Charting One's Course: The History of Individualized Education at RIT

This exhibition aims to construct a broad narrative of the history of RIT’s individualized education and to demonstrate the ways in which these programs have, despite their granular approach, fostered community. Focusing on three eras, the exhibition looks at the earliest endeavors before moving on to the flexible approach during the post-WWII era and contemporary times.

In looking at the educational landscape today, individualized pathways for learning seems to be a new trend; yet Rochester Institute of Technology has approached this method since the late nineteenth century when, in 1885, the Mechanics Institute began to provide technical training for workers in industry in the form of day and evening courses in mechanical drawing, design, and fine arts. Since that time, RIT has enabled students to chart their own path as academics by developing courses, programs, and degrees that valued technical education, cooperative education, and career preparation. ;xNLx;This exhibition aims to construct a broad narrative of the history of RIT’s individualized education and to demonstrate the ways in which these programs have, despite their granular approach, fostered community. Focusing on three eras, the exhibition looks at the earliest endeavors before moving on to the flexible approach during the post-WWII era and contemporary times. ;xNLx;To explain, RIT’s roots are tied to an earlier association, the Athenaeum, which was established in 1829 “for the purpose of cultivating and promoting literature, sciences, and the arts” as well as practical technical training from the Mechanics Institute (established in 1885, which to provide technical training for workers in industry in the form of day and evening courses in mechanical drawing, design, and fine arts. In 1912, cooperative education was begun. In the 1940s, classes were focused on training individuals for the defense industry. In 1942, the Evening School opened to women. Bringing the idea of individualized education into its middle years, in 1966, the College of Continuing Education (CCE) was developed to help working men and women expand their skills and increase their knowledge of business, science and art, while still being able to work and have the flexibility they needed. More recently, in 2015, the Center was renamed the School of Individualized Study (SOIS) seeks to help students create customizable degree pathways, encourage independent study, and seek to award college credit for a student's experience. ;xNLx;In addition to plotting the history of individualized education over 130 years, the exhibition asks viewers to think about what education, and community, mean to them. The exhibition will take the shape of an interactive timeline, to be launched in May 2016, before being mounted as an onsite exhibit on the third floor of The Wallace Center during the Fall 2016. ;xNLx;

1880-04-01 11:15:13

1885-86 Enrollment Statistics, from the Mechanics Institute “Past, Present, and Future”

In 1891 two educational institutions merged to create the Rochester Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute. During its inaugural year, the Institute offered three certificate programs within the fields of mechanical drawing, architectural drawing, art and design. While commonly characterized as a vocational school, the Rochester Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute additionally provided liberal arts education early on.

1885-01-01 11:15:13

1880's Mechanic's Institute Application

While students today can apply to RIT online or via a multi-page paper application, students wishing to apply to take courses at the Mechanic's Institute in the 1880s had only to fill out this single page form with their name, age, occupation, and residence, acquire their employer's (or another respectable individual's) recommendation, and place a "+" next to the day or evening courses they were interested in taking.

1885-01-01 11:15:13

Mechanics Institute Founded

1885, the Mechanics Institute was founded to provide training for men and women of the community in the industrial arts and arts of homemaking.

1890-09-01 11:15:13

1890-91 Student Employment Records

In the 1890s, potential students had to have their employers or another person vouch for them when they applied to take classes at the Mechanic's Institute. But some people didn't have employers. Children, like nine-year-old Max Adler, could enroll in weekday classes, or in Max's case, weekend classes, like Freehand Drawing. The students' names, employers, ages, occupations, and courses were recorded in student employment records, like this one from 1890-91.

1891-01-01 11:15:13

RAMI founded

1891, the Athenaeum and the Institute were merged under the name The RAMI for purpose of demonstrating the educative value of activity in the acquisition of practical knowledge and skills (xi) RAMI – “a civic institution devoted to civic service”

1901-03-01 00:00:00

Infant Nursing Course

This card advertises a child care course given by the institute in the early 1900’s. While aimed towards nurses, the class was also open to young mothers who wished to learn more about caring for their baby. The course, which cost $13 and ran five nights a week for three months, covered physiology, hygiene, cooking, sewing, laundering, child study, household chemistry, and nurse lectures.

