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The following tape recorded program is a presentation of the National Association of educational broadcasters. Hazards to education in the United States. The University of Chicago radio office presents the second in a series of four talks by Robert M. Hudgens associate director of the Ford Foundation. Mr. Hudgens spoke under the auspices of the Walgreen lectureship at the University of Chicago. Today's program is entitled specialization Mister Hudgins. Last night. We saw that in education and dedicated to industrial power. It is not likely to achieve the results expected of us. We saw too that if an industrial power is the object. Of. Scientific education at a high level it is more likely to achieve it than technical training at a low level.
But there are of course some problems about science. Science spreads splits things up and the smaller and smaller pieces of specialisation as the life of science. The more specialized scientific institution is. The better it is likely to be. A scientific the quiet room and a university is a large collection of specialists living in a tent. 25 to 50 years old. The name of which has little or no connection with what goes on inside. Think of the name. Physiology or chemistry or anatomy. As we used to understand it a generation ago and compare the connotations of it then with the activities of
physiologists chemists anatomists carry on the day the names of these departments are hereditary titles. That are no more significant than such appellations now carry with them in the political world. Though they have little significance in describing the work that is done under their auspices. I have considerable importance in the lives of those who progressed through these departments and receive their degree. I must say that a university department in general. Seems to justify its existence as a kind of guild or trade union. The departments name. And any field need have little connection with the work it does.
Some departments of literature for example seem to be departments of history and West sticks or philosophy. But the candidates for the higher degrees in these departments have to get jobs in other departments in the same a field must receive insignia. Generally recognizable in the academic world. We know that there are departments of anguish and that they will employ the Ph.D.s in English. They want to employ nobody else. If a candidate for the Ph.D. in English gets interested let's say and Jonathan Edwards studies history philosophy and theology and knows nothing whatever about English literature and he must still get his Ph.D. in English and still get a job in an English department. There are no departments of Jonathan Edwards.
And there are none. In which history philosophy and theology form a respectable combination. Such names as physiology chemistry and anatomy to which may be added the names of many other scientific departments and pry an understanding of some considerable field of knowledge. The activities of departments bearing these names carry no such implication. It is not necessary for a professor in these fields to say nothing of a graduate student. To wonder stand the subject and it may be a positive disadvantage tone to try to do so. A scientist succeeds through splitting off on a manageable fragment of the natural world and submitting it to thorough examination. The fragments get smaller and
smaller specialisation becomes narrower and narrower. The better a scientific department is in terms of the scientific eminence of its members. The more productive it is in terms of the volume of research turned out a larger and more expensive it is the more likely it is of a composed of extremely special AIs persons training probably sometimes still more specialized. As I have said this is fine for the advancement of knowledge. If by that phrase we mean the acquisition of more and more detailed information about the world. But the success of this process and natural science has not been without its disadvantages to education. I take it. That the aim of education is not to gain
more and more detailed knowledge of the physical world but to understand our world and ourselves in it. If we split the world up in order to gain detailed knowledge of it at some point we have to put it together again in order to wonder stand. This is not likely to be done by modern experimental scientists or by any aggregation of them. One reason it can't be done by any aggregation of them is that they can't understand one another. This is a deprivation to them as scientists or at least it would seem so. Or it would appear that a man ought to be a better scientist if he could understand science and other scientists. But the extreme specialization. Is a natural. And inevitable and to some extent desirable and experimental science. Has aroused the
enthusiastic imitation of scholars in other fields where it is unnatural and avoidable and wholly undesirable. Every important scientific discovery produces a new memorable new special rooms. In the lines of investigation open up and then must be trained to follow them. So that we can see you know when the scientific progress we can start seeing no limit to the multiplication of scientific specialties and the man has quite a list specifically for the new specialties that appear. But in terms of the size of the total population the number of specialists that science will require is very small indeed. Industrialization mechanization well done special
on science and technology. Tender attempts the proportion of specialists that the society has on her will come crying for. Land on the assembly line as they grow apart which mechanisation ten years. Rises all the absolute number of specialists needed to keep science technology and industry moving well and crazy. Relative demand for specialists must decline. I'm not denying. It. But there may be many new ways of earning a living. Many new occupations growing out of new discoveries inventions and a man's. I am asserting that the total time of training required for specialized or differentiated occupations or ways of earning a living must steadily shrink as mechanization
advances. As mechanization mechanization advances. All occupations may be swept out of existence. I have no doubt but perhaps you may have some. But I have none. After 30 years of disillusionment that somewhere in the country today there is a school or junior college or college that has a course for pin boys and bowling alleys. And I have no doubt that it's a bit of ministration and back only now looking with alarm at the new machine that must inevitably drive the Penn boys out of the alleys. Never to return. I still anxiously await the full effect
of what I believe is called the home permanent. I still anxiously await its full effect upon the a number of GL courses. And what is called cosmetology offered by the school's junior colleges and Colleges of the state of California. I saw it the other day and Berkeley. Something that even I never expected to see in my lifetime. I saw a doctor of philosophy and driver education. No he'll call in the schools of California and I graduate
without taking a course in how to drive an automobile. These courses after have teachers teachers have to take courses and methods of teaching how to drive an automobile. Teachers these teachers have to be faster cars and colleges or universities. Professors and colleges and universities have to be doctors of philosophy. Therefore in California there have to be doctors of philosophy and driver education. The one I saw was a very good driver.
