Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome
to THE ADVOCATES, the PBS Fight of the Week. Tonight's debate is coming to
you from Boston's historic Faneuil Hall.
and gentlemen, may I have your attention, please.
Moderator Evan Semerjian has just called tonight's meeting to
Good evening, and welcome to THE
ADVOCATES. Our debate tonight is a provocative one, one that focuses on a
major question of policy in the field of higher education. Specifically, our
question is this: Would the nation be better off if fewer people went to
college? Advocate Colette Manoil says "yes."
myth that colleges are a guarantee of personal fulfillment, or financial
success, has disillusioned students and has degraded the institution. To
argue that society ought to provide high school students with alternatives
that are meaningful to them, I have with me tonight Professor Fritz Machlup
of New York University and Professor Paul Kurtz, Editor of the Humanist
Advocate John Burgess says
Thomas Jefferson believed that a
broad-based educational opportunity was the veritable seedbed of the
survival of democracy. The proponents of tonight's proposition reject that
principle. Dr. Freda Rebelsky of Boston University and Dr. Kenneth Tollett,
Professor of higher education at Howard University, support it. I'm pleased
to be their advocate and join them in opposing this radical departure from
American educational tradition.
Thank you. I'd
like to welcome two new advocates to tonight's program. Miss Manoil is an
attorney and has served as consultant on educational policy for
Massachusetts. Mr. Burgess is a lawyer from Vermont and an author and
lecturer. We'll be back to them for their cases in a moment, but first a
word of background on tonight's question. The United States leads the world
in the percentage of its youth who go on to college. Almost two-thirds of
all students who graduate from high school enroll in college. The majority
of those enter standard four-year programs of an academic rather than a
technical nature. But, as the percentage and number of students entering
college has increased, so has debate over the real value of the conventional
Liberal Arts program that most of them pursue during college. And this leads
to our question and debate tonight: Would the nation be better off if fewer
people went to college? Tonight we'll examine the purpose and relevance of
what is called liberal education. By liberal education we mean the normal
four year college course, leading to the Bachelor of Arts degree, and that
includes the B.A. offered by Harvard and U.C.L.A. on one hand and by a lot
of colleges less well known on the other. At its base tonight's debate is a
debate over two divergent views on what the educational needs of America are
in 1974 and beyond. And now to the cases. Miss Manoil, will you begin,
Americans have made a myth out of the
notion that a college - a four year Liberal Arts – education; we're told
that college is a rewarding experience. Yet 60% or 70% of the people who
enter college drop out without finishing. Those people end up in Vermont,
chewing Granola. What are they doing? What did they gain? Others are calling
for changes in what and how they're being taught. What they're going there
for and what they're being presented with is not relevant. A degree, we're
told, is going to give you a better job and higher income. Yet we know that
people are not going to get a better job or higher income. We're turning out
300,000 teachers for 19,000 jobs. Are these people going to look back on
college as a rewarding experience, or are they going to be disillusioned and
unhappy when they discover that 70% of the population is earning over
$15,000 without a college education. We ought to recognize that there are
differences in interests and needs among people and that our educational
system must reflect those differences. People should have a choice of
vocational educational, two-year community colleges, or on the job training.
That is the only way that college and an education can be meaningful. This
is what Mark Twain very accurately described when he said, "I never let my
schooling interfere with my education." My first witness is Professor Fritz
Professor, welcome to THE
Professor Machlup, does a four year
Liberal Arts institution and the degree which it offers guarantee that the
person who has that degree is going to be a better person or a more
successful person or a better educated person?
It certainly does not. Absolutely not.
you tell us why not?
Before I tell you, I must
first make a few distinctions because when you say college - four year
college - we must realize that there are really more types. There is the
traditional, or more classical, type of a Liberal Arts college. Secondly,
there is a watered down version of that college, and thirdly, there is a
more vocational kind of training. Now, let me say something about each. The
first one, the traditional type, is intended to develop a taste for higher
learning. It's also trying to prepare people for graduate work and for the
learned professions. It is a kind of thing, a training the mind, developing
the taste for good literature and for the arts and for sciences and so on.
It is not really to everybody's tastes. It is for snobs, like myself. I love
that. But it is certainly not for everybody to work seventy hours a week on
such esoteric things. Now, since there are so many people who don't like it,
they have a watered down version of that, and that watered down version is
really good for nothing at all. Thirdly, there is something which is quite
good. It includes the more vocationally minded. You have a… you are
career-minded and so on, but you know, it's wasteful because you learn these
things that you need for a job much better by training on the job.
But doesn't our society say that people that have a
college degree are better than people who do not?
Many people say so, but they are wrong. They shouldn't say so. No one is
better off because he went to college. I really don't understand why they
say it. Through these things perhaps you are morally better? Look what kind
of people come out of college, how high their morals are. Let me refer to
the Nazis. The most brutal of the Nazis had beautiful education; they loved
the arts, they loved literature, they loved music, they knew Wagner by
heart, but they killed hundreds of thousands of people.
Well, then, what would your answer be to the fact that
some people suggest that college makes better leaders?
A college cannot make a leader. A leader is born. This is
a quality of a personality. You can, of course, give a future leader a
better education - and I'd much rather have a leader who is broadly educated
than someone who is not educated - but the college does not make a
What is wrong, Professor, with
pressuring people to go to college immediately after high school?
