27 Matching Annotations
  1. Dec 2017
    1. It is therefore greatly to be wished, that preliminary schools, either on private or public establishment, would be distributed in districts thro the state, as preparatory to the entrance of Students into the University

      I find it very interesting that the when the Rockfish Gap Report was created, it had the intention of building up UVA to be a highly prestigious institution that would serve as an honor for Virginians to attend. We see this when the authors make a point to distinguish public and private schools as proper preliminary educational programs in order to gain entrance into the University. These schools were not was causally assigned, but rather carefully planned to be in various, spread out locations around the state, which tells us that the authors wanted all of Virginians to be able to attend the great university and become a part of its large and close knit community. It was important to the authors that citizens of Virginia all over the state had an equal opportunity to be able to attend the school, and that in doing so, they would be prepared for the rigorous academic environment that they would become a part of.

    2. Ideology

      When they say “ideology”, what exactly is being taught here? Ideology regarding economics? Religion? Ethics? It is left unclear what the University was attempting at by enlightening their students in ideology. Due to the nature of the report and the historical context, it makes me wonder if any of this so called “ideology” may have been in regards to or relations with racial hatred and discrimination. With the fact in mind that the University did not accept women into the school until the institution was well into the 1900’s, it brings to mind the question of whether or not this ideology may have been sexist in some manner. If so, what steps were taken in reforming it? It would be interesting to learn more about how teaching ideology was actually put into practice.

    3. and the preposterous idea that they are to look backward for better things and not forward, longing, as it should seem, to return to the days of eating acorns and roots rather than indulge in the degeneracies of civilization.

      This jumped out at me, as many modern-day Americans who associate with the country's founding fathers are extremely backward looking. Here, the founding fathers themselves denounce the native people for "looking backward not forward," yet, modern day "confederates" or children of confederates derive their arguments from "looking backward." They believe that the country was better off back in the day. Using the founding fathers' logic, this would make these white supremacists "chained to barbarism and wretchedness." How ironic. I would have to agree with this statement in part. While I do not that the founding father's value of education and curiosity necessarily made them superior to the natives, I do believe that good things are found in looking forward, cultivating knowledge, and challenging and developing what we hold to be true.

    4. And generally to form them to habits of reflection, and correct action, rendering them examples of virtue to others & of happiness within themselves.

      Was behavior and "correct action" a large part of early University education? From the sound of the way the students mistreated professors and especially the slaves that kept the school, it did not seem as though "correct action" and reflection were important values. Morality and kindness are concepts that, while not new, are more stressed in education in modern day than at least in the recent past. Furthermore, it seems that many students found happiness from disobedient behaviors and drinking. Edgar Allen Poe was such an anomaly because he was actually interested in his studies.

    5. Sales of two Glebes

      A Glebe was a parcel of land granted to a church, revenues from farming which were used to support the priest and church. If this means that the founders of the University partially funded it by selling church properties, this is fascinating; it reminds me of many statements made by Jefferson and the other founders criticizing religion and Christianity in particular. The fact that the board or town saw fit to sell these lands shows that they believed that education is more valuable than religion, and this would have been a relatively new belief in the western world.

    6. Mechanics Rhetoric Statics Belle Lettres & the fine arts Dynamics Pneumatics Acoustics

      It's interesting to think about the fact that these six areas of physics (mechanics, statics, dynamics, pneumatics, acoustics, optics), which were formerly all taught as separate classes, are now generally included in one class. In this time period, we simply knew less about physics; people were still finding the laws of electromagnetism, nothing was properly understood about atoms, and it would still be another century before relativity and quantum mechanics were born. I have to wonder how the work compared to that of today; after all, they clearly spent more time learning about these subjects but knew less about the fundamental explanations.Much of this likely centered around what were practical skills and knowledge for this time period.

