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If research is to continue to be the collection of data and the prosecution of experiments in smaller and smaller things as some point the research worker is going and see where his work fits in some comprehensible hole. I must say that I think research in this country is an example of the confusion of names and things. No university can now be called respectable. It is not respectable in research. Fifty years ago it was just the other way around. Universities then more colleges of liberal arts with professional schools attached to. The campaign for research as a distinguishing characteristic of the university was not one until yesterday. The success of the campaign as an enlarged heart and the result of
snobbishness. Good teaching however impressive It may be for those who come under it and enjoy. And so Terry Fator. Research can be published in scientific research and lead to sensational published sometime to practical results. What kind of work that is appropriate to a university must be determined by the nature and purpose of the institution. The kind of research that in my view is most appropriate to a university one not in most universities be called research at all. Their research is thinking about important that it seems to me the principal part of the work of the university. Therefore a surge does not involve thinking as I believe a great deal
of it is called research does not that it has no place at a university. I would not have you think that I believe that anything should be done in a university if only it is useless. There have been books in history at which this has been a popular view. You would deplore a program where the theological student and how to preach or lead the choir and sometimes seem to fail in the holder of sanctity by writing a dissertation on the life history of an obscure or Scottish divine. But the criterion for inclusion or exclusion of subjects in the university cannot be an immediate practical usefulness or uselessness. And the example that I have given neither subject should have any place in the university because neither requires any thought.
Thought is hard work and not all hard work is taught. The reputation that research or scholarship as it is generally understood has achieved in American universities. Does not appear to be justified by the purpose of the university. Paying for the detailed work on the accumulation of information on trivial subjects may be good for the characters. Painful detailed accumulation of information on any subject may be good for society. Someday somebody might need it. But if it is hard work or if it is good for society to get all the facts about the origins of the place names on Arthurian romance or about the duties of a third assistant deputy postmaster general it has still not been established that this work should be conducted in a university.
To paraphrase Sir Richard Livingston. The sign of a good university is a number of subjects but it declines to investigate. There is every reason to insist that every member of the university community keep on thinking. There is none to demand that he conduct research that does not require thought. One aim of the university is certainly to weigh add to the sum of human knowledge. But there is a great depth between knowledge and information. Knowledge is organized information that is information that has been reflected or thought about a collection of information for the purpose of thinking about it. It is a legitimate function of a member of the university but only on the assumption that he goes on to think about it. The first question we must ask about activity conducted in the educational
system is has it intellectual content and hasn't such content in its own right. If the activity has no intellectual content it does not belong in education. If it has intellectual content but not in its own right it should be carried on under the auspices of all its departments or schools where the intellectual content is properly located. For example journalism which I mention because this university has an old school of journalism journalism as such has no mental actual content in its own right. It is an occupation that demands intellectual training an intellectual power. These qualifications may be obtained and so far as an educational program and supply them and a good college of liberal arts
I estimate that 85 percent of the curriculum and schools of journalism is an inadequate imitation of the program in liberal arts and that the balance is technical training in the practice of journalism isn't an adequate imitation of the training that could be acquired by working on a newspaper. When we come to those professions which have intellectual content in their own right like medicine and the ology law we see that if those who enter them do not have a liberal education and an understanding of the intellectual content of the professional they are no better off than a man on the assembly line whose education consists of vocational training. The lawyer for example always without liberal educational and legal training consists of exercises in the manipulation of the rules without
any understanding of legal history jurisprudence or comparative law. I probe a menace to society and a burden to one's self. I tell you that in this country in which law students receive the least instruction legal history and comparative law. The public does not trust the bar and wants as much of a lawyers preparation as possible of a given under the auspices of the university. The bar is glad to accept this arrangement because it would like to have its hands as fully trained as possible when they come to work. It's hard to master the intellectual content of a question while one is practicing it. The demands of active professional life are not favorable in the study and reflection. On the other hand. Universities
are not well adapted to teaching the great cost of trade and it is unwise for them to make the attempt. Right. The problem of the university is the problem of purpose what is a fork and if it undertakes to teach the tricks of some trades why should it not be willing to teach the tricks of all. Why should a try. Unless its professors are engaged in the practice of the occupation. They are unlikely to be I'd kept up my latest tricks and if they are actively and in the occupation they are unlikely to be good professors This is not because of any defect in their character but because of the of the man's an active professional life. Which do not allow them time for study and reflection. The best division of responsibility to a new university and the occupation
they don't have the university deal with the intellectual content of the occupation. If they're resigning and I have the occupation take charge familiarizing it's only uprights what the technical operations they have to learn. And a lot rarer than the university administration. I have never heard anybody advance a single reason why the university should be charged with the duty of teaching the prospective members of any occupation. The techniques of that occupation. As I have suggested the basic question of any practical activity like education is that of course. The purpose is a principle of distribution. It shows you where your effort should be placed. It is also a principle of limitation that shows you what you should not do the purpose of the
educational system is readily got at by a process of elimination. Well what big loss. If the educational system or abolished. The loss to the community and of the citizens who compose it would be the loss of an institution that the actual development of the population. Only an educational system and I have the same. University in its turn rests on the assumption that they should be somewhere in the state an organization. The purpose of which is to think most profoundly about the most important intellectual issue. Its purpose is to let the whole educational system of the speculative and practical issues the kind of front speculative thinkers and men of action University is a community that think.
