channels leading t o certification are means to cull, check, shape and direct. The effort is to socialize, to m a k e people fit, or to reject them into the l i m b o of the ineducable. It makes some sense that K a u a i should be the setting for an effort to start at the other end of the scale, w i t h people and their problems rather than w i t h answers. F r o m m y experience in the V i r g i n Islands I know the f u t i l i t y of attempting simply to i m p o r t f r o m the m a i n l a n d culture a system alien to the island culture. One falls in love w i t h the people, recognizes that they must have as m u c h potential as people anywhere, hires reading and speech and other

specialists, pours in some new resources, gives some standardized examinations and, after a year or two, shakes his head sadly, coming to some reluctantly racist conclusions. A m e r i c a tries to solve all her problems w i t h the touch of Midas, and is broken-hearted at the consequences. C e r t a i n l y one of the most beautiful spots on earth, K a u a i is an island w o r k i n g its way through economic and social change. T h e m u l t i - r a c i a l population o f 2 6 , 0 0 0 is isolated f r o m the mainstream, converting f r o m a sugar plantation economy to a tourist economy, struggling w i t h problems o f in and out m i g r a t i o n , a shortage of public facilities, an 240

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erosion o f identity, cohesion and c o m m u n i t y pride. Kapaa C o m m u n i t y Center has an i r o n y tucked into its title; it was established (as a branch o f Kauai C o m m u n i t y College) partly

because there was very little c o m m u n i t y in the Kapaa a r e a ? a c t u a l l y a fragmented settlement of m a n y communities stretching along the h i g h w a y about twenty minutes by car f r o m Lihue, the only true town on the island. In

1968

a

professor

of

political

science,

Richard

?Mickey? M c C l e e r y , opened the Center in an oldb o t t l i n g works right on the highway. ( I t has since moved to an abandoned grocery store.) The b u i l d i n g was full o f j u n k and in disrepair. W i t h the help of neighbors, boys from a Job Corps program, some m a i n l a n d college students as part o f a field-study center sponsored b y the Union for E x p e r i m e n t i n g Colleges and Universities, and f a c u l t y and students from K a u a i C o m m u n i t y College, M c C l e e r y and his wife toted and scraped, scrubbed and painted, and hung out a shingle announcing the Center was open to the public. A f t e r a discouraging beginning, when the islanders were suspicious o f the

odd

but

kindly

professor, who

seemed more absorbed in m o p p i n g the floor and painting the w o o d w o r k than in education, people began flowing through the Center and discovering its uses, taking charge and transforming it in the process. When I first visited there in 1969 kids were watching T V in the lounge. A teenager and a college student were hunched over Scrabble and another pair o f young people were playing W i f f ?n Proof, while f r o m the back room came the rat-a-tat o f a basketball dribbled on cement. | pe sed through a small kitchen to a warehouse area where the basketball court was located. Near a small tool bin were hulks of several motorcycles?headquarters,

I

learned,

of

the

Garden

Island

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M o t o r c y c l e Club. A t one end o f the warehouse was a crude stage, where ballet and d r a m a t i c performances were ` sometimes given. I n the office a g i r l of about twelve was pecking at the electric typewriter. I n a seminar r o o m were shelves o f p r o grammed texts, stacks o f paperback books andp e r i o d i c a l s ,

posters, photographs, sculpture, maps, a slide projector, a record player. One could see h o w this open, f r i e n d l y place could reach those w h o m schools were f a i l i n g to reach. I t serves the public as a museum or l i b r a r y does, on a basis o f free access?-but ?museum? and ?library? are rather passive institutions; the terms do not adequately connote the v i t a l i t y and w a r m t h o f the center, or the teaching f u n c tions of the staff. Classes are taught t h e r e ? s o m e p u r e l y f o r recreational interest, some extension courses f o r credit f r o m the C o m m u n i t y C o l l e g e ? b u t , more i m p o r t a n t l y , the staff serve as educational agents, creating an environment for rapport, establishing friendships w i t h those w h o come in, p u t t i n g people in touch w i t h the materials, the experiences and the individuals relevant to their interests and needs. The school bus stops in f r o n t and m a n y youngsters go to the Center instead o f home after school. T h e Garden Island M o t o r c y c l e C l u b consists mostly o f young men w h o have dropped out of high school or who r e m a i n o n the fringes o f the labor p o o l ? y o u n g m e n w h o m the police and social workers and m a n y parents and businessmen are afraid of, or, at best, regard as ?problems.? T h i s ?gang? came around o r i g i n a l l y because they could b o r r o w M i c key?s tools and w o r k on their bikes i n the dry, lighted ware-

house, but they made themselves at home, loafed in the lounge, got into games, watched T V , p i c k e d up r e a d i n g matter, listened in on classes, p o e t r y readings, watched 242

THE

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films, p l a y e d records, and s o m e h a v e even g o t t e n interested in organized study. T h e y have f o r m e d a k i n d of governing c o m m i t t e e f o r the center, t a k e n m u c h r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r its m a i n t e n a n c e , a n d have h e l p e d raise f u n d s t o k e e p it g o i n g . W h e n M i c k e y leaves, u s u a l l y late at n i g h t , he asks the guys to l o c k up.

T h e police?-some o f w h o m take courses at the Center ? - a r e grateful for the focus provided for teenagers and young adults who might otherwise be in trouble. H i g h school teachers and college students offer tutoring there. A n y number o f citizen?s organizations ( K a p a a A r e a Planning C o m m i t t e e , K a p a a A r e a C o u n c i l , business groups, women?s clubs) use the facilities for meetings and programs. I t is a place where all elements of the s o c i e t y ? young and old, rich and poor, in and o u t ? m i x comfortably; it provides a bridge between the vital core and the fringes o f creativity, experiment and change w h i c h are regularly sloughed off b y most institutional arrangements. I w o u l d like to pull out of this travelogue w i t h a long shot o f the rosy sun setting over Kauai, b u t it would be misleading to say that the Kapaa C o m m u n i t y Center is even a hopeful beginning. There is doubt about whether it w i l l continue to exist. M c C l e e r y is another o f those rebels who, after a respectable academic career, came to feel there was ?something outrageously fraudulent about cultivating the instincts o f a predatory leisure class in the academic asylum.? It was M c C l e e r y who invented the idea o f what he called the Beachhead College, and others called the disposable campus, or klecnex college, or (the term i n greatest c u r r e n c y ) the field-study center. ( I t was on this basic f o r m a t that the W a s h i n g t o n - B a l t i m o r e Campus o f A n t i o c h C o l u m b i a began.) A small g r o u p o f college students w i t h one o r t w o professors would, accord243

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ing to this design, move into rented facilities in an area o f great social interest or need, discover roles for themselves in that c o m m u n i t y , and learn through the process o f direct participation (supplemented by whatever reading and discussion and guidance seem relevant). Such programs were to be deliberately temporary, to be dismantled, as M c C l e e r y put it, exactly at the point that the first dean seemed necessary. T h e U n i o n sponsored t w o field study centers in 1 9 6 7 ? at Pikeville, K e n t u c k y , and on Kauai. M c C l e e r y and another faculty member, Ken Carter f r o m G o d d a r d , went there w i t h fifteen students from U n i o n colleges, intending to find various ways to integrate themselves into the island culture and discover ways they could be useful, but specifically to help in the development o f the new K a u a i C o m m u n i t y College. The students were earning their college credits w o r k i n g in college and government offices, setting up a C o m m u n i t y Research Bureau, tutoring, assisting in college courses, even in bartending and charting ocean currents. M u c h o f the education w h i c h took place was not in anything identifiable as an academic field but i n what is now likely to be called personal growth and was once called development of character. O n e student summarized his experience by saying, ?We learned how to make things happen,? and he claimed that n o t h i n g he could have learned in a year o f courses on the home campus could have equaled this experience in its value and implications for his later life. But however beneficial the field-study experience may have been for the mainland college students, it did not satisfy M c C l e e r y in terms o f its value for the people o f Kauai. He and some o f the students began l o o k i n g for other modes o f involvement w i t h island l i f e ? a n d came up with the idea for the K a p a a C o m m u n i t y Center. O n e o f the 244 «

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financing. I believe that the impetus for change w i l l continue to come, as it did on Kauai, from private colleges, for that is the sector in which there is greatest flexibility and stimulus; but as soon as their input exceeds what can be supported by tuitions ( w h i c h is very soon), public financing w i l l be required, and there w i l l be f r i c t i o n and confusion along the interface. Fourth, such institutions w i l l probably begin as supplements and extensions o f existing institutions and services, but m a y eventually take over the function. I like to imagine the physical plants of o u r schools and colleges converted to c o m m u n i t y centers. O f course the services of these centers can be quite elaborate. The Boston Children?s M u s e u m holds classes, conducts workshops, field trips, supplies instructional kits ? a whole range o f guided activities and pre-packaged resources w h i c h provide structured study f o r those who want it. I n addition to exhibits and instructional programs, there w i l l surely be back-up collections of materials and resources, such as the holdings of the A m e r i c a n M u s e u m o f N a t u r a l H i s t o r y in N e w Y o r k C i t y , w i t h its enormous accumulation not on display, its vast research program e m p l o y i n g dozens o f scholars and specialists, all supporting an educational program through w h i c h these materials are adapted for public use and instruction, I n another respect the Kapaa Center suggests a prototype for a new organizational structure for educational institutions. I t was o r i g i n a l l y staffed b y students o f a field center of the U n i o n colleges. I t was itself a k i n d of field center of Kauai C o m m u n i t y their capacity on serve more social educational needs,

College. As colleges reach the limits of home campuses and feel the need to functions and serve a w i d e r variety of they are quite likely to develop first offshoots and then second and t h i r d campuses, as St. John?s 247

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opened a second campus in Santa Fe. E v e n t u a l l y the satellite demands a certain amount of a u t o n o m y and even parity. In the process the college becomes freed from a geographical conception of itself. Power and resources and authority are distributed throughout a network. This transformation is l i k e l y to take place not b y design but by a gradual process o f adaptation to circumstances, ratification c o m i n g after the system already exists. F o r example, M o r r i s Mitchell?s Putney Graduate Schoo! o f E d u cation (associated w i t h Putney School in Putney, Verm o n t ) was failing, and A n t i o c h was asked whether it was interested in taking it over. M o r r i s Keeton, who became the first Dean o f A n t i o c h Putney, denies that there was any intention o f freeing the definition of the college f r o m geographical) constraints: O f all places w e h a d n o business b e i n g , p e r h a p s the c h i e f is o n t o p o f a m o u n t a i n in S o u t h e a s t e r n V e r m o n t . B u t M o r r i s M i t c h e l l has t h i s w a y o f i m p l y i n g t h a t o n e has a r e s p o n s i b i l i t y , a n d it is v e r y h a r d f o r p e o p l e at A n t i o c h t o w a l k a w a y f r o m r e s p o n s i b i l i t y . T h e o r i g i n a l design c a l l e d f o r i n t e r n s h i p , n o t p r a c t i c e t e a c h i n g . W e disc o v e r e d t h a t w h a t w a s g o i n g on in V e r m o n t w a s , i n f a c t , p r a c t i c e teaching,

with

our

graduate

students w o r k i n g

under

the

control

o f t h e r e g u l a r t e a c h e r s i n the c l a s s r o o m s . W e said G e e , w e h a v e t o c h a n g e this, because this isn?t a d e q u a t e e d u c a t i o n . W e w a n t e d o u r students t o h a v e a u t o n o m y ; w e t h o u g h t t h e y s h o u l d be p a i d f o r w h a t t h e y did, a n d the salary w o u l d ?? the test o f w h e t h e r

the

schools w e r e t a k i n g o u r i n t e n t i o n s s e r i o u s l y o r j u s t p l a y i n g games. W e c o u l d n ' t f i n d schools i n V e r m o n t w h i c h w o u l d go a l o n g w i t h this, so w e s o u g h t schools w h i c h w o u l d .

