Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - February 11, 1975, Lethbridge, Alberta
Tueiday, February 11, 1975 THE LETHBRIDGE HERALD 5 U of Lethbridge needs a transfusion The following article was written by the vice-president of the University of Lethbridge for an internal un- iversity publication, and was intended to stimulate en- campus discussion, which it has done. It was not intended to be the last and final word on the subject. In that same context and with that same qualification, it will be of interest to Herald readers. The Liberal U that's what it was supposed to be. That's what was emblazoned on our shiny new shingle back in 1967. We would commit ourselves in righteous zeal to the eternal values of liberal education. 'And the un- dergraduates would be the focus of our endeavors. But look what happened look at us now! Transcripts of graduating students show no semblance of curricular balance. The liberal arts have degenerated into libertine es- capes. Countless students are victimized by rampant specialization foisted upon them by imperialistic tutors. Others wander mindlessly through the structureless curriculum, shedding courses as aimlessly as empty beer cans. And all the while the guardians of Academe en- sconced in the General Faculties Council ponderously wait upon such matters as the eradication of canine feces from our hallowed halls. Now how, you may ask, did this come to be? When, why, and who is responsible? The beginning seems so long ago. Times were different then. Students flocked to the campus in those good old days convinced that universities were indeed the agents of im- mediate social salvation. Relevance it was called. Their growing awareness of the frailties and foibles of our social institutions led them to drag some of the more un- seemly characteristics of uni- versities into the glare of 'public scrutiny. So change became the order of the day. Students must have their say not only in academic policies but even in the very act of in- stitutional management. They must be freed from the prison-like confines of required courses and the ravages of sadistic instructor wardens. Student power was at its zenith. Students were strangely unable to discern that universities were hopeless as instruments of revolution, and public antipathy to their activism only later developed menacing propor- tions. Remember "The Student as If you don't you won't understand the roots of this university's academic policies. But then it wasn't students who set the pattern for the U of L in '67. It was the early faculty planners who ar- ticulated goals and ideals, and who designed policies and practices for their at- tainment. It was they who decided we would have flex- ibility, and who wrought the semester system, in- dividualized self-made-to- measure programs, the varie- ty of instructional modes, the opportunity for multiple styles of learning. In this brave new world, total faculty commitment to academic counselling would replace out- moded curricular regulations. Professors would induce students into the delights of the curious mind through ex- ample, not stricture. Thus in- spired, students could not help but seek and find the elusive targets in their pursuit of the good education. Multidisciplinary interests were bound to flourish, fostered assiduously by enlightened faculty and open- ly espoused by students, both spontaneously rejecting the foreign marketplace value of specialization. Liberated from the robot-like rigidity of Northamerican U, we would all stride forward together into intellectual Utopia. It wouldn't fly. Newcomers say we should have known. Perhaps! But the goals were admirable, the design was just no good. Several things happened. F'irst of all, there was no consensus on the meaning of the term liberal education. Definitions ran the gamut By Owen G. Holmes, in Forum from an orderly balanced study of the great ideas of mankind through to doing your own thing, any damn thing. Without perceptible educational norms, the in- timate student advisement so critical to the whole concept simply collapsed. Professors retreated to casting students in their own image, paradox icaily counselling specializa- tion to a degree un- precedented even in their own academic preparation. Students adopted any extreme to avoid the very intellectual challenge that had been the foremost goal. No selection of courses became too bizarre or perverse. Whatever vestigial regulations temporarily remained to assure curricular breadth were undermined by uncommitted faculty and stu- dent accomplices in a veritable conspiracy to ex- ploit every loophole. In the end, laissez-faire .in the academy proved no more an acceptable way of educational life than its counterpart in the world at-large. To compound the felony, we then introduced the most debilitating academic policy that ever afflicted an un- suspecting community of students that pernicious permission to abandon courses willy nilly without prejudice right up until the last few days. By so doing, we positively encouraged students to avoid commitment for organized study a com- mitment absolutely essential in any institution of