Are We Educating for National Defense?
PLANES AND TANKS ALONE WILL NOT SAVE US
By DR. JOEL H. HILDEBRAND, Professor of Chemistry, Dean of the College of Letters and Science University of California
Delivered before the Commonwealth Club of California, August 23, 1940
Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. VI, pp. 724-729
WE HAVE been accustomed in this country to regard "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" as rights so natural as to be almost automatically self-perpetrating. The majority of us, however, have now been shocked into realizing that our Bill of Rights is not alone sufficient to guarantee the maintenance of these privileges. We have seen enlightened, free nations engulfed one after another, by dictatorships that respect no rights standing in the way of their unbounded ambitions. Although this deluge of tyranny is still far enough from our own doors as to be invisible to the nearsighted, there are a good many who have come to see the folly of such assurances as that uttered not so long ago by a former chairman of our Senate Foreign Relations Committee, that we could easily keep out of war by minding our own business, like the Scandinavian countries. The subsequent fates of these nations have served to pry most people loose from any such naive faith. Although there is a noisy minority still telling us that it might not rain and we should not bother to fix the roof until the storm actually begins, there is hope that the more farsighted will drown out this council of inaction and that we may be able to mend the roof now, so as to be prepared for rain whenever it comes.
Our efforts to do this are, however, hampered by those who cry that the organization necessary to carry out the repairs might become permanent and so we had better run the risk of getting wet than of having to get up at the whistle some morning when we might prefer to lie abed.
It is a pitiful dilemma that is delaying effective action in Washington these days. Recent events have made it fairly clear, on the one hand, that a nation today cannot safely hope to defend itself by "a million men springing to arms oyer night." Hitler has never yet given to his intended victims enough advance notice to permit arming from scratch. On the other hand, some are crying that if we train and equip an army in advance we will lose our freedom to a hypothetical domestic dictator. It looks as if a democracy is simply destined to go out of business for inability to defend itself. One would think that Uncle Sam, the once hardy pioneer, born in battle, had grown so feeble as to think of nothing better than ducking under the bed clothes, holding his breath and hoping the burglar would not notice him. The dictators are chuckling over these exhibitions of doubt of the vitality of democracy on the part of its last defenders.
The paralysis of fear is the most threatening danger of all. We must have sufficient faith in our own freedom to make us bold in its defense. I have lived in Germany under Kaiser, Republic, and, briefly under Hitler, and have seen a good deal of other European countries. The United Statesof America is so far superior, despite great imperfections, in affording hope for better humanity, that any temporizing with its defense by all possible means would be one of the greatest tragedies in history. If the freedom to search for truth, whether in the press, the pulpit, the philosopher's study, or the scientist's laboratory is to survive here with us, in almost its last stronghold, we shall have to support it with all our resources, material, mental and moral. We must see as never before that an Athenian civilization can be long maintained only by citizens with Spartan qualities. Whenever a people become soft they become the prey of tougher barbarians.
Now there are various ways of being tough. Tough talk is usually a mere cloak for tender courage. Tough bodies, on the other hand, are an important asset in national strength. We might do better in this respect. Athletics for the majority is yelling in the grandstand. We take the elevator to ascend one floor and we jump into an automobile to go three blocks.
Of still greater importance is tough character, sustaining high ideals. There is still more room here for improvement. The grandstand attitude has affected character. For example, a baccalaureate preacher recently assured his audience that they need do nothing about the threat of Hitlerism but simply trust the Lord to make everything turn out all right. They should just sit in the grandstand, as it were, and cheer while the Lord gives Hitler the quietus. One would think that a preacher who has undoubtedly drawn texts from the record of the Children of Israel might have noted that they usually used their faith in Jehovah as a support rather than as a substitute for their own initiative. David prayed for help but then marched out to battle with Goliath of Gath.
