Oral essays on education; Dr. Arthur S. Adams
The following tape recorder program is distributed through the facilities of the National Association of educational broadcasters. Oral 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. Arthur S. Adams president of the American Council on Education will discuss current views held on a wide range of educational problems. Dr. Adams as interviewed by Mr. Wayne S. Wayne co-producer of the series. And now here is Mr. Wayne. Dr. Adams What do you believe is the ultimate source of human achievement. In my judgment not discounting in the least spirit enthusiasm drop and all of those other
attributes of human character as well as those of the physical body such as energy at the ultimate source of human achievement. Actually those features which distinguish human achievement from all other achievement depends upon two things. The acquisition of valid information and the exercise of considered judgment. These two are indivisible. If one has the information and not the judgement he then is educated beyond his competence. If he has the judgment and doesn't have the information I'm sure you would agree that we can very well rely on that judgement. If it is not made on the basis of consideration of evidence therefore an answer to your question. I would say that the highest of all a human being comes when he has extended himself to his utmost potential in the acquisition of valid information and has cultivated his reasoning powers so that he has considered judgment.
Is there any way with this preoccupation that we do have with science mathematics and foreign languages as a result of the National Defense Education Act. Is there going to be some way that we are going to uplift the Standard Sport of the humanities. This will depend upon those professionally concerned with the humanities and the field is wide open and it would be my own thought that the presumed competition offered by the sciences and engineering is not necessarily so. To quote a famous line for instance. If those who are interested in the humanities were to be attracted into science and engineering by reason of the opportunities offered through the National Defense Education Act. I doubt that they would be successes in science and engineering. We may not take the human being and
mold him into what we'd like to have him be. There is an important personal factor involved here which is tremendously important. Sooner or later we're going to have in science and engineering those who have special might to do it for science and engineering. If we are to lead. It is no good just getting more people into science and engineering. This would be self-defeating. We must have more qualified people who perhaps haven't reached a firm decision about their careers interest. I find that they are interested in science and engineering go into it. But I would feel that the drawing off of people from other disciplines would not only be right it would also be unsuccessful. What about the person who is going into a career of engineering as a profession. How is he being dealt with in regard to the social sciences which are a part of science in his own field. Well.
I would answer that by saying that. Certainly the natural scientists and engineers that I know are. Even more sensitive to the need for development and the humanities and the social sciences than many of those professionally concerned with the humanities and social scientists. It's been my privilege to be in many groups of scientists and engineers who have spoken eloquently of the need for the scientist and engineer to cultivate those departments of learning in the humanities and social sciences that will give him the all around ability to bring to bear his special confidences in the physical sciences. Let me give you an illustration. I know for instance that the American Society of engineering education has been concerned with this very subject for
35 years to my personal knowledge and has given great attention to the need for the introduction of appropriate courses in the humanities and social sciences in the education of the young engineer. To the point currently at which at very substantial fraction of the recommended curriculum are in these two branches of knowledge this goes back to my first promise that one must have valid knowledge and considered judgement in order to realize his ultimate achievement. Could you tell me some of the things that took place on these very two points in Salzburg while you were there. Yes I'd be very happy. Perhaps I should explain that I was one faculty of four Americans undertaking to describe and explain American higher education to 48 participants who came from 15 different foreign countries from European countries from Finland to
Yugoslavia. This was a most interesting and exciting experience which lasted for a month. The participants were avid for information about American higher education and they kept the members of the faculty busy from before breakfast in the morning until 10:30 or 11:00 o'clock at night answering their questions. In addition to which the members of faculty had lectures to prepare. And. Small seminars to be held. It was a most interesting experience and one of the things that struck me as being. Outstanding in this experience was that I came to learn a good deal of the subtlety involved in European systems of education because inevitably we got into comparative discussions they've never vollies discussions was that while Europeans felt that American education was perhaps