A great deal is wrong with that. If a reluctant person
goes to college, he develops a distaste tor all learning. He also reduces
the opportunities for those who want to go there who really want to study
and to develop a kind of rebellious attitude against things intellectual,
against the institution of the college, and eventually against all social
All right, that's very
interesting. Let's hear now from Mr. Burgess who has some questions for you.
Sir, I've been told that you have
written that the late string quartets by Beethoven are not relevant to 95%
of the American adults, and if as many as 50% of the people were exposed to
this glorious music, they would call for the destruction of our chamber
music society. Did you write that, sir?
Do you believe it?
Now, sir, do
you believe there is some point chronologically when we can detect whether
we fall among the select five or the unselect ninety-five? Chronologically
in age, does there come a moment when the light over your head says, "You
are the five, but you are the ninety-five"?
you leave it to the taste of the people. Freedom of choice is the
I've also been told that you once wrote
that most people can learn what they will ever learn in school in eight
years, and if they are kept for ten, twelve, fourteen or sixteen years, they
will merely learn it more slowly.
That is what you said.
That's what I said, and I believe in it
Do you believe at the end of that
first eight year period that the light will shine and say, "You are the
five, but you are the ninety-five"?
No. If he
thinks that he's interested in more learning, he can go and get it. There
should be complete access to everybody, but you shouldn't have any pressure
on the people.
How would you select, Doctor,
who would be in the five and who would be in the ninety-five?
They select themselves, sir.
And how would they be encouraged to make this selection?
By telling them the truth, by telling them what the
college means, what kind of things they will be exposed to, and telling them
not the untruth - namely, that they will make more money, or that they will
be getting better jobs and things like that.
Were you one of the 5% who you feel could profit from a Liberal Arts
four-year education, Doctor?
I think I have
enjoyed it, I have enjoyed every minute of minute of my studies, and not
with any view that it will make me a better man or a better
You teach, don't you?
I teach and I learn all the time.
And how many of your students, in your experience, fall
into the 95% and how many into the 5%?
would say it depends whether I teach undergraduates or graduate students
Let's talk about undergraduates, if we
Now, most of the undergraduates really
would have been better off not to have been exposed to my teaching and to
that of my colleagues.
Perhaps that says more,
Doctor, about their faculties that they are exposed to in college than the
faculties that they bring to college, but let me ask you this, Doctor: If a
child from a ghetto and a child from a middle class suburb were to both
enter the same eight year program of yours, would they come in, in your
judgment, in all probability, with a similarly rich background?
Not now, but the point is that you ought to have an early
childhood education, and there is a great deal done toward that. We ought…
you know, we tried here in the United States the Head Start program. Now,
this was an excellent thing in spite of many disparaging things that have
been said about it. But it is true that not everybody is exposed in the home
to the kind of early childhood education that would give equal opportunity
to all of us, and we could make up for that by supplying early childhood
education to a great many more people, to all who want to.
So your proposal, Doctor, would not work in the society
we live in today but only in a society that was totally reformed.
That I would not say. I would say my proposal does work
even today, but it would work much better if people really had the same
opportunities, and these opportunities would, of course, include an exposure
to learning how to learn.
But the child who
because of cultural factors beyond his control goes into your eight year
program deprived culturally may come out in the 95% and not in the 5%, isn't
that right, Doctor?
And you see nothing inherently unequal or unfair about
No, you can't do anything about that. The
point is, first of all, it is not an advantage to go to college. It is a
disadvantage, it is a sacrifice.
You feel you
come here under a disadvantage because you are an educated man?
Not I, but I think the majority of the people are put at
a disadvantage if they are forced to slave for hours and hours a week on
things they couldn't care less about. They are completely disinterested,
they are bored. These things are irrelevant to their future ...
And you feel the ghetto child, deprived from childhood,
should not have an opportunity to join you in the 5%?
He should have an opportunity.
Let's go back to Miss Manoil for a question.
Professor, did I hear you say that there was something better about the
5% than the other 95%?
No, nothing is better. I
don't think I said that.
All right, Mr.
Do you feel, Doctor, that the
philosophy that you have exposed to the audience here tonight would be
capable of being created by a mind that had been educated for eight
All right. Thank you very much,
Professor, for being with us tonight.
I think Professor Machlup has very clearly
put the college Liberal Arts degree in perspective and what it does. It is
not all things to all people. For my next witness I have Professor Paul
Professor, welcome to The Advocates.
Professor Kurtz is Professor of Philosophy at the State University of
New York at Buffalo and is Editor of the Humanist Magazine. Professor Kurtz,
do you agree that fewer students ought to be forced to go to a Liberal Arts
college immediately after high school and obtain a Bachelor of Arts
Yes, I do. Indeed, this trend has
already set in. There has been a leveling off in the number of high school
graduates going to four-year Liberal Arts colleges. However, 62.5% of high
school graduates now go to four year colleges as students, and I think this
is a mistake, first, because many of the students who go are not interested,
many of the students who go are not qualified, and this is a disillusioning
experience for many of them. Also it tends to water down high quality
institutions and lower the standards of excellence.
What alternative would you recommend?