1901-04-15 00:00:00

Opening of the Eastman Building

The Eastman Building, named so because of the money George Eastman donated to build it, opened on April 15th, 1901 with a week-long extravaganza. L.P. Ross and Captain Lomb opened the doors, while ceremonial bombs went off and kites flew up, to a fair-like event held completely within the building. Lectures, childhood entertainment (such as regular Punch and Judy shows), music, food, a cakewalk, and exhibitions on a variety of subjects, including (but not limited to) student art, fans, the industries of Rochester, and x-rays. One exhibition on dolls included a doll, nicknamed “The Silent Witness,” that saw General Lee surrender at Appomattox in 1865. The event was a huge hit, raising approximately $8,000 for the institute.

1901-06-01 00:00:00

Why students drop out

In the 1901 RAMI Annual Report, administration is hoping fewer students will drop out. It states there are many reasons students are unable to keep their commitment. One might be because in order to complete a full course it requires four to seven years of two evening classes per week. It is a credit to a person who is employed through the day to graduate from such a course.

1901-09-21 03:42:46

Machine Shop Training - Mechanics Institute Evening Classes

This information pamphlet used 1901-1916 advertises the Mechanics Institute's machine shop training evening classes. In addition to the tuition costs and schedules, the pamphlet also describes the quality of the tools available for learners to train with. It uses manufacturer names to assert the pedigree of their facilities, and details the exact specifications of some of the machines, down to the inch. It feels intended to be addressing professionals, and clearly stands as an example of the institute's devotion to continued learning.

1901-09-21 03:42:46

Evening Classes For Men and Women Bulletin

This Evening School Bulletin, released between 1901 and 1916, contained information on the year's coming evening courses for men and women. Attached is a note addressed to evening students who had taken classes at the institute the previous year. With the tagline “Courses Worth While”, the note implores students to register early. Depicted on the cover of the bulletin is the emblem of the Rochester Athenaem and Mechanics Institute.

1901-09-26 17:42:01

Equal Opportunity for All

The Mechanics Institute commenting on the opportunities that can arise when men attend the evening classes.

1907-09-01 00:00:00

Auto and Motor Boat Gas Engine Course

The earliest known gas engine course offered at RAMI that specifically focused on automobiles was given in the 1907-08 academic year. Like many other courses given by the institute, the class was a mix of traditional learning and hands-on experience, with six lectures and six laboratory exercises.

1912-09-01 00:00:00

Expansion Between 1912 and 1913

Between the 1912-13 and 1913-14 academic years, the course catalog grew from 24 pages to 51 pages long. While some of this growth can be attributed to new classes being introduced, such as “Candy Making,” most comes from the formal inclusion of women. The 1912-13 course catalog was titled “Evening Classes for Men” while the 1913-14 one was changed to “Evening Classes for Men and Women.” While women’s classes were certainly around in 1912 at RAMI, they were not given the same in-depth descriptions in the catalog as the men’s classes. That changed in 1913 and, with the addition of summaries for the women’s classes, the catalog doubled in size.

1912-09-01 00:00:00

New Cooperative Engineering Course

An early form of the co-op was introduced to RAMI during the 1912-1913 academic year. The program allowed certain students to be in class one week and working in their field the next. Students were paired so that they could alternate places each week. During the week they worked, the students would be paid apprentice wages. The program was open to civil, mechanical, and electrical engineering students.

1914-09-24 19:52:14

Steam Engineering Class Info

Rochester's Mechanics Institute offered practical technical training in a variety of fields. This 1914 pamphlet contains information on evening classes in steam engineering. It informs it's recipient as to the meeting time, the class instructor, and the tuition cost. Take note of most interesting aspect of this pamphlet, the passage that addresses the various types of people who would benefit from the Institute's training. Notice how in addition to students, it also lists engineers, superintendents, machinists, and other professional careers. This attention to training for professionals in the workforce exemplifies the Mechanics Institute's mission of continued learning throughout one's professional life, a mission that they have pursued even 100 years ago.