Thanks and Prima Tory specialisation in the United States has carried the educational system in a way activities that have no connection with the intellectual development of the population and has caused a disproportionate amount of its effort to go into such activity. Social and political community that might result from a common understanding has no chance to win boys and girls are mis trained in special ways not educated to comprehend the duties of citizenship or the methods by which they might hope to lead happy and useful lives. American University which seems to be concerned almost exclusively with money and hence what public relations are supposed to produce. Yet this legislative branch undulation not offer any course of study that seems likely to win any influential
group in the community. What standard. Other than money or public relations. I must confess that even in your talk where the love of money is unknown. The university fronts the problem of excessive and Crematory specialisation because even in that fortunate country the nature of knowledge requires specialization. You're told to limit their professional schools to those occupation of which have intellectual content and have it in their own right. They leave training in the techniques of occupation occupation use them so they believe by the way that nothing can be called a profession unless the members of the occupation. I dedicated to the common good unless they have
long since forgotten the doctrine of caveat emptor. And unless they pursue the common good through their profession instead of merely trying to make a dollar however honest little. Utopia in fact is something like Wisconsin. Sixty years ago. When an old lawyer said to a young lawyer from New York tell me Was it true what I hear that there are men in New York City who are practicing law. But still confront the problem of specialisation because they are dealing with modern knowledge. They feel the influence of science just as much as when they're quite as good as wave. The Utopian methods of meeting the extremes of specialisation and
by science are interesting and instructive. In the first place they are not about knowledge and hence not about research. They do not only let the collection of data about significant subjects has any place in a university and they do not accord high honors to the collection of data about significant subjects. Regarding those honorees was properly bestowed on those who think best about the most significant subject. And the second price. You are not confused by the suggestion that science is the whole of knowledge they treasure the insights of historians artists journals and says that we don't understand the world in ourselves we will write these insights and
get us. Third the utopians recognize that in order to have a community that thanks. You have to have mutual intelligibility. Society requires specialists. But even specialism requires if it is not to come to a dead end. But every specially the able to throw light on every other. Every specialist must therefore be able to catch whatever light is being thrown from any quarter. As a man a citizen and even as a specialist specialist requires a liberal education and since even the best liberal education cannot survive that kind of graduate training that specialists now receive utopian the straight graduate education is principally designed to
give the student an understanding of his special in relation to others. Unless a man is going to be a research worker they do not set him at research if he is going to be a teacher. They try to see that he understands the subject but he is likely to change. And if he is going to be a professional man and professions among the utopians vellum they try to make sure that he acquires a knowledge of the intellectual content and the intellectual history of the professional. Finally the utopians have mitigated the worst effects of specialization through the organization of their university. They do not think it enough to have professors and students combined into departments or even into groups of departments such as the
sciences and humanities and the social sciences. They realize that all such combinations can do this to assist a chemist to speak to another chemist and occasionally Mrs.. Therefore the force representative. Is divided with.