I think we have to think creatively and experimentally
about alternatives. We are committed to open expanding education, as
Jefferson recognized as part of the democratic faith, but we have to find
other alternatives beyond a four-year Liberal Arts college. There are
vocational schools, trade schools, technical schools, work study programs,
two-year community colleges, junior colleges; all of these would provide an
opportunity for students who are diverse and different to meet their
different needs. In addition - and I would emphasize this point - we have
to, as a society, develop continuing education. I think that Liberal Arts
education is useful for many people, and I would like to develop it. It is
not being adequately developed in four years Liberal Arts colleges, and I've
taught in them for twenty-five years. Therefore I think that what we have to
emphasize is sabbaticals for older people, senior citizens, continuing
education in order to bring forth the best within people.
Do you think we're placing too much emphasis on the
Yes, we are, and I think it's
tragic that we certify a person with a B.A. degree. This says nothing about
his dignity and his worth. We then say that you have a job or you do not
have a job if you have a Bachelor degree. People find, when they come out,
they find that they cannot get jobs. There are hundreds of thousands of
English majors in journalism now working in mailrooms, and there are jobs
that are not being filled that are crying to be filled in society.
Well, is your position consistent with the democratic
Yes, I think my position is consistent
with the democratic ideals. I'm committed to democracy. I think those who
want to compel all students to go to four-year colleges are elitists, snobs,
who are attempting to force down the throats of a wide population what they
consider to be worthwhile. Now, I do think that Liberal Arts colleges are
useful for many people. I would not myself restrict colleges to 5%; perhaps
20% or 30%. But what is happening in the country today is that people are
compelled to go to college, much the same as they are compelled to be
drafted into the Army, against their will. Some people are calling for 80%
or 90%. I think this is madness. And I think it's destructive of many human
Well, how is the system
I think it's harmful because many
people come under false pretenses. They think that if they go to college,
this is an opportunity to advance in society. The Jenckes report, in his
book Inequality, has pointed out that a Liberal Arts college, a
Baccalaureate, is not necessarily the road to success. I think that what we
have to do is re-emphasize the dignity of labor, re-emphasize other values,
indicate that there are other alternatives of education and experience in
order to lead a good life.
All right, let's go
to Mr. Burgess for some questions.
Sir, do you
really believe that fewer people should go to college?
Yes, sir, by all means.
you have said and written that the college community, as a community of
scholars, is a worthwhile institution to be preserved.
Yes, by all means.
think you've further said that the college community, this community of
scholars, has historically been subject to attack by, as you said, practical
men of commerce who do not see an immediate economic value in
Yes, I think the colleges and
universities have an important function to play in our society.
Well, now, isn't it true, sir, that under your proposal
decreasing the number of people who went to college, more of the merchants,
more of those commercial men you wrote about and feared as destroying the
college community of scholars, would not have shared the Liberal Arts
experience and therefore would not understand that institution.
I didn't say that the businessmen would destroy the
I didn't ask you what you said; I
asked you to respond.
Yes, well, I am
responding to your question, I think, as best I can. I think your Liberal
Arts college is very important. I think it contributes to innovative
research and discovery in the country, and the Liberal Arts colleges and
universities need to be preserved in that sense. But not everyone should be
compelled to go to a Liberal Arts college. There are other alternatives, Mr.
Burgess, that you overlook. There are two-year colleges, there are work
study programs, there is adult education that should be emphasized. It's the
eighteen to twenty-one compulsion of the whole population that I find very
Do you believe ...
Professor, excuse me for just a second. Professor, let me
ask you a question and see if I can clarify this. What percentage of the
students in college now do you think are wasting their time?
That's difficult to say. I think it depends upon the
individual. I think that it's a fairly large percentage.
Well, do you think 95% are wasting their time?
No, no, I wouldn't say that. Perhaps half of the
students, perhaps one third ...
Well, if it's
50%, would you say, for example, that 50% of all the students at Harvard and
Yale are wasting their time?
I think that many
students are wasting their time, but I have not done a statistical study. I
have thousands of students over the years, and I've talked to my colleagues,
and we see that many students are being destroyed by a Liberal Arts
education. Many students are benefiting, and this is very important, but
others are not, and they could be doing things that are more productive and
Just one final question by me.
How do you determine which of those they fall into?
I believe in open access, I believe in equal opportunity.
I believe that if students have an interest and if they're well motivated
and they have the qualifications, then they ought to be admitted. If they
find that the college education is not adequate, then they leave.
All right, go ahead, Mr. Burgess.
Do you believe with your colleague-witness that if as
many as 50% of the people were exposed to the glorious last string quartets
of Beethoven, they would call for the destruction of our chamber music
society? Don't you think that's a little extreme, Doctor?
Well, different people have different tastes. That's the
point. Not everyone should be compelled ...
Yes, but that isn't the response to my question. Do you really believe that
your colleague was right when he affirmed here from the stand that
I think I did respond to your
question, Mr. Burgess, by saying that people have different tastes, and we
ought not to compel everyone to like chamber music.
Well, let me ask you this: Do you believe that in eight
years of college - eight years of schooling - we can learn all that we will
ever learn, and if we're kept longer, all we do is learn it more
No, I don't agree with Mr. Machlup on
that point. However, I would emphasize, as he pointed out, that education is
a continuing process and that what we need to do is open the universities
and colleges for adults and encourage people to go to universities and
colleges not from eighteen to twenty-one but later on in life if they're so
What you're really saying, if I
understand you correctly, is that after the babies and the mortgage payments
come, the return to the college is an advisable and practical
It may be for many, many
Have there been any studies that have
found that those subjected to the payments on the car and the payments on
the mortgage and the other expenses of raising children flock back to
I think there have been many people
who do go to adult education and continuing education. I think they ought to
be encouraged, and what I would like to propose are sabbaticals for people
in industry, give people later on in life in their thirties and forties, who
can really profit from a Liberal Arts education, an opportunity to go back.