formal learning. The spontaneity of the bull session at the pub is broadly educational as well as socially stimulating, but it provides no substitute for the regularly scheduled collective formal examination of a premeditated topic that we term a university course. In detaching our students from such commitment, we have propelled them, into the prevalent academic apathy and listlessness. Undoubtedly the alarming dropout rate of beginning students in the first semester or two stems in large part from this horren- dous withdrawal system. The real tragedy is not the introduction or even the failure of the smorgasbord curriculum. Rather it is that we have allowed it to persist for so long in spite of its calamitous consequences. It is as though we are beset by some sort of .psychic paralysis. The only legislation that seems now to pass through the academic labyrinth exacerbates the problem by removing whatever curricular guidelines may is little evidence that either the faculty largely responsible for the perpetration of the horror or the victimized students possess the will or the strength to do something about it. So that is how it happened. The ends were good, but we, all of us, faculty and students alike, lacked the necessary commitment to the means. Gradually with the erosion of time even the ends have turn- ed murky. Not only can the os- trich not fly; it buries its head in the sand too! But there are no real barriers to prevent an early recovery. Certainly external a'gencies would offer no resistance. The Board of Governors has not transfixed our programs. Course by course, our instruction is sound. There are no discerni- ble administrative lim- itations. What then must be done? First of all the withdrawal policy must be rectified at once, so that both students and professors be required to commit themselves to an organized study program at the beginning of each semester which they must carry through or suffer the consequences. Second, the Faculty of Arts and Science must move rapidly to struc- ture the early portion of its degree curriculum into a reasonable facsimile of liberal studies, and follow the recent example of the Faculty of Education by redesigning the senior years into discerni- ble patterns to accommodate students with diverse educational objectives. Third, forthright and resolute steps must be taken to provide ade- quate .counselling for all students, and simultaneously to protect them from the depredations of those who would willfully or otherwise subvert the very principles upon which the university was founded. Were these positive and constructive actions to be taken, the true worth of the special features of the Lethbridge curriculum would emerge. The opportunities of the semester system could be properly seized. Independent study could become the vehi- cle for level academic synthesis originally intended. Colloquium Study could become the forum for multidisciplinary discourse envisaged by its creators. Nobody slew the Liberal U. But it's bleeding f to death. Anyone for a transfusion? Book review Reviewing a personal history "Anne Francis, An Autobiography" by Florence Bird, (Clarke, Irwin Com- pany Ltd., 318 For anyone who does not already know, the well-known radio commentator Anne Francis, is also Mrs. Florence Bird, chairman of the famed PIC A CASE OF POP SAM'SPLACE SUPER SPRCiAL! McGavint, M.M. BREAD SO 01. iwt wt. Royal Commission on the Status of Women. Mrs. Bird has led a very interesting life, and has contributed a good deal to both Canadian life and the cause of women's equality. She has had the advantages of both education, which in- spired her; and money, which made it possible to do many of the things others only dream of. One of the points made repeatedly throughout the book is that she was determin- ed to do more than lead a full social life, as women from her background were expected to do, and one must admit she has succeeded. Born in Philadelphia, Mrs.: Bird and her husband John, a newspaperman from Great Britain, adopted Canada in an effort to make a career on their own, without the benefits of family position and influence. With a reporter's precision she chronicles all of the major events in their full life, and some of the minor ones which are sometimes very dry and easily skipped over. One of the most interesting sidelights to the main story of the Bird's life, in Montreal, Winnipeg and Ottawa, is the viewpoint of the political life of Canada from before the depression. A dignified, personable, and extremely capable woman is how Florence Bird comes across to the reader. But then, anyone who could sift through the vast amount of informa- tion necessary for the com- mission on 'the status of women would have to be. It is in this section, describing her work with the women of Canada, that Mrs. Bird really comes alive. JOANNE GROVER Books in brief "My Sister Looks' Like A Pear" by Douglas Anderson (George McLeod Limited, 268 A carnival of emotions is how Douglas Anderson describes his book on awaken- ing the poetry in young people. He gives examples of poems and prose written by students of all grade levels from over 50 schools. He' also describes