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Go to prom then kindly Whitey gets me a cab. Go whitey. I love him. KILEY Whitey shows me how to teach my younger brother because I can't do it myself. Sweet guy he is generous philanthropic. I love about my white brother. CARNEY White is now sitting in his cabin telling himself how nice he is and our nice we and our progress is a common but I want to win now. I get journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step so go it go it profit lay it on as fine as a cat by the break in just for a minute and I can feel I know I can see and I know I'm right to feel a tide of resentment and a tide
of doubt tide of suspicion not broken from my a bit of me over a drink in a mixed saloon I've only got to do that I'm sure to feel the inward reality as it might be for another and to see how far off the truth I am when I hang there in my own. You know. The relation of all this. The image and the anecdote to the inadequacy in education that I call the important one. I don't think it's invisible by any means. The school and the university are the best situated institutions in the culture for nourishing understanding of the varieties and densities and intricacies of perceptual worlds and for strengthening awareness that entering a perceptual well. Is extremely
tasking and vexing. Interesting work. Demanding of both patients and intellect. I was a university professor. After all some years ago to be sure a Midwestern professor named Charles Cooley who remarked that the imagination which people have of one another all the solid facts of society. He said I don't mean merely that society must be studied by the imagination. That is true of all investigations but that the object of study as the object of study is primarily an imaginative idea or group of ideas in the mind that we have to imagine imaginations. The intimate grasp of any social fact will be found to require that we divide what men think of one another. Charity for instance is not understood without imagining what ideas the giver and recipient
have of one another to grasp homicide. We must for one thing conceive how the offender thinks of his victim and of the administrators of the law. The relation between the employing and the working classes is part of all a matter of personal attitude which we must apprehend by sympathy with both and so on. Nor did this university professor Mandeville stop you just the definition of an area of intellectual inquiry. He went on to say that the quality of imaginative sympathies is the surest measure of the degree of a student's growth and fulfillment. Now how many credit hours and not how many A's and not whether he was an honest candidate. None of that one's range of sympathy is a measure of his personality indicating how much or how little of a man he is. And he was also certain who leaked that those
who deprecated this sympathy or shrug it off with prattle about sensitivity as we tend to do which is very sensitive as a kind of tic like having absolute pitch. You know a big it's a thing that's just gives you a sense and a bit crazy. Or a poet of any of those possibilities. People don't think about those times completely miss its nature. And its meaning and what lies behind it. Sympathies as in no way a special faculty but a function of the home to which every special faculty contribute so that what a person is and what he can understand or enter into through the life of others are very much the same thing. We often hear people describe or sympathetic who have little mental power but are of a sensitive impressionable quickly responsive type of mind. The sympathy of such a mind he says always has some defect corresponding to its lack of
character. And a constructive force a strong deep understanding of other people implies mental energy and stability education. And it is a work of persistent cumulative imagination. But despite the advantageous positions I say of the school in the university and the clarity with which people in the past like press a coolie have made the case for the work of the imagination the American university and school don't I say begin to do the job indeed don't even know that there is a job to be done. And the reasons why they fail seem to me to be both significant and revealing. The failure is first of all traceable to a determination on the part of faculties and bright students tend to share the determination to objectify the
humanities to objectify the arts to treat the arts and humanities as though they were bodies of objective knowledge that you should master for a career examination that that one wrote one's poems if one wish only so that a student in 1969 would have something to learn that he could give back on an examination. Isn't that that what one did one one was one more as does the abs. Was provide a matter for a course that would establish whether a person could be awarded a degree or not that was that was that was the center of the game. The history of literature. The structure of the poem the development of the Baroque style in painting the emergence of the sonata form but rarely. I mean all those are perfectly virtues but rarely if ever the seizing on the opportunities that are offered by the
arts and the humanities generally philosophy and history as well. For imaginative exploration of the nature of another human being's feelings at the edge of a moment. Now that's very abstract. I understand. I felt that today we all have our own ideas of abstract I thought that as I was listening in the car coming in from the airport listening to Senator Muskie said that there were various things that human beings could do they could teach the retarded they could serve as nurses and so on I kept saying within myself this is all very abstract is terribly abstract what would it be like to be what would it be like to be in any of these situations. And you keep imagining a denser richer world for expression and can come forth in an objective career classification. And here again now we're in the same situation in this room where I'm saying well the teaching is going badly they objectified subjects that shouldn't be objectified for there is something here core
