FEBRUARY 19, 1949
HYDE PARK, Friday—On Wednesday I attended a meeting with the members of the Department of Supervision and Curriculum Development, National Education Association. They were as interested as I was in the speech made by the French woman, Madame Brule, who holds a fellowship over here in order to be able to study our school system. She is impressed by the happiness of our children and their freedom in the classroom. She maintains, though, that there is more thirst for knowledge and insistence on study for the sake of knowledge only in the French school system.
Rather wistfully, I thought, she commented on the fact that for the most part our children were well fed and well-clothed which, of course, does make it easier to absorb education.
In the evening I enjoyed very much talking on the air with Delbert Clark who conducts the New York Times Forum of the Air, and with President Leonard Carmichael of Tufts College and James L. Hanley, head of the Providence, R.I., school system. The latter was more conscious of the youngsters whose education ceases before college and, therefore, felt a great need for indoctrinating our youngsters with democracy.
Someone said to me yesterday that he felt it would be a great help if instead of always reciting our failures, we sometimes talked about the real achievements that are accomplished in our democracy. I am entirely in agreement with this idea and think it is essential that we drive home to our young people what are the actual benefits we achieve year by year. Knowing our failures, however, is valuable too, because it does not permit us to become complacent and it obliges us to strive to eliminate any blots we might have.
I was distressed to read in the newspapers yesterday morning that the Russians were pulling out of the United Nations health agency. That is one of the few specialized agencies to which the USSR has been willing to belong, and the benefits to be derived from worldwide cooperation on health projects seem so very obvious that it is difficult to understand why the Soviets do not wish to keep in touch with the rest of the world.
Dr. Brock Chisholm has offered to visit Moscow in March "for fuller discussion" and feels that the criticisms made by the Russians of the World Health Organization are premature. I have a feeling that their reason for withdrawal is more than that "tasks connected with the international measures for prevention and control of diseases and with the spread of medical science achievement are not being accomplished by the organization satisfactorily." It must be that they feel that collaboration with any other nation on anything is dangerous.
They are reluctant to let people enter their country, to see things for themselves and to talk freely with their people, but they are also becoming more and more reluctant to let their citizens go out and see things for themselves.