Thursday, September 6, 2018

April 6 & 13, 1944: Unbiased Student Opinion

Articles in the college newspaper, Kansas State Collegian, that mention Opa


Mortar Board Leads Student Discussions on KSC Curriculums

Students will have their say so next Wednesday afternoon about certain phases of post war education at K-State. A student forum on the topic "Do We Need More Culture in the Curriculum?" will be held in Recreation Center at 4:30pm under the sponsorship of Mortar Board. All students are invited to be present and participate.

Members of the panel leading the discussion will be Jean Werts, Tom Doeppner, Ann Allison, Zora Weir, Margaret Reissig and Paul Engle. They were chosen from names submitted by various campus organizations as having taken an active part on discussions on this subject within their group when Mortar Board sent out guide sheets for such a study.

President Milton S Eisenhower is anxious to have unbiased student opinion on matters concerning post-war college. For that reason this discussion is preceding the forums which will be sponsored later by YWCA and YMCA and led by outside speakers and faculty members. Mortar Board members in charge of the forum are Harriet Holt and Mary Ann Montgomery.


Eisenhower Talks On 'Changes Today' At Post War Forum

Babcock, Whitlock, Gemmell to Speak On Future Programs

"Changes Today" will be the topic of President Milton S Eisenhower's talk at the all College Forum which will open the Forum's series on "Post War Education." In his talk the President will speak of "changing concepts in a changing world." The first Forum meeting will be this evening at 7 in Recreation Center.

The next speaker of the series will be rodney W. Babcock, dean of Arts and Sciences, who will talk on "Tomorrow's Educated Man." Dean Babcock will present the question, "Are Kansas State Graduates Being Educated for Our World of Tomorrow?" He will speak next Thursday.

Comprehensive and cultural subjects will be the context of Prof. J.H. Whitlock's talk on "Post War Curricula Changes" when he speaks to the Forum April 27. Professor Whitlock is a professor in the pathology department.

In the last talk of the series Prof. George Gemmell of the home study department will discuss "The Faculty on the Grill," an insight into student-faculty relations. Prof. Gemmell will speak May 4. 

The College Forum is sponsored by the YWCA and YMCA. Maxine Smith, Cpl. H. Goodnow, Jack Lawrence, Tom Doeppner are in charge of the Forum.

So first I want to say- yes- that Eisenhower. Milton S. was Dwight D.'s little brother. Apparently the Eisenhower brothers were very proud of their middle initials. Milton S. went on to be the president of Penn State and John's Hopkins, so he was kind of a big deal. 

These two articles are reporting on the discussions that are intentionally being held at Kansas State. The articles are frustratingly vague, and perhaps that was intentional to leave room for "unbiased opinions" if that is humanly possible. 

I'm surprised that everyone is still talking about the end of the war as if it is tomorrow after the big invasion eventually takes place. Day 2 of invasion: Allied victory and Axis surrender. Maybe they weren't that naive, but it does seem early to be having these discussions. 

I'm also curious what it is about this particular war that has caused the staff and students alike to think about needs for change in the curriculum. Did the first world war not sort of knock them out of their safe towers? 

The answer must be in this vague allusion to "Culture" being included in the curriculum. Are they speaking of race relations? Cultures of Europe, Africa, and Asia? Are they talking about the tragedy that has faced the Jews in Europe? The information of concentration camps and mass killing is out there, but I'm not sure the public quite grasped (or believed) the scope of it until the Allied soldiers came upon abandoned camps full of corpses and people who might as well be corpses. What exactly is culture? And why is it now needed?

The fact remains that the world has changed and drastic change is in the near future. The faculty and staff are right to assess this change and try to adjust and educate for the future. This seems like it should always be the case, but I get that WW2 was particularly dramatic in how the world changed after. The odd thing is, those changed haven't really happened yet. These students don't know that a new world order will come of this war, that Russia will become a very real and frightening enemy (they have clues), that European boundaries will be redrawn, that the word "holocaust" will enter their vocabulary- along with a new understanding of the human ability to be cruel. 

I suppose the conversation is important, but perhaps something I'm trying to figure out is rather than ask and plan what education should look like as a reaction to change- the educational system might need to step back and look at the tools to adapt. Students don't need just to learn about other culture, they need to gain the perspective that they are a small part of a larger world that does not have them at the center. Education should foster curiosity, adaptation, problem-solving, and simply the acceptance that things will always change. Rather than be speculative of which change will require which class, perhaps we should be proactive in creating space in our education for the power of a larger perspective and skills for adaptation.

Maybe that was the goal of some of these conversations. Maybe the professors and students were trying to figure out how to process and move forward with the knowledge that the world can and will change drastically- and then do it again and again. I think much of my education has been about how to keep things the way they are by knowing the right way things have been set up. 

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