thumbnail of Special of the week; Issue 26-70 "Clark Kerr on Education 3 of 5"
Hide -
This transcript was received from a third party and/or generated by a computer. Its accuracy has not been verified. If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+.
And we are the national educational radio network presents Corker on education. Now Karr is currently the chairman and executive director of the Carnegie Commission on the future of higher education. And past president of the University of California. These programs are based upon lectures delivered by Dr. Kerr on the Indiana University campus under the auspices of the patent power nation. Tonight. The topic is the coming struggle over functions. Let me say in advance that the Panama functions is I think quite complex. I do not think they can be. Covered in the sort o holy trinity of research teaching and service I think it's much more complex than that.
Turning then to the subject of the functions of higher education measures that start out all that we've had in the United States over functions. The first occurred about a century ago when the land grant university and really also Harvard and Johns Hopkins. Challenge the classical college. And this battle was clearly won by the land grant approach. The second battle came just before and then after World War 1. When a counter attack was undertaken by a lot of Harvard. A lot of Swarthmore Hutchins of Chicago and others trying to get back to more of the classical approach and away from the idea of service and research of the land grant university. This counterattack essentially was lost. And then today the third great battle over functions more are
complex than ever before. More alternatives before us and more forces at work. We have today a pluralistic university or even a pluralistic college or a pluralistic campus in a pluralistic society. And how did we get to this poor alist a campus with many functions and I'd like to suggest the two laws of Bennett work. First of all the law expanding functions which I think is operative really clear around the world. And that is that the functions of institutions of higher education just keep on growing. I think we've had at work at least these. Three things. First of all. The growing importance of knowledge. For the life of any society and the university is the place in charge of recording
knowledge and adding to it and disseminating it has become more central and more useful and has just all more or less automatically gain more functions. As knowledge became more central to society. Also all there has been going on. The democratization of access. To higher education in terms of the students who come. With more varied interests than the gentleman out of the aristocracy democratisation also in the sense that more of the elements of society could call upon the university for service farmers and industrialists and government officials and so forth and saw the expanding importance of knowledge and the democratization of access has led to this expansion of functions but beyond that the fact that nothing is ever subtracted in higher education we only add. We
never subtract or almost never subtract a department or a field or a book or anything else. So all this law of expanding functions and then the second law. Of. The land minimum. Had ability but as a tuitions of higher education. Have to be to some extent compatible with the surrounding society. In Russia they have to be almost completely 100 percent compatible. They need to be reasonably compatible in varying ways or in Britain or Germany or the United States and United States where we have a pluralistic society. It means then not to be compatible with it. The university has to be prepared to relate to many of the segments of the pluralistic society. However at the present time seeing a whole series of attacks on the pluralistic campus and they're quite varied and generally they come from people who favor
a single purpose. They would pick a single purpose of the campus and emphasise it to the explosion of explosion of everything else. Or maybe a new purpose one not enough for foreign and I should like to indicate quite briefly what these attacks are from the single purpose people. They say essentially that the campus is too many things and to some extent it's the wrong things and I should like to refer very quickly to seven of these attacks. Three of them looking back to earlier golden age which in fact was never quite so golden as it now looks. And farther looking ahead to the possibility of a future golden age which might not be so golden once it arrives. And much of the letter churned hard to cation a day is taken up by attacks from these seven different sources. The first of the attacks was the attack that would comes from Paul Goodman and a somewhat lesser extent from Harold Taylor and more generally
from supporters of of John Dewey Goodman. Looking back to John Dewey. The phrase of Paul Goodman is that we should have a once again as he thinks existed in the Middle Ages. A community of scholars and the campus should be quite small. His favorite size is one hundred fifty people that it should be essential a student oriented that there should really not be a faculty but rather more experienced people who serve as advisers or consultants to the students. A second attack comes from the proponents of the classical college non-job Barzan of Colombian a former province of Colombia expresses this point of view. You can take it back to Cardinal Newman in his famous book The idea of a university. You can take it back to the Academy of Plato and the Athenaeum of Aristotle.