.

.

.

We

i n t r o d u c e d the

W a s h i n g t o n C e n t e r , and s u b s e q u e n t l y the P h i l a d e l p h i a center, not because w e h a d the n o t i o n o f f r e e i n g ourselves f r o m g e o g r a p h y , b u t because w e h a d a p r o b l e m w e w e r e t r y i n g to solve, a n d w i t h o u t t h i n k i n g a b o u t it, w e didn?t let g e o g r a p h y i n t e r f e r e ; w e w e r e n o t b o u n d by the a s s u m p t i o n s u s u a l l y m a d e .

.

.

.

I n Philadelphia we

were v e r y t h i n o n resources, a n d w e saw t h a t i f w e are g o i n g t o

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f u n c t i o n we have to let people operate w i t h relative autonomy in these centers so they can get quick action if they have problems and not get bogged down in procedures. T h i s is especially i m p o r t a n t i f y o u r resources are limited, The kind o f thing I've had to do with is not in dreaming up any grand design, b u t i n being available if a problem developed, going d o w n and brainstorming the people involved, and maybe helping them to bring off the solution. [t is more a matter o f problem-solving, an attitude and a process, than a theory o f design.

One cannot say that A n t i o c h Putney is anywhere, but, as Christopher R o b i n would have it, somewhere else instead. A t Putney, Philadelphia, Washington and Y e l l o w Springs there are centers w i t h from t h i r t y to fifty students and three to five full and part-time faculty; at each center there is some full-time study and some concurrent work-study in w h i c h paid teaching experiences are credited toward the degree. Basic to the network concept is the recognition that a college has little need of expensive, permanent facilities ( t h o u g h it may need some; the p r o b l e m is to avoid obsolescence and to restrict the operation to the needed basic t u r f ) . The environment is used as a major learning resource. Just as t r u c k lines have an advantage over railroads because trucks use the public thoroughfares and need not buy land and m a i n t a i n their own roadways, so college programs can (perhaps w i t h better justification) accept a built-in subsidy, m a k i n g use of what is already available in the w o r l d rather than simulating reality in redundant libraries, laboratories, classrooms, dormitories and other facilities. T h e y m a y even use the instruction available in the surrounding s o c i e t y ? f r o m employers, professionals and other people in the c o m m u n i t y w i t h special k n o w l edge, the college supplying pedagogical k n o w - h o w where it is lacking. 249

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University W i t h o u t Walls w i l l open the facilities of a dozen or more colleges and universities to undergraduates from 16 to 60, enabling them, with faculty counsel, to trot around the network gathering credits at various campuses and in various programs, both in the United States and overseas-??almost an infinite range of educational options. T h e U n i o n Ph.D. p r o g r a m (directed b y R o y Fairfield, who directed the A n t i o c h Putney p r o g r a m until 1970) is opening centers, (first in Y e l l o w Springs, Ohio, and Denver, C o l o r a d o ) at which candidates w i l l gather for colloquia lasting t w o months to develop and sharpen their plans in a process o f m u t u a l

examination and discussion of com-

mon concerns. Except f o r the colloquia, students w o r k independently, doing whatever it is relevant for them to do, using the facilities o f the participating colleges and universities or, w i t h staff help, arranging for study or w o r k in other places, perhaps in internships or apprenticeships. T h e admissions criteria h o n o r non-academic preparation. There are no credits, no departments, no requirements except for ?evidence o f high achievement in a project demonstrating excellence,? w h i c h might be a book or plan for urban redevelopment or a set o f experiments or a film or dramatic w o r k ? a n y project demonstrating professional accomplishment as judged by professionals in relevant fields. This program is specifically for students whose interests and qualifications are not accommodated by available graduate p r o g r a m s ? a n d some may be likely candidates for the faculties o f experimental colleges. The degree is not in a field: it is given for the specific w o r k done by the i n d i v i d u a l student, w i t h no departmental designation. B o t h the U W W and U n i o n Graduate School provide personally tailored programs w i t h an emphasis upon a wide range of options o f high q u a l i t y ? a n d free251

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degree persists, degrees w o u l d be available for those whose certified w o r k added up to pre-established requirements. Insofar as possible, examination should not be by those engaged in instruction; the dynamics should be to get the learner and his i n s t r u c t o r on the same side against ignor a n c e ? o r against the examiner. Examinations are l o g i c a l l y entrance mechanisms, not exit mechanisms. I f an employer is concerned about the skills and knowledge o f a prospective employee, it is his job to measure them. He should not accept the w o r d of the institution which, presumably, ?taught? him. Similarly, advanced study programs might begin w i t h entrance tests, but there is little reason f o r examination at the end of a unit of study. T h e relevant question is not w h a t the student knows then, but what he knows when he begins his next task. There w o u l d , of course, be no ritual of admission, no predetermined requirements for leaving. Education is continuous and lifelong, not something you ?get? in school or college. Y o u get it, after all, in your head, and you get it from the world. The educational institution is o n l y a collection o f devices for facilitating the process. W h i l e most c o m m u n i t y centers w o u l d not, probably, provide l i v i n g quarters, here and there might be special collections (such as the Smithsonian)

users.

In

w h i c h might attract m a n y transient connection w i t h these ( p r o b a b l y as separate

enterprises) might be apartment and room complexes, r u n like hotels, linked electronically to the resource center. E l e c t r o n i c transmission of learning resources w i l l p r o b a b l y make much travelling around from institution to institution unnecessary. The kinds of research and service projects n o w associated w i t h universities w o u l d continue to be conducted, but 253

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such a setting is p a r t i c u l a r l y appropriate (e.g., ecology, encounter groups, t h i n k - t a n k sessions). M o r r i s Keeton writes, in 4 Task f o r Private Colleges: Colleges have m a n y l a t e n t f u n c t i o n s not recognized b y professors or deans.

.

.

.

O n e q u i t e g e n u i n e , even t h o u g h in m a n y q u a r t e r s

u n w e l c o m e , f u n c t i o n o f colleges t o d a y is t h a t o f refuge, i f not o f s a n c t u a r y . C o l l e g e has been a s a n c t u a r y f r o m the l o n g a r m o f the d r a f t . O n some c a m p u s e s a d r u g s u b c u l t u r e f l o u r i s h e s w i t h i m p l i e d protection

from

police

that

is m a t c h e d

only by

Mafia

enclaves.

W h e r e else b u t c a m p u s is e x p e r i m e n t a t i o n , n o t just in i n t e l l e c t u a l fantasies, b u t i n p o l i t i c a l , e m o t i o n a l , sensual a n d sexual b e h a v i o r , tolerated u n d e r such respectable cover? N o r is the c a m p u s o n l y a r e f u g e f o r y o u t h . It is an ?out? ?for parents at wits? end a b o u t u n c o n t r o l l a b l e and u n m a n a g e a b l e y o u t h . C o l l e g e is a c o n v e n i e n t , s o c i a l l y a p p r o v e d w a y to get a w a y f r o m home.

Getting

away

from

home

may

be escape

from

parental

d o m i n a t i o n ; it m a y be a b r e a k w i t h a m o r e c o n g e n i a l one. It m a y be the t i c k e t i n t o the big, b a d w o r l d , a place to m a k e the c o n t a c t s to be used in l a t e r life, a w a y t o rise above the parents? social class or t o d r o p o u t o f an u n w a n t e d m e m b e r s h i p in class privilege. Colleges serve as m a r k e t p l a c e s f o r business and i n d u s t r y w h o s e r e c r u i t e r s , unless d r i v e n a w a y o n m o r a l issues about t h e i r i n v o l v e m e n t w i t h w a r , c o m e to c a m p u s e v e r y w i n t e r and spring. College is the

auctioneer?s b l o c k w h e r e p r o f e s s i o n a l

a t h l e t i c p r o m o t e r s re-

s u p p l y t h e i r a g i n g s t a l w a r t s f r o m a m o n g the college stars.

Mothers send their daughters to some colleges to ?find a nice young man? to marry, and the college has the task o f m a k i n g the young w o m a n into a more acceptable marriage partner than she otherwise would be. A small number o f women?s colleges are clearly finishing schools which survive economically on this continuing u t i l i t y . In some cases they are also havens f r o m racial integration. I t is instructive to study catalog copy to discern how these two messages?we are a marriage mart; and we protect you f r o m i n t e g r a t i o n ? a r e conveyed under cover o f educational and legal sanction. Less concealed,

but

often

understated,

is the

increasing func-

tion o f f i b e r a l arts colleges as p r e p schools f o r g r a d u a t e s t u d y and professional training.

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specialists and assemblage of resources to address critical human concerns and conduct pure research. I t is appropriate that such institutes be sponsored by the F i f t h Estate rather than by, say, government or industry, as educational institutions not o n l y collect expertise but also stand a better chance o f being disinterested, operating somewhat like the j u d i c i a r y , w i t h no official c o m m i t m e n t except a general one to truth, justice and human welfare. The institutes, as part o f a network o f educational services, w o u l d w o r k on contracts, projects, services, both in collaboration w i t h other organizations and on their own initiative. Part o f their function will, o f course, be instructional, they ought to involve learners in the research process, if possible for pay. But it should be clear that the p r i m a r y function of the institutes is to solve problems, not to teach. They should not become devices f o r exploiting graduate students or legitimizing venal w o r k of professors. I have discussed several of the diseases o f education ? a b o v e all credentialism, but also essentialism and compartmentalism. A n o t h e r is sequentialism, usually combined w i t h or c o m p l i c a t i n g essentialism. One o f educators? typical concerns is how we insure distribution, or exposure to the p r i n c i p a l areas of h u m a n learning. We have assumed that on this general base the student w i l l specialize inc r e a s i n g l y as he proceeds up the educational ladder, a theory w h i c h has, ironically, led to a great devaluation of the general education base on w h i c h it is founded. Jacques Barzun, for instance, in The A m e r i c a n University, uses the h a u g h t y term propaedeutic to refer to that stuff through w h i c h one plows before getting d o w n to the serious business o f specializing, an attitude w h i c h is widely shared by both teachers and students. But not o n l y has this theory been weakened by the knowledge explosion, w h i c h 259

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has made it literally impossible to give any student even a

reasonable sampling o f the content of the m a j o r fields of knowledge, it is f a u l t y on other grounds. Peter D r u c k e r writes in The Age of D i s c o n t i n u i t y : A f t e r all, the natural progression is not f r o m generalist to specialist, but the other way around. F o r what makes a generalist is the ability to hold a specialty against the sum total o f experience, that is, to relate it to the general, T o be sure, the y o u n g need a foundation in the general, and they need the big vision, but the synthesis w h i c h is the true generalization is largely meaningless to them.

