Optimist met pessimist at the Law School lorum last evening as The Rt. Hon. Chuter Ede, former British Home Secretary, and Howard Mumford Jones, professor of English, discussed and argued the problem of effective education in the technical society of today.
Jones emphasized that modern American society's great need for specialists, particularly in scientific and technical fields, has narrowed the scope of higher education and has forced students to choose a specialized course of training at too early an age.
"Our national obsession with leadership," he said, has led us to pay more respect to "the practical-minded rather than the theoretical-minded man." The population increase of the past few years has also, according to Jones, lowered the standards of higher education.
The artist especially, claimed Jones, has become an outsider in American society, as our educational system has failed to address itself to his needs.
Jones concluded, "I cannot predict that this pattern of American education will radically change within the next few decades. The best we can probably do is hang on and wait for the breaks."
Ede, who was co-author of the British Education Act of 1944, felt that education must be aimed at the personal abilities and aptitudes of the student, especially at the elementary and secondary school level.
If future educators concern themselves primarily with the individual interests and psychological needs of their students, said Ede, then the conflict between the artist and the scientist will be solved by having each receive an education suited to his own aptitudes.
Only if education acquires such a personal approach, claimed Ede, will every student be enabled "to attain the most effective self-expression of the individuality with which he's been endowed."