Oral essays on education; Dr. George S. Counts
That's only one tape recorder program is distributed through the facilities of the National Association of educational broadcasters. All essays on education a dynamic radio series designed to present leading personalities of our society as they attempt to discover the scope of problems which confront modern education. This week Dr. James in Terra Michigan State University College of Education will interview Dr George S. Collins distinguished visiting professor in education at Michigan State. In a discussion of Russian education. And now here is Dr. Tim Tara. Dr. counts for several years you have been known as a close scholar and the person who has delved in depth with the kind of education that has been going on in the USSR with a few years ago
a highlight of the advent of Sputnik and the reactions this is had upon American education we've heard several claims about Russian education the education of the USSR being far superior and able to turn out in a very short time the required number of engineers to produce such a phenomenon as the many sputniks that have been used are beating the earth out of this is guns and statements about the 10 or 11 year school that Russia has been able to put into effect very quickly and appeared on the educational horizon as a kind of a phenomenon and had an immediate result turning out the technicians the knowledgeable people who were able to put the Sputniks into orbit. How much is there behind this attempt to say well it's a result of education in Russia that these phenomena have occurred. What's really behind this. Well I think it is a result of education. Yes that term education very broadly but I'd like to take up with you for just a moment
this idea as a teaching physics from the sixth grade in the 10 years go was responsible for Sputnik. Now as a matter of fact you got just the most elementary knowledge of the history of sound education and about the first or second grade arithmetic is about all you need to demonstrate that teaching physics in the sixth grade had nothing to do with books. And I'll tell you what I mean again. Put it this way the 10 year school as it has been understood and reported in the West in this country really did not come into existence until the middle 30s are even later in the 1920s. Why is it the Sabbath school was entirely different but profoundly different from what it
became in the thirties after the boucherie came to power. They of course proceeded to launch a great program of education schooling but they had very few teachers who were sympathetic with them. They're afraid very few teachers who are Bolsheviks as a matter of fact in 1921 the All-Russian Union of Teachers strike against about your rigor gene. As a consequence they could would not could not trust the teachers so they put great power in the hands of two organisations One of children and one of the views the society young pioneers taking children from about 9 to 15 or 16 and then the League of Young Communist taking us from fifteen or sixteen to twenty three or four five years of change from time to time and it was the Young Pioneers selected children.
I'm the closest direction of the party that played the central role in the schools in the 20s and they were in the 1980s the eyes and ears and even the voice as a party and the teachers news knew that. And by the by the early thirties the situation changed a good deal. They had retrained many teachers and they had him to improve their their economic condition and also they had trained many more new teachers. Time came the early 30s when niggas thought they could trust the teachers and the Saudis the teacher was restored and also out of the. They developed a very a very rigorous academic curriculum. I've I've often said that if a Rip Van Winkle is gone is it Rush the first time I did in 20 in 27 and a visit to Saudi school then I'm going to sleep just for 9 years said in 1936 I was there then too
and gone back to the same school he kind of believes his school because the curriculum had been changed a method of teaching had been changed the role of the teacher had been changed or rather the pupil had been changed and so we get in the middle 30s the emergence of this 10 year school with a rigorous curriculum in 43 that added to 20 rules for school children. To control their conduct both in the school in the on the playground in the community on the streets and at home. They sought to establish a 24 regimen as they say for children. Well it was a hit is it not that that middle of 30 period test new curriculum that is attracting attention the West and among some of our people to protect. Physics from the sixth grade. Well let's assume that a youngster starts a school in 1936 in one of the ten year schools wasn't perfected yet
and proceeded to normal rate graduating in 10 years and he will be 17 years of age at the age of interest to school to school over there seven years rather than six. So he leaves it finishes its 10 years 20 17 and a year is 46. But do you know a scientist yet he has to go to university or technical school and I'll take five years more but you know science has become what they call an aspirant. Far as a doctor's degree in science that would take three more years. But still he's not a scientist. He then becomes a candidate for the doctor's degree in science and I'll take two or more years. So you had 10 to 19 tonight to do well to the age of 17 and you get the age of 27. You add 10 to the year 1946 and you get the year 1956. And of course a graduate of this school had nothing do with beauty.
