thumbnail of Challenge 69: The urban crisis; #4 (Reel 1)
Hide -
If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+
Challenge 69 the urban crisis. The students response. I observe that there are two problems that that seem to be emerging. One is a generation gap that is quite this horrible between the speakers and the young men and women who have come here to hear them. And also something of a communications gap. Comments were made by the men and women who came to hear a number of the speakers that we live in a competitive society which is all very true but they fail to understand that one must compete on something close to equal competitive grounds. It isn't fair for a 6 foot 200 pounder to take my young 10 year old son into a ring and propose to box or to wrestle with him. And I submit to you that the one fifth of all Americans who have to compete with the 80 percent of us that seem to have the full measure of the blessings of this society
are competing not on a very very fair basis at all and I think that that's what challenge 69 is all about. The Wake Forest University a symposium on contemporary American affairs presents challenge 69 the urban crisis. The student's response. This is the fourth in a series of nine programs that seek to focus attention on the problems of American cities. The topic of this program is the crisis of inadequate education. The speaker on today's program Dr. Benjamin demat is professor of English at Amherst College and is a recent recipient of the Danforth award for outstanding teaching. Here now is Dr. DiMaio to speak on the crisis in adequate education. And I mean I'm embarrassed to be up this high. It is a creature. Rather than the one that I usually
play and I haven't been up this high since I was a choir. And around on Saturday afternoon you know the way that you're not supposed to. To do. It's obvious that that Senator Muskie is an extremely speak it to follow. He has authority and power and. And his way of talking about possibility in America is I think very persuasive. And I think I've heard him. I would have called it a day that is to say if I had heard the full speech a lot of called the day. While it's hard to take up the subject that I'm to take up inadequacies of Education hard to take it up without
doing. The usual thing which is to talk about relevance. Freedom student power and the like. I am going to try to do that. I'm not going to have much to say about student power and how the students should be on the committees. The committee should be composed of the students or the student should be the president all those students should be the dean and so on. But I'm going to say something a bit more tendentious. I would praise it by saying but less commonplace and it's not going to be the always easy to understand. Now there's a vanity in that always when you say well I'm not going to say what the other fellows say. They're too simple on to say something that's very swell and special.
Obviously there's vanity in it and I acknowledge that. But the excuse for it is the possibility of boredom not for you but for the speaker. He always regards himself too. And when you hear yourself beginning to say relevance student power and the like a kind of oneness comes over you. Why you were saying these words and you realize that it might be possible to get through life without ever hearing them again without any sadness. I. I may as well begin bluntly the. The central inadequacy that I see in education. Now is a lack of interest in lack of skill at developing human alertness to differences in perceptual
worlds and while. On its face the idea of a perceptual isn't a hard one. That is the question what of what does one mean live perceptual world isn't really what you question. I I mean to spend a portion of my time in an attempt to question that idea through an image and then through an anecdote the image is that of the kick of an appropriate image for I first met the chick in the south of I know people over gotten themselves in and saw that the ordinary chick that's say that unpleasant creature a small flat bodied blood sucking from an insect with a curious life history. It emerges from the eggs has blood through the naturalists not yet fully developed. Lacking a pair of legs. Also lacking sex
organs in this state he says he's still capable of attacking called by the animal such as frogs and lizards. Which it does. After shedding its skin several times. I'm reading from the naturalists here. It acquires its missing organs mate and is then prepared to attack warm blooded animals. The eyeless email is directed to the tip of a twig on a bush by a photo sensitive skin. And there she stays through darkness and light through fair weather and foul waiting for the moment that will fulfill our existence. In the zoological Institute at Rush dock before just before World War or one picked up or kept on the end of two weeks waiting for this moment for a period of
18 years. The metabolism of the insect is in short sluggish to the point of being suspended entirely. The news she received in the act of mating remains bundled into capsules where it too waits in suspension until blood reaches the stomach of the tip at which time the capsules break the sperm of released and they fertilize the eggs that had been reposing in the ovary also waiting in a kind of time suspension. The signal for which the chick. Wait just a bit more with images. The signal for which the tick waits as I'm sure you know. Is the sense to speak elegantly butyric acid is a substance present in the sweat of all mammals. Ah.