The third attack which looks back to the past is attack which would come from came from a person like Abraham Flexner and others who follow his point of view. For every in the pure research university now being upon new truth on Discovery. Against service against applied research against the lesser professions and so forth and much of the attack that we see on the functions today comes from these three sources now turning quickly to for that look to the future rather than to the past models. A fourth attack comes from the proponents of the dissenting Academy those who feel that the university should give up its political neutrality that the university should as an institution take positions on policy matters political matters.
This runs against the standard notion that dissent is an individual matter that you have the dissenting professor his freedom protected so that he can express any dissent or criticism he wishes to or associate voluntarily with others who agree with him but takes the step of growing beyond the dissenting professor or the dissenting group and saying that dissent should be institutionalized. But this is not a responsibility of the institution as such. A fifth attack comes from those who would go beyond the descending Academy and they favor turning the campus into a grill a camp as was done by Castro and Cuba with the University of Havana to some extent and was done to some extent by Mao Tse-Tung in China with the idea that the guerrilla camp become a base for organizing
opposition to the existing society and that the opposition become increasingly violent. Now there are two other sources of criticism which I'd like to mention even more briefly to give you the full range of attack on functions which we're now facing. There are some who say and Professor Friedman of San Francisco State has just written a book on this that the purpose of the campus should be to change the the values of students to change their social values essentially to liberalize them. And if the campuses across the United States could change the values of students even to us small extent that as they went out into the world they would then be hailed differently as citizens and society in turn would be changed. But the real purpose of the campus is to change the social values of the students. And then seventh and finally those who attack the current campus because they feel it does not have an
impact on the personalities of students Nevitt Sanford would be proponent of this point of view to a lesser extent Ted Newcomb. They feel that a campus should have a strong personality a strong character so strong that it makes the students who go through it come out as different individuals than they came in in the direction of a more mature personality or whatever that particular psychologist thinks that personality ought to be and they would point to Bennington College or Vassar or Sarah Lawrence as places which perhaps had this kind of an impact on personality. But the purpose is not really academic training or research but the real test of a campus is. Has it changed the personalities of its students in the various studies have been made and this is why they condemn higher education in the United States today show that very few campuses really do affect the personalities of their students in any
uniform way. And the ones which do tend to be small residential liberal arts colleges with a very strong character. Now if I might comment very quickly my reactions to each of these and they deserve careful attention I think a number of them have a good deal of merit in part but I would say this that none of these alternative visions can be the one and only model for higher education in the United States. I would say that several of them have a place within the totality but none of them could serve as the single model the only model as their proponents suggest on the community of scholars which is essentially as a glorified bull session and the ball session. Has its place but it doesn't produce medical doctors and it doesn't produce a lot of other things that society needs from higher education.
The classical colleges the standard model I think is too rigid and also too authoritarian too rigid to fit modern society. Too authoritarian to be satisfactory to the modern student. The pure research university may be fine where it's possible but in my experience it's awfully hard to hold a pure research that pure leads to applied. And both pure and applied research lead into service and you just can't cut off your research and put it someplace on a not Olympus and say it's in an anti-septic environment where nothing applied and no service shall ever touch it. On the guerrilla camp I would say it's incompatible with society. It either destroys society or it in turn is destroyed and thus it cannot be a
permanent model and never has been. I would say on those who talk about changing values as the single purpose that this is a result of almost all of our campuses but it could hardly be the sole purpose of this kind of a side effect and perhaps a changing of values is better approached indirectly than directly because if you try to approach it directly it might really backfire on you. You say we're taking students in for the sake of changing their values in this direction. You know I'd be very honored to be sure they weren't changed that right. And then in terms of the those who favor the campus turning out a certain kind of personality I'm not sure that generally it can be done. Students come pretty well formed and their personalities already. The campus is not the only influence upon them as they go through their friends and what's happening in the surrounding society have influences also. We take a very strong
environment to overcome prior development and other influences but beyond that I'd ask the question exactly what kind of personality do you want all these students to have. It seems to me that the campus then instead of being in place of parents would rather be putting itself in place of God. And I have some doubts about that. Now on the descending Academy I'd like to say more of a word about that because I think among the seven alternatives that's the one that's going to be the most discussed and the most pressed over the next decade. I think first of all that this approach is is unwise and that the effort to. Set a single policy for the academic institution would tear that institution apart internally
and would certainly tear it apart. Externally I think also it is wrong to attempt it in a political opinion showed in the academic community be left to the individual and to the voluntary group at the campus above all as a place for freedom and not for conformity rather enforced by your fellow students your fellow professors or by the external authorities. So you have a governor and I notice that some of the people who would be expected to be proponents of the dissenting Academy are now developing doubts about it on tactical grounds. Robert Paul Wolff has a book sharply to come out. He lists himself as a radical. But he says he doubts the wisdom from a radical point of
