Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Education and Tolerance at Warren Wilson College

I complain alot about the state of education, but there is certainly a heritage of excellence and many pockets still remain. Kevin E. Frederick, a 1977 Warrem Wilson alum, has written a brief history of Warren Wilson College, which I find inspiring.

Frederick writes:

"...A far-reaching sense of principled vision and pragmatic leadership has played key roles in the heritage of the school throughout its history. This vision sprang out of the college’s roots in the Presbyterian Church in both obvious and not so obvious ways. The school was founded in the late 1800’s by Presbyterian missionaries with a deep commitment to provide a good education to rural Appalachian boys...Each boy not only earned a high school diploma, he also learned trade skills by working twenty hours a week on the farm or on a number of other work crews of the school...As early as the mid 1930’s a few students from other nations began to arrive at the Asheville Farm School, but by the end of World War II, Warren Wilson Junior College increasingly looked to the Presbyterian Board of International Missions and to church connections around the world for recruitment of students. In a span of a few short years the enrollment of international students rose dramatically. In 1951, the first president of Warren Wilson, Dr. Arthur Bannerman, became aware of an African-American friend of some of the students, Alma Shippey, who expressed an interest in enrolling at Warren Wilson. One evening, Dr. Bannerman and the Academic Dean, Dr. Henry Jensen, met with the boys of Sunderland Dorm where Shippey, if accepted, would be housed. They left the final decision to the students, who voted 54 to 1 to welcome Alma Shippey to the school. He was enrolled in 1952, two years before the monumental 1954 Supreme Court ruling of Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education. In a day and time when racial integration in the south spurred widespread violence, Jensen and Bannerman opened the school to a profound vision of change, providing an educational opportunity to all academically qualified individuals who desired enrollment. This vision of racial and international harmony provided Warren Wilson students with an exposure to a widening variety of cultures from around the world in an era when diversity and creativity were often branded as suspect..."

Practical education, basic skills, tolerance, literacy. Why have these simple principles been replaced by lack of skills, political correctness, identity politics, innumeracy and illiteracy in so many universities today?

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