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Novelist James Michener criticized last night the current American educational system and the rare of a mass-media culture. Speaking at the Ask with Lecture at Longfellow Hall, Michener predicted that television will become the sole means of education for 70 per cent of Americans in the near future.
"We're only on the first frontier of what T.V. is going to do to us," Michener told the crowd of 100 people. "We're going to be in a revolution of a size we cannot envision yet," he added.
Michener also criticized the public secondary school system and praised the Educational Testing Service, saying, "I can't see a world in which people of ability and merit are not tested."
American public schools now face social problems, such as violence and teenage pregnancy, outside the realm of traditional education, Michener said. He added that he'd send his children to a private school, if he were a parent today.
He proposed tutorial programs in the freshman year of college to insure minimum standards of competency and make up for poor preparation in secondary schools. This would guarantee open admissions to all students regardless of the quality of their secondary school education, he said.
Michener further said that if bilingual educational programs do not improve in the next twenty years there will be a major language rift between English and Spanish speaking peoples similar to the French-English division in Canada today.
Current bilingual programs put too much emphasis on the student's native language, he said. "A system of education which imprisons a child in a coccoon which is difficult to break has got to be wrong.
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