Complete freedom is the goal of education as it is of everything else," said Zona Gale, author of "Miss Lulu Bett," "Faint Perfume," and other novels and a prominent liberal, to a CRIMSON reporter yesterday.
Miss Gale, who was sitting in the lobby of the Copley Plaza hotel, thought a moment and then continued, "Every branch of human activity is undergoing an extension of freedom today. Religion, art, government, education, they are all changing their forms, outgrowing them, and advancing to a higher plane.
Must Keep Open Minds
"To accomplish this advance in education we must always keep an open mind toward everything new. We must apply what might be called the selective use of complete freedom.
"You know there is an old document down in the archives of a Kentucky county relating an instance of narrow-mindedness in those days. A group of people asked the permission of the authorities to use a school building for a meeting to discuss that new invention the steam locomotive. Permission was refused because the school board said, If the Lord had meant us to travel more than 15 miles an hour he would have said so in the Bible!
"That's laughable now, but unless we continue to work toward freedom, we will make the same mistakes today."
Talked With Wisconsin Supervisor
Miss Gale, who left Boston yesterday, said she had a talk with John Callahan, state superviser of public instruction in Wisconsin while he was here presenting the official offer of the presidency of Wisconsin University to Dean Pound.
"He is working toward complete freedom of election in our high schools," she said, "and I believe that will be the natural development in both high school and college education. I am sorry that Harvard has apparently grown away from this system since the departure of President Eliot.
"You may argue that many men take advantage of the free elective system to take the easiest courses. True, but those men would not get much out of education any way."
Does Not Believe in Exams
When Miss Gale was informed that the University was in the midst of the annual mid-year examination period, she laughed and said, "That reminds me of another point I should like to bring up. I do not believe in examinations. They ought to be abolished.
She immediately grew serious again, however, and went on, "The whole examination system is wrong. It depends too much upon luck and a certain kind of cleverness. It is just another addition to the useless drudgery which keeps education back.
Sees No Immediate Remedy
"Frankly," she continued, "I do not see any immediate remedy for the situation. But the ultimate solution is the abolition of all examinations and the substitution of class discussions as the only method of testing a student's knowledge. This of course will necessitate smaller classes, or more teachers, or both, and that seems hard to realize with the ever increasing growth of our universities. Perhaps the rise of the junior colleges may help to solve the problem.
"There are many practical difficulties in the path of a greater educational freedom, but an open mind and liberal idealism will do much toward overcoming them.
Man may always remain man, but he can change just as radically as the carbon, which is always carbon, may change from coal to a diamond, and in this process a free education is essential.