the methods he used to spark some enthusiasm for creative writing. Poet Anderson oc- casionally uses coarse language (possibly, trying to be realistic and relevant) which does not enhance the value of his A very useful and inexpen- sive book for parents and teachers who want to share with children the joy of writing. TERRY MORRIS Dumbo's tailfeathers By Eva Brewster, freelance writer "An Economic System for Canada" by Edgar H. Davis (Systems Investments Ltd., Soft Cover Hard Cover 270 Had this book been titled "Dumbo's it would have attracted more immediate readership since many of us con- sider economics a dismal science and may be discouraged by a title. "An Economic System for Canada" is as readable as the legend the author uses as an analogy for Canada's dependence on the U.S.: "The American discovered, like the wise old crow in the Dumbo fairytale, that all that is.needed is confidence. With a shrewdness born of see- ing Panada from the outside with some objec- tivity, the old crpw simply plucked a feather from his tail and put it in Dumbo's trunk. This is all Dumbo needed to fly." And "history will prove that the enormous price paid for a surplus feather was probably the best deal he ever made." While the author is as biased from the successful businessman's point of view, as the system he attacks, his book should be on the reading list of everybody interested in Canada's future. It is important that Canadians receive both sides of an argument. Davis's arguments are certainly thought provoking and should stimulate some healthy debates on very controversial subjects. He claims, for instance, that "protagonists of the state are the employees of the support their own security." "The Canadian he says, "prefer to spend now for the good life and many politicians, occasionally of all four faiths, have held forth that we can have the good life without sacrifice. However, the professional politician, having exhausted his skills on elec- tion night, becomes a dangerous amateur who stumbles around with great authority but no previous exposure, background or education in the intricate relationships between government and business, govern- ment and science, government and fiscal and monetary control and economics The end result of a constitution which encourages politicians .to preoccupy themselves with vote gains, rather than improving the con- ditions of a country attracts men into public life who are primarily communicators and finds no opening for men who are basically achievers. It has produced a country where business is pitted against government instead of being complimentary to it." Mr. Davis has rather less than complimen- tary thoughts on the CBC as a government organ too: The CBC "increasingly use the theme that businesses are to blame for many of the country's problems', the inference be> ing that the alternative, state ownership, would be superior. And it seems to have a policy to a Westerner that alternates between talking down to him as a hayseed, to berating him for his selfishness A million a year deficit doesn't make the message any more palatable." Many people's economic philosophies seem to be based on the premise that Canada is in a position to opt out of the world. Canada, however is such a large trading nation and is so strategically significant in its physical position between Russia and the U.S.A. that we cannot withdraw. "If one examines carefully the personalities who would like to have Canada isolated and, they hope, in- sulated from the vicissitudes of life, these men generally have ambitions which they can only fulfil by Canada separating itself from the world and lowering the standards of competition." In his often blistering attacks on governmental and individual attitudes, Mr. Davis offers built in answers and solutions to problems he considers are often ex- aggerated beyond comprehension by at- titudes that amount to schizophrenia. He in- sists there is no energy crisis in Canada but simply a problem of distribution of the enor- mous supplies. There is no population problem in a country as vast as ours when we are already approaching zero population growth. And we only invent a food crisis every time world demands for food products temporarily upset the market place, while we suffer from overeating and laziness. And the French English argument is taking place in a land where there is more than enough room for both peoples. Whatever side of his arguments you are on, neither the author's views nor his advice can be ignored except at our peril. Conflicts of a pluralistic nation By Norman Cousins, editor of Saturday Review NEW DELHI It is difficult to think of any head of state whose political life is more a high wire balancing act .than Indira Gandhi, prime minister of India. Like her father, Jawaharlal Nehru, first prime minister of India, Mrs. Gandhi's main job is to keep her nation united. Considering the ethnic and cultural pluralism of India, with 14 separate major languages and hundreds of sects and subsects, this is one of the most difficult political undertakings in history. She is widely criticized, but almost everyone agrees that she is probably the