Black Mountain College Project
 
Robert Wunsch, Betty Kelley Bobilin, Mendez Marks. Photo Courtesy North Carolina State Archives, Black Mountain College Papers, 25.90.

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 ....    

  Robert Wunsch
 
Bela Martin: Bob Wunsch was a truly great teacher. He loved people and strived to see students develop and grow as a person. He accomplished this through classes in creative writing and student participation in dramatics. He drew out abilities and talents of which they were never aware until Bob brought them along through these mediums.

John Stix: Theatre acting was my primary interest. And, pronto, there was Wunsch, rehearsing. To my untutored eye, the acting seemed very real, very professional!

Will Hamlin: Wunsch might ask, "Why did you get up on that line?" etc. If we could give a reasonable reason (motion coming out of emotion), OK; if not, we didn't get up for the line the next time we rehearsed. At first I thought this would make for very static productions; my experience in The Cherry Orchard quickly disproved that, so intensely could feelings be communicated when movement and gesture were limited to those directly called for by the feelings.

John Stix: Bob Wunsch always started out a rehearsal period by our deciding how each line should sound: with Bob's system of up and down arrows, we decided on emphasis and inflection.... My third year Wunsch scheduled Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard. Same process: up and down arrows. Mechanics. I had learned to act – mechanically! ... Ironically, my acting the wrong way helped me immensely to grasp principles of the right way.... But I can never forget the first play I ever directed was at BMC, and it was thanks to Bob Wunsch who encouraged me.

Robert Sunley: Other faculty, although lacking the stature of Rice and Albers, also absorbed and reflected the underlying principles of BMC. Though I did not take drama with Wunsch, I gained much from watching plays he produced with student actors – I did have minor parts in several plays. Here again, the closeness to the process was important, and closeness to the performance as well, seeing the transformation of familiar students and myself into figures in an Ibsen or Odets or Maxwell Anderson play.


 

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