Black Mountain College Project
   


STUDENT EXPERIENCE IN EXPERIMENTAL EDUCATION IN THE EARLY YEARS
(1933-43)

Section 2: Teachers and Teaching: Methods of Teaching

   

 

 

INTRODUCTION TO THE SUNLEY PROJECT AND DOCUMENTS

Description of the Study by Robert Sunley
*   Letter to the Students
*   Guidelines
*   Brief Biographies of
    Contributors

*   Brief Biographies of
    Faculty Mentioned in
    the Memoirs
*

SECTION 1. ROLE OF THE ARTS

    Statement by Robert
    Sunley


The artistic process as
    a major goal.

*   Individual, active
    anticipation was
    fostered but not
    required.
*   Focus on really “seeing”
    and “thinking” for
    oneself, not on the
    production of art.

Self-direction, self-
    discipline, initiative,
    development of the
    whole person....
The arts were diffused
    throughout the
    education ....    

 

Methods of Teaching:  Introduction

For the faculty, one of the great attractions of BMC was the freedom to try out different teaching methods and be less constricted by formal requirements, examinations, etc. The facu lty meetings were focused often upon teaching as well as upon problems and concerns regarding specific students. The recollections of former students contain many references to the teaching and teachers, though without specific focus on the BMC educational philosophy.

Some teachers welcomed the opportunity, but others evidently did little to change their more traditional methods. The outstanding teachers, however, employed approaches quite different from the usual. Rice's Plato class, for one, was not about Plato's writings, but rather a carrying out of Plato's Socratic method in a group which consisted of new students, advanced students, and even faculty; people dropped in and out, took part or merely listened. Albers' Drawing and Werklehre classes represented his adaptation of courses he gave at the Bauhaus, originally for students specializing in design, the arts, etc. Again, his classes had a mixed composition, and some students repeated the classes more than once. Neither Rice nor Albers had anything "objective" in their methods which could be described as "grades," but each gained immense understanding of the students through their individualized approaches. Rice's teaching embodied the concept of helping students learn to think for themselves and Albers's method was to help students learn to see for themselves—for both, the underlying emphasis was on the individual experience and motivation within a discipline.

Other faculty in one way or another embodied, in their teaching, these and other concepts, and it can be said that there was a pervasive atmosphere that affected most of the faculty. For another dimension in the education, see The Role of the Arts, the first section.

 Robert Sunley 

SECTION 2. TEACHERS AND TEACHING

Introduction

Formal Aspects of the
Curriculum 

   Class Size 
   Grades    
   Advisors 
   Junior Division  
   Senior Division  
   Graduation

Methods of Teaching
   General

   John Andrew Rice 
   Josef Albers 
   Erwin Straus 
   Robert Wunsch 
   Others


Personalities of Faculty
  
John Rice  
   Josef Albers 
   Robert
Wunsch 
   Heinrich
Jalowetz  
   Others 

Outside the Classroom
   In General  
   The Work Program 
   Visitors -
   Trips 
   Drama 
   Interlude  
   Lectures, Concerts 
   Informal Interchange