Black Mountain College Project
 

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

Introduction to the Sunley Project

  Photo:  Lee Hall, Blue Ridge Assembly Buildings. Photo courtesy North Carolina
State Archives, Black Mountain College Papers.
 
 

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 ....    

 

Description of the Study by Robert Sunley, editor

In 1997 I contacted 60 former students from the early years (1933-41) whose addresses were known. Over 40 responded, but several did not write a memoir. Those willing to participate were then sent “Guidelines for Responses,” suggesting a broad range of essay topics, rather than a fixed questionnaire format. This collection of memoirs focuses on the kind of education the students actually experienced in relation to the expressed educational philosophy of Black Mountain College.

The purpose of the study was to preserve more of the total educational heritage of BMC; to highlight what was distinctive, innovative, and important in college education; and to elicit opinions as to which elements proved to be of lasting value for the former students. Few, if any, such retrospective studies have been made of students’ opinions of their education.

After the collection was assembled and copies sent to all participants, as promised, they were given the opportunity to submit their commentaries on the collection. Two students did, in full, and several others made brief comments. Also, two writers of books on Black Mountain College were asked to submit commentaries – Mary Emma Harris, author of The Arts at Black Mountain College, and Katherine Reynolds, author of Visions and Vanities, a biography of John Rice, the main founder of the college.

This web version, to be published in several sections, offers excerpts from the memoirs and commentaries. The first topic is THE ROLE OF THE ARTS AT BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE. Other topics may be presented in the future, including teaching methods and curriculum, the role of the extracurricular activities, governance, the work program.

 

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