Guest blogger Sarah Goehri (’10) interned in the College of Education communications office in 2009-2010. Sarah is putting her communications degree to work in Los Angeles, where she is a public relations account coordinator.
My assignment: Learn what I could about the the history of education programs at Washington State University by fishing through more than 100 years of course catalogs. It was tedious and it was eye-opening. I decided early in the project to focus on my second reaction.
As mentioned in the article that resulted, The Evolving WSU College of Education, Pullman only had 350 residents when Washington State College opened in 1892. I think some of today’s 101 classes have more freshmen than that now!
Overall growth wasn’t the only thing that intrigued me in my quest for historical highlights. Cultural changes caught my eye. For decades, every catalog referred to WSU students as “he” or “him.” It wasn’t until 1959 that the catalogs started using “student” as a more general term. Of course, there were women majoring in education, psychology and physical education during those years but the catalogs only used male pronouns to describe everyone. These days, I am so used to reading politically correct and gender neutral writing, that reading all-male references struck me as strange.
Aside from the years of departmental and structural changes, there were hundreds of changes in the education classes offered. Some of the classes that I found interesting were:
• Carpentry (making bird houses, dog kennels and mini barns)
• Constructive drawing (floor plans, elevations, cottages, barns)
• School hygiene (affecting the personal health of students: heating, lighting, ventilation)
• Shorthand and typewriting (offered as a major/minor for students teaching secondary education)
Mentioned early on in the catalogs, 1919 to be exact, was the Alpha Beta Club. I like to think of this as predecessor to the Education Graduate Organization (EGO), which I wrote about during fall semester. The catalog described the club as a collection of advanced and graduate students in the education department. Its members met monthly. Oddly, the 1919 catalog was the only one that made a reference to the Alpha Beta Club, so we can only guess at how popular it was. Clearly students had the right idea, given that the present-day EGO is very successful and has a strong presence within the college.
I tackled this research project during my final semester at Washington State. I was able to learn parts of the university’s history that otherwise I would have never known — which was important, considering I called Pullman home for four years. Learning how much WSU and the College of Education have grown during the past century reminded me of the inevitability of change.