The size and the variety of the audience, of all ages and tastes, is a severe challenge to what we educators usually impose upon reluctant or docile batches of impounded youth, and the novel medium compels us to reconsider what we are doing and to define the conditions upon which we are likely to succeed. Education too is an art, but at the present moment in our country the art of education is in a very low state. The motives which bring young men and women to college are mixed: more often social, athletic, or economic than intellectual. None of these motives will operate on the air. Listening over the radio will not bring you the valued privilege of rubbing elbows with the descendants of the best families, or of making connections which will help your later career. On the air you cannot join a fraternity, nor assist the glee club, nor do any of the other essential things. On the air you can only listen and learn. You tune in if the subject interests you, or if you like the speaker, or if the speaker is well known and you wish to judge whether or not he deserves his reputation. If the performance does not interest you — well, in no art is it easier than in the radio for the audience to walk out. I wish I could say that such programs would be secured by transferring to the air the sounds now produced in college classrooms. I wish the students in those classrooms came, as the radio audience will come, only because they were interested in the subject, or because they wished to follow the mind of a great scholar. But in the colleges and universities of the United States we have vitiated education by exaggerating the importance of the degree. We have rigged the system so that without a degree, and a fairly advanced one, one cannot enter the teaching profession. Without a so-called cultural degree one cannot, in many states, become a lawyer or a doctor, no matter how much one knows about law or medicine. What I have said about academic degrees would, I think, be unjust if the degrees were an accurate record of progress in education or of accomplishment in scholarship or of quality in character. But the degrees are only a badge of docility, a receipt for the number of points or hours the candidate has passed and paid for. Having made a degree necessary for entrance upon one's life work, we set the requirements for that degree so that the various departments will have a share of the student's time, and the academic income will be equally distributed. We do not guarantee that all classes are equally well taught, nor do we permit the most competent teachers to monopolize the audience. With the degree as a club, we drive the students where it is convenient for us to have them go. To me, the lesson for the educator is that he cannot compel the radio audience to listen to him, as he compels his academic classes, and if he tries to bribe them he will fail as ignominiously as the radio advertisers are now doing. He must present education on its merits, and he must make it so interesting that the public would rather listen than not. To master these principles, I repeat, will be for us educators an ordeal.Strict realism in every word. You won't find anything REMOTELY RESEMBLING THIS on either "side" today. Both "sides" simply repeat over and over their standard myths and standard fake solutions. [D solution = read Marcuse while wearing murder masks. R solution = read Cicero while wearing murder masks.] = = = = = Sidenote from another angle: Erskine was undervaluing some of the education available in plain commercial programs, especially the low-budget syndicated serials. Ann of the Airlanes was packed with serious information about geography and technology, presented in digestible form. Dick Tracy organized the young listeners in Detective Clubs. For 5 boxtops of Quaker cereals you got a Secret Decoder Ring, and every episode gave you a "coded" message to solve, so you could stay ahead of the villain. Kids who spent time on that task were learning more about language than the idiotic fictional "grammar" they were hearing from Miss Marley. Followup on the Tracy code.
The current icon shows Polistra using a Personal Equation Machine.