Now of course during that period they did produce some skilled workers and technicians and engineers. But one of the engineers they can see Sputnik that is basic science was required here. And a question might be raised. Well then where did Sputnik come from. Well there are three answers to that question. Either three factors are involved in my opinion in the first place. We need to take another look at old Russia. Everybody knows all Russia was very backward. That is certainly true in 1917 with about 6 took over probably about 60 percent 80 percent of people are illiterate. We don't know Bostic don't nobody knows because it's been no census afternoon 1897 but that's or that part as good as 60 percent plus or minus five. A very backward country.
Generally speaking but there is also in all Russia a tiny intellectual class that was equal of intellectual class of the Western countries. We knew that was a guide to the great writers Tolstoy to gain your doctor you have ski and jack off and so on. We don't realise that the same thing can be said with your guide to science. There was born a king 57 a man the name was g all costing her dear dough devote his life to astronautics to rockets and so on and so on. And he foresaw many of the developments in this in this field that were recognized as adopted later he was when the great pioneers in this field. Then of course there's Mendel AFN who was one of the greatest scientists of the modern period who constructed that table of atomic weights with slight stare you know foreign
elements that are not yet known to exist they have been found. Oh that was a great triumph of basic science and of course Pavlov in filicide physiology and psychology is about as well known Messick off in medicine chemistry and others but the point is that Russia is now the boss of Aix. He inherited from the old regime. A very strong tradition and in a sense a brilliant one. And the RAM of basic science theoretical science and Lenin recognised it and when the body came to power they treated these old scientists better than they were treated in the old regime and they prized their their abilities and their talents and achievements. So that is one factor I perhaps you should should add here that
the three physics that the three of the three physicists who received the Nobel Prize in Physics A couple of years ago. Not one of them went through this 10 year school. They and the youngest was born in 1005 so he had finished his education his schooling when his 10 year school was established with physics in the sixth grade and one of the barn 1890. And so this is a this is a feature of old Russia that we shouldn't we shouldn't forget or overlook or yesterday like to think about Russia's back when she was generally but there were these exceptions. So there is Larry is one of the one of the factors that produce put another one that may be important is what is what they call in the Soviet Union their worldview
that is the view of the universe and their world view is a materialistic one. And the science is placed over against religion so that some of that science carries somewhat the aura of sanctity in a Soviet Union that religion dies in the West. The word science just one of the best words that can be used in Russia they have a way of not snow us which means science ness. This is marked by knights noticed. Well if it is you can't see anything better about it. And so there is an orientation in the Soviet Union toward science that that we have never had. And Lenin and then later Stalin emphasized whenever possible the redeveloped of the sciences. Way back in the spring in 1928 Stalin spoke to a congress of.
The young countess here were gathered together the pic used. I just saw that union from border to border and of course this address he said he said is both his father's a fortress stands before us that fortress is called science with its many branches of knowledge. We must capture that fortress use must capture we must capture that fortress at any cost that commerce is the goal is the task that lies ahead. And so are they that I want political system has been directed toward the they develop the science and then I wait for the third factor here. And this must not be overlooked. Is the political system itself as as we all know the Soviet Union is ruled by the Communist Party. Of course this party is not a political party at all the sense in which we use the term. I
started a long time I thought a long time to find a proper characterization of it. I have come to conclusion it is a it is a political army is not going to just like an army at the top as a central committee of about a hundred twenty five full members and almost an equal number of Gannet members. But that's where our power resides in the party and also is where power resides in the Soviet Union and about eight million members of the party it is difficult to get in you can't get in his face by asking to get in and you can easily be thrown out. But this central committee will make decisions in secret meetings. It may set goals in this field or in that it may make those goals but as are their decisions public it may not. The people may may not know it all watched what went on at the meeting of the Central Committee. But with this kind of political organization they can set
a distant goal. My Sure resources and move towards towards that goal. That's what they have done with the guide to atomic bombs and the rockets and so on. So it was a development of Sputnik has to be understood in such terms and not just in the simple terms of teaching physics in the sixth grade. There is a. In your most recent volume of which the title I believe is Khrushchev and the SO and the Central Committee speak on educate Yes you outline these several these 40 or so joins in a very definitive manner as you understand what's happening in educational patterns in the Soviet Union now. Can we look to these as being the hallmarks for the next decade or are these subject to constant revision in