too much focused on what you called mass education but which I choose to call maximum educational opportunity. They nevertheless recognize that the strictures in their system. And I see elective A-T. Would have to be broken down if they were to meet the challenge of the decade ahead. And in every European country changes are now taking place which were reported there. Which indicate the introduction of a degree of flexibility into their systems which they did not have before. So that at the very same time that American higher education is worrying about the offering of educational opportunity to all those able and willing to take advantage of it. And as worrying about it lest it become downgraded European education is wondering how it can best introduce flexibility into its system to make it more like the American system
in order to provide the educated public which they need to have if they're going to realize their full potential. Therefore we have on both sides of the Atlantic opposing points of view. The American looks sometimes with admiration at the restrictive European system. The European looks with admiration at the American flexible system. You know it's very interesting that you made this point comparison because Dr. Henry comment your made the remark that at Oxford and at Cambridge the teaching is notoriously bad. But the scholarship and the standards of acceptance are so remarkably good that there is high achievement on the part of the speech writers. Would you like to talk about that in regard to American education that perhaps we would we want such a system. I think not I think our people would not accept this. And I wouldn't want my
remarks to be to imply that eventually the two systems will come together. I think there will always be distinct and different because they and educational system must grow out of the roots of the country in which it exists and to whose purpose it's directed. So that there will always be differences in educational systems. But there are certain principles of education which I think will become generally accepted. I heard a good deal in salt Berg about the necessity for improvement and instruction. I hear a good deal in the United States about the need for putting the student more on his own. Well here are the two sides of the coin and again we are moving and directions are unity. Although I never expect to see uniformity on both sides of the Atlantic. This business of a student seeking out for himself. Is this a part of the two points that you mentioned.
Yes because this quest for knowledge the need for having valid information is not the matter of stuffing the student's mind with information which he doesn't particularly want. It means that he's an active seeker for knowledge that he has a bump of curiosity and only in this way will he achieve an adequate amount of valid knowledge he must want to know it before it becomes truly his. What are we going to do with a secondary student who feels that he is a prisoner. Actually the compulsory school laws which say that he must stay in school between in some states 14 through 18 years of age. What are we going to do with such students. We must find something which will interest them. And this may be exceedingly difficult to do but you have touched a very tender spot in New York City as you know there's been a problem along this
line and they've created a system of special schools for these individuals in the endeavor to find to seek diligently to find some area of human accomplishment that will arise this walk which I call the quest for knowledge. It may not be possible in every instance but I judge that the conviction of the need for educational opportunity for every American youth boy or girl is so deep that we shall always be faced with this problem rather than the abandonment of the principle. I think that the schools the special schools that you were referring to were the 600 schools weren't they Dr. Adams was using these 600 schools it seems to me have existed for a long period of time in New York as a matter of fact every recalcitrance student where a teacher could not handle him. A person has a disciplinary problem was put into one of the special schools. The result it seemed to me was that we got students who were all
recalcitrant and as a result we had recalcitrant recalcitrant behavior on their parts. This did not seem to solve the situation. Is it possible that our federal education laws or perhaps even our state education laws are such that they are too restrictive of the individual that perhaps these students should be working as some people might suggest. It would be my own person and this is the very first time I've expressed that in the search for something to interest them. I would not exclude work opportunities because this after all is a form of education by doing so that I would hope that some scheme might be found by which they might become interested in being responsible productive individuals rather than malcontents and juvenile delinquents. It may not always be possible. I'm know enough about
human nature to know that achieving 100 percent with respect to any particular attribute of human nature is virtually impossible. Could you tell us in what manner is the humanities have been used by the pure sciences. I think as matters of general education and general awareness of the nature of life all of the factors that go I go to make it up. They have been used professionally. Actually that is technically yes. I think you would have to a grade of such a simple relative matter as a footbridge that is possible to design a footbridge in such a way that it performs its function but its also desired that it should be appealing to the eye. And so a study of art form is important to the engineer you know one of the team I had designed a bridge which not only one performance function usefully but also