    7. this brings us to the point at which are to commence the higher branches of education

      This phrasing makes it sound as though the principles already listed were considered perfunctory and not classified as part of the “higher branches of education.” The phrase “to the point” makes everything described before “the point” an arbitrary base of knowledge from which higher knowledge can then grow. This is categorizing the personal growth described—the furthering of morals, perceptions of social relationships, and understanding of rights—above as elementary knowledge. While much of this personal education is implied in a university setting instead of explicitly taught, it is still a hallmark of higher education, most likely because college, a place of personal growth, is now synonymous with higher education. The distinction between what the university teaches as either “primary education” or “the higher grade of education” contradicts the idea that everything taught at the university level is an education of a higher order. Despite this popular fallacy, is it possible that the university then doesn’t provide us exclusively with a higher education? That is what this document is proposing. Whether or not this is still the case is a point of interest. Are general education requirements, usually lower-level classes, the modernized version of this primary education? It seems as though specifically the new curriculum expounds this idea, as its main aim is to engage us in this personal growth that was once important to universities, but now seems as though it occurs implicitly by circumstance of being in a university setting. The new curriculum is once again making these principles necessary to education in an explicit way in the form of classes—specifically the engagements. Is this necessary or this a backwards step from higher education to primary education? If it is primary education, is it important to teach, is it something we would learn on our own without a class, or is it arbitrary knowledge we already possess?

    8. mathematical and physical sciences which advance the arts & administer to the health, the subsistence & comforts of human life

      By making an education in “mathematical and physical sciences” only important because it will “advance the arts” or help “administer the health,” this report puts more value on the humanities than the sciences. It implies that math or science on their own would not be worth teaching, but are only important in that they can further the “comforts of human life.” The emphasis of this university now on research and contributing to scientific advancements, with most professors in the sciences performing research of some sect, directly contradicts this mindset. Knowledge is now sought for its own sake, which is also contradictory with reasoning being provided for every educational goal in this document. Do we need a reason to learn? Does U. Va. still believe that knowledge must have a purpose to be worth learning?

  2. Nov 2017
    1. The best mode of government for youth in large collections, is certainly a desideratum not yet attained with us. It may well be questioned whether fear, after a certain age, is the motive to which we should have ordinary recourse.

      It had never occurred to me that at this period in time there wasn't really any precedence in how colleges should govern and discipline the study body. After further thought it makes sense because there weren't really that many colleges available at the time. Also, it is interesting that they thought fear would be a good way to keep order among the students. Currently at UVA it doesn't seem like they govern us with fear, but when you think about it, the threat of getting in trouble by higher authority is a form of fear. This fear of getting sanctions or getting expelled from college helps to keep students from doing things deemed unsavory by the university such as drinking in dorms or other disorderly conduct. This is now the norm for how to deal with these issues at colleges and it appears it hasn't changed much since the beginning of UVA.

    2. To give to every citizen the information he needs for the transaction of his own business.

      I find it interesting that when they were creating the University they thought one of the main objects of primary education was the ability of every citizen to carry out the transactions of their own businesses. In recent years there has been much debate as to whether there should be personal finance classes required in high school. Just four years ago a personal finance class was made a requirement to graduate from my high school back in NOVA. It is notable that the founders of UVA knew that personal business transactions were essential skills for all people and only now are public schools catching up around 200 years later when many graduates complained of not knowing how to pay taxes or other important real world skills.

    3. With this accessory, the seat of our university is not yet prepared, either by its population, or by the numbers of poor, who would leave their own houses, and accept of the charities of an hospital. For the present therefore we propose but a single professor for both medicine & anatomy.

      The founders realized early on how crucial a university hospital would be to the quality of medical education students could receive. Of course this would pave the way for the founding of the hospital a few years after the university, but this sentiment allowed the school to concentrate resources into the hospital, helping it rank so highly in the present day. At the time of the school’s founding however, realizing that they did not yet have the means to establish a hospital allowed the school to make wise decisions on what they were prepared to offer students. Consolidating the classes to a single professor saved the university money, as the talent of more specialized professors would have been wasted without access to a hospital to teach in. This professor would be able to give a comprehensive overview of medicine, and preparing the students to pursue more specialized medical training at another school if they so desired.

    4. the commissioners were first to consider at what point it was understood that university education should commence

      This was an important step in founding the University, determining where to start. At the time, Universities had been established, most notably in England, but they were by no means standardized like they are today. Presently, Universities can rely on people receiving some standard of education before applying, as well as using standardized testing to evaluate students knowledge. Realizing the universities potential for teaching advanced courses, the founders also had to address the quality of primary education the public received. Ensuring the public had a solid foundation in writing and math allowed them to pursue the intellectually enriching education the university hoped to offer.

    5. and even now, needs only to be printed in the Modern character and Orthography, to be intelligible in a considerable degree to an English reader.