view of trying to politicize the campus. He says first of all it would be found as you politicize the campus that the majority was not really radical but conservative and the radicals would lose. He says second that if you do succeed in politicizing the campus in a radical direction it will invite witch hunting from the outside and destroy the campus as a free marketplace of ideas. And so he says as a radical and I'll quote him he says no twist the Galleon dialectic will persuade me that as society progresses by destroying its most progressive institutions. But I think that some of the history a good deal of it of the next decade of Hargett cation is going to be written by this battle between the
proponents of the dissenting Academy and those who favor the pluralistic university with political neutrality. So these are some of the challenges I'd like to say a few words now about what I consider to be the reality and what changes I think should be made. And I think we're seeing a very major shift take place in functions and it's this over the past century and including since World War Two we've been emphasizing the production functions of higher education. It's been a century of rapid industrialization tremendous growth in our in the in the gross national product the GNP tremendous growth and the power of the United States around the world economic and political and military. And one might say that looking at the past century American higher education has scored a great triumph in making really major contributions to
improving the production of this society. We have the most productive society in the world and one of the reasons is we have the best system of higher education. But coming in now I think there's a new emphasis upon the consumption functions. We have had a century where you put this great emphasis on the production functions almost alone. But now the consumption functions. We have continued prosperity and students are less interested in their vocational future. We have afternoons and young people to take more for granted in a material basis for a life. We have come in in a more existential view of life. Yet your experiences while you can and are generally turning from my view are a society based on the Protestant Ethic to a more sensate culture than before. And I think one of the crises over functions is the rise of the consumption functions as against the production function. We now
also see a rising importance for the citizenship functions society with intense controversies needing new solutions. Society where more elements need education need to be drawn in and a heightened importance of the citizenship functions along with the consumption functions. And yet we've been geared to the production function and this is part of the crisis. Now let me just note in passing that this new emphasis on the consumption functions and the citizenship functions may see us look not only away from what we've done in the past but they also look away from each other because the consumption function tends to have you look into the campus toward a liberal education than the quality of the life of the campus community is it exciting and so forth. Well the citizenship functions tend to have us then look outward to all of society throughout the United States and throughout the
world. And so we're faced then not only with shifting from the emphasis on production functions but how can we accommodate at the same time. And the inside emphasis of the consumption functions and the outside emphasis of the citizenship functions. Now the test I would like to suggest in evaluating functions are these how well do we handle the individual functions how well they perform how well are the functions being changed and related to a changing society and how compatible are they with each other. Now logic that I you should take each function against each test for the sake of brevity I'm going to put it all together and make my own suggestions for what changes I think should be undertaken. And I realize how controversial this is. First on the talent hunt. I think that we not perform that function particularly well. We have
not looked for talent throughout our society and all levels of economic income and in all races. And there we have a major job to find talent wherever it is and not wherever economic ability or prejudice leads us to look. One skill training I would say we had done excellently in the United States with two deficits one in the training of health personnel and the second that we have not really adapted ourselves to giving continuing education to adults who want to come back and add to their training or retrain themselves or improve the quality of their lives on research. In many ways weve done a superb job but I would fault our performance of that function in these ways. I do not think that sacred research except under special circumstances like war time has any place on a university campus. I also feel
that our research has been too narrowly oriented toward the individual discovery. Weve been too little concerned with the consequences of individual discoveries or series of discoveries. To some extent our research has been unbalanced too much for agriculture our health or the military as compared with the needs of the inner core city or our ecology. But I may say on research I dont think the campus could do much about it. I think the research policy has to come from the federal government. I have my own experience. I know how its almost impossible for a university to have a research policy as long as the money is available faculty members are going to want it. If they cant get it if they stay on your campus theyll go someplace else. Forth on service I would say that the American performance had been quite superb although there have been a few cases where some of the service might be said to be social. I would say generally that we perform the perfunctorily of production functions very well better than any
system of higher education in the world. Turning to the consumption functions I think the record is quite different. When liberal education most places I think this has been sadly neglected. We hardly have any discussion anymore as to what constitutes a good liberal education and very little attention to it. The students are demanding that they be given a better liberal education and I think with excellent reason one community life. I think we have neglected the campus as a community which should be exciting and interesting to all of its members who looked upon it too much as a place where people spend a period of time getting ready for something else rather than looking upon it as a place where people were spending perhaps the most important years of their lives. We should be concerned with making the campus the most exciting possible type of a community.
