Nascantur in Admiratione
THESE LATIN words on the Pearson emblem (which appears on the next page) mean, “Let them be born in wonder.” To be a student is to be alive to intelligence, and the beginning of such a life is wonder. In our own day wonder has been so cheapened by sensationalism and so crippled by skepticism that the college freshman, instead of being as one newly awakened to the excitement of learning, is often, rather, as one who has never been born. To such a young person learning is so much drudgery and routine, alien to his real interests, remote from reality itself. To revive wonder may be said to summarize the aims of the Pearson Program. Hence it should be regarded as an elementary or elemental course, where one discovers the love of wisdom; a course for beginners, who look upon the primary things of the world, as it were, for the first time.
An ancient philosopher said that to look at the stars is to become a lover of wisdom – a philosopher. Since the Pearson Program aims to make all students philosophers in this sense, we say, with a modern poet,
Look at the stars! Look, look up at the skies!
Not only are students in the Program required to look, literally, at the stars, but they are also expected to look up through poetry and through all that is great in Western Civilization. It is by the light of the stars (or “something like a star”) that we discover the world, ourselves, and our destination.
“Wonder is the passion of the philosopher.” ~Plato
“And since wonder was the motive which led men to philosophy, it is evident that the philosopher is, in a sense, a philomyth, i.e., a lover of story, as is characteristic of the poets.” ~Thomas Aquinas
“The happy life is rejoicing in the truth.” ~St Augustine
“The heavens declare the glory of God.” ~Psalms
“Know, Sancho, I was born in this Iron Age to restore the Age of Gold.” ~Don Quixote
“Behold the lilies of the field; they toil not.” ~Gospel of St. Matthew
“This is the rarest dream that e’re dull sleep // Did mock sad fools withal.” ~Shakespeare
What is the Pearson Integrated Humanities Program?
It is three professors and two hundred students reading the great books of Western Civilization. It is a four-semester sequence of six-credit-hour courses designed especially for freshmen and sophomores. The first semester is devoted to ancient Greek authors, the second to Roman, the third to the Bible and Medieval civilization, and the fourth to the modern world. The books are selected to represent various areas of the humanities, especially history, literature, and philosophy. Instead of studying these three disciplines separately, they are considered in relation to each other and to the whole educational process. Students in the Program memorize poetry; they learn the script in which this booklet is written [calligraphy]; they waltz; they may speak Latin. The Program is open to all new K.U. students, and it is designed for all levels of academic ability, not just for “high achievers.”
A Letter to Prospective K.U. Freshmen
I am writing to inform you about the Pearson Integrated Humanities Program and to invite your consideration of it.
I am not interested, I should add, in “selling” you this program. Education, like love, cannot be bought or sold; like one’s heart, liberal learning must be given away, and all learners must give themselves to the service of truth. A teacher is not a huckster of whatever the public thinks it wants; nor is he in the business of creating desires for his “product.”
St. Lawrence, the patron of the home town of K.U., when asked by the pagans to yield up the treasure of his church, pointed to his congregation made up of the blind, the lame, the sick, and the destitute, and said, “Behold, the poor!” Among the poor of today are, in our view, the “poor little rich kids” who have everything that money can buy but nothing that money cannot buy. The Pearson Program specializes in the sorts of things that cannot be bought and sold.
As an example of what I mean, consider the handwriting of this letter. It was scripted by a student of the Pearson Program. All of our students learn to write this way. (It is not difficult to learn, by the way, and requires no artistic talent.) This is not merely writing; it is what the Greeks called kalligraphy, literally, beautiful writing. Typing is un-beautiful, impoverished, starved writing, sacrificing all that is beautiful and personal for sheer mechanical utility. Calligraphy, although useful, rises above utility, as crystal is above glass, as wisdom is above information. Modern readers are likely to complain that calligraphy is “hard to read,” but they will also complain that crystal must be polished and that wisdom cannot be acquired in three lessons.
Why, When, and How did the Program Begin?
In recent years college freshmen and sophomores have complained with increasing bitterness that they are treated as second-class citizens at the big universities. Many under-class courses are taught by graduate students rather than by full-time faculty; beginning classes are routine and dull; the underclassman is a mere number, never knowing or being known by a faculty member; the freshmen-sophomore curriculum, consisting principally of unpopular “required” courses, is fragmented, incoherent, and directionless; typical college courses have nothing to do with the fundamental questions of life. To meet these criticism, three K.U. professors initiated, in 1971, with the help of a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, a four semester integrated humanities program for freshmen and sophomores.
What Do People Think about the Program?
Students enrolled in the course are enthusiastic, frequently declaring it to be the best educational experience of their lives.
