Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 13, No. 6. April 13, 1950
What Have You Come to VUC For?
What Have You Come to VUC For?
This article is long delayed in appearing, for reasons both within and beyond our control: but perhaps it's only after freshers have been here a while they will appreciate the question. . .
This was one of the main questions naked by Mr. Braybrooke when, at the request of the Students' Assn. he spoke on the attitude of the students to the university.
Our attitude might be more clearly seen if we considered why we students come to the university. This in turn raised the question of what was a university and university education.
Various ideas have been expressed as to what happens here. Some have said that university education conissts in casting imitation pearls before real swine—and there is something to that. Far too many students regard their function as that of blotting paper, and hope merely to sop up a few facts and opinions sufficient to enable them to extract the desired tickets to a better-pair job at the earliest possible moment. While we cannot disregard the need for a certificate, we must realise that there is much more to university education than the acquisition of mere technical competence.
The so-called crisis in the university is, in Mr. Braybrooke's view, partly due to this diploma ticket view of the place. One remedy is for students to change that state where all they look for is marks and that piece of parchment. Ceasing from narrowing one's vision in that way will enable one to gain a broader and deeper view of the university. The student will wake up to all that is going on here, and realise that the more he participates in both study and leisure activities, the greater will be the measure he achieves of the fullness of the university.
What does this mean as far as the subjects studied are concerned? The first thing a newcomer here will notice is that he is not, as it were, held by the hand and taught as at school. He sees less of the staff than at secondary school. He is exacted to do much more on his own initiative. Why is this?
Further, some students may be moved to ask', "What do the staff do with all their spare time?" A very proper question.
The answer to this will be found to contain also the answer to the first. The staffs job does not consist merely of lecturing, They are engaged in their several ways in the disinterested pursuit of knowledge in their chosen subjects, sometimes characterised as the search for truth. This is not an easy matter. They are so engaged so that they will, be the better able to pass some of their findings on to the students and inspire them to the conviction that the things of the mind are worth devotion that knowledge is more to be desired than gold. But the student's function in this business is not a passive one. Unfortunately an amazing number of students do resemble blotting paper, particularly when some lecturer is doing his utmost to strike a spark from them. But it should not be like that This university education is a co-operative active process the meetings of the minds of student and teacher. Mr. Braybrooke admitted that this was an ideal view of university activities not always realised in practice. But he emphasised that this desire to meet students on common ground was general among the staff and that they were willing to give of their best to the genuine student. It's also up to the students to do their part and the horrible barrier of excessive respect, which seems to be a hangover from our school days, must be broken down.
There is also the question of the student's view of the world about him. Mr. Braybrooke quoted a writer who said that this is an age of the intellectual organisation of political hatreds. The genuine student will then give earnest thought and attention to, for example, political matters. We students should go out into the world prepared to examine the facts at any cost. A student will be a stranger to mere uninstructed political passion.
Further, the sporting and cultural clubs which abound in the college own not an idle existence. Here, as before, it can be said, seek and ye shall find". Take part in all that you reasonably can. Mr. Braybrooke does think that it may be questioned whether all clubs take their jobs seriously.
and a talkover
Anyway, students would do well to take the advantage which is now available of discussing the things that interest them with others. You will be surprised where it will lead you.
There is one thing more to be said about university education. The two strands, study and leisure, can be woven into one fabric. A pattern can be given to our lives if we each will seek it here. If we do not we are so much the poorer.
The Dean of Students of the University of California was asked by a visiting professor from a small Eastern college who was overwhelmed by the hordes rushing around the tremendous campus at Berkeley: "How many students have you here?"
'About one in a hundred," was the reply.
Can we at V.U.C. improve on that ration?