This scent is the only experience that will trigger a time into existence for the tick. So all we can say the law should say on the basis of the naturalists that the kick in its in the conduct of its life to use the Amazonian phrase. Represents a kind of apathy a sice of subjective time perception. For a period of 18 years consider it nothing happens. That's to say nothing is registered. There is no perception. Here's a creature. The period passes as a single moment. That's 18 years of the tick and there's no other perception going on here except waiting for butyric acid but you're waiting you're not waiting to see a tick is not in a position to say I am waiting for the 516 which has not come yet so so long.
At any moment in this span of literally senseless existence when the animal becomes aware of this scent it's thrust into a perception of time then of course other signals are perceived at that moment and you have a moment of being such as we might on the certain circumstances say we had a moment ago when I began to speak. Now we are back in time here. The extraordinary preparedness of this creature for that moment of time. During which it will re-enact the purpose of its life. Contrasts I think you'd agree strikingly with the probability that this moment will ever occur. For consider there are doubtless many Bush's and which many ticks perch which are never bypassed by a mammal within range of The Tick sleep. So
we can say that as do most animals. The tick lives in an absurdly unfavorable world. This is what we can say we can't say. But this well is merely the environment of the tick merely his work. The word that perceives those people at Rush modeless and his great subject actually who look around for a way to amuse yourself on a weekend when there's nothing better to do than to read about as a logical research that marvelous. Laboratory those experimenters spoke of this perceptual as the one felt good grand word on the roundabout world of the of the creature. But the world we perceive you see is not at all on favorable terms from the text point of view. A period of 18 years as measured objectively by the earth and the sun and their relations is meaningless to the
tick. During this period it is. It doesn't know that the temperatures change being blind. It doesn't. See the leaves shrivel and brightness from the air it doesn't see it all come back to the world again and spring unaware of time. It's also unaware of space in the multitude of forms and colors. That appear in space to other eyes that multitude doesn't appear to it. It waits without knowing it's waiting suspended in duration for its particular moment of time. A moment as I say distinguished by being filled with a single unique experience transforming. The center of butyric acid. I begin with this zoological bit. Not in order to compare kicks in their waiting period with adolescence.
And here I speak of it just to put into play at the start we're reminded of the various unus perceptual worlds on earth. Here is an extremely simple perceptual world. It's up simple almost beyond belief. A single perception one moment of registering out out there ness exhausting almost two decades of time. Now we know that in the creature we were the animals. The differences are enormous. That's to say in the moment of moment of being the same researches who found a moment of perception for a take could be 18 years long also found how sure a moment of perception could be for other creatures as for example the trout or the cat whose moment
of seeing moment of understanding was moment of registering is smaller than our own like that anyone interested in cats knows that they when they wake there that we simply say in our way. Well they're very alert and they're not just alert they're at some kind of pitch of experience pitch of responsiveness. So that for the cat what we would call a second or split second perception is our unit of being as a moment of being is simply much too long to work out for a cat. So work out ordinary lives 10 years got that all wrong. Cats living much longer if what one is considering here is how long and how frequent on his moments of being and same way with the trout. If you go to an aquarium you're seeing a good lively nervous. That's one reason people are interested in trout. One reason they like to fish for them is that a good fisherman knows that in many
respects a trout is more than a match for human beings. In his responsiveness and his quickness in the delicacy and swiftness of his perceptions. Well now. For present purposes an instance like that from philosophical biology I think you might have. But it doesn't suffice. I think you also need a human moment in order to recall to mind the variety of human perceptual worlds or just as we said they're all creatures. The trout the cat and the tick. So too we tend to say we are all human creatures more or less the same from some point of view at least that is our hope. And it seems to me worth perhaps taking another minute and I said for an anecdote on drop shamelessly out of my own personal experience and say again just serve as a
reminder of the thing that we are talking about the extraordinary range of difference in individual human own thoughts or an individual human rates of perception. Individual accountings of moments. For for some time it might introduce him pointed out I've been involved in. Any ghetto teaching project in Washington DC. And most recently with a group of kindergarten through third grade teachers from several ghetto and a few non ghetto schools who come to bi monthly workshops there in the city pinnacles of illumination run by me. That and I don't know really anything about teaching kids that age at all but there was no one else to do it and who had the requirements and you will see what the requirements of ours are run along. Actually it was
what the chief requirement was intimidation power I think would be better sacked. Why these workshops are attempts to explain how to use a newish. I'm going to it but sort of interesting I'm fond of it and think of myself as the inventor. A story took method if you could see my text you would know that there are quotation marks around these words like method. They're a little pretentious too but anyway it's a method of trying to teach kids who have no confidence in their powers of verbal expression that they could have confidence in them that they can use them and if they can accomplish something in life. Through the languages they already know now before and after these workshops usually have in the afternoon a couple of coworkers visit schools and we watch the teachers work and we do some demonstration teaching so as to prove our capabilities. Now at first we want credible.
