People in unfamiliar surroundings are often able to reach higher intellectual levels than those in a static environment, Edwin E. Moise, James Bryant Professor of Education, said yesterday. Prof. Moise accredited this tendency to the need to adjust to changed conditions.
Moise, addressing 200 persons at the Summer School's Thursday afternoon lecture, cited young children, who must make new discoveries and cope with language during the first years of their lives, as examples of people making progress in unfamiliar environments.
One of the primary problems of education today is to preserve the curiosity a child possesses while he is still a "foreigner" to life, Moise said.
Moise, who has studied education in the United States for many years, is optimistic about the current trend toward higher intellectual standards in the nation.
Books in Drugstores
The rapid changes of modern life constantly faco people with new situations, forcing them to expand their knowledge. A symptom of today's intellectual expansion, he said, is the increasingly high quality of paperback books now sold in supermarkets and drug stores as well as bookstores.
An inherent danger in society, Moise aserted, is the ease with which a person can fall into an "adustment syndrome," which is caused by over-familiarity with an area, a language, or an attitude of thought.
Persons who have not given in to "in-groupism," such as visiting foreigners and children, retain a sense of intellectual curiosity, Moise said. He cited Karl Marx, "who was never truly a member of any society," and the Jews, who have continually been shuttled from country to country, as illustrations of his point that intellectualism is more natural to those whom situations are not stratified.
Folowing World War II, Moise said, Americans realized their vulnerability. He called the McCarthy era a "neurotic reaction" to this realization, but added that Americans now understand the need for intellectual flexibility. This understanding is a reason for the "genuine intellectual motivation" of present-day Americans.