But there is another element of national strength that has been far less stressed than most others and to which I invite your attention, namely, active intelligence, well fortified by knowledge. Faith may lead but to delusion, and a stout heart but to stubbornness, unless guided by intelligence. Tough moral fiber requires the support of a clear head. Integrity must extend to honest thinking and industry to hard mental effort. A soft head and a flabby character are partners. National strength requires not only strong muscles and sound characters but clear, vigorous minds. Education which produces these makes an essential contribution to national strength, one, fortunately, which is of value alike for peace or for war; alike for the welfare of the state and of the individual.
Working effectively with one's brain is not easy and there are several popular substitutes. One of these is sought in, formulas derived in advance by someone else. You commit to memory just long enough to get by the emergency. Aformula is like a sausage machine. You feed the data into it, turn the crank and, lo, out comes the answer. You need not be able to construct or even to understand it. The method is quite easy but suffers, unfortunately, from two serious disadvantages. First, there are so many problems that it is impossible to remember all the formulas. Second a new kind of problem pops up now and then for which no formula has been derived. Perhaps it is an electron which does not obey the laws for a baseball, or it may be a new disease, or a new international situation. If we cannot solve the new problem, it may be very serious.
Another substitute for straight thinking is "intuition". Women sometimes credit themselves with special powers of intuition and some men appear to think they share the gift. However, the reliability of intuition in either sex was well expressed by the man who defined a woman's intuition as "that which tells her she is right even when she is wrong." Other substitutes for clear thinking such as prejudice, passion and slogans are equally misleading. No, if education is to be effective in equipping one to meet new situations it must afford a great deal of practice in the processes of solving problems by scientific analysis.
There is nothing mysterious about these methods. They are used in progressive business as in the research laboratory. They involve experiment, search for and selection of data, judgment, induction and deduction and particularly the unprejudiced testing of conclusions. They are not modern inventions but their conscious, large scale application is distinctly modern and the command we have gained, at least over the material world, is a direct result. An individual must be trained to his utmost capacity if he is to be prepared for a life bristling with new problems.
Let us apply this touchstone to several stages of education. May I pause to say, since I have not come to pour weak tea today, that I assume sole responsibility for this speech. It has been neither censored nor approved by any official of my University. On the other hand, I am not in the position of a flier dealing with foreign affairs nor of a chemist discussing aviation; I have first-hand knowledge of all I shall discuss:
Let us begin, in view of the national emergency, with the education of military and naval officers, to whom war presents unsolved problems of the utmost urgency and seriousness. Here we immediately run afoul of another necessary element of military training—namely, discipline; not intellectual discipline but obedience to authority. This often conflicts with initiative and in that conflict discipline usually gains the upper hand. This is the way it works. An officer in a naval unit attached to a university was explaining to his class the tendency of a torpedo to deviate from a straight course. The explanation appeared to a senior student majoring in physics to reverse the actual facts and he questioned it. Now an instructor in physics would welcome such intellectual initiative on the part of a student, but not that officer. He let it be distinctly understood that a cadet should not question the word of an officer.
Again, an officer of the Chemical Warfare Service was standing during the last World War beside an American General who pointed to a distant wood, saying: "Look at the enemy advancing into that wood; I shelled that place with gas about eight hours ago." The other asked what kind of gas. The General replied, "What gas? Oh, just gas." Now a modicum of scientific insight would have revealed to a man properly trained the absurdity of confusing a true gas such as phosgene, which would drift away in the wind, with a so-called gas, such as mustard, which is scarcely more volatile than sewing machine oil and might remain for days.
Ah, but you say, you can't expect a field officer to be a scientist. But this general had been a professor of military science and tactics. Surely, he should have been able to appreciate a few kindergarten facts about the materials he was using.
Again, a British chemist suggested the use of mustard gas, as early as 1915 but the army authority could not see it until, two years later, the Germans used it against them with terrible effect. Illustrations of this sort could be multiplied at length.
