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The Experimental College in Reality

<em>Journal of the Experimental College</em>, Eric Clausen, "Experimental College General Education Philosophy Statement", 1972

General Education Philosophy Statement of the EC, written by Eric Clausen, 1972

While the plans for the EC addressed the four lost teaching opportunities identified at the beginning of the project, real world modifications were made to the operation of the program. The vision of the wholly student-driven-experience eroded quickly as the realities of education and responsibility reared their heads.

The pass-fail grading system never fully came online. Individual faculty determined their own grading scale. Some used the pass-fail system while others used an A-B-C-fail system.

In theory, EC students could define their own goals for mini-courses or individual projects. It became clear, however, that with this "freedom" came some interesting and conflicting ideas about what was scholarly and the level of quality appropriate to class goals. The lack of set standards for minimum or maximum achievement led to a consensus that there had to be modicum of direction given by faculty, but where should the line be drawn?

As the EC program matured, faculty began to hint at required minimum goals for a course or project, thus increasing the power of their position at the expense of the students' independence. In attempting to provide good counsel for their students, faculty took away some of the freedom and equality on which the program was based.

This reduction of student independence brought backlash, as can be seen in a series of letters to the editor of the Journal of the Experimental College. Penned by Roger Naggeles, who identified himself as an EC student, the letters chided the administrators of the EC for selling out their ideals about student independence. Naggeles argued that, in protecting students from their own decisions, the faculty at the EC were doing the students no favors. In fact, they were doing harm by undercutting the students' freedom to determine their own education, exactly the freedom upon which the EC had been designed.