I in particular wasn't credible or very influential. Because of that my ideas were I was white and seemingly to waspish to be believed in the my constituency. So the obvious task was to find young negro writers. Well that's really what we were doing we were using poems and stories new ones poets or storytellers. Who could see the potential usefulness of the ideas and who had an appetite for classroom sessions with little kids. And this is very important for people who could endure both the teachers in the schools and me as I was going to get out of the project. Well it was a long search as this is a long anecdote. But the people we needed did turn up.
Two remarkable young black poets. My name Sam Cornish and Lucio Clifton. Mr. Cornish is and is a high school dropout I was 10 15 years ago. To me since I was a high school dropout through the different circumstances but and he is a published poet with an uncommon imagination and Mrs. Clifton As to books coming out later this year from Harcourt Brace and is a self a good poet and a good thinker about teaching. Won't these people turn out to be superb in the classroom as you knew instantly when again talking of them so full of life vibrant energetic and very eager to laugh. Very inventive and very persuasive as well. Class well from the start we have worked together. There have been holidays naturally in the times when suspicion clouded or
collaboration and inhibited friendship. There were times for example when I would insist upon going to some restaurant offices in downtown Washington and I would insist on going some restaurant for lunch. That turned out to be a place they didn't want to go and didn't want to say anything about the place it was stony to black people and I wouldn't catch on quickly enough. I would say oh come on let's go let's let's be extravagant and problem was an extravagance but I'm something else. Well there were times when Mr. Cornish was confronted by one or another curriculum supervisor. We had curriculum supervisors in our workshop in the curriculum supervisors. Perhaps you don't know I was sort of person who is usually pretty confident of herself in particular as a lady very potential lady named Mrs. Zucker who gives us a very bad hour thinks that what we're doing is largely rock and and Mr. Cornish had tried many methods of dealing with Mrs. Zucker.
And finally when all these fair why he would turn to me at the workshop and say doctor I was the only time you have a go at me that was a way I was when I was there for was to be a doctor. I would say fix the fixer up and then it would be up to me to put Mrs. Zucker down. One complained that Mrs. Zak a maid for example was that Mr. Cornish felt that when he got modeless the thing I can't really go into the whole method but he would get marvelous things from these students whenever there was a riot. He was in favor of riots. Mr. Cornish was because it was good for teaching purposes because it provided material for writing and and he would make these mandalas little books that he made of children's writing and that he would present as descriptions or expressions of the children's feelings because this was our avowed purpose was to try to free children up to
the point which they could speak from the center of their feelings. And Mrs. Zucker would read a line from one of these books that would go three cops went into the grocers that she would say. To Mr. Cornish that that was not a statement of feeling that was a description of a thing that happened. And Mr. Cornish would say. If you lived on that block. And you knew how rough three cops go into any store. Three cops are every in sight. There you would know that the statement three cops went into the store. Those three cops went into the store. Exclamation point and if there is an expression of excitement and Mr. right Mrs. Arkell was wrong but he needed an authority figure with a Ph D to help out in the argument and then afterwards once he'd used me then he disliked the momentary dependence and we would have a bad time afterward. There were other times of the bad
times times when Mr. Cornish would for any serious purposes use an extremely naughty word in seminar in order to frighten or disturb as we often what is the case. Some of the people I put to sleep by my instruction and. Since there were several nuns in the group an atmosphere of nervous tension was created which I would then in my fourth heart a gracious manner attempt to smooth over by being a man and acting as though I hadn't heard but he did what he said of course made him angrier. But on the whole we made it. We still speak we still work together. We share many beliefs as book example we convinced together all three of us that that the new romantic
primitivism about Negro culture kind of line taken by writers like John Holton fashionable at the moment that that these people have such a marvelous culture that middle class people should shoot themselves instead of trying to lead them into theirs. So on Mr. Cornish Mrs. Clifton and I tend to agree that. That is not fair to deny your choice to the people in question their parents want their children to have a choice of life a choice between the culture they belong to and the ordinary familial middle class culture and it's not up to us to say that they shouldn't have that choice and the only way they can have a choice is if they master the language and the manipulative skills that we share. These are basic matters and we share some clarity about them and it takes us a long way.