Allow the senior citizens an opportunity to go back. Don't merely compel
eighteen year old kids, youngsters, to go to college if they don't want to
and if they're not qualified.
Do you regret
going to a Liberal Arts college, Doctor?
do not regret going to a Liberal Arts college.
Thank you. No further questions.
Let me ask
you a question, Professor. Do you think that the number of college dropouts
is any indication of your proposal?
two thirds of students drop out of college, and since this is true, this
suggests a considerable kind of unrest. What is particularly disheartening,
I think, is the fact that many college graduates now feel hopeless,
alienated and alone. There are hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people
in this country who have gone to college and now don't know what to do with
Well, don't you think that the
dropping out of college by students is sort of a self-fulfilling event that
already takes into account your proposal so that that would make your
proposal unnecessary, wouldn't it?
I think that many people are crushed, many people have a problem of
self-respect and of ego, and they feel shattered because they have been
submitted to a college education and it has not fulfilled their needs. This
is why we need alternatives in expanding horizons of education.
Let's see if Miss Manoil has a question for
Well, doesn't the drop in the number of
applicants to college and the drop in the scores on the college admissions
exams indicate something about the interest, about the background of these
I think many youngsters went to
college during the Vietnam war because of the draft. This pressure is off
now. I think many kids who now do not go to college, high school kids, sense
that this may not help them in their career, and also sense that maybe
college is not for them.
All right, let's go
back to Mr. Burgess.
Doctor, how would you
select those who went to college and those who did not?
I would select them on the basis of motivation and also
on qualifications. I would have open opportunity for
Who would make these decisions
as to motivation and qualification?
would have opportunity for disadvantaged, I think the poor kids should go to
college. I believe in scholarship for all people in this society.
Who would make the decision, Doctor?
I think we ought to encourage them, but at some point
Who would make the decision.
I think the colleges would make the
decision as to how many to admit, and I think that the community has to be
educated so as not to force everyone to go to college.
All right, thank you very much, Professor, for being
with us tonight.
Thank you. I
think that John Gardner, former Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare,
probably summed up our position as well as we could. What he said was that a
society that scorns excellence in plumbing because plumbing is a humble
activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted
activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy. Neither its
pipes nor its theories will hold water.
you. For those of you in our audience who may have joined us late, Miss
Manoil and her witnesses have presented their case in favor of fewer people
going to college. And now for the case against, Mr. Burgess, the floor is
Since the time of Aristotle, Western
man has tried to attune himself to the rhythm of his mind. What the
proponents are really advocating tonight is that man attuned his mind to the
rhythm of his machines. We advocate not a reduction in educational
opportunity, but its expansion, not exclusion from the opportunity by some
arbitrary standard imposed by a college on eighteen year olds, but a free
choice after exploring all the alternatives. We cannot accept this elitist -
someone characterized it as snob - approach that some aristocracy of college
screeners will close the door of educational opportunity. We consider - and
you must decide tonight - the shape of our society literally for the next
century. Will it be a society that encourages all to partake of the tree of
knowledge freely or will some few stand outside the fence while others feast
on the fruit of the tree? My first witness tonight is Dr. Freda Rebelsky of
Dr. Rebelsky, welcome to
Dr. Rebelsky is Professor of Psychology at Boston
University and winner of two awards, the Harbison Award for Teaching
Excellence and an award of the American Psychology Association for
excellence in teaching. Doctor, does a Liberal Arts education help a student
to realize his capabilities?
And in what way?
Well, I seem to disagree clearly with the two gentlemen
who were the witnesses before in that I believe quite strongly that all
human beings' minds are capable of human thinking - that is, capable of
abstract, complicated thinking, capable of understanding Mozart and
Beethoven if provided the opportunity to do so. The human being is a unique
animal with a unique brain. All human beings.
Now, Doctor, as you have experienced life in our society, do we have a
static or a changing society?
Well, my notion
of this society is that it is a changing one. It was built by people who
left their motherland and their fatherland to come and build a new kind of
society, and therefore they were people who were leaving their roots behind,
Now, Doctor, in what way is the
change so inherent in our society served by a Liberal Arts
I see it very nicely in the company
that's local to Boston, Polaroid, where they have the notion that within
five years every job that the people are now doing will be phased out, and
therefore they're trying to teach people how to think, how to handle
problems so that as new issues come up they can deal with it. A person can
learn very easily the facts of Chemistry, the facts of Physics, how to type;
they can learn less easily how to question, how to ask, how not to respond
to rhetoric. Those are more difficult things, take some time to build on,
and take some age to build on.
speaking of age, Doctor, does the Liberal Arts degree have any long-range
and lasting effect years afterward?
there are certainly lots of experiences that many of my students had and
that I've had. A simple example: I took a course in Geology as part of a
Natural Science sequence twenty-four years ago in college, and twenty-two
years later, as I was walking on a beach on Martha's Vineyard looking at
some stones, I noticed that they looked odd, and I remembered my Geology
course from twenty-two years before, and I said, "These are not ventifacts,
things made by wind, but artifacts, things made by man," and I found an
Indian colony all by myself. And I say that's one of the values of a Liberal
Arts education: it sticks in your head, it makes you notice things you
wouldn't notice. And hopefully, in what I teach my students, it helps them
to be critical throughout life.
essentially the witnesses for the proponents of tonight's proposition have
said, in its barest form, some are dumb, some are smart.
