I accompanied Professor Philpott and his students on the first field trip of the current school year on a weekend in October. This is probably the only class in the world that meets at 4 a.m. Yet at 4 o'clock 30 students, half of them girls, two chaperones, and the professor were finishing off their breakfast in a bus station near the campus. Just as the hour and the class were a bit unusual, so were their appetites. Gail Doherty, a pretty junior from Miami Beach, breakfasted on bananas and pickles. Others ate banana splits.
A university bus drove them to Lake Kerr, an hour's ride from Gainesville. The class embarked in 14 rented boats. All the students rowed. (Rental of outboard motors is expensive and not covered by the budget. In addition, rowing is considered to be excellent physical education.)
THE PROFESSOR'S SYSTEM
The students worked hard. They fished in choppy water from dawn until noon. Their catch was scant, but enough for lunch. Then they went out in their boats and fished until dark. Professor Philpott obtains real concentration from his students by conducting each field-trip "class" as a one-day competition to see who can catch the most bass, ending at sundown. This field trip lasted 15 hours, probably a record for any class in any subject.
On this day the weather was not good. Some students caught fish, some didn't. Jim Burton, president of the university fishing club, caught the largest bass and won a rod and reel. The girl's prize, also a rod and reel, went to Diane Julin. It was natural and appropriate that Professor Philpott brought in a 53�-pounder.
Before a student finishes the course he not only knows how to catch fish, handle a boat and repair tackle, but he can operate a fishing tournament or judge a skish contest. In a year or two Prof. Philpott hopes to offer a more advanced course to include spinning, fly-casting and salt-water fishing.
Meanwhile, Philpott, who is an assistant professor, is preparing a thesis for an Ed. D. A doctor of angling! How pleased Izaak Walton must be in fisherman's heaven, for it was Walton who said, "You will find angling to be like the virtue of humility, which has a calmness of spirit and a world of other blessings attending upon it."