1915-09-20 07:13:28

Department of Household Arts Courses

These women are taking evening classes at the Mechanics Institute.

1916-09-21 03:42:46

RIT Evening School Women's Classes Pamphlet

RIT's commitment to their mission of continuing education involved women as well as men. In addition to courses for professions typically pursued by men, the institute also held courses for jobs held by women. Women in the workforce could take evening classes to increase their career proficiency in industries such as the textiles and millenary industry. This 1916-1917 informational pamphlet contains information regarding evening classes in millenary and textiles. It contains outlines of the courses as well as a photo of an ongoing textiles class in the textile laboratory.

1917-09-01 00:00:00

Wireless Telegraphy

This course, which focused on learning how to operate a telegraph, was only offered in the 1917-1918 and 1918-1919 academic years, coinciding with United States participation in WWI. The course offered to teach students how to “receive and send from 15 to 20 words a minute.”

1921-09-01 08:39:57

1921 Evening School program

An Evening School program from 1921 includes examples of the types of problems that will be covered Trigonometry and Applied Elementary Mathematics.

1925-01-01 13:32:34

Homemaking Course

Description of a four unit 'Homemaking Course' in the 1925-27 Rochester Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute Evening Home Economics Courses book. Courses such as this reflected the Athenaeum's goal with respect to their evening courses-- that people were not necessarily coming to the Athenaeum to earn a degree or become certified as people attending RIT do today, but to better themselves. And this meant betterment not only in the workplace, but in the home as well.

1926-08-01 19:31:50

1926-27 Evening Retail Distribution Course Book

One interesting course offering from the 1926-27 evening retail distribution course book is a class entitled "Everyday English." Topics for discussion included "Improving Our Vocabularies" and "Aids to Correct Spelling" both vital skills for salespeople who were supposed to convince people to buy their products in a time before television infomercials. Other useful courses included "Color and Design" and "Handling People," descriptions for which were printed on the inverse of this brochure.

1926-09-05 15:44:04

Evening Applied Art Courses 1926 - 1927

Courses were offered from the end of September to the middle of June, with holidays given to students for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Presidents' Day, and Memorial Day. Applied Art courses applied to one of the following areas of industry: architecture, fine arts, illustration, craftsmanship (especially metal), and home life. The spread of these course offerings ensured at the time that both men and women would be interested in enrolling. Course tuition fees range from $5 to $10. All courses started at 7:30 PM.

1927-08-01 23:56:08

Training Helps in Store Experience

One of several evening courses that retail distribution students could take at the Rochester Athenaeum and Mechanic's Institute during the 1920s was Psychology of Salesmanship, which trained students in methods of efficiently and politely waiting on the public at department stores and other shops, as seen in this photograph from the 1927-28 evening retail distribution courses course book. Other courses on offer that year included Current Style Analysis and Store Organization and Management.

1927-08-05 08:30:57

1927-28 Evening Retail Distribution Coursebook

In 1927-28 course content for the evening retail distribution courses began to shift from the more artistic and aesthetic courses seen in previous catalogs, towards more people and economically driven courses, such as the "Psychology of Handling People" or the "Psychology of Salesmanship." Another change this year was an addition to the course book of a removable interest card for perspective students to mail to the Athenaeum to receive more information on the courses that interested them.

1927-08-23 11:44:04

Homemaking Course brochure (1927-28)

Rochester Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute: School of Home Economic: Homemaking Courses in 1927-28 "For many years the Rochester Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute has been training young women who have become or will become parents and homemakers to better meet the needs of their daily life." They were offered a year's program in home management.

1927-08-23 19:52:14

Co-operative Courses: Rochester Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute: 1927-1928

An opened brochure of Co-operative Courses (1928) By Rochester Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute.