Has that been
your experience as a teacher?
Not at all, not
at all. And one of the things that astounded me is the assumption that
students come to college motivated, and we just have to sit there and teach
the motivated ones. It seems to me my job in college is to make people learn
how to think and" love to learn, and 100% of my students are motivated to go
on to think later, and I hear from them ten and twelve years later, saying
they learned courage in my class, they learned the ability, for instance, to
do a class action suit to get equal pay with men in the insurance company
they work in, from a class in Child Psychology. I think you can't tell what
will show. I'd like to give one more anecdote. I don't believe there are
dumbies and smarties. I see it from myself: I'm smart sometimes and dumb
others, and on my doctoral committee at Harvard there was a man who thought
I was a genius and a man who thought I was stupid, and I turned this way and
talked genius and turned this way and talked stupid. Honestly. I make my
students smart. They're smart with me, and when my colleagues say, "How can
you give that C-student an A," I show them the papers - they have to admit
they're A papers - and I can then say, "What do you do to people that an
A-student is a C-student with you"?
the oldest solve-all - and my wife will forgive me for the question -
Doctor, do you believe that a housewife should have a Liberal Arts
I'm sure every housewife in the room
knows what I'm going to respond. It seems to me that it's even appropriate
in terms of what has been stated before by the witnesses. If we're going to
have an intelligent population and the next generation is going to be
intelligent, then certainly the women who are raising the children have to
be intelligent and capable of thinking of abstract things. Let me add
something as a developmental psychologist. Most adults - most people -
respond to behavior and not motivation. It's hard to stand back and think
abstractly. A mother must learn how to think abstractly with children
because children think qualitatively differently from adults, and if we
assume their behavior is like ours, we make the wrong assumptions. I'd like
to give an example. My son at five years old spread toothpaste very
carefully on a wooden coffee table, and I came downstairs and because it was
the morning I was more sane than I usually am later in the day, and I said,
"Why did you do that, honey?" And he said, "Mommy, your toothpaste cleaned
my teeth so good, I thought I'd clean the table for you." And it was a
lovely example because I could be reflective and look and ask a question, I
could then learn something about his behavior. That's different than if I
just responded to what he did on the outside. And I'm suggesting that I
think a Liberal Arts education is something that enables a person to sit
back, reflect and ask questions rather than to leap into action. That's very
Yes, Doctor. I think Miss Manoil has
some questions for you.
Professor Rebelsky, I
understand that you're saying that even people that aren't interested in
Mozart should be taught Mozart, and that you don't care if they're
interested in mechanics or in football or in other subjects, Mozart is a
more valid thing to study than automobiles or carburetors, is that
No, I'm saying that everybody should
have the base that consists of the products of human minds. That includes
the best of our music and the best of our poetry. But I don't think the
people are not motivated. I think most people don't know, and that's
partially because very young people cannot understand some difficult
concepts, such as the fact that law is a product of man's mind, history is a
product of man's mind, and those things take time to learn, and they can
only be learned late in life at the age of eighteen, nineteen, twenty and
Well, Dr. Rebelsky, I think that
what Miss Manoil is asking you is whether you think everybody should go to
Even if he doesn't want to go?
And you won't credit the person?
Just like we send everybody to grade school, and just
like we send everybody to high school. I think we should have better
So you're in favor of required
And required faculty that
motivate people to learn these things, yes.
And would you also require these people to go on to graduate school,
post-graduate school and so on to infinity?
require them to have a Liberal Arts base, so they can be good voters and
good thinkers, whatever they decide to do.
you're saying that because you have a college education you're a better
person than these people here who may not have a college
I'm not saying better. I think they
would be better at whatever they want to do by having the common base with
me of the enjoyment of the kinds of things that we know that human minds are
How many people do you think would
go to college today if a degree were not offered, if they didn't think they
would get a job as a result of having this certificate?
Well, I think that's the wrong question.
Well, would you try to answer it and then we'll let your
lawyer protect you.
Okay. I think - well, it's
hard for me to answer because I don't think you can connect college and
jobs. I think you should connect Liberal Arts education with being
Okay. I think ...
fewer people would go to college if they knew that they were not going to
get a job when they got out.
I understand you perfectly
well, I think.
No, I think that what would
happen if you educated everybody to much more higher human kinds of
capabilities, the people would invent new jobs, make new jobs, change the
way jobs are. Maybe we would never have any more sweepers. We'd all go out
like the Chinese and sweep two hours a day, or an hour a day, and have no
human being have to do the job for eight hours a day of sweeping a
So you, Professor Rebelsky, are saying
that because you went to college, because you have a Bachelor of Arts degree
and because you happen to be motivated for whatever reason, you're a better
person than a farmer, auto mechanic, Abe Lincoln who didn't go to college,
than many other people in our society who have succeeded, who have expressed
themselves and yet did not get a college degree.
I think farmers don't always have to stay farmers, and I as a professor
don't always have to stay a professor.
wrong with being a farmer?
What's wrong with being a farmer? Why do
you look down on a farmer?
