Black Mountain College Project
 

John Andrew Rice and Students. Photo Courtesy North Carolina State Archives, Black Mountain College Papers, 25.78. 

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

Section 2: Teachers and Teaching: Personalities of Faculty

       

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
    articipation 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 ....    

 

John Andrew Rice

Nancy Brager Katz: I thought John Rice a fascinating and complex person, and was one of his true "followers." He had many faults, but was a unique leader.

Jane Mayhall: John Andrew Rice, who was the original founder, was a great man, a magnificent speaker and a vulnerable spirit. He had a romantic vision of youth being the "leader" of ideas and I think a lot of the students took advantage of him.... Rice had great faith in young people. Unintentionally ... a precursor of the faith in "youth culture" that has so affected American preferences, not as Rice would have foreseen. He was highly admiring of the work of Gertrude Stein and gave one a mystic feeling about her direction. Rice was really a poet, and hid his sensitivities in bluster.

Alexander Eliot: John Rice was a roly-poly, pig-eyed, pipe-puffing Southerner; wickedly adept at persuasion, and a rather loosely defined law into himself.... Rice was hot; Albers was cold. Rice was educated; Albers was cultivated. Rice's ideal was Free Inquiry; Albers's ideal was Artistic Investigation.

Norman Weston: He had a mind that seemed to cut through a lot of mush in a hurry.... Rice was direct to the point of being cruel. He would tell people in public meetings that they were idiots ... he was brilliant, had a wonderful sense of humor, was kind when he wanted to be, had strong convictions about teaching, and gave freely of his time.

Emil Willimetz: "Rice had a caustic, biting wit and couldn't resist using it against his less witty faculty members. Sarcasm was Rice's Achilles Heel; as a student of Greek philosophy he should have known that.... A number of faculty members, therefore, delighted in the opportunity to pay him back.

Robert Sunley: Rice was a remarkable man, a person most people learned from in some way – his vitality, articulateness, wit, understanding all made him more of a presence to most students and faculty than any other person there.... he was a leader par excellence in opposition, but when he was in charge, he backed off and left much to others.

The climax came with a dramatic general meeting of all faculty and students, chaired by Rice as Rector. Here I saw Rice at his best and worst—skillfully fending off criticism, offering reasonable explanations; but also at times rocking angrily in his chair, puffing hard on his pipe, turning red in the face, and then sharply attacking an opponent.... one of his succinct remarks was that "the gospel of work makes me tired," referring obliquely and harshly to Ted Dreier's enthusiasm for physical work.

I recall Rice inviting me to accompany him on a walk in order to talk, but ending up at his personal strawberry patch which he planted, cultivated, and reaped.... this was in keeping with another of Rice's convictions not usually remarked on, that the food at BMC had to be really good, varied, and well cooked – this was a personal desire on his part, which he half humorously rationalized with the concept that it was necessary to have food in keeping with the high standards of the college. Yet I realized from experience before and later that no other college or university I had contact with ever served decent food. This may have facilitated the kind of socializing that took place at the meal tables, and perhaps our general well-being as well.

Marian Nacke Teeter: J.A. Rice, a brilliant, very courageous and independent spirit.

 

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