This slowness on the part of many military and naval men to invent or even appreciate novel ideas is no original discovery of mine but has been deplored by members of both services. Admiral Sims once stated: "That military men are conservative admits of no doubt. Whether they are more so than civilians is beside the question. The important point is that their conservatism may be so dangerous that it is highly important that they should so train their minds in logical thinking as to eliminate or at least minimize this danger." And again, in a minority report as a member of the Board of Visitors of the U. S. Naval Academy he said: ". . . it is an outstanding fact that the Navy has never initiated any one of the really fundamental reforms that were essential to bring it to its present efficiency. All of these reforms were forced upon the Navy from the outside; and in every case against determined opposition. And the Navy still resists perfectly legitimate criticism." You will recall that Admiral Sims was not cordially regarded by some of his brother admirals.
Such an attitude toward innovations is highly inappropriate in view of the long list of military successes that have been achieved by aid of new inventions. The war game cannot be counted upon to remain the mere maneuvering of troops on the field of battle, like the pieces on a chess board. Warfare may be expected to introduce new pieces that do not move in the orthodox ways adhered to by the historic pieces. To appreciate what I mean, try playing chess with the sudden addition, for example, of a piece that can move straight ahead, like a tank, capturing not one opposing piece at a time but several. There is nothing in a book to tell you how to adapt your game to the novelty. You have to figure it out for yourself. This kind of change happens frequently in war.
Consider the Assyrian chariot; the pitchers, torches and trumpets used by Gideon's small, highly selected army against the Midianites; recall the Greek phalanx; and the Roman legions designed to out-maneuver the phalanx; Hannibal's elephants, and then the Roman device of disposing of them; recall the boarding bridges used by the Roman against the Carthaginian fleet. Consider the English long bow, the Monitor, the tank, the submarine, the varieties of smoke and gas each with its appropriate tactics; the technique of the now famous ski troops of Finland. Consider, finally, the airplane, whose full possibilities in the hands of the Germans were not foreseen by either the French or the British. You see, the main uses of the airplane in 1919 were reconnoitering and artillery fire control. We may well ask whether our own army and navy fully realize even now the extent to which war has become engineering. Our preparations till recently furnish but little evidence that they do. A press item reports 350 fine riding horses at West Point but not a single tank. Why are bow and arrows overlooked, I wonder?
I am not airing this subject to attack individuals. I have had pleasant personal relations with and high regard for many officers in both services. What I am criticizing is a system of education which is not productive of scientific thinking. Warfare is becoming more and more a matter of science and engineering, waged by the entire nation ratherthan a professional class, and the nation must therefore be in a position to use its best brains and all of its technical and scientific knowledge. A successful military establishment is always tempted to rely on the methods it used in the last war. The French debacle shows how fatal this may be. The Germans, with no such handicap, invented and imposed a new game of their own.
Even in the World War most of the new ideas came from Germany rather than from the Allies. We were busy much of the time devising defensive measures against novel German offense. This may be attributed in part to a far closer connection between the German government and leading scientific and technical men of the country than existed in any other nation, and in part to the familiarity of scientists with military affairs resulting from universal service. I am opposed for this reason to exempting scientific students from military training.
The training of officers for this kind of warfare cannot take place in institutions far removed from the creative and inquiring habit of mind. We hear now and then complaints that research distracts attention from teaching. This confuses real teaching with the mere retailing of facts or the entertainment of students too lazy or dull to masticate their own fodder. There can be no great teaching by men who have too little curiosity to explore the frontiers of the fields they presume to teach. An investigator is produced by contact not chiefly with records of long past discoveries but with the actual processes of exploration. Experience with these methods is far more important than mere knowledge of the results. The scientific departments of our best universities and our leading engineering schools are turning out students who have got something of this divine spark which a mere trade school cannot give. Our national defense would be vastly strengthened if our military and naval academies became graduate professional schools for students recruited from the graduates of institutions of the type just referred to. The basic scientific and cultural training would be much sounder and the time necessary for the military training could be greatly shortened, permitting the larger output of officers which the present situation demands.
