Black Mountain College Project
STUDENT EXPERIENCE IN
EXPERIMENTAL EDUCATION IN THE EARLY YEARS
Introduction to the Sunley Project
|Photo: Studies Building Construction, 1940-41. A. Lawrence Kocher, architect. Photo: John Harvey Campbell.|
INTRODUCTION TO THE SUNLEY PROJECT AND DOCUMENTS
Guidelines for Responses
Your name ____________________________
A About yourself –
Describe what you consider relevant earlier experiences, including
family background, influencing you to go to BMC.
What later contacts have you had
with BMC students – how does this compare with students at other
Study at BMC
What classes did you take, and why? Role of faculty advisor and others? Size and composition of classes? What studying and other work was involved? How did you feel about the absence of grades? Were there other forms of competition?
Because experience in the arts
was a central feature of BMC, what classes and other experiences in the
arts were influential or memorable? If your interest in coming to BMC
was because of one or more of the arts, what classes and other
experiences were influential, apart from the arts?
Which teachers seemed best then,
and in retrospect? Any particularly poor teachers or negative
What part did initiative,
self-discipline and curiosity play, for you? Did progress through the
college occur – such as moving from junior to senior division,
Looking back, did the arts seem
integrated with the other parts of the curriculum? Over or
under-emphasized? Did you feel interested in or excited by innovative
aspects of the art classes?
Were there innovative aspects to other classes (besides the arts)? Did you and others study current social issues (such as the Depression, labor movement, Spanish Civil War, Fascists and Nazis, the New Deal, TVA, etc.)?
What part did activities other
than class-related ones have in your life at BMC? (Work program, evening
events, concerts, plays, other performances, trips, bull sessions,
social times such as dancing, parties, etc)? Were some students not
involved or left out?
How were educational policies
and courses set? Roles of students? How were faculty chosen, how were
students admitted? Did you have any part in any such activities?
The Physical Aspects
Was the isolated location in
Was the relative poverty of the
college, faculty, and many students a limitation on your educational
experience? Did it promote or limit certain areas of study? Did the
relative affluence of some have any effect?
What effects on education and
community did the physical plant have (All basically in one large
building, usually eating together, daily personal contacts among
faculty, students, visitors)?
What influence of the natural
beauty of the college surroundings and countryside?
Other comments. . .
The College Community & People
The sense of “community” –
what did you understand about it, how did it affect you, who formulated
it? What were positive and negative aspects of the small community?
What were the effects of the
formal and informal structures (student government and meetings, faculty
meetings, Board meetings, general meetings of the entire community; and
informal meetings, gripe sessions, etc)? What influence did these have
The importance of personal
involvements – friendships, affairs, etc., leaders and models,
inclusion or exclusion from groups, being cast into roles; learning
about people, strange behaviors, conflicts, handling by faculty and
students of major events such as suicides, schisms, people leaving, etc.
– and what did you gain or lose?
Totality of experience