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Proust, cattle and self-governance

From: Claes Andreasson
Length: 10:21

About the unique and little known Deep Springs College

Dsprx_small High academic standards, hard physical work on the ranch, and self-governance. Deep Springs College is an all-male, two year liberal arts college. Little known, but by those who do, held in high regards. The college, a little oasis in the desert just north of Death Valley in eastern California, offers Marcel Proust combined with milking cows, growing alfalfa and running the kitchen. And, if not formally, the students pick which students are admitted. They hire and fire teachers, and set the curriculum. Max Gasner is a second year student at Deep Springs. Being born and raised in New York City, he had barely seen a cow before, not to mention never milked one... In order of appearance: Max Gasner, second year student Eric Vandenbrink, second year student David Arndt, professor in literature and philosophy Max Rome, first year student Jack Newell, who recently left the college after nine years as president. Music by Max Rome and Cyrus St. Armand-Poliakoff, both students at Deep Springs. Producer: Claes Andreasson This story has not aired nationally. No narrative, all in the first person. I produced a different version of it for Swedish NPR.

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Piece Description

High academic standards, hard physical work on the ranch, and self-governance. Deep Springs College is an all-male, two year liberal arts college. Little known, but by those who do, held in high regards. The college, a little oasis in the desert just north of Death Valley in eastern California, offers Marcel Proust combined with milking cows, growing alfalfa and running the kitchen. And, if not formally, the students pick which students are admitted. They hire and fire teachers, and set the curriculum. Max Gasner is a second year student at Deep Springs. Being born and raised in New York City, he had barely seen a cow before, not to mention never milked one... In order of appearance: Max Gasner, second year student Eric Vandenbrink, second year student David Arndt, professor in literature and philosophy Max Rome, first year student Jack Newell, who recently left the college after nine years as president. Music by Max Rome and Cyrus St. Armand-Poliakoff, both students at Deep Springs. Producer: Claes Andreasson This story has not aired nationally. No narrative, all in the first person. I produced a different version of it for Swedish NPR.

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Review of Proust, cattle and self-governance

A wonderful and incisive 10+ minutes, exploring, via an idealistic two-year college out west, the relation between social class, education, and labor. This is far beyond a doing-well-by-doing-good story -- PDs! This *must* be placed in any program or news block devoted to education, especially now that the administration imagines an expansion of NCLB without any recognition of what students say or need. This piece reveals an unusually highly engaged collection of students -- the very element missing in so much talk about reforming education. Why aren't there more schools and colleges like this?

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Review of Proust, cattle and self-governance

The sounds of the most unique college in the US are manifold: goats getting married, cows being milked, intellectual sparring and spouting of ideals. The focus here is on the tension between the elitism and status quo of normal universities and the down-to-earth idealism of Deep Springs. The interviews, however, reveal slices of further complexity: students relishing responsibility for the sake of 'control'; emphasis on a kind of reverse-superiority for being willing to get one's hands dirty; inconsistent and uncaring teacher assessments. No doubt, the best education in the country, but the subsance of which lies in their actual educational experiences, which we only get a glimpse of--of lessons learned and naivete on full display--that lies underneath the surface projections of idealism that are only half the story. But several forceful examples of commitment to an uncompromised education, are inspiring: education at its most pure and most extreme.

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Review of Proust, cattle and self-governance

This piece addresses some intriguing educational issues. Are Colleges just engaged with the mind or is there more that they can do. Deep Springs is involved in so much more. The chores are one thing, but the commitment from the students, and their sense of responsibility to the college and each other is huge. These young men build and rebuild community with every entering class. Each new skill they learn is passed on to the next student who takes the previous student's place. This sense of immediate apprenticeship is not found in many places. The students are involved in so many arenas, academics, farm work, running the college, it is hard to imagine a more well rounded learning experience.

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Broadcast History

This version has not been aired nationally. A different version was produced for Swedish National Public Radio

Musical Works

"Ico" by Max Rome, student at Deep Springs College (royalty free)
"Ukiah" by Ernoff (royalty free)
"87" by Cyrus St. Armand-Poliakoff, student at Deep Springs College(royalty free)
"McEvers" by Max Rome (royalty free)