T h e fact is we don?t k n o w at what period in a person?s life he is best able to consider inter-relationships between areas o f knowledge, but it is not likely to be when he is in grade school or high school or the first t w o years o f college ? t h e times we most often ask it of him. Suppose that a student of fifteen took on some part-time w o r k for an institute o f urban housing, perhaps interviewing f o r a survey. He w o u l d necessarily learn something about how people live, and if curious, he might learn something about politics, economics, law, sociology, architecture and city planning. Specialization need not l i m i t h i m ; it m a y indeed be the best way to broaden h i m . A n d setting to w o r k at that age on a responsible job may help h i m break the syndrome of adolescence. I f we let h i m out of school more hours o f the day, in other words, he m i g h t more r a p i d l y become a person instead o f a boy. ( T h e r e is evidence to show that intellectual growth accompanies and increases w i t h emotional growth, that experiential education stimulates abstract learning.) A n o t h e r reason some look f o r w a r d to the age of the educational supermarket in h o r r o r is their distress that such education does little to inculcate discipline. B u t t r u l y 260

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valuable discipline must come f r o m within,

not be im-

posed; it is the discipline o f the artist. I doubt that any student ever acquired such discipline by having rigorous standards imposed upon h i m by a disciplinarian i n a classtoom. Others w i l l be concerned that the new education makes

inadequate

provision

for

learning

fundamental

skills (e.g., writing, speaking, reading, a r i t h m e t i c ) . I t is simply impossible to make a case today that there is a proper and necessary order in w h i c h things can be learned. O u r language is shot through w i t h notions of levels, progression, advancement, and often these terms reflect no reality other than our own conditioning. I s o m e t i m e s t h i n k o u r c o m m i t m e n t to f u n d a m e n t a l s has s o m e t h i n g t o d o w i t h o u r desire t h a t others suffer w h a t we have suffered, that they pay t h e i r dues. I t is n o t u n l i k e the i n d i g n a t i o n one used to h e a r f r o m m i d d l e - c l a s s p e o p l e w h o saw forests o f t e l e v i s i o n aerials o v e r ghettos o r Negroes d r i v i n g C a d i l l a c s . L i k e it o r n o t , just as there are short-cuts to i n d u s t r i a l i z a t i o n and nations b u i l d atomic weapons w i t h out h a v i n g t a k e n all o u r r e q u i r e d courses, w e m u s t accept the fact t h a t y o u n g p e o p l e e m e r g e f r o m o u r m e d i a - c h o k e d homes w i t h m o r e i n f o r m a t i o n

and insights

(albeit vicari-

o u s ) t h a n m a n y o f us have i n m i d d l e age. T h e y c a r r y a l o t o f m i s i n f o r m a t i o n , t o o , a n d s h o d d y values a n d b a d j u d g m e n t . I n this respect they resemble t h e i r fathers. B u t w e don?t yet k n o w w h a t t o d o a b o u t such p r o b l e m s ; we do k n o w t h a t no set o f f u n d a m e n t a l s has ever s o l v e d them. A n d we also k n o w t h a t the y o u n g are s w a r m i n g o v e r the walls i n t o the m o d e r n w o r l d at sucha

rate t h a t it is p a t h e t i c

to t h i n k o f some t e a c h e r t e l l i n g t h e m they c a n n o t pass u n t i l they h a v e h a d A l g e b r a J. E v e r y w h e r e we are seeing m o r e e v i d e n c e o f q u a n t u m leaps in o u r c u l t u r e w h i c h belie the need we h a v e a l w a y s assumed o f i n t e r v e n i n g steps, o f c o n -

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tinuity. A n d we h a r d l y k n o w how to live w i t h the simultaneity that is appearing. Riots break out in China, N e w Y o r k and Rome as though ? t h e y had more to do w i t h phases of the m o o n than what we have assumed to be social causes and effects. Perhaps the species is developing some more sophisticated k i n d o f c o m m u n i c a t i o n that bypasses w o r d s ? s u c h as that w h i c h enables a cloud of gnats

to m a i n t a i n flight f o r m a t i o n over the evening water. Waves o f i n f o r m a t i o n , gestalt perception, leaps, conversions, ?vibes?

.

.

.

these terms are appearing everywhere as we

struggle to comprehend our present experience and to liberate ourselves f r o m the sequential modes in w h i c h we were trained. I n that state of relativity, w h a t guarantee have we that our cultural heritage can be preserved? Is n o t h i n g o f the past w o r t h saving? I n the shopping center o f learning w i l l the consumer have any guidance or direction other than fad? W i l l education be so responsive to m a r k e t analysis that there w i l l be nothing but trash on the shelves? T h e first answer is that we no longer have m u c h choice. T h e day has ended punity tarian saving

when the educational system can be used w i t h imto colonize minds. Necessity is a r i g i d and a u t h o r i professor; she w i l l help us sort out w h a t is w o r t h f r o m our cultural heritage. We w i l l not have to in-

vent the wheel again w i t h each generation; the value of the wheel is self-evident, even to our student militants. The elements of our heritage either are enduring, o r they w i l l not endure. Before we become too alarmed at the encroachment o f tomorrow, we should remember that our professionalized system of higher education is a rather c a l l o w i m i t a t i o n o f nineteenth-century G e r m a n institutions and developed to its present position o f p o w e r in response to the technologi262

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cal demands of World War I I ? h a r d l y a history that need be sanctified with rhetoric about cultural heritage. Western civilization has survived centuries of turmoil and social change without the honor guard of an educational establishment to protect it. I trust the memory and vital contemporary significance of Shakespeare, for example, more readily to those outside the academy, as we know it today, than to those within it whose love may be motivated by a need to pick over his carcass in search of publishable footnotes. W i l l y - n i l l y , A m e r i c a n education is entering a libertarian phase ( c a l l it a supermarket if you w i l l ) in w h i c h i t is relinquishing its power to control and prescribe and developing a capacity to respond. It is a p i t y that those o f us i n v o l v e d ? p a r e n t s , professors, p o l i t i c i a n s ? m u s t be scared into change by outbreaks o f anarchy. It is a p i t y we cannot more w i l l i n g l y take advantage of the f l u i d i t y of our times, the availability o f resources, the vitality and engagement of our students, and the bewilderment of a society in the throes of r e v o l u t i o n a r y change. It is a pity we cannot show intellectual initiative rather than panic and r i g i d i t y at a time when the need is so great and the possibilities are so abundant.

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CHAPTER

9

Renewal of Liberal Education

N o wI

w i l l reveal m y deep-seated t r a d i t i o n a l i s m . I n 1 9 5 3 ,

fresh o u t o f g r a d u a t e school, I w r o t e i n an essay c a l l e d ? A s h Cans and t h e W e l l W r o u g h t U r n , ? s a y i n g in p a r t : Y o u m i g h t say that a college teaches a man w h o sees a beefsteak to t h i n k o f a cow, while the w o r l d teaches the man w h o sees a cow to t h i n k o f a beefsteak. T h i s summarizes two kinds o f mental p r o g ress: that f r o m application to principle as opposed to that f r o m principle to application. F r e q u e n t l y we hear the first called liberal education, the term liberal suggesting freedom f r o m the limitations o f specific or immediate use. The second m i g h t be called practical education, or training. Obviously, an educated m i n d w o u l d move freely i n both d i r e c t i o n s ? s e e i n g a job and seeing beyond it. A n d if a college is to produce educated men, it should concern itself w i t h both liberal and practical education. Or it m a y concern itself w i t h liberal education alone, on the assumption that once the principles are learned, the applications may be q u i c k l y discovered in the w o r l d off campus. H o w e v e r , the prestige value o f earning power has created a great demand f o r practical education: t r a i n i n g w h i c h is not only useful b u t w h i c h can be traded for dollars. In responding to this demand colleges sometimes b u y lathes instead o f books or teach the f o r m o f a business letter instead o f the f o r m o f sonnet. Confusion develops between the desire to understand this w o r l d and the desire to use a college degree to get rich in it. O f course m o n e y isn?t the o n l y result o f practical training. T h e a

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world?s w o r k needs to be done. But training may be gotten, in m a n y cases gotten better, outside a college program. Meanwhile, in a clattering w o r l d o f practicality, colleges uniquely provide the opportunities for liberal education. This is their traditional function.

In the intervening years the idea o f liberal education has gotten battered, with some justification, for the term suggests the education fit for a free man, as opposed to a slave,

and it has been associated w i t h that k i n d of learning pec u l i a r l y suited for people who do not have to w o r k for a living. One gets his liberal education at a college, studying presumably for the j o y of knowing, and then, if he must, goes on f o r professional training at a university. The elitist overtones are u n m i s t a k a b l e ? a n d one can see w h y that man of the people, Spiro A g n e w , finds effete intellectual snobs so offensive and w h y he has tried to invest much-scorned vocational t r a i n i n g with new dignity. W h y not teach the w o r k i n g man to w o r k ? a n d not bother his head with any liberal ideas? There is i r o n i c a l l y a corresponding flight f r o m intellectuality going on in the colleges. A t Friends W o r l d College I spent an evening w i t h a smal! g r o u p of students who were about to take off to N e w Brunswick, where, in the dead o f winter, they planned to set up housekeeping in an isolated farmhouse, to live w i t h o u t all modern conveniences, including p l u m b i n g and electricity. ?I want a good strong taste of a way o f life very much o n the opposite extreme from the

A m e r i c a n way of life,? explained one young

man. ?I?m not really prepared to say m y background is the right way.? He came f r o m an upper-class home, and had no preparation for this f r o n t i e r experience. A g i r l said she wanted ?to learn to use the land, g r o w our own food, learn to cook, learn crafts, learn to live w i t h one another where there is no escape except into yourself.? In Antioch?s I n n e r 265

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has changed. Wilderness living is, in its way, as removed f r o m the u t i l i t a r i a n w o r l d as explicating Yeats or delving into A q u i n a s . N o r is intellectuality always scorned. Recently

1

visited a c o m m u n e in B a l t i m o r e , an old house

which had been immaculately refinished, the floors gleaming w i t h polish (and we removed o u r shoes when we entered, to keep it that w a y ) , where about a dozen young people lived meticulously in a k i n d o f coeducational ecumenical monastic order. One girl, separated o r divorced f r o m her mate, had a three-year-old child. Otherwise the residents were in their mid-twenties. M o s t had come to religion through L S D , and now were deep into various forms o f esoteric studies. O r i e n t a l and Western religious symbols were mingled on the walls, i n c l u d i n g a quite conventional painting o f Christ at Gethsemane. T h e quality of life was disciplined, hushed, dignified??but with a clearly felt current o f affection and joy. W h a t struck me, as we talked about vibrations and energy and levels of consciousness and the discipline of meditation, was the highly complex and learned quality of their study. There was a Rosicrucian i n t r i c a c y about their range of reference and reasoning. (Indeed, Rosicrucian publications were among the reading matter I saw there.) T h e y had recently taken over Johns Hopkins? m o r i b u n d free university and offered an array o f occult courses, f r o m meditation to symbology, and were flooded w i t h five hundred registrations. T h e i r intention is to open an A q u a r i a n Age U n i v e r s i t y and to p u l l together the good news (gospel) of a changing world in an A q u a r i a n Newsletter. T h o u g h this was an unusually highly organized group, I have encountered students all over the country who, similarly, had gone from mind expansion t h r o u g h drugs into deep study of ancient and arcane religious literature. Astrology, w h i c h m a n y college 267

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eral years, and is now opening a health-food restaurant in Baltimore, sent there by his Spiritual Director, a w o m a n who predicts that B a l t i m o r e w i l l be the spiritual center of the new age. T a m soon over m y head asI try to keep up w i t h the intellectual syntheses these people are putting together. Here are some excerpts f r o m a taped conversation: M y main interest is in w h a t [ call a politics o f incarnation. I?m interested in d e r i v i n g a real politic f r o m essentially religious and psychological observations . . . Systems analysis applies incredibly well to the study of intuition. We don't k n o w what produces an intuitive state; we don't k n o w what it leads to; we only k n o w that it works in certain ways. So y o u start using systems analysis on intuitive chunks, and y o u can come up with some very exciting . he?s got a thing called methodologthings. C h o m s k y uses that ical preliminaries, in his Aspects o f Syntax, in which he outlines a . method that fits very well. . Lévi-Strauss, the French anthropologist, has a thing in structural anthropology in w h i c h he comes up with some incredible data using a gestalt approach. . . . It?s kind o f freaky, complicated, and I?m doing an independent study .