1927-08-23 21:36:46

Co-operative Mechanical Course: Rochester Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute: School of Industrial Arts (1928-1929)

The brochure of Co-operative Mechanical Course in School of Industrial Arts in Rochester Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute (1928-1929)

1927-08-23 21:36:46

School of Home Economics: One Year Course in Costuming 1927-1928

Rochester Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute: School of Home Economics: One Year Course in Costuming 1927-1928 The details based on One Year Course in Costuming. The course was planned to meet the needs of young women who aim to enter the costume trade.

1927-08-23 21:36:46

Rochester Athenaeum & Mechanics Institute: Home Economics (1927-28)

The aim of the School of Home Economics was to give to women the training that enabled them to become not only "good citizens", but "good homemakers" as well.

1927-12-25 16:47:17

Retail Distribution Handout

The course descriptions handout for the Mechanics Institute Evening School of Retail Distribution. This handout was a tri-fold brochure where the last page was a tear out application. For the application, you had to list your desired courses, name, and then the person's position in whatever department in whatever store they worked at. This shows an intense focus on educating adults already in industry, especially aimed towards women. Offered courses include "Psychology of Handling People" (tuition fee: $8), "Psychology of Salesmanship" (tuition fee: $8), "Current Style Analysis" (tuition fee: $5) and "Store Organization and Management" (tuition fee: $8).

1928-08-21 05:06:24

The brochure of Craft Course in School of Applied Art in Mechanics Institute (1928-1929)

"The aim of this course is to prepare students of special ability to enter the field of Art in industry as trained craft workers." the opened brochure of Craft Course in School of Applied Art in Mechanics Institute (1928-1929).

1928-08-21 05:06:24

Co-operative Industrial Chemistry Course brochure of Rochester Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute (1928-1929).

this brochure outlined the courses under Co-operative Industrial Chemistry in Rochester Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute (1928-1929).

1928-09-05 15:44:04

Evening Applied Art Courses 1928 - 1929

Courses were also suggested in the other areas of the college (technical term for department/college at the time not known), such as Home Economics, Industrial Arts, and Retailing. Applied Art courses applied to one of the following areas of industry: architecture, fine arts, illustration, craftsmanship (especially metal), and home life. Moreover, this is the first instance of photography being offered, which is especially of interest to Rochesterians because photography eventually became the major industry of the Rochester area and still leaves its mark on the university today. The spread of these course offerings ensured at the time that both men and women would be interested in enrolling. Course tuition fees range from $5 to $10.

1929-08-20 05:06:24

the pictorial outline of courses booklet in the Rochester Athenaeum & Mechanics Institute (1929-1930)

The front page of the pictorial outline of courses booklet in the Rochester Athenaeum & Mechanics Institute (1929-1930). This booklet offered the programs and these courses on the institution, as well as the housing and tuition costs.

1931-08-01 13:32:34

1931-32 Retailing Courses Coursebook

By 1931-32, Georgiana W. Hathaway, long time retail distribution professor, was the supervisor of the newly redesigned "retailing courses" offered by the Rochester Athenaeum and Mechanic's Institute. These courses took the former 3 to 5 retail distribution courses and condensed them into two- "Current Retail Problems" and "Merchandising"- the later of which is now a profession in its own right. Topics for the merchandising course include mark-ups/downs, the 'buying contract', and inventories.

1931-09-05 15:44:04

Applied Art Courses 1931 - 1932

Applied Art courses applied to one of the following areas of industry: architecture, fine arts, illustration, craftsmanship (especially metal), and home life. By 1932, the offerings of the Applied Arts courses had expanded from basic classes such as Architectural Drawing and Structural Drafting to include courses for electrical diagram drawing, appealing more to the growing population of who would eventually become electrical engineers. The spread of these course offerings ensured at the time that both men and women would be interested in enrolling. Course tuition fees range from $8 to $12.

1932-09-27 16:44:35

Family Meal Preparation

Several sheets of recipes including a variety of meals and desserts. From a Family Meal Preparation course offered by RIT's Evening School.