Let us next consider our colleges and universities. We may note first, that while our faculties and student bodies, fortunately, include valuable souls who work from inner rather than outer compulsion, nevertheless, since life in a university can be very pleasant, there are others whose ideal is to "get by". I think we can no longer afford to tolerate these idlers. While we propose to be even more solicitous than formerly to adjust new students to the greater rigors of university standards of work, and to allow for ill-health or self support, we shall not permit other students to remain long if they fail to meet the C-average required for graduation. Most border-line students are able to meet higher standards if they must, and less attention on their part to the side shows and more to the main business should fit them better for life in the world just ahead. Training in the art of clear thinking can be had only by serious effort.
I believe we must make more distinctions in the treatment of students of different grades of ability. A student capable of rapid progress should be more fully released from what Stephen Leacock, in a wise recent book calls the "convoy system", wherein everybody adopts the speed of the slowest. Although the temptation is especially strong in a large institution to adopt uniform rules for everyone, this very size affords the possibility of greater variety of treatment, just as a city can cater to more differing tastes than a town. We can shift the emphasis from teaching to learning, from lecturesto books and laboratories. There can be more effort to appeal to reason rather than memory; to ask questions which present problems.
There are many other ways of increasing the contribution of the University to national strength, but since my time is limited and since I am in a position to agitate from within I shall pass on to a closely related problem.
If the more advanced stages of education are to be successful they must receive well prepared material from below. This brings us to a consideration of the education offered in the schools. I shall begin by giving certain observations drawn from my own experience of teaching large freshman classes in chemistry in the University of California through a period of twenty-seven years. Frequent examination of the records of students by high schools has brought to light the fact that the preparation in different schools is very unequal. One large high school, for example, sent to the University in August, 1938, students so well prepared that 58 percent received grades of A and B while only 2 percent received unsatisfactory grades of D, E, and F. The quality of instruction in the schools must bear the major responsibility for such enormous discrepancies. One may pertinently ask: Are the students from the latter school getting a square deal? Much is made in some schools now-a-days of developing personality, making pupils happy, teaching them to "sell themselves," and adjust themselves to life. But however well they may seem adjusted to the easy-going environment of the school, they often face serious readjustment when they learn that the standards set by the professions are far more severe than those required by the school. These standards are neither unreasonable nor unattainable for a large proportion of high school students.
We have applied various tests of high school preparation and natural aptitude at the time of registration. Let us look at one of these tests. The first part was designed to bring out awareness of ordinary chemical environment. Accordingly the student was expected to know that burning wood yields carbon dioxide and not natural gas; that air is composed mainly of oxygen and nitrogen; that the core of a lead pencil is made of graphite, not lead. A student with any natural aptitude picks up such information merely by keeping his eyes and ears open.
In the second part of the test we gave a short paragraph describing the structure of an atom and asked the students to indicate, not even what the paragraph said, but merely the location therein of several of the main topics. It is one thing to read a story, another thing to read a scientific exposition and the student who has never learned to do the latter will have a hard time with any intellectual endeavor later on.
The third part of the test was made up of such easy questions as the sum of 2/5 plus 1/2; the placing of decimal points in easy long division; the square root of 64; the price of five eggs at thirty cents per dozen; the average speed of an automobile which traveled 70 miles in 1 hour and 45 minutes. These are all absurdly simple operations that anyone must be able to perform rapidly and accurately in order to cope with even elementary science in any of its branches but, what do we find? I have the paper of a graduate of a San Francisco high school who answered but two out of fifteen such questions. Another, credited with grades of B in plane geometry and two courses in algebra answered correctly but three. Such operations should have been thoroughly mastered long before matriculation in the university. High school courses that fail in this aim should be designated not arithmetic, algebra, or geometry, but with more honesty, Kindergarten 2, Uplift 1, Personality 4. Such training produces the kindof clerk I once encountered in a bakers shop. I asked the price of some cup-cakes. She replied that it was three for ten cents. I said, "there are four of us at home tonight. I want four. She said in dismay, "Oh! I would not know how to sell you four!"