and encounter one human being with another. That could be explored seen in its intricacy in-conference complication in these classrooms from the very beginning of education and that and the act is never done. That's a very abstract while you can do it. Perhaps if you if you want to make it interesting enough to be made less abstract just consider what's been going on here in this room from the time I started to talk until now. Or you would say why following all of them at all you're following what somebody is saying but you're not doing just that at all. Neither am I doing just that saying my piece and and so on. There's a piecing out construction of another human being going on much more that goes this way than this way because there are too many people here for me to construct as I as as I speak. But you piece out from a person's affectations from his mannerisms from his tone from the way he. Creates his emphasis or tries bored and fails the way he apologizes and is and is ashamed
of what he does and so are you or your peace out moment to moment. A person and their endless qualifications and endless perceptions being registered in these in these moments endless making up makings up the other of the other creature and what one's saying is that by aptitude for that work which is crucial in society. Perhaps not crucially of a crucial in society aptitude for that work is not regarded as a educator is not regarded indeed as that which can be addressed in any significant way by any school at any level. I want to that's the first reason the university failed here is a kind of desire to Scientology's all subjects to turn all subjects into bodies of objective knowledge to make everything into a situation in which the key moment of truth is the moment to which one consults his head
puts a pencil in his hand and writes an answer to that. That is that is the moment of education. Now the other reason for the failure of university and the failure of the school generally. In my opinion the refusal to interest itself in community situations in their density as face to face relationships now do you have a challenge. I grant that every two years an institution as it were springs out of itself looks outward looks toward the town and looks toward its environment toward its setting. So the question I would put though is whether that is a commonplace movement for this institution or any other. And I would say. That. And I don't think that it is by no means the natural gesture
for such an INS institution to be I think still is below secretary the new university conference has some very good observations on this point he notes that. The university culture maintains and university culture mean all universities maintains an almost uniform hostility to the institutions of local and community life. Or if not hostility a sense of distance from them. Many churches use fraternities veterans associations councils and boards upon which local and community life in America is built. Havens of the now are sorts of provincialism racism intellectual baiting babytalk jingoism. For these reasons and for reasons having to do with the demands of the national economy for college trained persons. The tendency of university experience is to propel young away from local and community life and toward national life and its institutions
quite characteristic. Again I don't mean to do to make light of progress but it's entirely characteristic of a University to invite in a situation of this sort. Someone we can describe correctly as a national leader and feel that in some way by establishing a connection with a national leader and with national policy talk we are confronting reality confronting immediacy. So I was a question about whether I simply put the question down as a question about whether that's a sensible attitude. In the first place people who are interested in building any resistance to the prevailing currents of American life. Have got to start at the national level but at a local and community level. Most college graduates most university graduates even with advanced degrees have extraordinarily gifted with
virtually no means of gaining influence in national politics. And to the extent that university culture directs great masses of lower and lower middle class young people thinking state teachers colleges. Into the institutions of national rather than local community life. It assists in disenfranchising them from political influence. It takes them right out of the political world entirely. Now of course the conventional people in a university culture argue that the decline of local politics and local institutions is inevitable given the institutional need of 20th century America and the march of technology liberalism cosmopolitanism technology ism and so on. But says McDermott and I agree with him we should begin to question whether this inevitability amounts to more than advantageous prejudice or to put it in a nasty way. Whether we are being conned into ineffectiveness on our
political power by people who say that nothing can be done at the local level. Or the kind of society which these university spokesman described as inevitable appears to be coincidentally one in which the Ph.D. takes its place with property and birth simply as a new means of establishing an aristocracy. And by the same token the ignorance and the racism and the like that do figure in much life in America shouldn't put people off. The university shouldn't see itself as a place of refuge its own a place of escaping from daily as given the preoccupation of the left over the past epoch with national rather than local concerns and institutions it isn't surprising that America has been a plague on challenge right wing attitudes persons and Asians. I would say that the sane undergraduate
or two ought to attempt in his relations with society to create a challenge to local culture about the university. Says no. We say Oh I say that the undergraduate ought to be shown his local society in its significance. He ought to be shown how to function there how to be better and powerless. He must and if used to be better than powerless to see how it goes together he he must have another kind of knowledge from the kind of knowledge he's presently open for the local community is a face to face world. He's a face to face situations. If you're going to be in any way affected dealing in an in the community in which you live you must have an imagination of the person to whom you were speaking. You must have some sense of his own thought. You must have a way of penetrating his innocence.
