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To the Editor of the Crimson:
May I express in your columns an opinion with respect to the "strong dissent" voiced by the Cambridge Union of University Teachers, A. F. of T., Local No. 431, to the passage in President Conant's Annual Report in which Mr.Conant says that it seems to him ". . . highly probable that a diminution in the total number of students in the universities of this country is desirable?"
If Mr. Conant had advocated less education in this country--fewer students in schools of all levels and kinds, or the expenditure of less money on teaching for any and all purposes--the Union might have been justified in its accusation that he has suggested "a ploughing under of human brains." But he did no such thing; and his leadership in the Harvard plan for the wider study of American History, in the establishment of the National Scholarships, and in the development of two new professional schools within the University is sufficient evidence that he is not "thinking in terms of a static society." There is nothing in President Conant's record which lends color to the imputation that he is in sympathy with any Nazi or Fascist policy whereby "an uneducated people can be submerged or exploited." On the contrary as the Union admits, Mr. Conant "has on various occasions been a spokesman for (the) liberal tradition" which "Harvard has long fostered". . .
As I read what Mr. Conant has written, not only in this Report but in other publications, he has been a consistent advocate o democratic procedures in education. He does not seem to me to favor curtailment of educational opportunity as a means toward more satisfactory personal living or more effective citizenship; but he does favor the full and impartial use of the schools as an agency of vocational selection. He seems to me to have indicated in his statements that he favors more education in general and more varied education at all levels for the better meeting of more varied human needs.
The Union says it does not "want young people going to college only to find themselves in an economic trap--with no jobs when they graduate." That would appear to be just what Mr. Conant does not want, and what he is afraid of. The Union, however, goes on to say, "But unemployment is not the result of the education." Mr. conant might well reply that it is often the result of the wrong kind of education. Can the Union possibly suppose that its own urging ". . . that the fundamental problem be faced . . ." is met by ignoring economic need in the actual situation we must all meet? No serious student of the problem would suggest that the best contribution education can make to the betterment of our economic life is simply to educate more students for longer periods in the same way. That road leads to a lowering of standards, injustice to the individual, and a radical maladjustment of schooling to all the needs of the nation. . . . The "fundamental problem" seems to me to require the abandonment of an educational policy under which one road has remained the only open road, in the sense of being the only "respectable" road, while the economic motive has been concealed beneath sentimental pleas for equality of opportunity. . . . Yours sincerely, Henry W. Holmes '03. Dean of the Graduate School of Education.
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