The work of course with the school. It ends with the sophomore year of the conventional American college. The object. Object of the College of Utopia is to say that everybody and one object of the University of Utopia is to say that he doesn't love God. Instead a graduate of a college in the university is expected to continue and develop his liberal education. The result of a combination of a college of this sort and university organized in this way
is that Utopia has been able to take specialization in its stride to gain advantages that it has to offer without suffering the destructive affects but it is broadly that everywhere else in the world. The administrative procedures of the University of Utopia were formally like those of an American university. The present administrative structure was I am told suggested to the people of this interesting country by a former president of the University of Utopia who was tricked into what office late in life after a distinguished career in nuclear physics. Having devoted himself for many years with electrical activity which he regarded as identical with life itself.
He found that his presidential duties left him no time to think. And of course no time to teach or carry on research even of the most. And. He thought it odd that the only person in the university. Who was not required to be a teacher scholar or thinker was the head of it. He saw that one of the most unfortunate consequences of specialisation was the production of the specialized educational administrator. When he came to retire therefore he recommended the organization of the administration that I have described in order to make an order among other things to make the specialized educational administrator so absurd that it could never be brought
forward again. The head of an institution 25 professors two hundred and fifty still obviously could claim that his administrative chance to do the kind of work for which the University was established for this far sighted by which he had the worst excesses of specialization among his faculty and students successors formed from a life of. Resident of whom I have spoken lovingly and in the memory of a great country. Now you will notice the educational system and the University of Utopia a highly specialized institution. What we want if I may borrow a phrase class or Edward show.
Is a specialized institution unspecialized man. We want man even though they are specialists are still men and citizens and who would ideally be able to move from one specialty to another as their interests and the needs of the community. And I'd recommend. We want men who are men and not machines. They must not be misled by the objection that there is now so much to be known that nobody and no one not the understand more than a fragment of it. This is to confuse information and knowledge of every human being has a grasp of fundamental ideas and the ability to communicate with others. On the other hand we want specialized institutions. We want institutions constructed and managed to do a specific job.
Mark clearly that job is defined. The more likely it is to get done. The political party in a totalitarian state. The chariots in Spain and the American educational system and the American universities are examples of specialized institutions. Because these institutions undertake to do more than they are equipped to do they fail in everything. The American educational system for example now seems likely to become accustomed to the old system a system for the accommodation of the young. From the time at which they become a nuisance to their family for the time of which we already have them go to work. When you hear educators talk about how the educational system. More
money in order to do more thing. You may suspect that they are not talking about education they are talking about the extension of the system. America may require a custodial system for them but I would point out that if through the process of under specialization. The American educational system. America will then be without an educational system. Such a country is without any or the intellectual development of the population. The family and the church undertake this responsibility. They will in their eternal come under specialized institutions. They will fail in the educational tasks and also an attached property to them. A country that makes no provision for the intellectual development of its people
is headed for dictatorship or worse a country that makes no provision for serious higher learning. Such as the University of Utah provides will suffer from the degradation of its culture the confusion of its bankers and the sensation of its scientific progress. Then the United States. Because of the absence of an educational tradition that is widely understood. The university is supported by taxes. What more and more like parts of a custody whole system. Is to be found in the independent university. Here. And the independent universities money and public relations. Already prime objects of attention. And it may be that the independent
university will become Castaldi old so that will mean only what they have decided to become like everybody else. The Lore of normalcy. There's been too much for them and that they have not the courage to be different. And it's ok I well it seems to be universally they will of so use to be and the Pentagon. May have been a very early on. In the ghettos of the University of utopia in our own country. In our own time. You have heard Robert M. HUTCHENS From a Chancellor of the University of Chicago in the second of four lectures on hazards to education in the United States. The topic of this lecture was specialization. This talk was delivered under the Walgreen lectureship at the University of Chicago. This series of lectures is copyrighted by the university and will be published in book form by the University Press.
Hazards to education
Specialization, part two
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University of Chicago
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program, the second of two parts, focuses on the hazards that specialization, or the lack of a broader education, poses to education.
Series 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
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 55-10-2 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:28:18
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Chicago: “Hazards to education; Specialization, part two,” 1955-04-10, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed February 4, 2023,
MLA: “Hazards to education; Specialization, part two.” 1955-04-10. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. February 4, 2023. <>.
APA: Hazards to education; Specialization, part two. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from