      I find this quote rather intriguing and I sense it to be a precursor for the egocentric language barriers regarding Americans today. With this document stating that in time only modern languages will be necessary and documents must only need be intelligible to an English reader, the foundations for second language learning in American schooling displays its importance. Looking around the world today, it's common that in other countries the residents are bilingual or trilingual. Whereas in America, it's seen as an accomplishing feat if you speak more than one language. When Americans travel to other countries, it is expected that the residents can communicate in English but not that the English speakers can communicate in the resident’s native language. Americans egocentric schooling harms the learning of a second language as it's seen as an option rather than a necessity and the importance of bilingualism is rather low. These values predate back to the beliefs of our founding forefathers, foreseeing Anglo-Saxon languages as the only languages holding any significant value, as stated in this document.

    6. & instil into them the precepts of virtue & order.

      The tone of this line scares me. It seems as though Jefferson's University is but another educational organization prompted to drill specific ideals into the youth. "Instilling precepts of virtue and order," could be dangerous if the virtues are wrong. In Jefferson's time, the virtues consisted of African-Americans being less than human and the demoralization of these beings were a norm and brought order to the country. Our virtues now allow us to see hate-speech as an acceptable version of free speech. Now we can look at, and reflect on what Jefferson believed to be proper as being wrong; yet we see all this in hindsight when history is set in stone. So, why wait again to look back one day saying "Yup, we messed up." Also, how much more are we missing today? How much more will we look back on and shake our heads? How much more are we regulating in laws that should not exists or allowing things to slip by because of laws that cease to exist? In protecting old virtues and outdated order we provoke history, it is our job to change as the world changes too. Rather than instilling virtues and order, perhaps creating virtues and order subject to change at any time.

  3. Oct 2017
    1. 4. The best mode of government for youth in large collections, is certainly a desideratum not yet attained with us. It may well be questioned whether fear, after a certain age, is the motive to which we should have ordinary recourse. The human character is susceptible of other incitements to correct conduct, more worthy of employ, and of better effect. Pride of character, laudable ambition, & moral dispositions are innate correctives of the indiscretions of that lively age; and when strengthened by habitual appeal & exercise, have a happier effect on future character, than the degrading motive of fear; hardening them to disgrace, to corporal punishments, and servile humiliations, cannot be the best process for producing erect character. The affectionate deportment between father & son offers, in truth, the best example for that of tutor & pupil;


      In executing their duties to organize and govern the University of Virginia, the Commissioners created 5 provisions for the education of the youth. Of interest is #4, in which the Commissioners discuss in length how best to govern the students. Wisely, they deduce that "fear" does not create men of "erect character." Instead, they believed the act of appealing to one's "pride of character" and "moral dispositions" when governing young men would better produce the desired effect. The Commission further supports their position by saying that ideally the tutor/pupil relationship should emulate the father/son relationship as the best means to motivate and govern the student body. "Fear" and "corporal punishment" are merely degrading methods of governing and should be avoided in all situations. I believe in the US education system fear is used to much for motivation and I think it is completely unproductive!

    2. Education, in like manner engrafts a new man on the native stock, & improves what in his nature was vicious & perverse, into qualities of virtue and social worth; and it cannot be but that each generation succeeding to the knowledge acquired by all those who preceded it, adding to it their own acquisitions & discoveries, and handing the mass down for successive & constant accumulation, must advance the knowledge & well-being of mankind

      Amazing Idea!

      In this paragraph, the commissioners are having an intellectual conversation of the virtues of formal education. I found this quotation particularly intriguing because it explains how education improves mankind and ideally improves each individual’s natural born qualities. The idea that education can improve “virtue and social worth” is unique and seems like one of the cornerstones of the engagement series. The line “constant accumulation, must advance the knowledge & well-being of mankind” shows how we learn and improve from one generation to another as humans. This relates to other parts of the article when it states that the hope of education is that we can use the knowledge of our forefathers and expand on it. It is good to know that this idea of knowledge is engrained in the roots of the University of Virginia and is still valued today!

    3. Districts of such extent as that every parent should be within a days journey of his son at school, would be desirable in cases of sickness

      I found this concern to be a very interesting addition to their rational for the districts. I thought it was revealing of some of the social dynamics at the time, and contradicted my previous assumptions. On one hand, I understand that it was common for families to come together to support a sick family member in a time where someone could be bedridden for months. Despite this, I still had a prevailing assumption that in this time period, children were far less “taken care of” by parents. Even though this is only referring to Grammar School, many kids that age worked hard jobs, and not all were in school to begin with. My understanding of the 1800’s American family’s dynamics, shaped by books (Frankenstein) and modern day portrayals, was that sons would be shipped off to boarding schools, or venture out on their own with little contact with their family. I now have two main theories for why this concern was addressed. The first, would be that in the 1800’s, “sickness” wasn’t as removed from death as it is now thanks to modern medicine, so the very real possibility that a child could die of sickness would be an incentive to want the family close by. The second theory, would be that considering UVA started with the sons of many wealthy white families, these families would be far more inclined to keep in touch compared to the average family. While the son of a poor man may have had to start from scratch to create a name for himself, a wealthy man's son would be able to carry on a family legacy and inherit the fortune, which would create a stronger tie between parents and kids.