.

.

on C h o m s k y and Straus right now, trying to develop some tools.

.

.

Speaking was an A n t i o c h C o l u m b i a student w h o goes to the B a l t i m o r e commune occasionally for instruction. N o w in his mid-twenties, he dropped out o f college some years ago, went into the South to do c o m m u n i t y organizing, and headed a t h r e e - m i l l i o n - d o l l a r corporation at the age of twenty (developing c o m m u n i t y i n f o r m a t i o n depots). He became disillusioned w i t h one after another form of business and_ political a c t i v i t y ? t r i e d living in a monastery, worked f o r the federal government in D . C . , was among the origina] Vista volunteers, did a lot o f preaching in Ken-

tucky, ?split and went back to Oregon and becamea total lush,? ran a W a r on Poverty program, bought a coffee 269

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house and free theater, met a girl and married her after three days and decided t o devote his life to her, supporting himself by w o r k i n g in a bakery and as a j a n i t o r ; but his devotion ?freaked her out, was too heavy for her,? and terrible fights crupted, so he had to get into something else and resumed college, hoping to develop an approach, possibly through theater, of organizing the middle class and developing an approach to politics w i t h a spiritual basis. W h i l e his experiences are somewhat extraordinary, they nonetheless illustrate some o f the ways young people today are going about getting a liberal education. I n the course o f his wandering, books have not been neglected, nor is his interest in the occult mere superstition and fad. T h e r e is a burning desperation in his intellectual and spiritual quest, ?to get some of the internal things straight so I can deal w i t h the external w o r l d , ? a discipline born of the necessity to find a way for life to make sense and to discover grounds for hope for the future o f m a n k i n d . M y guess is that he w i l l eventually become some k i n d of minister w i t h a deep political involvement, and I can?t imagine h o w a university might have designed a better course of study for him than the one he has undertaken for himself. N o w the asylum of A n t i o c h C o l u m b i a , some f a c u l t y guidance, and college contacts w i t h the key elements of the emerging city are valuable resources. I believe he is beyond m u c h serious concern w i t h credentials and the legitimizing value of student status. F o r this year, at least, the college is relevant to his learning and development. Some m a y find m y statement that ?only the content o f liberal education has changed? s h o c k i n g ? i f they define such education by content, if they consider it to be a study of the immutable, essential and best, or a well-proportioned array of exposures to the conventional disciplines, 270

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demeaning for a person at any age to t h i n k of himself as a cog. I t becomes absurd i f there are to be, in fact, no niches in w h i c h to fit, Educational institutions w i l l be dysfunctional i f they push people into situations and mental sets i n which h u m i l i a t i o n and contempt for self are unavoidable. T am warned that for some it is premature to gear u p for leisure, that liberal education is a l u x u r y they can i l l afford. Some black educators, for example, want no nonsense about culture, particularly the white man?s culture, interfering w i t h what they regard as necessary preparation to succeed in our society or f o r the struggle for liberation. T h e y w o u l d concentrate upon rapid, concrete routes to certification and the development o f para-professionals w i t h skills relevant to survival. T h e y want the y o u n g to get the relevant i n f o r m a t i o n and t r a i n i n g as early as possible, to turn it to use in the streets. U n d e r pressure o f such needs it may be necessary to postpone free i n q u i r y and exploration, as children are sometimes issued rifles when their homes and homeland are under attack. B u t using the young to f u l fill adult needs is risky, even when the adults are convinced that the use is for the children?s own ultimate good. Psychic cost must be weighed in along w i t h other sacrifices. Except in instances o f clear and present danger, as in the racial struggle, schools and colleges no longer have the option o f m o t i v a t i n g the young by fear and compulsion, by saying, Y o u learn this o r else! Such m o t i v a t i o n is always inefficient; it kicks back, not p r o d u c i n g the love and comm i t m e n t w h i c h educators hope to achieve. The basic problem w i t h a hard line today is not o n l y that it is inhumane, but that it won?t w o r k . Fewer and fewer students are responsive to such tactics. Some cower and collapse; some develop a callous o f indifference; some have sufficient selfpossession simply to t h u m b their noses at the system. 272

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o f e d u c a t i o n u n d i n t e l l e c t u a l g r o w t h associated w i t h one?s profession or w o r k . Q u a l i t y i n an e d u c a t i o n a l s h o u l d be r o o t e d in t h a t r e c o g n i t i o n .

program

The yearning or need to which liberal education is addressed is like the allure of Shakespeare's Cleopatra, who ?makes h u n g r y / Where most she satisfies.? I believe it has something to do with the definition o f man, w i t h his unique awareness of his own m o r t a l i t y , his capacity for reflection, for holding the future and past along with the present in his mind, with his tendency (indeed. sometimes a sickfess) to project unrealizable ideals, to create abstractions and let them become more real and compelling than the material world. Such needs are an exciting, beautiful component o f human intelligence. and their very satisfactions cultivate them, exercise them and extend them infinitely. Moreover, education devoted to these needs may be, in the future, practical and necessary in the most mundane sense. L i b e r a l education enlarges a n a r r o w l y pragmatic orientation toward education and human worth. When I began college teaching I felt that unless I attached a dollar sign to every idea I expounded I could not hold my students? attention. T h e y wanted to know how seventeenth-century poetry w o u l d help them make a l i v i n g ? a n d sometimes were satisfied by assurances that it might help them become good conversationalists. I argued that specialization was the death o f the soul. I drew a p y r a m i d on the board as an illustration o f the n a r r o w i n g mind of the specialist,

bringing all to focus on a single point. Over that I would d r a w an upside-down p y r a m i d to illustrate continual expansion, as the n a r r o w l y specialized infant ( l i k e the university, an expert in c o n s u m p t i o n ) spreads his awareness and experience as though reaching to become co-extensive with the universe. That, I said, was what liberal education is 275

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all about. A vocational course in high school invites a student to close in on a specialty; the college prep course invites him to keep his m i n d open, to postpone w o r r y i n g about application of knowledge. A vocational p r o g r a m in college ( w i t h a terminal bachelor?s degree) was a new i n v i t a t i o n to close d o w n i n q u i r y ; a liberal arts major again postponed application. A n d so on. I advised students to p u t off finding a major as long as possible. I viewed myself as f i g h t i n g the dragon of philistinism w h i c h sought to gobble up the young and digest them into the w o r l d o f use. In some ways the recent demand for relevance (a w o r d w h i c h may now have exhausted its relevance) was the emergence of a new k i n d o f philistinism. I n the prosperity of the sixties the pragmatism of college students was not particularly linked to m a k i n ga living. I t was more likely to be concerned with b r i n g i n g about a social revolution, w i t h solving problems o f distribution of wealth, the processes of justice, dissemination of power, access to i n f o r m a t i o n , preservation of a wholesome environment and other issues in w h i c h the practical and immediate was of greater importance than the theoretical and eternal. Indeed, the hills of academe were not well equipped to provide relevance o f that sort, and we have seen college programs breaking out o f those halls, seeking academic legitimacy involvement in action programs i n society. T h i s

for has

seemed to me a healthy movement. I f survival and getting the world?s w o r k done were necessary in the early fifties, some f o r m of social revolution is necessary ( f o r survival, for getting the world?s w o r k done) in the seventies. A n d there is little point in t r y i n g to contain such involvement w i t h i n university walls, to teach i n a classroom about life w h i c h is happening on the streets and, indeed, h u r l i n g bricks through the classroom w i n d o w . 276

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I asked why, he said he spent too m u c h time o n each question. Often he could see which one of the m u l t i p l e choices they wanted h i m to pick, but he w o u l d spend minutes in imaginary litigation w i t h the grading machine arguing that one could make out a good case f o r this answer, too, or even this one; and he confessed that, perversely, he sometimes found himself m a r k i n g the w r o n g one simply because he was fond o f the arguments he thought o f i n its defense, a k i n d of sympathy for the underdog among answers, He was t r y i n g to get a liberal education, t h o u g h the system was fighting him. T h e system won. H e never earned a degree. T h e system attempted to q u a n t i f y and specify content for a conception o f education w h i c h was better defined in terms of q u a l i t y and process. L i b e r a l education is the search for meaning and value in life. I t is not something that happens at a certain a g e ? say, between 18 and 22, I t is a constant c o m p o n e n t o f human life, i m p o r t a n t enough to justify the existence of institutions w h i c h are dedicated to facilitating that search. I t is not a search for something w h i c h can be found. There w i l l never be a point at w h i c h a person can say, ?Now I k n o w the meaning and value o f life. I can graduate. I am ready to learn a trade.? A college is not a pre-vocational half-way house which tries to r i d itself o f its inmates by helping them discover w h a t to do w i t h their lives, I t is not opposed to vocational c o m m i t m e n t , but it is not f o r it, either. Just as the search for meaning and value is perpetual, it is valuable in itself. T h o u g h the questions are bottomless and the agony o f w o n d e r is sometimes difficult to bear, every instance o f h u m a n achievement provides some piece of i l l u m i n a t i o n , and there is j o y and excitement in absorbing the impact o f these, even when the light they cast reveals the h u m a n c o n d i t i o n to be essentially 278

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t r a g i c . I n e v a l u a t i n g a college d e v o t e d t o l i b e r a l e d u c a t i o n , w e ask w h e t h e r it is geared to e n c o u r a g e i n q u i r y and discovery,

to e n a b l e

people

to open

up

to

themselves,

to

others, and to the world?s feast o f ideas, experiences, issues, p r o b l e m s and possibilities. W e ask w h e t h e r i t s t i m u lates, p r o v o k e s , prods, t h r i l l s , u n s e t t l e s ? b u t never coerces.