I'm saying that the undergraduate must make out the perceptual world in the local community the perception for instance of the man who had to moonlight for 10 years in order to put the garage on his house or in order to provide tuition money for his children or an order took to build himself or put a second bathroom into his house there's got to be some kind of imaginative aptitude here for understanding for seeing within that kind of. That kind of what kinds of fees can grow in such in such a. What kinds of resentment of those who have a habit say easy. The undergraduate must grasp the truth. William James once put it that the truth about the pacifist in the militarists the truth that you got to learn how to enter a point of view and seek to move the point of view. You don't shout so what you try to see with the other human being
is and then speak to that place where he is. The task here is to see that man superficially resembling us. Have insides of their of their own yet. And that's the work and extremely hard work and impossible to do I think without training and experience. Yet the university does not. To my knowledge support efforts at adding to such experience in my town for example the faculty and student population stand in video week after week on Sunday morning to protest the Vietnam War and I have protested it now for two years. It is a joint faculty student movement I don't mean to mock the idea that kind of association with that kind of commitment to an attitude or opinion about a country's my country's foreign policy. But what has gone on in the time that the vigil has gone on the town has been raped by real estate speculators who have sold off of her
beautiful countryside to apartment house contractors putting up job L plater the worst sewer because the town is a boom town. That is an immediate situation that could be dealt with by many and dealt with by men of imagination. But the notion that there is a world here a close world the end of the twig and so on that could be felt in its density is not present in some sense for that kind of mind. Now the question of course is can the student do this job on his own. Is he in effect. Doing the job making him conscious of others on his own Can he do it without training and so on and I think there is evidence is difficult evidence to rebid there is evidence that this generation of students is moving in the direction that I would regard as a positive one than any generation before it.
It does tend to objectify hating the cops hating the cops is an act of objectification obviously. But it also has anyone with any sense. It's also a protest against that up tight law and order tradition. That and that induces my kind of objectifying in the back of the in the back of the cab where I don't see for a moment what's going on in another. By the same token scorning a professor devoted who is devoted to subject matter or standards and so on that that's an act of objectification. But it may also signal and sometimes does signal that the student is alert to some hint of a richer life that he's gotten from a poem or from a song or from a writer's life. Even students rejection of political parties stablished political structures when they reject them as corrupt Democrats or Republicans that is an act of
objectification. But his new politics a politics of small groups existential involvement and the like. Effective freedom puts a premium on personal interaction. And seems to suggest a real growing and perhaps a genuine aptitude for. Intimacy. But why wouldn't you read the evidence. I'm almost done. However you read evidence about whether this generation as we say is moving toward another kind of understanding of otherness. It does seem to me that you ought not to have to move into the area of learning another only as naked as he now does there is a struggle to be waged here across the board by the kinds of intelligence against the object of abstracting
culture. When the list of job titles came for it that is all objective or out there. We live in a culture that drives itself hard all the time. In a dimension of political and objectification refusals to perceive from within the panther abuses the Supreme Court justice then people abuse the panther and the Fury escalates and we fly up. And the revolutionary claims that if he uses imagination if he tries to see in fear with the enemy from within. Then the result will only be smoothing out of fury. And the issues will get cloudy and nothing will happen as we've been imagining. The other side of the question for generations and we shouldn't hang ourselves up forever pondering the true nature of Daly's and and and the rest of my belief as is plain is that that kind of talk is wrong.
We're not where we are. This country hasn't arrived where it is because it's overpopulated with the personal imagination its problems are largely traceable to oblivious to this refusal to hire your imagination into constructing someone else's life. And that blindness with its obvious consequences for American foreign policy if it were replaced with imaginative flexibility seems to me to be very doubtful if the result would be political. The claim is sure the claim is that more reliance should be placed upon the resources of the constructive imagination in the school not because radical energies need dissipating but because the use of that imagination is to increase the effectiveness of those energies. To enable people to anticipate moves and countermoves and to prevent them from becoming
frozen into postures of intransigence or moderate him. What kind of posture that possesses terrible beauty but as its main consequence of stiffening resistance and slowing change and it can't be said too strongly that education has enormous responsibilities here that it simply does not meet. If you try to meet them. We don't have a point of coincidence between the school and social urgency and the development of a whole Living Lively animated creatures. If you try. And until it dries we'll have no grounds. Far as I can see no room for possibility genuine possibility in this country for what we need most is not sound social policy but sound comprehension of where other human beings live feel
breathe and have their being. Thank you very much. But of course. I was. You have just heard an address by Dr. Benjamin demat professor of English at Amherst College speaking on the topic. The crisis of inadequate education Dr. demat spoke at the Wake Forest University symposium on contemporary American affairs challenge 69. The theme of this year's symposium was the urban crisis. The students response. Next week Dr. Herbert Cramer a consultant to the Office of Economic Opportunity will speak on the crisis of under-employment challenge 69 was produced entirely by Wake Forest University students. The executive director of challenge 69 was Norman Murdock the assistant director was I'll show and this radio series was produced by
Challenge 69: The urban crisis
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#4 (Reel 2)
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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