    4. distinct houses or pavilions,

      In my art history class we studied and sketched certain buildings at UVA. Some of the buildings I had to study were the pavilions and I found them specifically interesting because none of them strictly follow neither the ionic or doric orders. Instead, they adapt and borrow from pieces of each order to make very unique buildings that have a certain character and aspect that isn't found elsewhere. I think this decision to have blended architecture embodies characteristics that UVA has become over the years. Although we didn't start as a diverse university, recently we have made great strides in becoming a unique and diverse learning community. Since the architecture came much earlier than the goals we have achieved, it has a certain foreshadowing effect on the university as a whole that Jefferson or anyone else could never have imagined.

    5. Giving then a portion of their time to a finished knowledge of the latin and Greek,

      I find it interesting that they thought it was important that students had a finished knowledge of Latin and Greek even though they are both considered 'dead' languages to a certain extent. In my high school, I was pushed to take Latin by many of my teachers and I ended up taking 4 years of it. It taught me many things such as English root words (prefixes and suffixes) along with Roman and Greek history. I consider these lessons an essential part of my schooling and I am happy Jefferson thought the same thing.

    6. to which adding the developements of these moral obligations

      The idea that the founders wanted to create a mostly secular institution yet still teach some moral lessons from religion is interesting. It is reminiscent of Thomas Jefferson's own personal version of the Bible, The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth, which removed all supernatural or miraculous events from the standard Bible, leaving behind only moral teachings. It is probably influenced by the deistic beliefs of Jefferson and many of the other founders. Now, the University is even more secular, no longer teaching religion-based morals.

    7. In conformity with the principles of our constitution, which places all sects of religion on an equal footing,

      Such an interesting choice for the writers of this document to choose the Constitution as their bases for religious equality, instead of the Declaration of Independence. As this article was created in 1818, the Constitution was not yet amended to include equality for all persons regardless of difference; the amendment wasn’t made until around the 1860’s. This means that the most prominent article discussing human equality was the Declaration of Independence. Yet, the writers avoided this document and opted for the Constitution as their grounds for religious equality. A rather smart move as in that time era, they could not be challenged. For if they had used the Declaration of Independence as their ground for equality, then many more cases challenging the decision to only admit Caucasian males onto their campus would have arisen and could possibly have won. The writers saved face by going toward a broader, yet equally as powerful document to state their cases; remarkable, simply remarkable. So, in the writers own manner, they did conform to the principle of the Constitution; it is but yet another reason as to the slow progression of the University in diversity today. Rules set in place a long time ago, will always set a path for the future to follow. If the future chooses to swim against the stream of the rules, it takes twice as much effort and twice as much time. Searching for equality in Charlottesville and in UVA is taking so much time and energy because the initial design never meant for the community to head in a direction of change.

    8. What, but education, has advanced us beyond the condition of our indigenous neighbours? and what chains them to their present state of barbarism & wretchedness, but a besotted veneration for the supposed supe[r]lative wisdom of their fathers and the preposterous idea that they are to look backward for better things and not forward, longing, as it should seem, to return to the days of eating acorns and roots rather than indulge in the degeneracies of civilization

      This passage uses a comparison of Jefferson and his scholars to people of lesser education in order to emphasize and exemplify the importance of learning and seeking knowledge to the advancement and progression of the human race. Jefferson is most likely referencing the Native Americans here and their traditional practices throughout daily life to explain why choosing to accept what has been taught for generations is making the wrong choice. He rather harshly pleads his desire for students and professors to go forth and challenge their ideals, propose opposing views to their own, in order to learn more about themselves and the world around them. He denounces the idea “to look backward for better things and not forward” as “preposterous” for he firmly believes in the positive outcomes of trusting the process of learning. This relates to my engagement class because we discuss topics of the New Testament, and how some things that were widely accepted as fact, such as the idea that slavery is moral, have drastically changed over time. If people never opened up to the idea that every human should be treated equally, we would still be stuck in a time where skin color was the only factor determining social status. Although true equality has not been reached, it is clear that we have made immense progress as a nation, which would not have occurred if people stuck with old thinking.