Some m a y recognize that the search for value and meaning in life can well be addictive. We do not want to produce Hamlets systematically paralyzed in w i l l b y the complexity and mystery of life. A college devoted to that mission w o u l d be boring, parasitic and counter-revolutionary. I f we want the college to foster inquiry, we w a n t it to foster achievement as well. It is a cliche to say that the current student generation is not achievement-oriented. T o me that sounds as absurd as saying they are not s u r v i v a l - o r i e n t e d ? b u t

have

some

understandable

confusion

about

they may what their

elders mean by achievement. T o some it sounds like the puritan w o r k ethic: effort and suffering are concomitants of virtue; I had to struggle for everything I got, and it is educational for you to do the same. T o some it sounds like the capitalist ethic: p r o d u c t i v i t y is wealth; a man is valued as he contributes to the heap of our rather gross national products. T o some it sounds like materialism: i f you?re so smart, what have you got to show for it? N o t m a n y today are w i l l i n g to w o r k very hard to score on the heavenly scroll or to make themselves or their bosses richer, to gain the respect and love o f professors, or to rack up the high point averages w h i c h win scholarships. U n t i l educators can eliminate these confusions in institutional design, they probably w i l l make little headway in evoking c o m m i t m e n t to the k i n d o f achievementI believe we all most deeply value: that w h i c h embodies and testifies to the best, which im279

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tests and examinations, to trap them into revealing where they hurt. A t least in ethical medical practice, doctors do not prescribe drugs the patient doesn?t need. Doctors are generally prescriptive: they give orders, w h i c h are usually followed, though they might involve some inconvenience, expense and discomfort. M e d i c a l consultation is necessarily personal, private and, compared to most educational] consultation, h i g h l y efficient. Mass lecture methods have been used in some i n s t a n c e s ? e . g . , in anti-smoking campaigns. But the n o t i o n of masses of patients trooping around the medical center for hour after hour o f course meetings is absurd. ( N o t e that a slightly different tone prev a i l s ? m o r e like s c h o o l ? w h e n one goes in for a medical examination to be admitted to something, or to q u a l i f y for an insurance policy. Suddenly the shoe is on the other foot. There w i l l be a public report of the results. T h e patient has something to gain b y deception. The doctor m a y begin to p r y ? a n d the patient becomes less open in response. ) Let me givea slightly different example. A t the Bread L o a f Writer?s Conference, which occurs on the M i d d l e b u r y College campus d u r i n g the last t w o weeks of each August, professional writers and editors give lectures, hold public workshops, and have personal conferences with the attending writers who submit w o r k . In addition there is a great deal o f w h a t might politely be called i n f o r m a l social relationship. A staff member receives collections of w r i t i n g in manuscript, and during the t w o weeks has conferences w i t h each writer. T h e intensity of c o m m u n i c a t i o n and learning in those conferences is, in m y experience, unbelievably h i g h ? - a n d the level of efficiency in the lectures and workshops is also m u c h higher than that of most academic counterparts. Several factors contribute to this overall efficiency. F o r one thing the staff members bring w i t h 281

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them a certain amount of g l a m o r ? w h i c h often tends to tarnish as the t w o weeks r o l l by. People assemble f o r a relatively specialized p u r p o s e ? t o - l e a r n how to write. Social conviviality gives the whole scene i n the beautiful V e r m o n t mountains a k i n d o f steamy ferment. B u t the most important factor is one w h i c h could be duplicated in any college program: it is utterly clear that if the participants take anything away f r o m the conference it w i l l be in their heads. There is little to be gained by impressing others. N o one gets any credit o r d i p l o m a ? w h i c h w o u l d be r i d i c u lous, anyway, since no d i p l o m a f r o m Bread L o a f w o u l d make a manuscript fare better i n a publisher's office. N o student is m o t i v a t e d to argue m u c h w i t h his t e a c h e r ? except f o r c l a r i f i c a t i o n ? b e c a u s e there are no B r o w n i e points for being right. The student is intent upon p i c k i n g up whatever m a y be useful to h i m in his o w n w r i t i n g ? a n d the best way to deal w i t h that w h i c h is not useful is to ignore it and let it go by as swiftly as possible. Y o u might call the ambience one of mutual exploitation. Everyone wants to get as m u c h as he can, as fast as he can, and to salt it away securely in his b r a i n larder. There are certain advantages i n the brevity of the two-week term. So m u c h intense exploitation w o u l d be unbearable over a l o n g e r period, and other factors besides sheer learning and gobbling o f experience w o u l d begin to color people?s motives. But f o r t w o weeks it is an orgy w i t h a high educational yield. I n those personal conferences it q u i c k l y becomes clear that for criticism to be m e a n i n g f u l it must be almost psychiatric. Y o u m i g h t learn to write verse by studying iambic pentameter and the sonnet f o r m , but the differences between published

and

unpublished

poets

(aside

from

l u c k ) have to do w i t h their most i n t i m a t e personal p s y 282

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chology, their w o r l d view, their social and political attitudes, their willingness to take risks, to explore, to permit their imagination to pursue the p a i n f u l and difficult and forbidden. W h e n two people sit there on the sun-dappled lawn to talk about a manuscript, egos surround them like moats. I f anything is to be accomplished, they must break through to some k i n d of candid contact, to saying and asking what really matters between them. T h e manuscript is, inescapably, an extension of the person o f the poet. W h e n he asks, ? W h a t do you honestly t h i n k o f m y work? he can never separate that question f r o m ? W h a t do you honestly t h i n k o f me?? Tears are c o m m o n , and more serious breakdowns sometimes occur as a result o f these conferences. Such anguish is not in itself a desirable component o f education: the conversations are riskier and sometimes more brutal than they w o u l d be i f people could w o r k together longer and know one another better. There is not time for anesthesia and m a n y beg for the operation immediately. T h e process requires some p r o b i n g and rearranging o f the most tender psychic self. Impersonality and objectivity, to w h i c h some academicians aspire, are o f t e n merely defenses w h i c h preserve personal security and prevent the learning w h i c h might threaten basic attitudes and feelings. B o t h in the doctor?s office and at Bread L o a f we find dynamics w h i c h facilitate personal c h a n g e ? d y n a m i c s we do not often find in schools or colleges. There is no clearcut distinction possible between therapy and education. That does not mean that students are sick or that professors are doctors; it does mean that those who are professionally concerned w i t h facilitating personal change in others should be w i l l i n g to deal w i t h the factors and accept the responsi283

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bilities involved. Professors have been unnecessarily squeamish about leaving the bounds o f their specialties and concerning themselves w i t h the private values, emotions and problems o f students, but most of t h e m ? w h e t h e r t h e i r style is that o f M r . Chips or George L y m a n Kittredge or C a r l R o g e r s ? a r e also likely to recognize that their own moments of greatness have been those w h i c h called upon them as whole people, using resources of age, general experience, citizenship, man and w o m a n h o o d , parenthood, their f u l l understanding and wisdom. Often such moments are painf u l ? b u t they are precious to teachers and precious to students. T h e problems range f r o m the semi-philosophical ( ? W h y go on living?? ?What is life for??) to the financial, interpersonal and sexual trials o f young people. T h e y make credits and evaluations t e m p o r a r i l y irrelevant. There is no question that they must be off the r e c o r d ? w h i c h makes it impossible to show results o f the sort w h i c h m i g h t increase school appropriations. It is an expensive f o r m of education. I am t h i n k i n g o f a g i r l w h o entered an experimental program as a sniveling, w h i n y , rather obnoxious creature w i t h such a mass o f emotional and intellectual tangles that she was nearly paralyzed. She had only the crudest equipment for describing her needs: ?Fm all fucked up.? Part of her difficulty was that she wasn?t that ? a n d when she did have sexual experiences they were messy, drug-ridden occasions, followed by suffocating visits f r o m the dragon o f guilt. Hours and hours were spent w i t h her by at least f o u r or five f a c u l t y members, sometimes literally at her bedside. She had had some psychiatric counseling before she c a m e ? a n d was sent for more; but she didn?t ?dig? the ?shrink,? and w o u l d not continue 284

going.

Within

five months,

however,

she was

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into a h i g h - s p i r i t e d , c h a r m i n g and creative

young w o m a n with considerable professional promise. It w o u l d have been hard to imagine at the beginning o f the year that she w o u l d ever have anything she could call a field at all. Credit for the change in her is not, of course, entirely due the faculty: she worked hard and courageously on herself, and her experiences w i t h other students, jobs and people in the c o m m u n i t y all contributed to her education. But her mental balance, if not her l i f e , m i g h t have been in j e o p a r d y if she had happened to have gone into a program in w h i c h the faculty were less available or more narrow in their definitions of their roles. When

our values and emotional

life and motivation

have some coherence, once we recognize where we w a n t to go and the necessity of undergoing discipline to get there, though it m a y require covering some arid stretches o f necessary knowledge, some calculus or French o r medieval history or techniques o f editing film, learning comes f a i r l y easily to most o f us. Poor teaching, poor equipment, poor libraries cannot block students w i t h drive, as we keep reminding ourselves w i t h the image of L i n c o l n r e a d i n g by firelight. But all o f us, not only students, have moments o f indirection and search interrupting periods of purposive pursuit o f knowledge. The p r i m a r y question is not what to learn or how, but why, and the whys are enmeshed at psychic levels our educationa] system is hardly prepared to deal with.

Sitting on the deck of a houseboat rocking in the harbor o f St. T h o m a s in 1965 I heard a high official of the Office o f E d u c a t i o n announce that liberal education was dead. ( G o d was having his last rites at about the same time.) The man was rather far gone on V i r g i n Islands rum, which only increased m y fears that according to his whims 285

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vast federal funds might flow. M e a n w h i l e , on the basis of some recent research on cognition, f u n d i n g agencies were somewhat inclined to write off the human species beyond the age of three years old. In spite o f the refreshments, the conversation was r e m a r k a b l y sobering f o r a professor of literature in a college program, trying, as I remember, to reach young men and women o f the islands w i t h Chaucer and M i l t o n , who came as strangely to their ears as their Calypso came to mine. There is no question that professors have c o m m i t t e d many absurdities, if not crimes, in the name o f liberal education. ? D r o p back ten yards and punt,? advised our host on the houseboat. H a v i n g done so, I w o u l d like to renew that conversation today. The academic practices of those of us who believed in liberal education were seriously m i s g u i d e d ? b u t what we thought we were serving is an imperishable human need and h u m a n capacity. T h e rebels storming the administration b u i l d i n g and those setting up offbeat colleges on the fringes of the system are seeking liberal education that the colleges have not been providing. I t persists as the hunger for d i g n i t y and freedom and purpose and understanding, beyond all needs of flesh, as m o d e r n as the meditations of a m o o n w a r d astronaut.

