JUNE 18, 1958
NEW YORK—I spoke at the Housatonic Valley (Conn.) Regional High School last week when the members of the graduating class were presented with certificates in the National Honor Society.
This is an exceptional school and draws its students from a broad area. Some of them travel as much as an hour and a half to reach school, yet it showed what I thought was a high standard of scholarship, as well as of character training, to have so many young people become members of the National Honor Society.
I got back to New York City in time for my annual birthday party that evening for Trude Lash, and afterwards we went to see the Broadway play, "Two for the Seesaw." This is a play that has won great success, and it is beautifully acted by Henry Fonda and Anne Bancroft. But I confess I am still at a loss to understand its extraordinary popularity.
The gentleman is not an appealing character, and when he goes back to his wife, the girl may have improved him. But how much of a fundamental change has come about is questionable. It does prove that associations are important, for he could not "see a bridge" without thinking of how his wife felt about bridges!
Perhaps what we are supposed to learn from this drama is that the important thing in life is to be able to love, and that the Irish girl, with her earthy, uncultured quality but with the ability to love and to give, actually was more of a human being and could accept life as it came better than the man who took so much and gave so little.
In any case, you will find this play provides a pleasant evening.
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It is a curious thing that the New York City Board of Education does not seem able to accept the fact that the atmosphere is changing and that, on the whole, the feeling is more generally accepted that teachers should not be expected to inform on their colleagues.
The board seems still reluctant to accept the decision to reinstate those who refused to turn government witnesses.
It is one thing to demand in wartime, or in another state of emergency where danger faces the country, that anyone having knowledge of possible deviations in teaching activities should report them at once. But in ordinary times the line dividing freedom of thought and of expression demands more careful consideration.
I think informing on one's colleagues should never be exacted, except under exceptional circumstances which do not exist at the present time.