only political figure in India today who can hold the country together. Some people complain because she doesn't use all the powers of. her office to solve the country's problems. .Others attack her with equal severity because she has been too ar- bitrary and dictatorial. The pressures and counterpressures. are as fierce as they are prodigious. Just in the past 10 years, India's population has swelled to more than 500 million, an increase of almost 100 million since Jawaharlal Nehru's death. The amount of arable land has shrunk during this period. The government is attempting valiantly but with small success to stem the onrushing population tide! The number of mouths to feed is beyond the food growing capacity of the country. It is also greater than the amount of food India is able to import from the outside world. India is a Hindu country, but its minority of 60 million Moslems represents a -major factor in government policy, both domestic and foreign. India can never forget that the presence of so many Moslems could create a serious internal crisis in the event of a break with Pakistan. The sympathy of India's Moslems for the Arabs in the Middle East crisis is a potent factor in the formation of In- dian foreign policy. A related pressure of the prime minister's Middle East policy comes from India's dependence on the Arab states lor its oil. Pakistan.gets its oil at a low price, while India's oil costs have quadrupled. Vast "pressure has been brought on the prime minister to withdraw recognition of Israel and to close the Israeli consulate in Bombay. Mrs. Gandhi has resisted both these pressures. Her recognition of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) is less an act of partiality attempt to maintain a stance favoring a negotiated settlement of the Palestinian question. Meanwhile, however, the recognition of the PLO has produced shock waves abroad, es- pecially in the United States, intensifying the already strained .relations. Mrs. Gandhi is confident that in time this relationship can be restored. Like her father, she places the highest value on the goodwill of the United States but feels she must be guided primarily by what she conceives to be the best interests of the Indian peonle. The United States, of course, is guided by the same basic principle. The great tragedy in the modern world is that as the separate national interests, understandable though they may be, come into conflict the main loser is the human interest. A disappointing crop By E. David Walker, in Alberta Farm Economist The 1974 North American grain harvest must be the most disappointing ever gar- nered. There have been more disastrous years with regard to yield, but never has the world been' so dependent on at least an average grain crop from Canada and the U.S. It has been particularly disappointing because 1974 started out as a year of real promise at a time of real need. While crop development elsewhere in the world has been above average or at least up to expectations, North American crops have been next to disastrous. Exceptionally wet conditions in May and June reduced yields from the U.S. winter wheat crop and also delayed and reduced the seeding of spring crops in the U.S. corn belt and Canadian prairies. An almost unbelievable turn around in weather conditions followed with a hot and dry July in the eastern half of the Canadian prairies and in the U.S. mid-west. Crops that survived the July drought were then hit by a series of early frosts beginning in mid August. The frosts started in Alberta and progressively moved south reducing crop ex- pectations as the fall progressed. Canadian and U.S. contributions to world food and feed grain supplies have been cut back substantially. As a result, the global supply situation seems even more critical than it was last year. While this means higher prices for grain producers, these prices may be hollow compensation with the prospect of starvation in certain distant parts of the world and very meagre prospects for livestock producers closer to home. ON THE USE OF WORDS By Theodore M. Bernstein Giving the language a black "I." Another Montrealer, Mrs. L. Greenberg, reports hav- ing heard a radio announcer say, "It costs my wife and I too much and she questions that use of I. She, too, is of course right. The words my wjfe and I are objects of the verb costs and thus must be in the objec- tive case; therefore: my wife and me. As was noted here once before, some people are terrified at the thought of using me because they think it sounds illiterate. They are the ones who say, "Between you and I our coun- cilman doesn't know Which end is up." Here the words you and I are objects of the preposition between and they, too, must be in the objective case. In both the instances cited here it is possible that the position of the words has something to do with the mistakes that are made. It is unlikely that anyone would say, "It costs I and my wife too much or "Between I and you our coun- cilman doesn't know which end is up." But when that vertical pronoun comes second they think it is all right. Perhaps the reversal will provide them with a serviceable test.