What are the reasons for such miserable results? In the first place, there are not enough male teachers in our schools. This has been said by many others, but apparently not yet loud enough. Students taught until the age of eighteen chiefly by women are not well prepared for life in the existing world. This is especially serious in mathematics and sciences, for our higher education bears witness, despite brilliant exceptions, to the superior flair of men for these subjects. Further disadvantages of this preponderance of women teachers follow from the more rapid turnover among women and hence relative inexperience in teaching and also greater expense to the state in maintaining the supply. The same money spent in making the profession more attractive to able men would promote both economy and efficiency.
In the second place, the emphasis in teacher training has been misplaced from subject matter to methodology and administration and many teachers are assigned to teach subjects in which they have had no preparation whatever. This is a comforting possibility for those unable to meet the intellectual standards of rigorous subjects and has even been elevated into a brazen doctrine of mediocrity. I quote from one of its exponents: "A teacher does not need ever to have studied economics in order to give a good course in the subject. All that is needed is a teacher who is alert to the problems of the day, who is open-minded, who can stimulate pupils to bring economic problems to class for discussion, who permits and encourages free and open discussion of all controversial subjects, who instills into the pupils a spirit of tolerance for all views and a respect for the opinions of others and who shows in all discussion that he or she has at heart the solution of the economic ills of the day in a way that will restore prosperity and happiness to the whole people." Such a claim is, of course, a mere deification of ignorance. My subject, chemistry, for example, is mere a-b-c in comparison with economics and yet a high school teacher proposes to show the way to "restore prosperity and happiness to the whole people" without having ever studied economics.
As a third factor in the situation I would name an overemphasis in these early stages of education on what is called social science. Mathematics, science and language have been under attack by the educational theorists and administrators during recent years and have been displaced to a great extent by such courses as "personal management," "social living," "citizenship," or something misnamed economics. The unacknowledged basis for this is in part the fact that anyone can talk glibly about them. Strain on students, teachers and parents is largely avoided. Even grades are dispensed with as being "undemocratic." Why force anybody to exert himself. Does not the state owe everyone a living?
The substitution of these subjects results also, in part, from the realization that our political, social and economic problems are terribly pressing. The fallacy, however, consists in assuming that they are to be solved by ignorant teachers and minor children dabbling in them in high schools. I would rather trust the teacher of arithmetic to protect us from "thirty dollars every Thursday" than the teacher of a so-called social science.
This shift of emphasis to social studies has resulted in large part also from a laudable desire to produce better citizens. It is time, however, to judge the change by its results. Has it produced higher ideals; greater loyalty; more self-reliance; a less self-centered outlook on life? I leave it to you to answer such questions.
This preoccupation with social studies in school has led to a weakening of study in the essential tool of language, both English and foreign. I recently heard from a student dismissed from the university for low scholarship at the end of his freshman year. He blames his failure in foreign languages to lack of instruction in English grammar in high school. One of my own sons told me while in junior high school that he liked Latin because it taught him something. He said, "You learn in Latin in a few days what an adverb is, but it takes a year in English." Now it seems to me that the distinction between an adverb and an adjective is essential to clear thought and expression but it appears to be rather hazy among our freshmen. I once quoted to such a student a remark I had heard made by another who said: "I thought I did pretty good in that exam and yet they flunked me." "What was wrong," I asked the first student, "with that sentence?" He considered for a moment and then said, "Well, 'did' was wrong, wasn't it?" It is easy to see why students thus educated in school have difficulty in wrestling with a paragraph on the structure of an atom.
We have been told by the theorists that foreign languages should be largely abandoned because few people have any use for them and no one really learns them. There is truth in both of these statements but the answer is not to abandon foreign languages but to teach them so that they can be used. Not only is the sense of language, necessary for effective use of English, strengthened by study of a foreign language, but we should read foreign languages for other reasons. It would have been very salutary if a large number of our citizens had been able to read Hitler's "Mein Kampf" in the original German. Command of the languages both of foreign friends and potential enemies is sound strategy. German, since 1918, should never have had to struggle for a place in school curricula. It would doubtless help us immensely in the coming years if large numbers of us could read and speak Spanish not to mention Russian and Japanese.