will be an addition to the pleasure of the landscape as well as to provide for the safety inconvenience of those who use it. This then brings in the whole unity of knowledge. Now one of the thoughts that I particularly like to express is that I deplore the fact that we seem to have competition among the three great divisions of knowledge and humanities social sciences and physical sciences. Whereas as a matter of fact we know we live in the midst of the activities embraced by these divisions of knowledge. All of us every day. Therefore we should be devoting our efforts to the unification of knowledge rather than the further subdivision of it. Generally speaking in my own experience at any rate I would have to come to the conclusion that they scientists and engineers are more desirous of including
cultivation of the humanities and the social sciences in their systems than I find to be exhibited by the those who profess the humanities. Do they have instruction in the natural sciences. Dr. Adams I'd like you to react to this statement. A rather well-known industrialist once said. That one half of campus at the present time is engaged in nuclear research and fission and fusion research that the other half of the campus is devoted to seeing that this other half of the campus doesn't succeed in blowing up the world. Would you comment on that. I'd fancy to suggest that even the author of that comment would quickly agree that this suffers all of the limitations of broad
generalization. Yes I agree with you there. But do you feel that we have a tendency today of being so preoccupied with a weapon that our educational system might suffer. No I can't see that Tom. I think that you know. Pluralistic society with many points of view constantly being reflected by many distinguished people that were bound to have thoughts like that expressed and sincerely expressed to by those who whose bent is toward us but specific point of view. But this doesn't make it necessarily so. Take another who has quite an opposing position a point of view. But this is good. This is how our society makes it possible to come to balance judgments for the respect of all of these things. Of course as
Faulkner said when he received the Nobel Prize we're all subject to a fear greater than we know. And this was exemplified too I think by the success of never shoot on the beach. Who would have expected just a novel on this subject would have been made into a movie which has become a box office. Surely this isn't the sort. Of joyous carefree entertainment that the American people are supposed to love and admire and insist upon. This is serious business and yet the record's out. I've attended sit on the beach seemed to indicate that the American public is very much concerned about the problems presented and on the beach a part of the American Council on Education is the Joint Council on educational television. I try related to yes and I'm quite sure that a portion of the Joint Council might have been interested in the statement by the
president of one of our largest networks and television broadcasting when he stated we are going to make Westerns were only giving the people what they want. Do you believe this is true and would you care to comment on it I certainly do not. I think this is a fallacy. It seems to me that that catering to the less important tastes of the American public is an easy way to gain a broad audience but this does not exclude the possibility that very serious efforts which may not have too much entertainment value would not be received fully as well where they offer. And I say as evidence that the Third Programme of the British Broadcasting Company has a very wide audience indeed. It seems to me that the entire level.
Public Offering drama. Television. Moving pictures. What way might well be raised and that the American public might be or might respond amazingly generally speaking it hasn't been dry adequately. Witness the fact that the moving picture to which I just referred has been successful and I wager there was a good deal of debate as to his dramatic possibility before it was produced. Would you care to comment on the development of a federal project in the cultures of the United States. I think this is highly desirable. I know for instance that we now have some rather substantial prizes that are given for achievement in the physical sciences. I would that similar recognition be given for substantial achievement in the humanities and the social sciences.
We ought to recognize achievement where ever that cares. We need to realize that those who are granted great gifts and who have the tenacity of purpose to cultivate those gifts to the maximum deserving of all the honor that we can give. And I surely wouldn't want to see it limited to one field or another. This leads to this this internal warfare which I have spoken already and I don't think that it's useful human intellectual accomplishment it rare if it's to be truly significant. And therefore it should receive full recognition from everyone. This sort of brings into mind the awarding of a letter from a university not only for sports but for get any achievement I think this is and has yet to prove itself but I like I did and it's principle at any rate.
I think it's true that in the last three years that academic achievement intellectual achievement has greater recognition today than it had only 10 years ago. Would you say that in commenting on salaries some people have suggested that higher salaries for teachers are going to produce better teaching. It's not as simple as that because I would always maintain that there must be a sense of commitment on the part of the teacher to his profession. Teaching must be recognised as a now truest profession. It is not concerned primarily with the profit motive. Now this is not to say that the profit motive isn't defensible. It is but it isn't defensible in an idle listed profession because the rewards that one gets from teaching and I can certainly testify to this on my own account.
