restless youth with us. We can tighten
up and we may very well face conditions which require special emphasis,
bur instance, in the New York City
schools, due to the great influx of newcomers, this time from Puerto Rico,
you have a problem that almost defies
teaching, including the communication
of ieleas in the English language.
BURT: Are you saying there should be more
discipline in New York City schools because
of the influx of Puerto Ricans?
Hodges: There you have a problem
of thoroughgoing revision of method,
and that's one of the very excellent
things the New York public school system is tackling.
BURT: Revisions of methods of discipline?
Hodges: Methods of discipline and
methods of communication in terms of
teaching. And I think we have to avoid
broad generalizations. Many communities don't have this problem at all. Other
communities have it in excess. I think
it's almost a contagion at times.
BURT: So far we seem to have had pretty
much nothing but generalizations and Mr.
Buckby sometimes can get extremely specific. What do you think, Mr. Buckley, should
there be more discipline in the classroom?
Buckley: I would like to concentrate
on one sense of the word "discipline" as
di-linguished by Mr. Smith, not touch
on the question of physical discipline.
I do think that there is complete anarchy
as regards intellectual discipline. The
cry of the modern educators and of the
academic freedomiles that ihey see it
as their function to leach people how
to think and consequently they ought
not to be interfered with by the alumni
or by the constituents of the local
schools, has been shown to be a completely phony pretention.
It is demonstrable lhat the average
graduate of the average school in the
United States today, whether a college
or a high school or a graduate school,
demonstrably does not know how to
think. That is to seiv. he goes in fnr illogical statements. He i- incapable of
assessing evidence. He is inconsistent
ami he is intolerant. According to the
criterion laid down bv Plato, and it's
one that I think here all of us will
buy, that the test of the educated man
is bis ability to see things as they arc.
then I say that we are in a position to
lay down an indictment againsl modern
education on the grounds that its graduates do nol know how to think.
BURT: But so far as the question of discipline is concerned, do you think . . .
BUCKLEY: This is discipline, intellect-
BURT: I'm sure you have quite a few ideas
on this, Mr. Combs . . .
Combs: Yes. and verv badly scrambled, too, I may add. I can. however,
teike issue and must tetke issue immediately with Mr. Buckley's statement
tbat the function of the educational
process is nul tn teach how to think. It
seems to me lhat that is the only valid
objective which education can have—to
teach the disciplines etnd the technique
of logical thoughl. 1 suggest thai he proposes as a substitute the teaching of
certain arbitrary or dogmatic principles which I don't believe lo be sus-
teiincd. and moreover this is an interesting thing.
BUCKLEY: This is a different argument, but I'm willing to meet you on
your field. In other words. I am saying
that, according to your own specifications, you have failed. That is lo seiv. by
"you." I mean thc people you represent
here and the people yon continuously defend. I say they have failed simply on
the quest ion of whether or not they are
successfully teaching people how to
Combs: Now there we get to the crux
of the meilter ets I was going In pose il.
You and I arc both products, I take it,
of fairly good educational systems, eit
least in its higher reaches or in graduate
or post-graduate work. Your ideas and
the conclusions which vnu draw are
diametrically opposed tn mine.
Buckley: No, no, no. I'm not talking
about values. I'm talking about shcerly
rigorous logical thoughl the kind of
thing lhat Robert Hutchins or Eleanor
Roosevelt comes out with . . .
Combs: Yes. The application, however, of that same disembodied, logical
iniimpassioned intelligence will lead you
to one conclusion quite disparate from
mine. Now we can't both be right,
Buckley: No, wc I.nth know thai eel
a certain point after we go through the
logical steps we introduce a serie-s ul
values on lhe basis of which we come
in certain conclusions about the meaning of or the evidence . . .
COMBS: You mean lhat the subjective
meanings color your logical conclusions?
Buckley: I'm saving thai you eem
take a tremendous number of bin red
statements uf people who defend the
educational system, the kind ol people
who review Mr. Smith's book, for example, emd simple extract from lhat. <>n
the basis of a textual analysis, of what
they eire saying, contradictions undistributed middles emd eill e.f lhe cardinal
-in-. Vmi I -;e\ thai ihe terrible thing
aboul il is thai the liberals don'l even
understand thai they don l know how to
CoMBS: Thai i- ei theme emd ei field
which I would lee\e- lee pursue, bul nol
BURT: Let's pinpoint this a little farther
by asking Mr. Smith this question: "Are
modern methods of teaching reading and
writing more effective than those used in
the little red schoolhouse?"
Smith: My temptation is to reply
first that they ought lo be. considering
the lad theit we spend -o much more in
trying to pul over education lhan we
did in lhe lime of the little red school-
house. In lhe community I come from,
eis I remember the figures, in 1 <S08 we
spent twelve dollars per year per pupil.
Now we spend over three hundred dol-
leirs per yceir per pupil. Even allowing
for the terrific inflation of the dollar il
seems to me lhat we are spending a
great deal more on education of the
young. We are presumably exposing our
teachers to longer periods of Ireiiiiing.
We have much better equipment emd
much belter buildings. Now. whether ur
not we are teaching them the fundamentals much better than we did in the time
of the little red schoolhouse. I think it's
almost impossible to prove by objective
BURT: Don't you think we're getting our
Smith: ll seems to me that we're
having complaints from people who are
perfectly honest etnd who have the welfare of the schools at heart, such as
college presidents and teachers themselves, and certainly parents, that we are
failing in teaching the fundamentals,
BURT: Why, Mr. Smith, are we failing?
Smith : Lei as talk about one particular subject — the matter of learning to
read. Pm not an expert on reading
which, I understand, is quite a science,
but it seems lo me lhal during the
1920's and the 19H0's we prelly much
did throw mil lhe system of phonetics
which seems to be a sound system for
the average student, I think there is now
an attempt to a certain extent lo go
back te> pb -lie- iii ihe so-called remedial leading classes.
BURT: Go ahead, Mr. Combs. Suppose you
take this question up next.
laiMlts: I think liny .ire probably
more effective empirically. They are
practically effective. Children may learn
to read, for example, leister litem they
did before, but lltett lietrdK -earns to
me to be the point. The modern educational system, and I'm nnw speaking of
lhe primary einel secondary sel Is. in
-nine respects i- superior tn the uhl educational system in lhat it does offer a
training in contemporary life eunl man-
eiges in hi ihe child more ur less harmoniously into ihe pattern of bis community or social existence. That's fine,
unl I regard thai eis ei definite advance.
Whii I quarrel with, however, is the
lack of emphasis, or distributed em-
pluisis. on basic -kill- which seem lo me
lo be absolutely requisite a verv close
application to the disciplines of reading
.mil oi arithmetic, nf logic etnd eill of
that which should go into thc training
of ei mi in I. I'm sorry thai Professor
Dewey's philosophy, valid in itself, has
been so deformed or distorted, if then be
the case, ibai ii heis resulted in this real
malformation of the educational process.
l'\e I- FORI M NEWS, \.■umber. 1955