We should not forget that subjects differ greatly in value as intellectual training at the school stage. The results of reasoning in connection with a mathematical problem or a chemical analysis can be put to objective test. The teacher may even be corrected by the student. A youngster in elementary school came home very late and his mother asked him where he had been. He replied: "It took me all this time to prove to the teacher that she was wrong." "Did you succeed?" his mother asked. "Of course," replied the little fellow, not in a boastful spirit but in the confidence engendered by sound reasoning. It is to the credit of the teacher that she allowed herself to be convinced. But that was arithmetic. What chance would he have had if it had been economics? The teacher might then have uttered the rankest nonsense without facing the bar of juvenile justice.
A fourth factor in the weakness of much school preparation is the domination of education by administrators and amateur philosophers. It used to be that a high school principal would have years of successful teaching experience, preceded by training in an old-fashioned college that insisted upon a good deal of real scholarship. Now-a-days, however, there are back doors to administrative positions. One may secure a special credential to teach, say, physical education. Later on, if one is a good fellow, he easily slips into a principalship without ever having had any serious intellectual experience in his life. Or, he may prepare directly for a principalship and skip the teaching by devoting his attention largely to courses in school administration, given by professors recruited from the ranks of school administrators rather than creative investigators. Now, in order to attract professional attention there are several pseudo-scholarly procedures that such a professor is tempted to adopt. He may circulate questionnaires. Or, he may think up a new word or slogan to serve as basis for a semi-evangelistic campaign to make over society. Recent years have witnessed a succession of words serving to stimulate volume in educational literature just as new styles stimulate sales of clothing. Such words as "integration", "motivation", "evaluation", "progressive", "core curriculum" has each had its day. A ponderous jargon is much used, reminding one of the excessively ornate wrapping often used to cover a cheap article. Let me give a few samples. Here is a definition of education. "It is the total procedure of reciprocating life-responses by which personality, institutional progress and civilization are achieved." I wonder what that would be expressed in plain English? Again, listen to this: "Society consists of Persons plus Psycho-Social Processes plus the Products of these Processes, plus the Patterns which result from them. And the whole system of relationships between these factors is what the sociologist calls Culture." If you can swallow that without choking, try this: "The Business of Education is to universalize the historico-scientific mindedness." . . . "The spreading of this historico-scientific minedness is the process of enriching the social soil." These choice morsels of wisdom were extracted from an official document published, at your expense, gentlemen, by our own State Board of Education!
The poor teachers have to put up with such nonsense, changing their methods to accord with the latest brain-storm of a principal or superintendent. One suffering teacher complains: "In my thirty-five years' teaching experience, I've seen district superintendents come and go, and each time we got a new superintendent we introduced new methods. The word spread that he's a bug on this, that, or the other thing, so we all placed red lines here, or we made a rush for the flash cards or we hastened to introduce the activity program . . . If our supervisors will change their tactics and give the teaching staff a chance, we'd have better schools."
Again, a group of science teachers in Tulare and Kings Counties stated that, "Administrators in general, due likely to their disproportionate exposure to and contact with educational theory, procedure, management, fads, fancies, and experiments, are ever in danger of minimizing or losing the fuller perspective and greater significance of departmental subject matter, and the problems of the classroom teacher in adequately building the student appreciations and backgrounds essential to meaningful and worthy educational progress. Teachers are over-encouraged, if not required, to overload with courses in various and often theoretical or fanciful methodologies at the expense of confidence, and satisfaction in mastery, on the part of students. In this latter phase, and there only, is found worthy and lasting satisfaction in accomplishment for students and instructors alike."
Some of you doubtless read in the Saturday Evening Post of March 16 a vigorous article by a high school teacher. Note her reaction to domination by uneducated superintendents: "My own superintendent's academic equipment is typical; it is only roughly that of a college freshman. The remainder of his 200 credit hours are courses in administration and theory. He is a Ph.D.; his doctoral thesis, an imposing piece of scholarship, examines into the Optimum Window Area for a Classroom of Twenty-five Pupils in the Junior High School. He knows nothing about English, the languages, the humanities, or sciences. But he can and does tell us teachers exactly what methods to use in teaching all these subjects.