Come from the intangibles rather than the tangible. However one has immediately to say that when teachers have to undertake a second job so-called moonlighters that in order to remain in the teaching profession I think society should wake up to the fact that it ought to give them a living wage they are entitled to that. But this should not be their driving motive. I think that in the past we have had difficulty with recruitment. I'm just as very base that a teacher in order to continue in the work which he wants to do which he loves has had to take on a second job. Evenings perhaps at such work as tending bar being Night Manager parking lot or whatnot. This after all is rather Demy him
and demeaning to his profession. He should be paid he or she should be paid enough to live decently. What then. In summary what you say is the objective of education and the objective of education is the cultivation of the essentially human powers of the individual to their maximum not only to live today but to develop habits of study and thought which will last throughout his life so that he may continue to grow and continue to have the resources to meet whatever challenges life presents to him in later years. This is a tall order because no one knows what those challenges might be yet. And on this basis I do defend our education of the past
in prominent positions today. Evidently had an adequate education. I was I would not be able to function so successfully in today's society. I'd like to ask you one final question. Recently a statement was made that the Russians recognize the inevitability of H-bomb warfare that the United States is in a sense weakening in of itself in not taking the same attitude. Would you care to comment on that. Then you have some very difficult questions. Let me ponder that for a moment because this is a question I want to answer very carefully as I read the pronouncements of our public leaders as I think about these problems myself. I do not
believe that our country is I'm aware of the possibility H-bomb warfare but I would certainly share the conviction that we ought to do everything possible to avoid it. It may be a misinterpretation on the part of those whom you have heard that in our country where so preoccupied with peace that we forget that we might have an H-bomb war but fundamentally and in casual easy conversations I find reference to that being made so frequently that I think our country is fully aware of the fact that we are in a perilous situation and perilous as a carefully chosen word here and that we had better be very careful indeed we wish to avoid this at all costs. Short of our own annihilation.
I believe also that the Russians recognize that they might suffer just as much from H-bomb warfare as anyone else and consequently I'm led to the conviction that they would like to avoid it too. I don't think that at bottom the possibilities of warfare that the Russians are any more eager for a bomb or for than we are. I think candidly that they hope to defeat us and achieve their worldwide domination. By other means and always other means have to do with education have to do with economics. They have to do with infiltration. They have to do with political maneuver. All of these are short of H-bomb warfare and I believe that they're convinced that they can achieve their aims by these methods. Certainly they have been altogether too successful at them for comfort weight could do a great deal more than we're doing. The essential feature of the Russians
I blame it from talking with many of my friends who have visited Russia is that they have an attitude of deep fundamental Not abiding conviction in their philosophy. With that way in the United States you have so much better philosophy. We're equally committed to it then I think we would succeed. You have heard the views of Dr. Arthur S. Adams president of the American Council on Education on some of our current educational problems. Dr. Adams was interviewed by Mr. Wayne S. Wayne next week our guest is Mr. Fred Hechinger the educational editor of The New York Times widely known author lecturer and critic of education. Mr. Icahn Jersey says the challenge we face is a common understanding of the elements in our educational structure or a lesson is on education is produced by Wayne S. Wayne and Patrick Ford. Distribution is made through the National Association of educational broadcasters.
- Oral essays on education
- Dr. Arthur S. Adams
- 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. Arthur S. Adams, former president of the American Council on Education, on "Where Do We Stand?"
- Other Description
- The thoughts of distinguished Americans in a survey of American eduction.
- Broadcast Date
- Media type
Interviewee: Adams, Arthur S. (Arthur Stanton), 1896-1980
Interviewer: Watts, Rowland
Producing Organization: Michigan State University
Producing Organization: WKAR (Radio/television station : East Lansing, Mich.)
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 61-3-5 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- Chicago: “Oral essays on education; Dr. Arthur S. Adams,” 1960-12-12, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed December 6, 2021, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-z892dd9f.
- MLA: “Oral essays on education; Dr. Arthur S. Adams.” 1960-12-12. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. December 6, 2021. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-z892dd9f>.
- APA: Oral essays on education; Dr. Arthur S. Adams. 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-z892dd9f