I do not look down
on a farmer.
You do. You have told us there
are better things he can do.
No, I didn't say
that. I said he might be a different kind of farmer, and he might understand
that he has choices. Let me ...
Well, for example ...
He might not enjoy the sunrise?
Well, he might understand that when he's forty, he can
change his field and have equal amount of time later in his life to do
something completely different, if he wanted to.
So you would agree with us that the farmer should have the option to be
a farmer first, or a mechanic first, or a plumber, and then go to
No, because he's a voting member in
our society and he should get a basic education first. He can also be a
Well, Doctor, I'm not sure I
understand why you don't leave it up to the individual to decide when to get
his college education.
Because I think most
people can't decide for themselves. We are forced. I think the two
professors before clearly would be people who normally would go into a
college education, and I wouldn't have if I hadn't been forced.
Well, what about students, then, dropping out of college
precisely because they're not ready for it?
They may be dropping out because the teachers are lousy, or because
registration lines are long. We don't know why students are dropping out of
Okay, go ahead, Miss
Why should we force them to go to
these institutions if - pardon the expression – “the teachers are lousy,” as
Well, hopefully they'll change the
What is the benefit? They'll change
the teachers. They're going there to learn something, to become a superior
person like you, and all institutions aren't equal, isn't that
I think that many institutions that you
think are unequal are very good. For example, I noticed that you said before
Harvard and U.C.L.A., compared to other institutions. Podunk University is
the place where women with PhD's from Harvard and U.C.L.A. have taught for
the last twenty years because they couldn't get jobs anywhere else. And if I
look at the Harbison Awards, or the Danforth Foundation, they're given to
people who teach in little colleges.
wrong with freedom of choice?
One very brief
I think people can't make adequate
All right, let's go back to Mr.
Do you believe that you, as a Doctor of Psychology, do
you believe that all you are able to learn you could learn in eight years,
No, absolutely not. We know plenty in
the field of Developmental Psychology to suggest that major kinds of
learnings occur through life and that the first years of life are not
totally the only important ones. We all know this, that we can be - I was
for instance a straight C student in college and a straight A student at
Harvard in graduate school. Did my brain change?
All right, let's go back to Miss Manoil.
Are you saying that these people are going to be able to make a better
choice because they were exposed to these rotten teachers for four
I'm saying that your argument about two
years or four years - I mean, technical training, you can have lousy
teachers too. I'm saying the four-year Liberal Arts education - the contents
thereof - is important for every human being to have.
But if they're lousy teachers, and they're not learning
anything, aren't they wasting four years?
There are lousy teachers in grade school too. I mean, that doesn't stop us
from sending people to school. Hopefully, if everybody had a Liberal Arts
What do you have against the
freedom of choice? What objection do you have to allowing someone
I don't think there is free choice. I
don't think people are free to choose.
in a position to tell people what to do. You think that because you have all
these degrees you know better and you can dictate to these people what to do
and what's good for them.
Let me tell you
something as woman to woman. Every single ... There is not a single other
girl from my grade school class who finished college, much less went on to
graduate school, and they were much brighter women than I am, or had the
potential for being so. But because they were females, and because this
society doesn't offer freedom of choice they dropped out of school early
because their parents expected them to go and have kids.
Well, are you a better person and a happier person
because of that?
Oh yes, and these days they
all wish they had the guts to go back, and they're scared to.
You're better than they are?
I'm saying I'm better off. They are unhappy about their
No, I said are you a better person
than they are?
Of course not, but they wish
that they had made those choices differently.
All right, with that, Dr. Rebelsky, thanks very much for being with us
Dr. Kenneth Tollett, our next
witness. Doctor, will you take the stand.
Welcome to THE ADVOCATES, Doctor.
is a Professor of Jurisprudence and a Professor of higher education at
Howard University in Washington, D.C. and was a member of the Carnegie
Commission on Higher Education. Doctor, in your study of jurisprudence and
the philosophy of higher education, have you found certain dominant urges in
the nature of man?
And would you tell us what those are?
I think there are three dominant urges in self-conscious
humans. One is an urge to explain, another is an urge to control, and the
third is an urge to revere and reunite with nature.
Does the four-year Liberal Arts program help fulfill
these urges, Doctor?
I think so because I
think all three of these urges are centered in the mind. I think all humans
are learning beings, and these three urges express this drive of human
beings to learn and to understand, to get knowledge so that we control
nature, to be able to communicate with our fellow man.
Well, Doctor, one of the current cliches is that we live
in a technological society—I'm sure you've heard that. Why is it that a
technological education doesn't make us more able to cope with a
Because technology is
concerned with means, and liberal education is concerned with ends. There's
a need for the evaluation of the ends and goals in life, and just having
expertise and making a bomb will not tell you when to drop it or not to drop
it. Indeed, if one does not develop sensitivity and so forth, one will go
gung-ho over doing what one can do rather than what one should do.
Now, a term we hear a lot about these days, Doctor, is
technological unemployment. Are you familiar with that term?
Well, isn't it true
that a person who is technically educated should be better able to cope with
technological unemployment in our society?
would think not. Because our society is changing we have this experience we
call technological obsolescence where a job last year becomes obsolete next
year, so that one needs a broad education, one needs to know how to think,
one needs a flexible mind, one needs developed skills - basic skills - that
will enable them to change vocation or calling later when a job becomes
Well, now, Doctor, we've been told
that airline pilots in some airlines are required to have a four-year
Liberal Arts degree. Is that really justified?