1934-01-01 00:00:00

Strategic Planning Meeting Results, 1934

During a strategic planning meeting with the current president of the institution, board of directors’ members, deans, and higher administrators, the general responsibilities of the Rochester Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute was discussed. Among the conclusions made regarding the trajectory of the institution, it was determined that the Rochester Athenaeum and mechanics institute would not grant full degree programs out of concern for limiting the freedom of individualized plan of study which had, historically, been supported by the institute.

1937-09-24 19:52:14

Blazing New Trails - The Biography of a Pioneer in Education

RIT has been a constantly evolving entity since the creation of the Rochester Literary Company in 1822, and it is still evolving to this day. Its genealogy reveals a continuous adjustment of services to meet community needs.

1941-08-31 16:44:35

A Cooperative Community Program

Evening School Course Offerings Presents: Training For Defense, a Cooperative Community Program sponsored by Red Cross. 1941-1942

1941-09-27 16:44:35

SHARE THE MEAT

Evening School Course Offerings--Share the Meat! A course that specializes in the care and preparation of different meats, including topics such as Glands and Organs, ca. 1941-43

1942-09-01 12:20:19

TRAIN TO WIN

A propogandic pamphlet advertising Evening courses at RIT in 1942. Amidst WWII, this pamphlet boasts patriotic colors and a forceful tagline--"TRAIN TO WIN".

1943-09-01 00:00:00

Photographic Coloring Class

This class exemplifies a mostly obsolete art: painting developed black-and-white photographs. Since color photography did not exist during this time, one had to add the color afterwards through other means.

1943-09-27 16:44:35

A Community Service Institution

Course Pamphlets with a propogandic, wartime nature continue. RIT caters to a sense of community, emphasizing that the institute is a non-profit, community supported educational institution to help students and their employees produce. Production caters to wartime and post-war sales.

1943-10-05 07:29:30

1943-1944 RAMI Wartime Program

The logo of the 1943-44 RAMI (Rochester Athenaeum and Mechanic's Institue) features a beaker, a paint brush, and a clamp which shows the vast array of courses and programs offered. The program details course offerings during World War II. It is a part of RIT Evening School records, RITArc.0476.

1948-07-08 00:00:00

Machine Tool Familiarization Program

Due to the competence of the continued education program, Shell Oil Company sent their employees to the school’s Machine Tool Familiarization course. In a letter to his division manager, J.P. Thomas wrote that the course was “the most practical of all the Shell educational programs I have attended since my oil field and refinery training.” Shell was not the only company to utilize this program. Other oil, steel, and refinery companies also sent their employees to the course. This relationship with industry was one of the school’s most fundamental features.

1948-08-01 00:00:00

GI Bill affects Evening School enrollment

The GI Bill, signed into law in 1944, provided financial support for veterans in several areas, including education. Its effect can be seen in a 1948 survey, sent out to the students of the RIT evening school, in which one question asks the student if they are a veteran. This reflects a commonality of the times since at its highest in 1947, veterans accounted for 49% of college admissions nationally. (1948)

1948-08-01 00:00:00

1948 Questionnaire Shows Effect of GI Bill

The GI Bill, signed into law in 1944, provided financial support for veterans in several areas, including education. Its effect can be seen in a 1948 survey, sent out to the students of the RIT evening school, in which one question asks the student if they are a veteran. This reflects a commonality of the times since at the peak, in 1947, veterans accounted for 49% of college admissions nationally.

1950-08-01 00:00:00

Promoting the Program

Various forms of advertisement were utilized in order to spread awareness about the school. Personal visitation, catalogs, posters, special announcements, newspaper stories, radio news releases, magazine articles, and newspaper advertising were used year-round to promote the program.

1950-09-05 15:44:04

Original Duffy Powers building

The Duffy Powers building was originally the largest department store in Rochester, circa 1900. The Duffy-Powers Company went bankrupt in 1932 because of the Great Depression. RIT ultimately acquired this building as its main campus building in the 1950s.

Charting One's Course: The History of Individualized Education at RIT

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