APRIL 8, 1950
HYDE PARK, Friday—Since I wrote about the educational program carried on in Louisville, Ky., by the Seagrams industry I have been getting more and more information from different industrial organizations, all of which carry on quite extensive programs to help their own employees attain higher educational standards. Most of them are primarily interested apparently in educating specifically for their own industry. At least that would seem to be the case as set forth in certain publications sent me.
In fact, one letter stated that it was disheartening to find that so many students coming out of college had to be educated and be a burden on the special industry they went into, because colleges did not educate along specific industrial lines.
This seems like poor educational philosophy to me. I think schools and colleges in general should educate for all-around living. If a boy goes to work from high school and wants specialized training, there should be vocational schools available for that training. If someone has attained a college degree and then needs special training for an industry he wishes to enter, there should be, on the graduate-school level, not only training for the professions but training for special industries or for business or for agriculture.
These schools might be set up in connection with the industries or in connection with educational establishments, or the two might join forces.
There is a development here that should be thought about seriously in giving full opportunity to our young people. But to make all education subservient to special training at the college level or even before smacks too much of the Soviet or even the Nazi type of education.
I think our young people who are going to live in a democracy need all-around training beamed at teaching them to think freely for themselves. That is why it is so important to keep our whole academic system free.
All creative people—scientists, artists or educators—do their best work when they can explore all avenues of knowledge without fear. That is why we must be so careful, it seems to me, that our desire to safeguard young people does not lead us to hamstringing free thought and exploration in the intellectual fields.
For that reason I have emphasized the value of teaching a deep understanding of democracy and the principles on which it rests. Only in this way will our young people have something to crusade for and not simply be trained to fear and oppose communism or fascism. If they really understand why they believe in democracy and in freedom they will be less apt to fall a prey to other teachings.