    9. To improve by reading, his morals and faculties

      This reminds me of a moment in our engagement class when we were asked, ‘Are your moral compasses fixed before you enter college?’ Many people believed it was, but we soon came to realize that our moral compass is fluid, always changing as we gain more experiences and go through life. We are currently reading the New Testament, and how it was used over the years to argue both for and against slavery, temperance, and even the Holocaust. I think it’s an extremely important skill to be able to critically read texts, and understand them so as not to be swayed by the first person that cites a text. I think Jefferson wanted students to be well-read and knowledgeable for this reason. While it could be argued that reading does not improve morality, it does give readers a better perspective on the world, and thus helps them make more informed opinions and decisions.

    10. arranged at proper distances on each side of a lawn of a proper breadth, & of indefinite extent in one direction at least, in each of which should be a lecturing room with from two to four apartments for the accommodation of a professor and his family: that these pavilions should be united by a range of Dormitories, sufficient each for the accommodation of two students only,

      I found it very interesting that Jefferson thought it crucial to construct the lawn and the range in the exact physical formation, “arranged at proper distances on each side of a lawn of a proper breadth, & of indefinite extent in one direction at least…”, that we see today. The equal distances and congruent structures of the lawn rooms and pavilions were most likely intended to bridge the gap between students and professors of different backgrounds. Jefferson had a larger goal in mind than just putting students at the geographic heart of the university. He wanted to create an environment where UVA students could learn from one another, broaden each other’s perspectives, and embrace new ideologies and cultures. Jefferson was trying to push traditional boundaries of his time by making UVA a place where students and professors gained experience and knowledge from one another. This type of housing accommodation was created with the intention of connecting peers on a level beyond strictly intellect. This connects back to my engagement class in the sense that when people read the Bible, they sometimes come about with radically different interpretations of the same exact verses. However, putting us all together in one class discussing the same lines helps us all gain a new perspective which we did not come in with before.

    11. To develope the reasoning faculties of our youth, enlarge their minds cultivate their morals, & instil into them the precepts of virtue & order. To enlighten them with mathematical and physical sciences which advance the arts & administer to the health, the subsistence & comforts of human life: And generally to form them to habits of reflection, and correct action, rendering them examples of virtue to others & of happiness within themselves.

      The line ‘developing the reasoning faculties of our youth, enlarge their minds, cultivate their morals’ stands out to me. While today’s school systems and societies do try to focus on the betterment of individuals, I think students are too caught up in the fast-paced reality of life, where the purpose is not to learn, but get ahead of their peers. Instead of promoting a collaborative mindset that would be helpful to their future, students are more concerned with beating out their competition. I think the New College Curriculum really aligns with the principles that Jefferson intended from UVA courses when establishing it. It teaches students to work collaboratively and engage in thought-provoking discussions. The best way to have a good understanding is to embrace each other’s opinions and ideas, stemming from different cultures and backgrounds, to truly give us a well-rounded perspective. What is the purpose of learning on your own when knowledge can be shared and built upon by the community where everyone can benefit?

  4. Sep 2017
    1. Some of these have rendered the elements themselves subservient to the purposes of man, have harnessed them to the yoke of his labours, and effected the great blessings of moderating his own, of accomplishing what was beyond his feeble force, & of extending the comforts of life to a much enlarg[ed] circle, to those who had before known it’s necessaries only.

      In this sentence, the writers of the report argue in support of a university. They characterize learned men as God-like, writing that they "rendered the elements themselves subservient to... man" and "extending the comforts of life to... those who had before knows it's necessaries only." With this, they associate education with great power, making it seem a necessity for a flourishing culture. Although his diction is a bit dramatic, it is nonetheless a compelling argument in favor of the school.

    2. Botany

      It makes sense that botany was one of the original "branches of learning" offered at UVA, as it reflects the state's history as a primarily agricultural society. Thomas Jefferson is quoted as having told George Washington, "Agriculture is our wisest pursuit, because it will in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals, and happiness." . Jefferson held strong beliefs in the importance of an agrarian economy. UVA now offers biology and environmental science classes in the place of botany, which reflects Virginia's evolution to an industrialized state.