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sometimes satisfied our own demands f o r q u a l i t y w i t h a l i c k and a promise. W e have k n o w n i n t u i t i v e l y that we were in conscientious pursuit o f excellence (as well as s u r v i v a l ) , but we have had too little serenity to take time to define even f o r ourselves what we mean. Shoddiness and shallowness o f t e n result. W o r k i n g in the inappropriate formats o f conventional institutions we get angry and frustrated and sometimes resort to slapdash solutions. N o w there is an emergency need of redefining the mission of these e x p e r i m e n t s ? n e w terms, new d y n a m ics, new m e a s u r e s ? i f we are to avoid t r i p p i n g over our own language, preconceptions and methods. The p r o b l e m o f value in education is f a m i l i a r to a l l ? but until recent years we were able t o keep it buried. Some ten years ago a group o f professors I k n e w were engaged in an experiment in independent study. T h e y were t o teach certain courses in the usual m a n n e r one term and then offer them the next term w i t h a radical reduction o f faculty-student contact. I n order to compare the results they had to invent what the testing office called ?instruments.? M u c h of one exhausting summer was spent i n meetings o f this f a c u l t y group discussing and e x a m i n i n g one another?s instruments. I f anyone believed sincerely in the efficacy o f instruments as a way o f arriving at t r u t h it was a h i g h l y respected professor of sociology in the group. Y e t he was the one most eloquent in stating the frustration all felt. W h e n he tried to say what he most deeply wanted to achieve, all goals seemed secondary to his central desire to have students come out o f his i n t r o d u c t o r y course w i t h a love o f sociology. He could imagine a student scoring w e l l on tests indicating what they had read, what they understood, how skilled and accurate they were, how able they were to use key terms and concepts, and yet he m i g h t not 288

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have the dedication to the discipline w h i c h the professor hoped to evoke. A n o t h e r student might score p o o r l y on all scales and yet have the attitudes the teacher valued. F u r ther, he speculated that the untestable ingredient o f love was exactly the one w h i c h could not easily be acquired independently. His own enthusiasm for and involvement in the subject were infectious, but could only be c o m m u n i cated by his personal presence in the classroom h o u r after hour. He could see the rose but could not reach it; an invisible glass bell separated it from his i n q u i r i n g instruments, I t was a rather frightening realization: the things they most needed to verify could not be verified by any means they knew. T h e y should have responded to that warning as to a red flag, asking in a more p r o f o u n d way what it meant about the whole enterprise. But the pressure was not there as it is today, and they satisfied themselves with admittedly

indirect and superficial measures. Sure enough, after all their labor, the results indicated that there was no significant difference in learning whether the teacher was present or not. I f they believed the evidence they generated, they should have stocked the l i b r a r y with independent study syllabi and tests and taken off for Hawaii. T h e y d i d n ? t ? because they knew that our measures attempted to quantify unquantifiable values, not only inapplicable, indirect to the point o f irrelevance, but even obtrusive and dysfunctional. Using such tests, I have often felt like a psychiatrist trying to do m y job w i t h all the gleaming machinery o f a well-equipped dental office at m y disposal (and an obligation to use i t ! ) . As we enter what the N i x o n administration is calling an ?Age o f A c c o u n t a b i l i t y ? in education, such implications become all the more disturbing. Leon Lessinger, one of the prime movers of the new approach, was quoted in the Washington Post: 289

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of philosophy and religion, of sociology, and o f literature s i t t i n g in an office passing a r o u n d a slip o f paper w i t h one line of w r i t i n g on it. A student in an experimental prog r a m was requesting five credits t o w a r d his humanities requirement for Zen meditation. The f a c u l t y g r o u p had agreed to a system o f post hoc crediting, realizing that course formats and even preplanned independent study were inadequate to accommodate the often unpredictable, m u l t i - d i s c i p l i n a r y paths of valid and creative study. The students were to d o w h a t they pleased d u r i n g the term, using easily available f a c u l t y advice when they felt the need, and to summarize at the end of the term w h a t they had done. The faculty?s j o b was to help them interpret their w o r k i n terms o f degree requirements. Some of the requests struck them as quite outlandish, such as the one ( d e n i e d ) for t w o elective credits for, as the young man put it, ?getting existentially d r u n k with Joe Blow.? B u t Zen meditation? T h e y looked at one another and shrugged. Such moments of encounter bring professors to their academic knees. ?I guess he meditates,? the philosopher said; he had seen h i m day after day, hour after hour, sitting in the chapel in the lotus position. His colleagues were embarrassed, baffled, o u t r a g e d ? a n d weary. ?I t h i n k he should get the credit,? the philosopher f i n a l l y said, and w i t h relief they put it on the sheet to t u r n i n to the registrar. A f t e r all, meditation was in the philosopher?s field. He took the responsibility. The others all signed, testifying to the legitimacy o f the process, glad they did not have to assign a grade. Is that fraud? W h a t should they have done about it? Have h i m write a paper? T a k e an exam on Eastern thought? W o u l d not any instrument have detracted f r o m the q u a l i t y o f his experience or have falsified its nature? 292

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Should they have told h i m that he can meditate all he wants, but he?s not going to get credit for it? Has academic experience been defined in such a way that Zen meditation is not creditable? C o u l d they conscientiously have denied

that meditation m i g h t have been what was most necessary for his personai and intellectual growth at that time in his life, that this activity was as legitimate as spending hours in a laboratory or a library? Is it his fault, or the fault o f the system, that there are no appropriate means f o r accepting and validating, let alone examining and measuring that activity? Is academia asking the wrong questions entirely? I f liberal education, as we conceive o f it, excludes the k i n d of mental exercise which m a n y wise men have found necessary and f r u i t f u l , perhaps the definition needs an overhaul. M y own naiveté when I dispensed w i t h requirements now scems amusing, but m y expectations were serious and sincere. One student actually wrote a paper on Blake?s imagery, and I remember that for some weeks when m y colleagues asked me whether m y students were actually doing anything, 1 w o u l d answer casually, ?Well, just the other evening I was reading a paper on Blake?s imagery did not realize until much later how deeply m y own cgo was involved in m y expectations. I had taken a .

.?

T

certain professional risk in undertaking this k i n d o f experiment, and it w o u l d have been comforting to have something to report to m y colleagues w h i c h was immediately comprehensible in terms they recognized. I t was I, not the students, who needed assurance that they were learning ? - a n d| needed it in some public form. Even when students meet expectations in the most conscientious way imaginable one is l i k e l y to be more bewildered than satisfied. One senior in a free program turned in for his quarter's w o r k the summary of a study w h i c h began w i t h the works of V e l i k o w s k y and, for comparison, 293

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fessors are when it comes to evaluation, but, for one thing, they often k n o w so little about the areas of study in which they are w o r k i n g that they cannot, w i t h the best of intentions, be sure that their w o r k is of high quality. M o r e seriously, the social system w h i c h demands that young people have degrees is so p o w e r f u l ? t h e rewards are so great and the punishment for not c o n f o r m i n g is so s e v e r e ? t h a t one cannot expect o r d i n a r y moral fibre to resist the temptation. Moreover, there is a growing cynicism among students about a system w h i c h seems at best to bes u p e r f i c i a l , r e q u i r i n g the collection of credits like Green Stamps, and at worst to interfere w i t h their pursuit of authentic education. T h e i r very integrity leads them to see virtue in outwitting and u n d e r m i n i n g that system. I f we have created a situation in w h i c h even conscientious performance requires a good deal of lying, in w h i c h there is no way to survive except by lying, students cannot be expected to be especially selective about what lies to tell. D o we require them to lie? I f it is issuing false currency to grant five credits for Zen meditation, I wonder what k i n d of currency we issue w i t h five credits for, say, a course in Shakespeare. F o r years I regularly offered such a course in w h i c h I ?covered? (as the jargon puts i t ) ten or more plays, Students were to listen to taped performances of the plays, to see some movies, to read each play many times, often enough to recognize twenty quotations o n the midterm and o n the final exam, identifying them b y speaker, describing the dramatic situation in w h i c h they occurred, and discussing their significance for the play as a whole. They were to write f o u r or five papers o f five to twenty pages each, giving evidence that they not only knew the plays i n t i m a t e l y but had read enough critical and historical material to do a responsible job o f scholarship, to write effectively, imaginatively, w i t h original critical insight. W e 295

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had f o u r and a half hours per week of lecture and discussion. I loved it: I said I w o u l d be h a p p y the rest o f m y life teaching Shakespeare every quarter. I don?t believe I ever had a college course, even in graduate school, w h i c h demanded as m u c h w o r k as I expected f o r Shakespeare. H a dI been a student, I could have k e p t u p o n l y b y neglecting everything else. Some students did essentially t h a t ? and did such a thorough j o b that I was led to believe the others could i f they o n l y tried. Somewhere there had to be a lot o f lying. T h e system punishes candor. There is a high p r e m i u m upon appearing to k n o w a great deal and no reward for admitting weakness. I t is hard for students to ask f o r help, f o r that means revealing ignorance, and though we seem to encourage such confession, the students k n o w very w e l l that all evidence m a y be used against t h e m ? f o r we are counselors and prosecutors simultaneously. Once students get behind, requirements pile up ahead o f them like the Alps. Professors compete f o r their time: students in m y Shakespeare course p r o b a b l y had at least t w o other courses w i t h comparable expectations. Inadvertently, what colleges teach students to do is to fake it. T h e y teach them to fear getting c a u g h t ? s o they learn to fake it very convincingly. But it is almost impossible f o r students to meet the expectations o f even mediocre colleges w i t h o u t a certain a m o u n t of skimping

and bluffing.

When

one reads the

course

names and credits and grades on cumulative records, that is w h a t he is reading about. There is no question that the education available i n m a n y colleges is of very high quality, but there is h o k u m in the way they assess and record the process. T h e q u a l i t y seems to persist in spite of, rather than because of, the standards, the requirements, the c u r r i c u l a r design, the crediting system. Is there not a way o f describing and 296

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than are postulates and abstractions. What one ought to do or be is always a contextual judgment, dependent upon a very sensitive understanding of the i n d i v i d u a l and his situation. T o i m p r o v e the quality o f our educational system we have p r i m a r i l y to i m p r o v e our knowledge and understanding and evaluation o f the context and the individuals involved. Colleges differ from other institutions o f l e a r n m g ? s u c h as the free ones 1 mentioned a b o v e ? i n that they grant degrees. I am arguing that the degree itself, and the necessity it seems to entail of setting criteria for graduation and j u d g i n g people according to those criteria, undermines m a n y of the principles and values, the conception of quality, we share in the academic world. I t does not change the dynamics o f this situation simply to change c r i t e r i a ? j u g g l i n g the amount of credit for this or that or even by eliminating credit altogether and substituting some other set o f stipulations. N o r is it a sufficient response to try to make the best of a bad situation, to say that it is unfortunate that colleges have to have degrees, but, since they do, they should de-emphasize as much as possible the processes pertaining to granting the degree and try t o carry on

a humane, responsive education here in the living room,

ignoring as long as possible the skeleton in the closet. This reminds me o f h u m a n overseers at the end of the slave era, recognizing that the system is c r u m b l i n g and trying to make it as easy as possible for the field niggers. B y such compromises

colleges have created

their

reputation f o r

hypocrisy, the credibility gap w h i c h already separates them from students. I t h i n k we must discover a way to define the degree so that we can all subscribe to it in conscience, so that it has some legitimate meaning, and so that it serves as a positive value rather than a burden or educational re301

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straint. I n the first place we w i l l have to separate out o f the degree program the various demands, i n certain fields, for certification or licensing. A t present we are using the same term for the d i p l o m a w h i c h testifies to a person?s liberal education and the passport w h i c h enables h i m to move on professionally. Colleges m a y have to c o n t i n u e to be in the certification b u s i n e s s ? a n d there m a y be n o great harm i f some office of the college performs this f u n c t i o n , provided the basic confusion is cleared up. Certification is a public, almost a legal f u n c t i o n ; the standards and criteria are, or should be, set and m o n i t o r e d b y public agencies or professional

organizations

whose

constituency

and

ac-

countability is outside the college. The posture o f the college should be i n support of the student, helping h i m meet external requirements. I f the college collaborates in inventing and imposing them it compromises its position as advocate by wearing, as well, the robes o f the j u d g e ? and a student can h a r d l y be blamed for distrusting such an advocate. But if it is clear that the college is o n l y p e r f o r m ing an administrative service, one o f its offices m i g h t give and score the tests and certify the meeting o f requirements, under the surveillance of those agencies outside the college who are accountable f o r standards. L i b e r a l education offers a more complex problem. H o w do colleges decide w h e n a student is ?ready? to receive a degree in liberal education? I t h i n k they don?t. I mean, already they don?t, that they can?t, and that they shouldn?t corrupt the learning process b y t r y i n g to do so. College programs, even w i t h i n a single institution, have been so liberalized and varied that we no longer have m u c h assurance that a degree means a student can read and write. T h e forces w h i c h caused this situation are natural and generally beneficial: the knowledge explosion has forced old patterns into unrecognizable new configurations, and the 302