I think so in the light of so many being laid off now. They'll need to know
how to do something else besides fly a plane.
Well, we've heard from your predecessor witness here that in fact in some
way the Liberal Arts degree makes for a better citizen. Do you share that
citizen must be informed and knowledgeable about what's going on in the
world. One needs to be exposed to Professor Machlup's analysis of Economics
so as to have some sense of what this rationing problem is all
You mean the gas rationing?
The gas rationing. If one has had a Liberal Arts
education, one knows that there is one school of thought influenced by the
Chicago school that believes in laissez-faire and that the prices should go
to the sky and let the market determine rationing, who will buy gas and who
will not. And then there are others who take more the dirigement attitude;
the plan would be for rationing and price controls. Well, if one has not had
an exposure to economics, one would have no knowledge or understanding of
this very important issue today.
We have been
told, Doctor, that some of the states in our union require their state
police officers to have a college degree. Can that be justified?
It certainly can.
Well, I'm a constitutional lawyer also,
and it would be very good if police officers, one, were familiar with the
Constitution and would be willing to abide by the Miranda rule and other
decisions of the Supreme Court, and also, more importantly, policemen, say,
operating in the ghetto, to have a liberal education that not only exposes
him to Mozart but maybe John Coltrane and the blues and jazz, so that they
have some understanding of the feeling and aspirations of the people in the
One brief question and
Tell me, Doctor, is there some
socializing component to the four year Liberal Arts program?
Yes, there is a socializing component, and I suppose
that's the practical aspect of obtaining a liberal education, that it
provides one with basic skills that will enable them to work successfully in
society, will enable them to earn more money, and this is one of the values,
in addition to enriching and enhancing sensitivity and
All right, let's see what
questions Miss Manoil has for you.
Tollett, do you really think that it helps the upward mobility of certain
disadvantaged people to force them to go to college and then find that 70%
of them drop out? What does this do to them?
wouldn't force them; I would encourage them. And as the proposition is
stated, it's a question of whether you want fewer to go or more to go. I
want more to go, and I want to encourage as many students as possible to go,
and I don't think there's any question. We look at the history of education
in this country: the enrollment has doubled about every fourteen or fifteen
years, the economic well-being of the nation as a whole, I think, has
improved over that time, and I'm sure that one can prove a correlation
between high-level education and a great amount of mobility of people from
the lower classes, the lower class, in our society.
I don't think it's true economically. In fact, I know
it's not true economically. The information that we have - and I think you
have it as well, I'm sure you do - is that there are more people that are
making over $15,000 who are not college graduates than those who are college
graduates. Well, how do you explain the 70% drop-out?
That's the time lag. That's because you have a lot of
people who came at a time when there weren't many going to college, but that
will certainly not be the case later. And all the studies I've seen indicate
that people who have college degrees earn more in their lifetime than people
who don't have college degrees.
And is that a
valid reason for going to college? To earn more money?
It is one reason for going to college.
Well, Doctor, let me ask you this. I think we'd all be
interested in knowing if you have any figures or statistics to show what
difference it makes to have a college education.
Well, the Chicago school also has done a study about educational
investment, or educational capital, and one of our reports of the Carnegie
Commission indicates that there's a 10% return on investment in people, that
is, educational investment, so that there is this 10% return as a result of
obtaining more education.
Without which -
you're saying there's 10% more return than without it? Is that
ahead, Miss Manoil.
What's the magic about
Well, I'm not mystical, so I don't
deal in magic. I think that it takes a long time to get adequately
Would ten years be better than four
Wouldn't ten years be better than four then?
It might be better, but we don't have time for ten years.
Why not? Why not? You're advocating college,
PhD's do go almost ten years. It depends how specialized and how far you
want to go, but certainly, I think, everyone needs a basically sound liberal
education in order to function well as citizens, in order to communicate
better with their fellow humans, and also to earn a better living.
Well, doesn't this discourage people who can't afford to
go there for ten years?
No, it doesn't
discourage them. It depends upon what their aspirations are.
Isn't it true that we need more professionals in this
Yes, we need more
And that because it takes so
long to become one, many people do not complete the course.
indicate there's something wrong with the requirement that someone go to
school forever in order to be educated?
indicates that they aren't given the right motivation, or that there aren't
adequate funds to support them to go for so long a period of time.
What about the 300,000 teachers we're turning out for
19,000 jobs? How do you explain to them the value of having gone to college
and being educated people?
My explanation to
them is that definitely we should change the student-teacher ratio and
provide more teachers in the ghettos and for students who are disadvantaged
because I think this will improve their educational opportunities.
And would you say that all colleges are equal? Would you
say that - I don't know where you got your degree, but that - a degree from
certain universities, Ivy League colleges, is worth more than a degree from
other institutions because, as Mrs. Rebelsky said, lousy teachers there, and
It may be worth more in terms of
what you will earn because of the prestige of the school but not because you
got a better education.
One quick question and
All right, but aren't you, then,
creating another elite?
No, I'm not creating
an elite; I want everyone to be elite.
right, let's go back to Mr. Burgess.
want everyone to go to Harvard?
Has it been
your experience, Doctor, that in eight years you can learn all that you're
able to learn?
Of course not. That's
All right. Miss Manoil?