When the custodial functions have sometimes been performed into bureaucratic away there's been too much in local Prentiss. But I say generally they've been and have been a pretty good way technically in terms of the holding operation. I think we've made a mistake in looking upon a dropout as a failure. You say in part people are trying to find out what to do with their lives in a way we ought to favor people dropping in and dropping out and make it easy rather than hard and say one of our functions is to help people find out how to make the best use of their lives. So I would suggest that in terms of the consumption functions we've done rather poorly and particularly in the areas of liberal education and community life on citizenship functions on acculturation we don't take it too seriously and I think it's handled reasonably well when evaluation as I mentioned in connection with a descending
Academy. I think we face a very major question there now that society has all these problems how can we best perform the function of evaluation. Do we stay with our historical approach of the dissenting professor or do we move to the approach of the dissenting institution. I think that's very much up in the air at the present time and very uncertain. On the remedial function I think this has been generally neglected we tend to say take students all coming in like they're all alike and give them the same program. We pay too little attention to individualized placement taking the student as he is or she is and trying to adjust the program to them and on community service. I would say this has been very spotty and at the place that were most at fault is that we have not tried to give service to the urban communities as we once did to the rural communities. The land grant
universities made an enormous contribution to the quality of rural life yet we have been becoming an urban civilization and what have we done to improve the quality of urban life. As a matter of fact in the last few years we haven't paid any attention to it at all. So I would say in terms of the citizenship functions we have a very mixed record. Now in conclusion let me say this that I think that as we face the issue of functions in this coming struggle over functions that the most important issues out of all the ones I've mentioned are these how to improve the opportunity for a liberal education for those undergraduates who want it and now can't get it how to protect the corporate political neutrality
of the campus for the sake of preserving individual freedom and institutional integrity. And third how to extend to the urban community the resources once made available to rural areas where the land grant university. Now it's relatively easy to attack the current reality from the perspective of a golden past that is no longer totally relevant. Or a golden future that's only dimly seen but I think the real challenge is to assess higher education as it actually exists to improve its individual functions. To change our society changes to preserve its own integrity and this struggle over functions is I think just beginning. Clark around education is a series of programs based upon lectures delivered on the Bloomington
tapis of Indiana University under the auspices of the Patent Foundation. Marker on education was produced by Carl Hirsch for WFIU radio service of Indiana University. This is NPR the national educational radio network.
Special of the week
Issue 26-70 "Clark Kerr on Education 3 of 5"
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-wd3q120h).
No description available
Public Affairs
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-SPWK-480 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:30:00?
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “Special of the week; Issue 26-70 "Clark Kerr on Education 3 of 5",” 1970-00-00, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 25, 2024,
MLA: “Special of the week; Issue 26-70 "Clark Kerr on Education 3 of 5".” 1970-00-00. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. July 25, 2024. <>.
APA: Special of the week; Issue 26-70 "Clark Kerr on Education 3 of 5". Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from