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AND

desire

CONSCIENCE

of

students

for

self-determination

has

brought irrepressible ingredients into old containers. There is increasing recognition of the value of experiential and affective education, and as students are involved in far-

flung programs, in foreign countries

and domestic field

center settings w h i c h emphasize learning in the c o m m u nity, on jobs and in homes, it w i l l become increasingly difficult and hypocritical to try to interpret all learning i n terms o f requirements which were defined ( a l o n g with the C o n s t i t u t i o n , it sometimes seems) f o r academics t u d y in classrooms. T i g h t e n i n g up is no a n s w e r ? n e i t h e r practically nor idealistically. A college fails w h i c h refuses to adapt to the expanding educational universe. T h e q u a l i t y o f education is not based p r i m a r i l y on the avility of colleges to force individuals to meet high standards o f performance. It is based on the q u a l i t y o f intellectual life in the institution as a whole. It is almost impossible to spend several years around a t r u l y stimulating place w i t h o u t learning a great d e a l ? e v e n i f one never cracks a book or attends a class, I am not saying that such serendipitous learning is sufficient for liberal e d u c a t i o n ? b u t it is a great deal o f it. A l r e a d y studies have indicated that vollege students attribute o n l y a small p r o p o r t i o n of their learning, p a r t i c u l a r l y in the area of values, to their professors and the f o r m a l c u r r i c u l u m . I t is institutional ambience w h i c h educates. T o redefine the degree colleges need o n l y r a t i f y what already exists, to pave the w a l k where people are now muddying their feet and k i l l i n g grass. When a potential employer or graduate school considers one o f their products,

the

chief

piece

of

evidence

he

has

(rightly

or

w r o n g l y ) is his impression o f the q u a l i t y of the college. T h e details of a transcript (beyond, perhaps, that most illusory figure o f a l l ? t h e cumulative average) make l i t l e 303

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sense or difference to h i m ; he doesn?t k n o w w h a t degree

requirements are and lists o f course names and credits don?t tell h i m h o w they w e r e . m e t . B u t i f the degree is f r o m a distinguished college he m a y

(again,

r i g h t l y or

w r o n g l y ) predict that the candidate is bright, responsible, socially concerned, intellectually exciting, c o n s c i e n t i o u s ? that he has a n u m b e r of personal qualities w h i c h , anyway, no course taught and no requirement guaranteed. Compare a college education to a sojourn in Spain. If

someone listed on his visa that he had lived in Spain for three years, you, as an employer or graduate dean, might want to know what he was doing there. But eveu without more detailed evaluation or information, you might use the evidence of his sojourn in Spain to predict something about his breadth of experience, his ability to cope, his probable ability to communicate in another language; you would have some fairly reasonable guesses about his personality, his capacity for understanding, his interests. A bachelor?s degree in liberal arts from a ?good? college has mimimally a significance something like that of a sojourn in Spain. The degree can be a great deal more i n f o r m a t i v e and usef u l than that w i t h o u t violating the conditions f o r educational excellence I have been discussing. T h o u g h colleges might offer one, two or three-year degrees, they m i g h t recommend that f o u r years seems a reasonable p r o p o r t i o n o f one?s life to spend in f u l l - t i m e involvement w i t h

liberal

education, and this length of time is r o u g h l y the equivalent of w h a t a bachelor?s degree has t r a d i t i o n a l l y meant. The degree w o u l d not be in a specific subject matter; it w o u l d be i n liberal education. A short paragraph on the d i p l o m a might summarize the p r i n c i p a l activities and areas o f concentration a student has been engaged in, but the student ought to have the o p t i o n o f having no such paragraph at 304

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all. The meat and meaning of the degree would be described in the accompanying dossier?and most students would probably want to avail themselves of the opportunity of having such a record on file, its contents mutually agreed upon by student and institution. This record could be as rich and full and accurately verified as the student wanted it to be. I f evaluative machinery is turned to the student?s service, colleges can probably do a better job than they have on conventional transcripts of collecting and recording authoritative judgment about his ability. Should a student pay tuition for four years of meditation or making pots or building and experimenting with a ham radio or playing handball in the gym? Or should scholarship money go to students who choose such ways to use their time? In response I might ask why it is educators do not believe sufficiently in the value of what they are doing to be comfortable with the idea that it is the student?s loss if he does not avail himself of the opportunity to participate? And on what grounds do they believe that if a young adult does not know an opportunity when he sees one, they can engender appreciation by forced exposure? Scholarship funds maintain program quality by bringing in students who would not or could not otherwise c o m e ? a n d colleges are dependent upon the desire of such students to participate actively in the program. Some scholarships are used as gravy trains, o f course. Some students simply are not grabbed by what is offered. ( A n d some are imitiating their own offerings in response.) Such facts should make colleges re-examine and perhaps change what they are d o i n g ? b u t that is a test of quality they rarely impose upon themselves. I n any case the j u d g m e n t should not be on the i n d i v i d u a l ; he m i g h t better be thanked for helping point out program weaknesses. I t is not John w h o fails the program, but the 305

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heard it as a threat to freedom and an evasion of the responsibility to insure that justice prevailed in the society at large. I am still not sure what instinct it was in that f a c u l t y which caused them to reject what then seemed so innocuous and respectable a resolution, but perhaps it was a feeling that they had to deal w i t h causes rather than symptoms. The last thing the students and public needed to hear f r o m a college f a c u l t y was a resolution that could be interpreted as a f i r m stand in support of the good old days, of the es-

tablishment, o f the regulations of a society w h i c h the students regard as oppressive. Perhaps the f a c u l t y recognized that their role was more properly that of advocates than of magistrates. A t the same time, of course, they were not advocating lawlessness and disorder. Student behavior dramatized dissatisfactions in the learning c o m m u n i t y ? s o m e o f them w i t h conditions w h i c h they were powerless to change. Some wanted the institution to take a public stand in opposition to the war, and by an excruciating but democratic process they decided that they c o u l d not do that w i t h o u t imposing a severe restraint on intellectual freedom upon those who disagreed w i t h the p u b l i c position. Some argued that their research contracts with the D e p a r t m e n t of Defense indicated institutional c o m p l i c i t y in the war and that they should immediately, unilaterally, cancel those contracts. R i g h t l y or wrongly, they decided to retain the t w o innocuous ones they already had, but set up a process to ascertain that the research results not be classifiable and that all new research contracts be reviewed and approved o n l y if they were consistent w i t h the h u m a n i t a r i a n aims of the institution. Some threats to campus security were controlled by e l i m i n a t i n g the unnatural separation of men and women into separate 309

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dormitories. N u d e swimming, first engaged in as a protest and received w i t h shock, came to be i n f o r m a l l y accepted as an enrichment of c o m m u n i t y life. Some disorder stemmed from the college being an elite, p r i m a r i l y w h i t e enclave of privilege in what the K e r n e r report was, in 1968, to term a racist society. B y m a k i n g it possible for black students to create their own educational p r o g r a m and b y taking steps to increase radically the p r o p o r t i o n o f m i n o r i t y g r o u p m e m bers admitted, the college at least t o o k a posture o f active concern, though it is impossible to solve on campus a problem that is d a i l y exacerbated in the surrounding society. Similarly, the college is unable to eradicate the violence, c r i m i n a l involvement and psychological damage associated w i t h use o f illegal drugs, as the irrational laws and conditions o f alienation w h i c h lead to drug abuse are too pervasive; though counseling, peer support and peer enforcement of controls are o f some help in coping w i t h these dangers. Generally the c o m m u n i t y supports divergent lifestyles and most forms of political protest, though it is vexed and confused when groups w i t h i n it exercise force and intolerance against one another. Since that dreadful fall o f 1967 when a fierce contingent o f students openly and seriously attempted to close d o w n the college, the f a c u l t y have struggled to find creative and educational responses to the issues raised. Dissatisfaction w i t h academic rigidities caused them to change examination policies, create semiautonomous p r o g r a m units such as an I n n e r College, E x perimental College, A f r o - A m e r i c a n Studies Institute, and a R a d i c a l Studies Institute, to eliminate grades, establish processes for interdisciplinary majors, introduce new programs i n interpersonal relations, affective and experiental education, and new opportunities for c o m m u n i t y involvement and social action off campus. I do not mean to sug310

CHAPTER

11

M a k i n g It Happen

As plainly, briefly and concretely as I can I w i l l summarize whatI see to be the goals of educational change, the directions, tactics and points of leverage in our present colleges w h i c h can be used to initiate beneficial change, and the obstacles to change w h i c h are likely to beset reformers. I n other words, m y procedure is i n v e r t e d ? f r o m future to present. I t h i n k it is i m p o r t a n t that we have a clear vision of where we are going ultimately in order to know what we can do now and what m a y be likely to interfere. Some o f m y recommendations m a y appear contradictory; I hope that is explained by the necessity to move t h r o u g h various stages, as a sailboat must tack in a variety of ways in order to reach the dock. O u r present schools and colleges w i l l , I believe, wither away and be replaced by a m u c h more comprehensive set of institutions serving the whole population: all ages, all classes, continually, on a basis o f essentially free access. I do not personally accept the n o t i o n that o u r civilization has a dichotomous choice between state-controlled socialism

and

Jaissez-faire

capitalism?the

language

radicals

right and left use to dramatize our future. T am deeply opposed to A m e r i c a n imperialism and m a n y o f our socio313

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e c o n o m i c patterns, but I e s p e c i a l l y a m o p p o s e d to m o n o l i t h i c systems, and i n e d u c a t i o n o u r p r o b l e m is t o o m u c h , n o t t o o l i t t l e , g o v e r n m e n t a l c o n t r o l i n w h a t m u s t a l w a y s be a p l u r a l i s t i c society. Nontheless, there is m o r e f r e e d o m f o r e d u c a t i o n a l d e v i a t i o n i n the U n i t e d States, C a n a d a , E n g l a n d a n d D e n m a r k t h a n elsewhere. I n o r d e r to create c o n d i t i o n s f o r free g r o w t h , i n q u i r y a n d f o r m a t i o n o f values o u r i n stitutions m u s t b e c o m e m o r e c o m p e t i t i v e , t h o u g h n o t acc o r d i n g to s t a n d a r d i z e d c r i t e r i a ; they m u s t b e c o m e m o r e p l u r a l i s t i c , responsive to t h e i r clientele, a n d f r e e r o f g o v e r n mental regulation.

