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Salient: Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Vol. 32, No. 3. 1969.

Failure due to 'adult gap'

Failure due to 'adult gap'

"The Problems of an "adulthood gap" and the lack of a "community of learning" were termed central to the malaise reflected in high failure rates, the President of the Catholic Society, Mr. Tim Dyce, said at the reception after the Academic Mass on Sunday.

'The demands made by the university on the student are made on an adult person; yet the treatment given him is not that accorded an adult person." he said.

On arrival at university the Student finds he is laced with a process of adult decisionmaking: his choice of course itself, his timetable of study, whether he even does his assignments or attends lectures, if living away from home, the whole organization of his life.

"If religion has been a factor in his life hitherto the degree or even existence of his commitment lies within his choice.

"In placing on him the responsibilities of an adult, the University does not now accord him the privileges.

"From the first day when he holds his number and smiles bleakly into the camera like some sort of convict, the new student is con of being treated not as a person but as an administrative unit.

"The second effect and one intimately connected with the first is a lack of "community in learning".

He said the system of learning at the core of the university structures was founded on the concept that man learnt by pooling ideas—and he did this when taking his place in a community, respected as a person, not a unit.

"This is the Oxbridge background—the Claret parties of C. P. Snow—this is the recognised quality of research fellow-ships." Mr Dyce said.

"It begins to exist at university at Stage III level; but the two years preceding are the crucial ones; the ones in which we have our failure rate difficulties.

"It is in these years that the community structures of the university system: the faculty and the tutorial, are so eroded by weight of numbers as to be almost useless."

Mr Dyce said that the faculty and the department were now little more than administrative units.

"It is the tutorial which of the basic pattern of university retains the most potential, and here one must query whether it is given even a fraction of the use it needs." he said.

"The tutorial is essential to the need of the student to be treated as an adult and in community.

"In the lecture room, the lecturer becomes a teacher—this is the personal transmission of knowledge.

"It is in the tutorial that the individual should feel relaxed, part of a group of people collectively seeking truth.

"But too often one hears or experiences tutorials which are just another lecture, or which a tutor allows the more vocal, not necessarily the more intelligent mouth on, or even the student finds that the tutorial is a sort of unofficial examination room."

Mr Dyce concluded with a note to freshers. "Let's lace it. Failing units wil Ibe in your minds quite a bit so facing up to it is not undue pessimism."

He added that Catholic Society has set over a weekend to study the wider problems of the Universities' relation with the community at the annual camp at Reikorangi on the 28-30th March. The theme is "The Student & the Community — Leader or Rebel?"