• U.S.

Education Should be Expensive

2 minute read

A strident trumpet took up the what’s-wrong-with-our-colleges refrain. New York University’s Professor of Philosophy Sidney Hook, in a new book (Education for Modern Man, Dial; $2.75), blew a sweet note for John Dewey and experimental education, a sour blast for Chicago’s Robert Hutchins and the classic tradition.

Says Hook: “Whatever a liberal education is, few American colleges offer it.” Only “educational quacks,” Hook adds, share the St. John’s and Chicago faith in the classics as a storehouse of answers to man’s perennial problems. It is “hazardous … to lay down an ideal education for all men, at all times, everywhere.”

Hook calls narrow departmentalization an “intellectual scandal.” He would tailor college courses to the problem-beset individual of today. In the first two years, all students would take overall courses; in the final two years, study programs would be elected but “directed,” as in the new plans of Harvard, Colgate, Princeton.

“[Teaching] should at teast not be an obstruction to learning,” says Professor Hook. “What the educational system of America needs is at least a million good teachers.” Hook’s good teacher is a dedicated person, teaching method rather than content, and encouraging critical dissent. Classes, he thinks, should be taught by discussion rather than lecture, and limited to 20 students. Hook admits that his ideas would make education expensive to the community, but adds: “It should be. Is there anything more worthy of spending our money on?”

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