Anyone who was resident on the roads of California. And understand why the people of that state should want to make sure that the rising generation learns how to drive better than its predecessors. Just as anyone who has seen a forest fire and understand why courses and Fire Prevention are required in the state colleges of California. It doesn't automatically follow that the educational system of that community should try to meet whatever needs the community thanks are pressing. Is there no other way to see to it that young people learn to drive or to refrain from throwing lighted cigarettes into the what. If the community thanks looked it needs beauticians. All right the young ladies of
the community think that they need to become beauticians. Is the educational system the only or the best place in which these needs and be gratified. These questions can be answered only if we can get some more rational view than we have at present. The purpose of education in our education fits in with other social institutions. At the lower levels of education in America the tendency toward over specialization. Seems to result from the frustration of teachers themselves ill prepared. And fronting enormous crowds of ill prepared and uninterested pupils in a society that has come to regard earning a living as the first if not the whole duty of man. And that is learn from John Dewey that the young are going to be interested and
educated that through the study of occupations. John do we use authority cannot be cited on behalf of specialized education. Still less than vocational training which he regarded as narrow and then never. Looking at an industrial society. He concluded that the young should understand and that they should do so through considering the various economic activities of life in them our own political social and scientific context. He also thought that this would be very interesting to them. His psychology appears to be faulty and his program impractical at least it has never been tried. To throw a natural misunderstanding. It is going to assume that when Mr. Dewey
said that education could best be acquired through the study of occupations he meant that the best education was that which prepared the pupil for an occupation. This notion is the bomb and Eliot for which Christ rated teachers and parents were waiting. On the same to provide the necessary income of soco endorsement of what they wanted to do anyway. They wanted to train young people for occupations because they did not know what else to do with them. Thank Allah hard it is to teach the young idea how to shoot. To get a large group of reluctant and recalcitrant children to learn to read and write and figure and interest themselves in the tradition in which they live. Oh children as a matter of fact do not care very much about the life around them and particularly about its economic aspects. Their parents are obsessed with the notion that they must
eventually make their way in the world and that their education ought to have something to do with this process. It is impossible for us a product of an industrial age the magic of the grave security provided by the family of the late hero and the customs of Europe in earlier times and in the Middle and Far East. Today. The business of casting out the young to shift for themselves is a 19th century novel. The activities of labor unions and social reformers may be regarded as an attempt to recover industrial insecurity for the proletariat. And an industrial age. The community must hope that the young one Castillo's will be able to make themselves independent. If they do not. The community has no traditional way of taking
care of them. Hence earning a living. The Commons the first duty of man. This notion is reinforced in America by the common opinion that a man who does not succeed must fail by his own fault. During the Great Depression when people were thrown out of work all over the world by events over which they had not the slightest control. One could still see in the attitude toward the relief of the unemployed persistent powerful was the view that a man was not able to support himself and his family was in some way to blame. Since parents do not want their children to grow up to be social pariahs. They must feel that everything is being done during childhood and to make these children and economically independent.
Today of course the United States is the easiest country in the world in which to make a living. On the economic machine works. There is high unemployment when it falters the state keeps the population alive. That because of the phenomenon summed up in Professor Rodman is for a cultural lag. We still think that the first duty of the educational system is to help young people earn a living. Actually the only way in which education can help a young person make a living or a better living than he would make without it is to help him make the formal and educational requirements for entrance into certain occupations. The number of occupations that have such requirements is steadily increasing and the number of years that must be spent in school to meet them is steadily being right.