Professor Walter Crockett (Psychology) asserted in 1973 that the Pearson Program is the only academic enterprise at K.U. which has succeeded in creating a genuine intellectual community for freshmen and sophomores. Professor Charles Sidman, chairman of the Department of History says, “The Pearson students have been of unusually high quality. Their zest for knowledge, general enthusiasm, willingness to work and native talent have greatly enhanced the numerous courses they have chosen to take.” Wil Linkugel, Professor of Speech, who has taught several special classical speech courses for Pearson students has remarked on their “positive attitude toward learning.” Professor of Journalism, John Brenner describes the program as “stella huius colis.”
Hundreds of parents visit the Pearson Program classes each year – in itself a remarkable fact. A typical reaction was that of a physician: “As parents of college students, we feel the Pearson Program represents an island of security and truth in the present day educational sea of turmoil and confusion.” A prominent psychiatrist, Dr. Harold Voth, writes, “My son has been very favorably impressed by the Pearson Program. His professors are extremely dedicated men who appear to have as one of their objectives the reaffirmation of the best in human values. Transmission of knowledge is one thing, integrating that knowledge into the human condition is quite another. It seems to me the Pearson course of study is successful in this endeavor.” The Pearson Program has attracted national attention. Russell Kirk, an eminent writer and scholar, devoted a column in National Review to the Program; it begins, “Suppose that Mr. Gallup or Mr. Harris were to put this question to a random sample of the literate American public: ‘Where, in your opinion, is the most lively innovation in college programs of study to be found?’ I suspect that few in the sample would respond promptly, ‘The University of Kansas.’ And yet I might so respond.”
The Program is Controversial
Not everyone has admired the Pearson Humanities Program. When one takes definite and unfashionable stands on important issues, one must expect adversaries. The professors have been accused of being “authoritarian” and “dogmatic,” for example. Certainly nobody ever accused them of being indecisive. Experienced teachers will claim to know some things that freshmen do not; mature scholars will have made up their minds about some central issues. The task of the teacher, however, is not to impose his will or ideas upon students, but to see what Homer (for example) sees and to assist others in seeing the same thing. This issue about teaching is only one aspect of a larger controversy, the ancients vs. the moderns, the spider vs. the bee, as Swift puts it. In contemporary education the doctrine of the spider has attained a virtual monopoly. Through the Pearson Program, the case of the bee, with its long, respectable, and successful history is being asserted.
Instructors in the course are three full professors – Nelick (English), Senior (Classics), Quinn (English). Participants come to know and to be known very well by all three professors through constant association over a four-semester period. Each professor enjoys a reputation for excellent classroom teaching. All have received major K.U. teaching awards. In 1974 Professor Senior was awarded one of three $1,000 Amoco Foundation awards and the senior class Hope award. Professor Nelick was one of the first recipients of the $1,000 H. Benard Fink Awards when it was the only annual teaching award at K.U. In 1965 Professor Quinn received the same honor, and in 1969, he was named Hope award winner by the senior class. Although very different in style and temperament, the professors share a common vision of life and of education which they are willing to assert, defend, and advocate.
As part of its emphasis on direct, participatory education, the Pearson Program has conducted foreign study tours of Greece and Italy. The purpose of living and studying in Europe is not to learn about “foreign” ways but rather to rediscover the roots of our own culture. To know who we are as Americans, we must know something of where we came from. The Pearson educational tours have served to promote an understanding of one of the major issues of our time – tradition vs. modernization, the old vs. the new, cultural stability vs. change. So dominant is modernization in America that college age students have almost no direct experience of traditional culture, with its slower pace, its love of a living past, its handcrafts, its unspoiled countryside. The consequence is not only that many young Americans do not know what modernism is replacing, but also that they do no know what it means to be modern.
Next year the entire semester (January 26 to May 18) will be conducted in Ireland rather than in Lawrence. A full semester of K.U. credit may be earned by participating in this Program. In addition to the Humanities Program, Latin, English, and Comparative Literature classes taught by regular K.U. faculty, there will be a course in Irish culture taught by faculty of University College, Galway. The setting will be in southwestern Ireland, in or near Galway – an area remote politically and geographically from Northern Ireland, the scene of recent civil disturbances. Southern (non-industrialized) Ireland in general and western Ireland in particular are famous for their retention and cultivation of comparatively “old-fashioned” ways. The total cost (including K.U. fees) for this trip will be about $1,700. Some partial scholarships will be awarded. (note: the estimated normal expense for a semester in Lawrence is $1,200.)
What is the Philosophy of the Humanities Program?
It may be called “traditional” or “perennial” in so far as it follows the common understanding of reality which is handed down from Plato and the Bible, through the Christian Middle Ages and the Renaissance into our own times. This understanding has always been challenged, of course, and from the 16th century on, the attacks have grown sharper and more widespread. These challenges to the tradition are also studied in the Program, with a view to forming a just understanding of their force.