changing the first point to keep in mind is that the direction of Saudi education fine relations of education policy all of that is a responsibility of the function of the Central Committee of the party. From there from the earliest days a central committee has issued decrees. I would expect to the conduct of education and and there have been as of as I've already noted great changes in 131 decrees were issued by the Central Committee that suggested that a new period was it was opening but the school the new school was really not formed as I said until the middle 30s and it wasn't perfected until so much later. Now that's just that's what's happened it's of use day in 1952 I think years ago this October. It is evident that they were not satisfied with the school as it had
developed to that to that point and then there are various indications in the Soviet Union following 1052 statements by the leaders including Khrushchev and others that they were going to introduce further changes and then in November 958. They bring out the 40 theses. Now I think myself that they will continue along this line. For a considerable period it may be that they're fine it doesn't work at all but I don't think that I think that they regard these reforms as so important from the standpoint in Calcasieu of Camus morality that they're going to hold to hold to these reforms for and protect try to protect them during the years and years ahead rest there and there is even some
suggestion that this obvious coup has a future. And if the Lower School. Will be boarding school. There are some schools in the Soviet Union now that take children from the first year. No one will be admitted if more than one year old. And he gets his eyes all general education up to the time he finished goes on the high school and he seems to suggest a few years. But then there are increasing very rapidly and schools proposed by Krushchev at the 20's Congress in February nine thousand one hundred fifty six and that was the boarding school but it just takes youngsters from seven years of age 2 to 17 or or or 18 according to what is a tenure that near school and it may and it may be that this is a kind of school they hope to
establish when they can afford it. But these are very expensive but they are the seven year plan calls for a large expansion of these boarding schools but I think that the pattern that is set by the 48 species will be applied to the schools. Well inevitably Dr. counts I'm sure that you have been asked and I know that you have done some thinking yourself and you reported this in several of the items that you have authored. You are always asked to project this background of Soviet education in a comparative situation against what goes on in this country. Let me get specific in the. Few remaining moments we have here to talk about this to ask you this. It has been suggested that one of the major needs of American education is a national purpose
clearly defined and then this national purpose projected into some specific activities at a time by time as we go along to those and some of the people that we have had appear in this oral essays on education series have suggested a very practical manner of accomplishing this. They've suggested the creation of a committee or a commission who periodically perhaps yearly to begin with and longer or shorter as we need it in the future. Take a look at the educational pattern at work in this country and recommend not to anybody specifically but just generally recommend action to be taken. This would have the effect of determining some long range and immediate goals both. In the light of your analytical evaluation of the educational patterns in countries throughout the world do you think that this is a direction or a movement that is necessary and is recommended for the ACE
country to take. That is a question whose interests me for a long time and not just since Sputnik. As a matter of fact back in 1930 for us there are 35 I've forgotten the year I wrote an article for one of the magazines in which I suggested that we ought to set up some kind of national commission on education and not and not just to just use it to operate for a few months or years so for the solution of some question or problem. But that would be established as one of the basic institutions of our society. A commission as able as people we could find. People of the stature of the justices of our Supreme Court and some drawn from the field of education some down others drawn from the various departments of American life and to have them direct their
attention to the problem of education in this country and with a long view not just to meet the immediate situation and this will involve the question of national purpose or national purposes as I remember I took the position of this commission or whatever we might call it should not have administrative authority it should not have the authority to impose its conclusions on the schools of this country throughout throughout from border to border. But it did have the the responsibility of making recommendations. And it doesn't doubt it would stimulate and challenge the educational leaders boards of education and so on all over the United States. Well I think it is in this Finnish realm that we need to do a lot of thinking at this time. So I welcome this discussion is going on now and we have a number of very interesting publications on the national purpose but I really have to