As a result of that right bulk of the students in American universities are there in order to meet the needs requirements. The public at public acquiesces in these requirements first because it is a custom to walk with us and the demands of pressure groups. And second because it has a vague feeling that the members of certain occupations at least should be certified or sanctified before they are let loose upon the public. The public is on rolling. Often for good reasons to trust these occupations to certify their own members. The universities acquiesce in these arrangements because the universities wish to increase their enrolments students bring in n come. And anyway there is a general feeling that excellence and
educational institutions as in most other things increases in proportion to. Craig's occupation and businesses and professions. These arrangements because of their monopolistic ambitions. To restrict competition and also to enhance their price Steve. Since of course I believe that everybody can and should learn. I should recommend a method by which people are so jealous and of forming the habit of learning. It is of course possible to learn something from anything that is even possible to learn something from anybody. If the teacher is a genius you can draw the most significant lessons from the most trivial with Cajuns since the number of geniuses in the educational system must always
remain rather limited. It seems unwise to frame a program of study on which learning can take place only if they eliminate that subject matter. In the hands of ordinary teachers trivialities must always remain trivial. The educational program for school janitors at Teachers College Columbia. Or for a major address at the University of Oklahoma. Or for our beauticians at Pasadena City College or for circus performers at Florida State University. All for teachers of driving at the University of California might be proly education. If Socrates were the teacher.
Socrates would doubtless begin with incidents in the life of a janitor majorette mutation or show fire. And would undoubtedly end with the deepest philosophical conclusions about the organisation of society and the destiny of man. But of course he would not be accepted as a teacher in any of these programs because he would never have bothered to acquire what are called the professional qualifications that are necessary. And the teachers will have these qualifications in the wire except one must find the task of developing intellectual content out of such on promising materials far beyond their power. How. Many occupations do you know where the intellectual subjects subjects in other words it can be thought about by ordinary people.
Teaching is an obvious example. But teaching like many other occupations has no intellectual content in its own right. Education is a secondary dependent subject. It depends on what you want and what you can do. What you want. The Times on your philosophy what you can do depends on your circumstances. Wherever you touch education it fades into something else. The teacher has to have knowledge but not what purports to be knowledge of methods of teaching. Again from Texas prepared by professors of education and universities. The teacher has to have knowledge of the subject that he is attempting to teach. In addition it would be helpful if you knew how to read write speak and figure. It would be helpful in short if you knew the liberal arts which are the
arts of communication. The requirement for teaching in the elementary and secondary schools is a certain number of courses and education. The requirement for college and university teaching is the Ph.D. degree. The courses in education and so far as they are specifically courses on how to teach are in the organization of the educational system are notably lacking in content. And could in no event have much meaning for a person who had never taught. A Ph.D. to grade may have some relation or preparation for specialized research but has none of the college teaching or do any of the activities and what college teachers customarily engage. What a teacher needs is
a liberal education and special preparation and when the subject or subject and he may be called upon to teach. This preparation should not be such as to render him an educated man one incapable of contributing to the education of others. I defy anybody to show that the ph data grade and any of its usual manifestations has had any but a baleful effect on the colleges of liberal arts to which most of those who hold it grow. The most striking change in liberal arts colleges over the last 50 years is the medical education of courses. Multiplication of departments and the reduction in the scope of the intellectual scope of the individual teacher and a liberal arts college 50 years ago. The professor of history could take the work of the professor of literature or
if the professor of literature or got sick. Now if the professor of American history gets second the professor of English history cannot take his work. And enter university. If the professor of American history from 1862 1864 gets sick I am. You know what will happen if the professor of American history from 1865 the way Team 70 is asked to take his work. I am not recommending. That professors be regarded as interchangeable parts. I am not suggesting that the specialized training is useless or unnecessary in specialized fields. You certainly want to
man allies special preparation and his subject. You would also like to feel that he was a person who had had and could communicate the kind of education which a college of liberal arts is supposed to stand. If he has had such an education why special preparation and his failed. And if before he is let loose upon the public he has had practice and teaching under supervision. He would have a better chance of knowing what the liberal arts teacher ought to do when they are an educated holder of the Ph.D.. What the prospective research worker needs is a liberal education. Special preparation and the subject in which he plans to carry on research. And practice and research under supervision. The reason he needs a liberal education is that he is a man and a
Hazards to education
Specialization, part one
Producing Organization
University of Chicago
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program, the first of two parts, focuses on the hazards that specialization, or the lack of a broader education, poses to education.
Other Description
Walgreen Lecture series on the present hazards to American education as seen and presented by Robert M. Hutchins. Each lecture discusses one particular problem.
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Producing Organization: University of Chicago
Speaker: Hutchins, Robert Maynard, 1899-1977
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 55-10-2 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:30
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Chicago: “Hazards to education; Specialization, part one,” 1955-04-10, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 21, 2022,
MLA: “Hazards to education; Specialization, part one.” 1955-04-10. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 21, 2022. <>.
APA: Hazards to education; Specialization, part one. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from