Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Some Links Related to the Pearson Integrated Humanities Program

To get ready to read Chapter 6 of Poetic Knowledge, where we get well into the details of how education in the poetic mode might look in a college,  I went and researched online to see what came up for Pearson Integrated Humanities Program.  Here are a few of the ones I found -- no doubt there are far more:

For background, book review that sketches a rather painful summary of the birth and demise of the project.

Truth on Trial chronicles in gruesome detail the virtual disembowelment of an exceedingly successful and popular program in the humanities at the University of Kansas during the late 1970s. Carlson carefully follows the Pearson Integrated Humanities Program (IMP) from its hopeful inception in 1970 as a place where students could "be born in wonder" (145) to its "death by administration" (123) in 1979. Along the way we meet jealous faculty members, grossly mis-informed church leaders (pawns, really, of the former), and a University administration so lacking in common sense as to appear lobotomized.
The review is worth reading as it goes into detail about some of the unique features of the program.

At Classical Homeschooling, a Definition of Integrated Humanities Program, by John Senior
(I've been finding lots of articles and interviews by IHP founders over there, it is a good site to explore)

A quote:
A modern university is a collection of subjects loosely united by the demands of business and the professions for trained personnel and arranged for the convenience of its administrators.  However, the great tradition in philosophy has held that knowledge is analogous, that is one integral structure having many parts but moving together and arranged from within by its intrinsic nature.
At Calliope, a collection of links -- talks by faculty and students at IHP 

Some I have already linked to, but there are other ones that look interesting as a look inside what the program was about.

At the San Elijo College blog, a short description of the program 

A good quote:
One of the things which struck us in the description of this program was the way in which students "did" poetry: "groups of students met to memorize poetry, truly by memory, since no text was used, but conducted by another student who had himself the poems of the program in his memory." This reminds us of the end of Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 where people become their own books.
At A Draught of Vintage, a eulogy for Dr Dennis Quinn, one of the founders of the IHP.

A quote (long, but there was so many good things there):

Dr. Quinn .. taught us to see the world with the eyes of wonder.  Nascantur in Admiratione: let them be born in wonder, the motto of I.H.P., that we might more easily see those glimpses, those manifestations of that kingdom, that invisible world, as Blessed John Henry Newman so often spoke about, so that this “invisible world becomes more real than the visible world which is constantly passing away before our eyes.”

In his forward to Dr. Quinn’s Magnus Opus, “Iris Exiled: A Synoptic History of Wonder,” the Jesuit, Father James Schall wrote these words:  “To wonder about wonder is the vocation of Dennis Quinn.” This was his passion.  ....

Professor Quinn called this kind of learning “education by the muses” or the “poetic mode” of education. He introduced us to reality through delight. This opened a whole new world to us.  A world that was filled with mystery and beauty, but also a world that was very real and tangible.  This was not mere fantasy or dreamy idealism, as he once wrote in an essay:  “Mistake me not: wonder is no sugary sentimentality but, rather a mighty passion, a species of fear, an awful confrontation of the mystery of things.”

This kind of education, education by the muses or poetic education was a participatory kind of learning whether it was through the poetry we memorized and then recited, the songs we would sing before class, the stargazing at night west of Lawrence, the Yankee trade fairs, the magic of the spring waltzes, the banquets and parties at the Castle Tea Room, the trips to Italy and Greece and Ireland — we participated in the thing itself, we experienced the reality of what we were learning. Again, to refer to Newman, we moved from the mere notional assent to the truth, where we understand things in a notional way primarily through the intellect, we moved to a real assent, to real understanding which engages our whole being. “The muses present life fresh, as if seen and experienced for the first time.”

Dr. Quinn put it this way in that same essay: “Education by the Muses is participatory. To sing a love song is not identical to being in love, but it is to participate somehow in that experience. When a child sees the twinkle of the star he knows it directly; when he chants the rhyme he knows the twinkling indirectly by participating in it. Poetry and music and even astronomy at this level are not to be studied but to be done!”

 How would some of this, as well as what is in Chapter 6, look in a homeschool? That will have to be for a different post. 


  1. Thanks for the link to the review of Truth on Trial -- that looks like a really interesting book!

    What a sad story.

  2. Willa, I have a question for you. An integrated, whole education is what I have always worked toward for my kids. But I have also always told them that college is about getting a job. Since it is so fragmented and costs so much now and we could really do a better job of integrated, whole college education at home, it seems to me that college has become utilitarian.

    What do you think? Am I off-base?

  3. Katie, I think you are right that university education has become utilitarian. And fragmented. This seems like a good summary of what I've read through the years on this <a href="http://www.firstprinciplesjournal.com/articles.aspx?article=37&theme=hiedu>Higher Education and the Liberal Arts</a>.

    I suppose that as kids start nearing college age one has to decide where the child should go from there and what that will take. It seems that if we look at the world most college degrees are "tickets" to the best jobs. That seems to be a fact. Aidan's occupational therapist tells me that nowadays you need a master's degree to be an OT. That is really something! My son who wants to be a forester needs at least a BS, perhaps a Master's or even a PhD.

    But education of this sort is specialized trade school, not liberal knowledge like you have been teaching your children through CM.

    My other two grown children went to Thomas Aquinas College which is a Great Books liberal arts college. There are other colleges that have responded to the need for a restoration of the liberal arts, but they are all small private colleges and expensive (my kids got scholarships and grants and some moderate loans).

    The son that wants to get a forestry degree is trying to get a lot of his credits at a community college to reduce expenses. He's also taking more than four years to complete his college education since $$$ is a factor.

    If you choose classes carefully at a conventional state U, you can get a more liberal education instead of just focusing in one or two areas like a lot of kids do. Unfortunately, secular liberal arts classes often have a political sub-text. (I was an English Lit major).

    Bottom line: it really is a question of discernment and two things come into it: Prep for future life (which may or may not involve jumping through a few rather expensive hoops), and development of the person as person (poetic knowledge, liberal arts).

    Utilitarian isn't bad -- it just means that it is FOR something besides itself, usually in this case getting a job. Whereas liberal arts are far the development of the person as a person. Cardinal Newman says that people educated as people usually do well in any job because they have a broad intellectual capability -- but our society tends to want us to produce certificates to show we have mastered this or that.

    I know a few people who are doing college at home. But I don't know much about the details. The wife of my mom's pastor just got a master's -- she did one of those self-designed majors. I am not sure if it was utilitarian or not -- but she seemed to find it satisfying!

  4. You're right-- utilitarian isn't necessarily bad.

    I'm just wondering if, because of the utilitarian nature, we treat it as a necessary evil instead of a true extension of their educations. Sounds like there are some good programs out there, though.


I would love to hear your thoughts on this!