N e w institutional designs w i l l include new mixes o f public and private support and management, new forms o f cooperatives, new varieties o f foundations and other agencies w h i c h can be supportive and responsive w i t h o u t c o n t r o l l i n g the educational process, P r o b a b l y the f u n d i n g for the new institutions w i l l be various: f r o m local, state and federal government, industry, gifts, private foundations, user fees according to a b i l i t y to pay, churches and other organizations. Instead o f schools

and

colleges I

envisage

such institu-

tions as:

Agencies: means of enabling individuals to get f r o m one situation into another according to their desires. I f we set our objective as facilitating personal change-??from sickness to health, from ignorance to awareness, f r o m poverty to security, f r o m maladjustment to psychic health, f r o m gloom to j o y ? w e w i l l have to coordinate the various kinds o f counsel w h i c h are now differentiated as the w o r k of social workers, employment agents, travel agents, ministers, doctors, psychiatrists, teachers and others. O b v i o u s l y there w i l l be specialists w i t h i n agencies. Some m a y use the agencies in groups or classes. Some services, such as diagnostic testing, programmed learning, o p p o r t u n i t y l i s t i n g s 314

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and resource files, m a y be used rather impersonally by clients. B u t the basic function of the agency w o u l d be personal assessment and placement, w i t h such instruction as the desired change requires, and the professional agents ( o r educators) w o u l d p r i m a r i l y be people skilled at dealing with individual needs. C o m m u n i t y centers: environments conducive to group and i n d i v i d u a l activities related to learning and other social needs. These centers w i l l b r i n g people together in their neighborhoods; they w i l l contain facilities for such activities as sports, crafts, drama, music, film, carpentry, mechanics,

meetings, group meals, games, workshops, laboratories. Individuals, classes or freely f o r m e d groups can w o r k and play in a congenial place open r o u n d the clock and r o u n d the calendar. Here is where the twelve-year-old girl and sixty-year-old man get acquainted, side by side at potter?s wheels. Clubs reserve rooms. A group sets up a nature museum. A r o w d y p a r t y goes on all night upstairs, w i t h o u t disrupting anyone?s home. People read periodicals, watch T V , p l a y cards, listen to music. A group in the planetarium studies the stars, another in the p o o l studies water ballet. Centers may differ in their ethnic, cultural or regional emphases. Some may be sponsored b y private organizations or religious g r o u p s ? t h o u g h there may be a need for some legal guarantee that all are open to all on reasonably democratic terms. R e s o u r c e centers:

collections o f

the

information,

cul-

t u r a l m a t e r i a l s , supplies and e q u i p m e n t people m a y w a n t o r need f o r l e a r n i n g , r e c r e a t i o n and s u r v i v a l . M u c h o f the i n f o r m a t i o n and c u l t u r a l m a t e r i a l (e.g., m u s i c , films, art, books)

will

be

available

by

electronic

transmission

to

homes, c o m m u n i t y centers or elsewhere. Other resources 315

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justifying notions of quality. F o r example, figure the h o u r l y rate of pay o f the persons present at any f a c u l t y meeting o r committee meeting, consider the meeting?s p r o d u c t i v i t y , and ask whether the institution can ever afford to have another, A s k what i n f o r m a t i o n and processes are really necessary to do the educational j o b well, and eliminate what is not needed. Foster stimulation, interaction a n d i n q u i r y : concentrate on opening up opportunities, options, p r o v i d i n g stimuli, getting knowledge into provocative and comprehensible forms,

encouraging experiment,

exploration and change

w i t h o u t threat o f institutionally imposed failure o r punishment. Evaluate the program in terms o f whether it increases frequency of problem-solving, use of i n d i v i d u a l judgment, risk, posing m u l t i p l e explanations and theories, suspending final judgment, raising questions. Is it characterized b y flexibility, acceptance o f difference, contrasting perspectives, styles, behaviors, controversy, engagement? Increase feedback i n the system w h i c h tells participants whether or not the the program is lively, challenging and adaptive. Foster sociability: develop the environments, facilities and occasions in w h i c h people can relate a m i c a b l y and communicate candidly, the k i n d of personal supports (and, when necessary, therapy and workshops) w h i c h i m p r o v e the q u a l i t y of relations and the f u l f i l l m e n t o f individuals. Campuses can be stimulating and controversial w i t h o u t being hostile and tense. W h y are so m a n y o f them colored by anxiety and i l l - w i l l ? Change

(or

eliminate)

degree requirements:

examine

c r i t i c a l l y the continued relevance and meaning of distribu320

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c u r in unstable systems, a n d i n spite o f t h e h i g h l e v e l o f c a m p u s d i s r u p t i o n i n recent years, t h e colleges a n d u n i v e r sities are s t i l l e x t r e m e l y stable. T h e i r s is a seller?s m a r k e t , as was p o i n t e d o u t i n J. B. L o n Hefferlin?s r e c e n t b o o k ,

Dynamics of Academic Reform:

W i t h the r e c e n t s u r p l u s o f a p p l i c a n t s f o r a d m i s s i o n , f a c u l t y m e m bers h a v e been m o r e free t o raise the t h r e a t o f a c a d e m i c f a i l u r e and d i s m i s s a l , a n d at the same t i m e an i n c r e a s i n g n u m b e r o f s t u dents h a v e c o m e t o b e l i e v e t h a t c o l l e g e g r a d u a t i o n is necessary f o r t h e i r p e r s o n a l success a n d have thus been r e l u c t a n t to j e o p a r d i z e t h e i r f u t u r e b y a t t a c k i n g t h e o n e means o f this success.

F o r those for w h o m it is not the o n l y avenue t o success, it is the only available haven. Y o u n g people have nowhere to g o ? e i t h e r to get into society or to escape i t ? e x c e p t college, and so, o f course, they go under the conditions colleges prescribe, w h i c h makes colleges increasingly haughty, selective and arbitrary. T h e y are increasingly organized f o r the security and welfare of their staffs and can afford t o be so at the expense of their clientele. F r o m Hefferlin?s statistical study of ?dynamic? and ?static? institutions one may, however, derive some f a i r l y clear injunctions for action. Those w h o hope to b r i n g about academic change should be alert to the conditions of instability w h i c h they can take advantage of, and be ready to move wherever a crack appears, I have given some indications of the direction t o move. I w i l l give here some tips as to the possibility o f m o t i o n : Financial problems: w h i f f that sweet and fertile o d o r of decay! I n our society everyone understands the cash nexus. When an institution is in financial difficulty, don?t go looking for c h a r i t y ? - a n increasingly decadent, dependent and 324

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difficult solution at best. H e l p discover a sounder basis o f operation based on a better concept of the college?s social function. S t u d e n t pressures:

many of

t h e occasions

which

mo-

b i l i z e d i s r u p t i v e s t u d e n t forces are, at least o n t h e surface, t r i v i a l . T h e r e s u l t i n g i n s t i t u t i o n a l i n s t a b i l i t y m a y , nonetheless, be a f a c t o r i n a c h i e v i n g b e n e f i c i a l change.

Problems o f surrounding society: colleges in urban settings tend t o change more readily than those w h i c h are protected b y their location f r o m the pressures o f the poor, of technology, o f radical intellectual input. One o f the byproducts o f resistance to racial oppression, imperialistic m i l i t a r y and political involvement w i t h the world, economic instability and e n v i r o n m e n t a l p o l l u t i o n may be educational change. Changes in personnel: obviously changes in leadership and key positions are i m p o r t a n t opportunities to influence the direction of change o f the institution. One of the characteristics o f our present ?seller?s market? is institutional expansion, w i t h its consequent influx o f new personnel. T h o u g h the b o t t o m has dropped out o f the Ph.D. market, new colleges, new branches o f old colleges and new programs are still appearing, often making it possible to b r i n g in people w i t h unconventional qualifications. Beware o f routine extension o f services, the mindless duplication of existing formats. Each new opening is an o p p o r t u n i t y to increase diversity, autonomy, i n d i v i d u a l i t y , pluralism. A n i m p o r t a n t service w o u l d be an employment agency or pool w h i c h identified emerging new professionals w i t h a disposition to seek new directions in higher education. Y o u n g e r faculty tend to be associated w i t h c h a n g e ? b u t beware of 325

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the Y o u n g T u r k s who put a high value on r e p r o d u c i n g themselves b y b r i n g i n g graduate school standards to bear in undergraduate courses, whose loyalty is p r i m a r i l y to their profession or specialty rather than the college they w o r k for or the students they serve. O f t e n the new man fresh f r o m a ?good? graduate school, up-to-date o n the latest findings in his field, energetic and articulate and professionally mobile, is a Savonarola w h o seeks prestige w i t h certain o f his peers and students b y scourging l a x i t y , increasing r i g o r and enforcing oppressive strictures w h i c h he associates w i t h quality. A w a r e o f the factors w h i c h create instability, one can w o r k on a n u m b e r o f specific objectives. Loosen the process by w h i c h new courses are approved. Resist tenure. ( H e f ferlin f o u n d that ?dynamic? institutions were characterized by faculties of w h o m 5 0 per cent or fewer had tenure. Separate and find new ways o f dealing w i t h the specific problems o f academic freedom and economic security w h i c h tenure is intended to address.) Seek trustees interested in change: y o u n g e r men, m i n o r i t y g r o u p members, women, faculty, students, people w i t h o u t great financial resources. Resist the i n t r o d u c t i o n o f graduate programs. (Universities are slow to change.) Resist the drive f o r national academic prestige. A p p e a l to non-scholastic students. Increase student p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n governance. Increase opportunities for election in curricula, Oppose seniority systems, hierarchies; see that department chairmanships rotate (chairmen tend to be a campus?s most conservative g r o u p ) . Recruit nationally and internationally. D i v e r s i f y sources o f support. Beware o f l o c k i n g up all a u t h o r i t y in mis-guided efforts to democratize. F o r example, discretionary funds are an important stimulus to change, as they enable individuals to 326

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respond spontaneously to new stituations w i t h o u t subjecting fresh ideas to too early and too conventional criticism or losing the inertial force of enthusiasm in deadening processes of committee approval. There need to be built-in areas of administrative latitude at every institutional level, including, o f course, the offices of student government. Remember the value o f mobile people. The rich student who is not bound to c o n f o r m b y economic necessity, the n a t i o n a l l y p r o m i n e n t professor who can afford to risk his p o s i t i o n , the alienated person who is relatively indifferent to the rewards and security of the s y s t e m ? t h e s e can be useful agents f o r change, as can be the m i n o r i t y group member who does not share the c u l t u r a l assumptions and preparation o f the m a j o r i t y , provided he does not perceive his situation as a trap r e q u i r i n g that he desperately adapt. T h o u g h students are n a t u r a l l y reluctant to pay higher tuitions, they should not forget that he who pays the piper calls the tune, and that r i g h t now the piper is being paid b y government, industry and, of course, parents. Students are understandably resistant to indenturing their lives w i t h heavy loans, o b l i g i n g them to long periods of post-college confinement in secure jobs; but they should balance this consideration w i t h the recognition that the more responsibility they assume, the greater power they have. Institutions with p r i m a r y dependency upon t u i t i o n are, o f course, much more responsive to student pressure than are others. Presidents are u n f o r t u n a t e l y important. A n u m b e r of surveys and studies o f campus governance have indicated the pervasive influence o f presidential style on c o l l e g e s ? e v e n their impotence, m e d i o c r i t y or drabness is l i k e l y to be ??flected t h r o u g h o u t an institution. ? the president is perceived as a force for change rather than stability, the whole institution is invigorated. M o s t c o m m u n i c a t i o n with trustees is through presidents, and though some people in colleges 327