understand and also what are we up to in the world today because we can no longer think of ourselves as just living on AI and operating on this kind of self-contained. And I'm concerned really about what goes on beyond the oceans because we need to realize that the oceans aren't there anymore. We don't and I don't believe the American people really understand. They rode those great oceans played in the development of our free institutions. But that was oceans are gone. And we also have been thrust into position. I don't think we we want to do it but into a position of leadership just because of our great power leadership in the free world. And we can't escape anything. And so I think that this is all to the good. And this this whole discussion of national purpose national purposes should be related I think to
education. Of course we have we have national purposes in the sense that is where we live at least we have represented throughout our history as a republic. We represented we have we have thought of ourselves expressing some great ideas in the human adventure because we think it wanted as a great Declaration of Independence. We think of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address and there are others. And the Constitution itself. And we're not without some direction here. Only on Friday we have forgotten many things are we have lost it as you can see and we've become so much concerned about our immediate affairs Sammy Sam selfsame Stover a distinguished sociologist at Harvard wrote a book you know a few years ago Calvinism can finally end civil liberties. This is based upon a study of
American opinion with regard to basic questions that to respect to civil rights and liberties. And he had two opinion measuring agency to do best we have I think one of Princeton and one of the rights of Congress to make independent studies cross-section studies including all religious groups all racial national groups all social economic groups and so on and. The days of these studies reveal something that disturbed me. One question put to these to our people was why do you worry about most. Well 80 percent worried only about immediate. 10 percent had no worries at all. Eighty percent worried only about immediate personal and family progress. Yeah when you going to get that radio set or that television set or that car and about and less than 1 percent of car the stuff or
really we're worrying about the future of this republic and about today about the condition of our civil rights and so on and so on. Yes I'm I'm afraid that here in Israel one of the greatest weakness is American educated much weaker than then. But weaknesses we may have in the realm of science and technology. I'll tell you a story here that I think would be of interest to you. I was I was teaching in the summer school in Vienna State where then 2000 miles of East Lansing. It was toward the west. I want to tell you of just the state the name of the state. But out there I I saw a good many times an old friend of mine a woman who had who had gone to school with me and I'd gone to school with her and he's in Kansas way back nearly part of the century. She was a member state legislature. And I asked her this question she's a very
intelligent woman. I ask her this question what were the great issues what were the issues that aroused the people of your state last year. Well she answered once she had made a study of it. Handy she said in tames I was a number of letters received by the legislators. Not just that she had received any in terms of number of citizens appearing before the committees hearing having I would need to have hearings on bills why he had to grade each year last year apparently was bingo. Should we or should we not have been go in the state they had before it was a green stand should we allow the green stamps to going in and a year before that is daylight saving. That seemed to excite the citizens in the age in which we live today I don't think that's enough.
That was Dr. George S. Counts well-known author of several books on the Russian educational structure and distinguished visiting professor in education at Michigan State University. Dr. Collins interviewed by Dr. Jameson Tara of the Michigan State University College of Education discussed patterns in Russian education. Next week our final program will feature doctor Ernest OLB distinguished professor in education at Michigan State who will discuss the various ideas presented in this survey of education. Well as sais on education has been produced by Wayne S. Wayne and Patrick Ford distribution is made through the National Association of educational broadcasters. This is the end E.B. Radio Network. From. The room. In the morning noon and. Noon. 9:00.
- Oral essays on education
- Dr. George S. Counts
- Producing Organization
- Michigan State University
- WKAR (Radio/television station : East Lansing, Mich.)
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
- AAPB ID
- Episode Description
- Dr. George S. Counts, distinguished visiting professor, College of Education, Michigan State University, on "The Red Blackboard."
- Other Description
- The thoughts of distinguished Americans in a survey of American eduction.
- Broadcast Date
- Media type
Interviewee: Counts, George S. (George Sylvester), 1889-1974
Interviewer: Tintera, James
Producing Organization: Michigan State University
Producing Organization: WKAR (Radio/television station : East Lansing, Mich.)
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 61-3-15 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- Chicago: “Oral essays on education; Dr. George S. Counts,” 1961-03-14, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed August 11, 2022, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-hq3s036h.
- MLA: “Oral essays on education; Dr. George S. Counts.” 1961-03-14. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. August 11, 2022. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-hq3s036h>.
- APA: Oral essays on education; Dr. George S. Counts. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-hq3s036h