The subject of the course is emphatically not the convictions of the teachers, for, as St. Augustine says, “Who would be so stupidly curious as to send his son to school in order that he may learn what the teacher thinks?” What Plato says is far more important than what we say of him, but it is not the point of education to learn even the convictions of Plato. The greatest of Plato’s students, Aristotle, declared that as much as he loved his teacher, he loved the truth still more. Mark Van Doren, in Liberal Education, a book that asserts many ideals of the program, puts it this way: “The teacher, of course, must have authority over the student before he can be respected in the way the student wants to respect him. But authority comes naturally with knowledge that is lucid as the liberal arts make knowledge lucid. The teacher who is not a liberal artist may not indoctrinate or charm, but he will not teach. Indoctrination makes the teachers thought prevail, but teaching is less a matter of what either the teacher or the student thinks than of what the mind itself, the third person, decides and says.”
The spirit of the Pearson Program may be called Quixotic. Don Quixote has been both ridiculed and admired because he lived the chivalrous life when it was out of fashion. Note – he did not just talk about chivalry: he did it. As he took knight-errantry seriously, so we take Don Quixote seriously – and Odysseus, and all the others. Doing poetry is Quixotic – memorizing and reciting it; being mannerly and waltzing are Quixotic; and so is taking sides. Words like truth and faith and honor and love and courtesy and decency and simplicity and modesty are Quixotic, and the realities for which these words stand are, in this Iron Age, so Quixotic as to be positively despised by the sophisticated. The Pearson Program asserts that such realities are no sentimental “impossible dream,” no crazy anachronism, but rather the objects of an entirely possible dream which is the paradigm of sanity.
Why Read the Great Books?
On this question the judgment of Western Civilization is in. Not to know Homer and Plato and Virgil and Caesar and the Bible (to list no more) is simply to be uneducated. Merely to know about them is comparable to knowing about food without actually eating any. To know them in fragments is to be fragmentarily educated. It is worth repeating, however, that knowledge of books is not the aim of education. The books themselves aim at an understanding of the permanent things, the things which every person encounters in life.
Semester I Semester II
Homer, Odyssey and Illiad Virgil, Aeneid
Plato, Republic Caesar, Conquest of Gaul
Aesop, Fables Plutarch, Makers of Rome
Herodotus, Persian Wars Lucretius, The Nature of the Universe
Thucydides, Peloponnesian War Cicero, On Duty
Aeschylus, Oresteia Old Testament, Selections
Semester III Semester IV
New Testament Cervantes, Don Quixote, Part I
Augustine, Confessions St. Cellini, Autobiography
Two Lives of Charlemagne Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part I
Song of Roland Shakespeare, Hamlet
Memoirs of the Crusades Descartes, Meditations
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Hume, Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion
Boethius, Consolation of Philosophy Scott, Ivanhoe
St. Francis, Little Flowers Burke, Reflections on the French Revolution
Chaucer, Canterbury Tales Newman and Huxley, Selections on Education
Parkman, The Oregon Trail
Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment
The Latin Option
As an option, students in the Humanities Program are urged to enroll in a special Latin sequence. More than one-half of the students in the Program have elected to take this series of courses, and most of these had no intention, originally, of studying Latin. Since instruction in the Latin language is coordinated with the Humanities Program, there is a considerable advantage in taking the two simultaneously. The course is taught according to the basic principles of the Program, stressing direct knowledge of simple but serious material and utilizing the oral method. Students actually speak (and sing) Latin as the living language of Western civilization rather than memorizing conjugations and declensions. A visiting teacher from St. John’s College at Annapolis said of the Latin class that it “was absolute fun. The reason I say that may be that I found myself speaking (a few words) conversationally in Latin for the first time in my fifty-seven years. But apart from that, what struck me was that in the context of simple conversations in Latin, students could, right and left, learn a lot about language, about distinctions of genus and species, what a definition is, etc.” Completion of the four-semester Latin sequence satisfies the K.U. foreign language requirement. This sequence combined with the Pearson Program may also be counted toward the Classical Antiquity major. This has proved a popular major for Program students who stay in the College after their sophomore year.
“At first I didn’t think I could enjoy memorizing poetry, but now it is one of the things I like best about the Program.” So writes a sophomore who has completed the whole program, knowing forty great poems by heart. The restoration of memory is one of the key-notes of the Program. Poetry, like song and dance, is primarily for memory and primarily for simple delight. Poetry acts upon us when it is in our hearts. We deplore the contemporary emphasis upon the “analysis” of poetry, an activity which spoils the delight and implies that the analyst should be aloof from poetry rather than participating in it.
