FEBRUARY 11, 1950
NEW YORK, Friday—I had a visit yesterday morning from a Danish schoolteacher who has spent five and a half months in this country studying the opportunities for high school education. She explained when I mentioned the Folkeschule in Denmark that these were adult education schools. What interested her here was the greater opportunity for young people. Nearly all of them, if they desired, could go through high school in this country. Of course, there are exceptions—parts of our country where high schools are not available and individual family situations where parents are not able to afford having their children stay in school because they need their earnings.
In addition to that, as I pointed out to her, there is often a failure in making the curriculum interesting enough to high school students. There have been instances where students have dropped out of high school because what is offered to them seemed to them useless.
By and large, however, my Danish friend was impressed by the opportunities available to our youngsters.
Then she asked me an interesting question. She had travelled down through the South. She wanted to know whether a foreigner was welcome to join the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. She said, "What happens here does not just affect our domestic situation but the whole world, and I think citizens of other nations should show their interest in an organization that is trying to solve the question that may primarily concern the United States but that touches also on the interests of the rest of the world."
That is a touchy question.
Should we welcome the interest of other people and their point of view on our internal problems or should we resent it?
I personally think we should welcome their interest. I think we should realize that they have problems also and are, therefore, looking at questions more and more from the point of view of their world implications even though they may seem to be questions that concern the nationals of one country only.
* * *
In the afternoon I drove to Hackettstown, N.J., to speak at Centenary Junior College, which was started by the Methodists but which is now non-sectarian and open to girls of all religious faiths.
There are 400 girls in the college and, since the little town only has somewhat over 3,000 population, they must provide a good deal of the life and interest in the community. I feel so strongly that we must face our world today with a knowledge of other countries and the realization of the dangers among which we live, that it encouraged me greatly to find a group of girls obliged to take in their freshman year a course entitled "The World in Which We Live". The first semester they studied the conditions of other countries; presently they are studying the situation in our country.
It was a long drive out and back but I was glad that I had gone. I imagine it is none too easy to get speakers to come to a place where the train service is poor and the audience not very large.
In the evening I went on the television-radio program, "Author Meets the Critics." I was treated kindly and I think I could probably criticize my own book more severely than did any of my critics.