"How many of us would employ a physician who had spent one year studying the diseases of the body and six more on How to Approach the Patient? How can my administrator, so trained, be expected to examine critically, to evaluate intelligently, the newest movements in education? He doesn't; he can't."
More than one thousand Colorado teachers believe that "the 'newer' education is cheapening the general quality of the education process"; that "education is being made too easy; that "pupils do not have enough discipline in the school and the home," and that "the school is spending too much time in trying to educate the 'whole' child, mentally, physically, socially, and emotionally."
These teachers also asserted that "schools today are so over-crowded with extracurricular activities that it becomes necessary to shirk the formal subjects of the school, resulting in a high degree of superficiality in reading and learning in general.'
I have dealings with a good many high school teachers and I find among them a large proportion of well-prepared, earnest, competent teachers, but they feel themselves dominated and hampered in their work by such principals and superintendents. There is a remarkably fine teacher in a small school in this region who sends me annually only a few pupils but none of them fail and about half of them get A's and B's. This teacher came to my office one day and said: "Dr. Hildebrand, my principal told me to go to a certain model high school," which he named, "in order to learn the latest methods of instruction. Now, Dr. Hildebrand, do you think that I am all wrong and that I should change my methods?" I said to him: "My dear fellow, I advise you to go back to your principal, to stick your chest out and your chin up, and to say 'Mr. Principal, there isn't a single thing which that school can teach me about teaching chemistry.'"
These principals talk a great deal about democracy, but it does not seem to occur to them that the school staff might well be a more democratic organization. The president of a university does not tell members of his faculty just what and how they should teach, and the principals, as a class, are even less qualified to do this to their teachers. I suggest, gentlemen, that as citizens and parents you call off the administrators and social theorists and give the teachers a chance! Don't be scared by the big words of the theorists; they don't mean anything. After all, administrative officers, like janitors, are necessary to keep the plant running but should be content to perform well their own duties without encroaching upon the business of the teachers. I should be allowed to say this without offense since I am a dean part of the time. I regard my professorship, however, as far more influential and important.
Is it not time to realize that although turning the schools into kindergarten has been an amusing experiment in times of peace and plenty the serious outlook for our future demands a return to a more solid education. We should get back to work. Those who cannot work effectively with their brains should at least work with their hands. Overalls and aprons are as honorable as academic robes. Some of our girls now devoting themselves to glamour would be happier if they cut their fingernails and learned at least to wash the dishes.
J. B. S. Haldane, a distinguished British biochemist of Cambridge University, discussing the lessons of the World War, wrote prophetically: "If then in future wars we are to avoid gross mismanagement in high places, and panic and stupidity among the masses, it is essential that everyone learn a little elementary science, that politicians and soldiers should not be proud of their ignorance of it. . . . If we persist in the belief that we can be saved by patriotism or social reforms, or by military preparation of the type which would have sufficed in former struggles, we shall go down before some nation of more realistic views.
"The Roman and Spanish Empires appear to have perished largely from intellectual torpor. Are we going to go the same way?"
Is the United States of America to go the same way? We have exhibited in recent years an appalling amount of self-delusion. We deliberately turned our backs upon collective security. We destroyed the foreign commerce that makes at least business friends. We have achieved an isolation once thought splendid but now appearing very lonely. We elect to office politicians who urge the upholding of the Monroe Doctrine one moment and oppose at another the means whereby Latin-American countries may be bound to us by practicalties. We commit our international policies to men who specialize in ignorance of foreign nations; men who preach that we may escape war merely by running away from it; men who tell the whole world that they do not intend to defend our land until an enemy has passed the three-mile limit. Such matters call for more hard thinking than they receive.
The remedy I am urging can furnish only part of the vitality the nation needs for survival, but it is an essential part. Planes and tanks alone will not save us. We must become stronger not only in materials and in character but also in trained intelligence. This must be fostered by all possible means from childhood to old age, in school and college, in industry, in business, in army and navy. If we are determined to survive we must educate for national strength.