Instruction follows the theory and practice of the classical art of rhetoric which intends to make truth prevail by effective expression. This art involves the study of certain forms of reasoning, and of human character and emotion; and the practice of specific techniques. Normally writing exercises are based on assigned readings, butt here is no “analysis” of texts or library “research.”
How Does the Course Work?
Each week on Tuesday and Thursday all freshmen in the Program assemble for 80 minutes. All three professors are usually present. They engage in a spontaneous conversation on the reading for the day. Students are not permitted to take notes. One cannot really listen and think while scribbling. The taking of notes damages the memory because it destroys the need to remember. The tendency is to fill up notebooks while leaving the mind empty.
Every student also meets twice a week in a small group to study rhetoric and to converse and ask questions about issues raised in lectures or works studied. Every student meets once a week to memorize poetry.
The readings are often difficult, the standards of achievement rigorous, the level of instruction high. Students must work hard and think deeply. Studying for a grade, however, rather than for understanding is strongly discouraged. Although the Program is demanding, we want all kinds of students – superior or average, articulate or reserved, science or poetry-oriented. This is a program designed not only for future English or history majors. Many students currently enrolled plan to major in a science or to enter education, business, medical or law school. We hope to provide a superior background for any future education. About 15% of new members inducted into the honorary history society in 1975 completed the Pearson Program. The number was similar for the French honors society. One of the twenty-eight 1975 seniors graduating with Highest Distinction, a pre-medical student, Charles Rhodes, was a Pearson Humanities Student.
How Does the Program Fit with the Rest of the Students’ Curriculum?
Enrollment in this sequence will not interfere with any other preparatory curriculum in the College of Liberal Arts. The pre-medical curriculum, for example, is one of the most crowded programs at the University; nevertheless many students in Pearson Humanities are pre-medical students. The first two courses in the program may be used to satisfy two of the three humanities courses required for graduation. The Pearson Program may be substituted for English and other humanities requirements by students in Engineering and Architecture and Urban Design and by students who enter the School of Journalism or Business. A typical first semester class schedule might include the Pearson Program (6 credits), Math 115 (3 credits), Latin 105 (5 credits), English 101 or 102 or 105 (3 credits). Enrolling in the first course in the Pearson Program does not oblige one to take the next course in the sequence.
How Does the Program Relate to Future Careers?
A liberal education (one not aimed at any particular professional area of specialization) is the best foundation of any career – and for a good life. Until you have considered the basic issues of life, you cannot hope to choose a career wisely. The Humanities Program is designed to provide an integrated view of the whole of Western civilization and of the whole educational process – a universal view, from which the university takes its very name. Such an education may be called vertical, as distinguished from horizontal. When studying a single art or science, one attempts to master it without considering its relation to the whole of life or of education; one remains entirely on a horizontal plane learning more and more of the same thing – law, medicine, business, teaching, history, etc. Vertical education, however, moves upward through the planes (as in the medieval picture on this page) learning the whole structure and the relation of all the parts to the whole. Only from the top of the tower can one see where one’s own place should be.
“Shall we begin, then, with the acknowledgement that education is first given through Apollo and the Muses?” ~Plato
In the Springs of 1974 and 1975, the students of the Pearson Program and their parents participated in a formal waltz ball. This event was not an exercise in nostalgia but rather an expression of educational ideals. All learning begins with music, with the Muses. All Pearson lectures begin with a song. Dancing orders the soul by ordering the movement of the body, thus tuning and elevating the whole person to that order which may be seen in the stars.
The Yankee Tank Fair
For the past two years the Program has sponsored a country fair. It consists of the usual rural sports and the usual homemade food and handcrafted goods – all contributed by students in the Program. The heart of Kansas is rural, and so is the heart of civilization itself; real culture begins in the cultivation of the soil. The Pearson Program is a search for roots, cultural, historical, social, moral. In the year of America’s bicentennial it is more important than ever to affirm that the values and ideals of our rural life are not dead and past but that America will perish if its roots are allowed to die. Proceeds from the Fair go to a scholarship fund for the Pearson semester in Ireland.
“And young and old came forth to play
On a Sunshine Holyday,
Till the live-long daylight fail.” ~Milton
If you want an opinion about the Program from a participant or from the parent of a participant, phone any of the persons listed below: […]
How to be Admitted
Generally speaking admission is on a first come, first serve basis, but usually the class, limited to 150, fills during the summer. Anyone wishing to enter the Program in the Fall should arrange a personal appointment with me during June or July. If you attend summer orientation session, I will be in Nunemaker all afternoon. If you have already pre-enrolled but wish to enter the Program, you may adjust your schedule when classes begin. If a persona visit is not possible before fall enrollment, applicants may write me at the University of Kansas, Pearson Humanities Program, 1122 West Campus, Lawrence, Kansas 66045 or call (913) 864-4223.
Dennis B. Quinn
Director, Pearson Program