Well, is there
something wrong with allowing a black who wants to become an auto mechanic
or a plumber from going right out and doing that when they are out of high
No, there's nothing wrong with it, but
I would encourage that brother or sister to go to college and obtain the
Liberal Arts degree so that that person can have more options in
Is that because they're really going to
become a better person? Or is that because of the social situation as it
They will have a better chance
to be a better person.
But isn't there
something wrong with ...
I don't guarantee
that they'll be a better person.
something wrong with a system that relies on credentials and not on the
Well, credentials are just evidence -
at least putative evidence - of having acquired a certain amount of
Are you then saying that you
disregard the person and only look at the institution and the
I never disregard the
suggest that you are.
Quite the contrary. I'm
saying as many people as possible should have an opportunity to have a four
year education, Liberal Arts education.
because you're educated and you think you're a better person than they are
for having been educated.
Of course I don't
think I'm a better person. In fact, it's because I know I am not better than
they that I know that they could benefit from it. I'm just an Okie from
Muskogee, a simple country boy, and I was able to go to the University of
Chicago and get three degrees, and there were a lot of people who were
smarter than I who were not able to go because they didn't have the funds or
the know-it-all to go.
Okay, why did 70% of
those people drop out?
So it's because I know
that that I know so many other people can profit from education.
Well, why did 70% of the people who go there drop
Some of them aren't properly motivated,
there are teachers who are contemptuous of them. In fact, you know, in this
Coleman report something needs to be said about it. One of the elements
that's not mentioned in that is the attitude of the teacher toward the
student, and in our racist and sexist society results in a lot of students
being turned off because the teachers have contempt for the students. They
think only 5% - or five out of a hundred in a class - are
So you would not ...
But I think all of them are educable.
But you would not agree that college is a good
All right, Dr. Tollett. I'm
sorry. I'm going to thank you very much for being with us tonight. Thanks
very much. Thank you. That completes the cases, and now it's time for each
of our advocates to present their closing arguments. Mr. Burgess, will you
Thank you. You know, really, we're to
decide tonight whether our descendants will live in a society of broad
educational opportunity that Thomas' Jefferson envisioned and that has
served us so well for two hundred years, or whether they will live in a
society of educational exclusion. Now, at commencement ceremonies of
tomorrow's university there may be two degrees. One will be awarded in these
words: "By selection of your peers and betters and with certainty as to your
future, I confer upon you, young men and women, the degree of Bachelor of
Menial Work, and welcome you to the ancient and common company of laborers."
But another degree may be awarded substantially like this: "By virtue of the
authority delegated to me by the trustees of this college, and with high
hope for your future, I confer on you, men and women of learning, the degree
of Doctor of Arts and welcome you to the ancient and honorable company of
scholars." Which degree would you rather have your grandchildren encouraged
Thank you, Mr. Burgess. Miss Manoil,
may we have your argument, please?
I think it
is the Harvard degree, the elite of the colleges, which uses the words
"welcome you to the society of learned men." I don't think all colleges
welcome you in that fashion, nor do they promise to do so. I think that Mr.
Burgess and his witnesses have suggested tonight that the nation would be
better off if plumbers and longshoremen and all people in the world went to
college first and then pursued an education. That is absolutely absurd.
These people would be happier, more productive, if they were free to choose
where to go, if they were free to choose alternatives, if there were no
stigma because they did not have the certificate, certifying their
membership in the society of learned men because obviously you can not
belong if you do not have that certificate, and that is also absurd and
discriminatory. I think it would be much wiser to offer a high school
graduate the choice to exercise their judgment to select the system that
best suits their needs. The problem may be difficult, but it's not as
difficult as forcing someone into a system that is useless, meaningless, and
in the end discourages them, disillusions them, embitters them, and means
nothing to society.
And now it's time for you
to get into the act. It may seem that the question debated tonight is a very
personal one for parents and their children to decide, but the fact is that
the commitment to higher education in this country is incorporated in a
myriad of education Acts and Federal programs of support, and that all may
be changed if the broad policy objective is redefined. So what do you think?
Would the nation be better off if fewer people went to college? Send us your
"yes" or "no" vote on a letter or postcard to THE ADVOCATES, Box 1974,
Boston 02134. Matters relating to this broad policy question come before the
Congress all the time. The shape and extent of our commitment to higher
education depends upon it, and it depends upon you. So send us your votes
and we'll tabulate them and make the results known to the members of
Congress and others interested in the question. Remember the address: THE
ADVOCATES, Box 1974, Boston 02134.
Now, if you'd
like a complete transcript of tonight's debate, send your request to the
same address: THE ADVOCATES, Box 1974, Boston 02134. Please enclose a check
or money order for $2.00 to cover the cost of printing and mailing. You
should get your copy within three weeks of our receiving your request. And
be sure to specify the program by name and your return address.
Now, recently THE ADVOCATES debated the question, "Should
there be a moratorium on strip mining in the West?" Of almost 3,500 viewers
who sent in their votes, 71% said yes, we should prohibit strip mining of
coal, and only 29% said no, we should continue such strip mining. That's
more than two to one against strip mining.
week THE ADVOCATES begins the first of a series of three programs examining
the energy crisis.
So let's take a look at that
program. (PROMOTIONAL MESSAGE)
And now, with
thanks to our able advocates and their very distinguished witnesses, we
conclude tonight's debate.