We can start a day together. In short. And and end it together and we usually end it. Around 4:30 in a saloon called Mr. Henry's in the 500 block of Pennsylvania Avenue SE which is just a few blocks above where the senator works and we go here because the proprietors are black people. And the place has a mixed clientele. It has black singers and entertainers in the evening and we set up they're very comfortable there and I am too. We set up a school visit schedule so there where somewhere near Mr. Henry's. So the Madison school or thereabouts at the end of the school day that is sort of the pattern the logistical pattern. And then as I say we have a drink. And then it's time for Sam and Lucille to catch a train. They both live in Baltimore. Now it's about a 15 minute
walk to the station and it's a minute or two by cab. But cabs are hard to get. We're getting closer to the story. Hey they come in at that hour and goes you know washing they come in at that hour the great stream from over the line and accost you wherever that is and so on then and they're heading toward the center of town. But they tend not to like to pick up black people. So what we do is this I work Pennsylvania Avenue for northbound cabs. And a salmon Lucio work South East Fifth Street for eastbound cabs. And when either of us gets one he's he holds it and gives it to the I gives it to the others. It's almost a year. Sam and Lucille haven't gotten a cab but I have very good luck. I was a one up. They even take the off duty time sometimes. I was a one up and then I give the
signal to Sam and I are waiting behind a tree as it were out over there. And and they come across the street and I hold the door open for them. And we say good bye see you next week. And Lucy makes some funny off putting remarks to terrify the drive. Sam you've got your knife. It's a. And then and then off they go and and I get a west bound cab to the airport and I climb and I feel pretty good. And. Here is a moment to be stay with it for a minute. Here is a moment for us both for both parties. My train of thought is it
goes like this. It's a hard job and I should be pursuing my career and I have a book that I should be working on. But this is a public service and I'm getting paid for it and there's not much continuity and the project is a bit zany but we're making it just in the cab on the way to the airport. I mean it's the end of the day and we're still talking and we can buy each other drink. Good old Sam. Nice to see you. And we can talk about which teacher is doing it properly in the classroom and which teacher smiles and and we can talk about Dawn bottle me and mention other young writers. And then I go get them a cab. And they at least see that there's one white privileged character who is an okay guy somebody you can kid around with you can count on. Work with. My train of thought goes
that way. It's self-assured comfortable pleasant decent self satisfied and happy. Well you could put it another way couldn't you and say that it is blind and stupid and unaware of it. Is this a perceptual world. My take time on the bench in my own felt. Incapable of perceiving any other. Or of knowing any moment beside my own. Rob only got to open my eyes. Right just. To begin to imagine another imagination to understand it once how far away from the truth. Of their Innes I am what bitterness I what frustration and what impotence and nagging impotence. There must be in that situation.
Challenge 69: The urban crisis
Episode Number
#4 (Reel 1)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/500-bv79x46z).
No description available
Social Issues
Media type
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 69-30-4 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:30:35
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “Challenge 69: The urban crisis; #4 (Reel 1),” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 16, 2024,
MLA: “Challenge 69: The urban crisis; #4 (Reel 1).” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 16, 2024. <>.
APA: Challenge 69: The urban crisis; #4 (Reel 1). Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from