JULY 28, 1959
HYDE PARK—Out at Bayberry, Long Island, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 3, of New York, is conducting a school where journeymen, foremen and superintendents attend a full week of classes designed "to make you think."
I was driven to the school, which is called Bayberryland, by Edward Sullivan, Local 3's educational director, from my New York apartment last week.
One group of Local 3 members was studying logic, history and the use of words. There they learn, too, the relationship between many subjects—for instance, between words and psychology. Words may be used carelessly without attention to the tone of voice in which they are uttered, which has an adverse effect upon listeners.
Instructor at the school is Donn Coffee of Columbia University, and follow-up courses have been offered at New York City's Cooper Union by Dr. Edwin Burdell, its president, with the opportunity for the students to continue study along lines they choose.
A week could not be spent in more pleasant surroundings. The estate, which the union local purchased from Mrs. Dwight Davis in 1950, looks out on to the water, and there is a beach for swimming. The house is charming and comfortable, and if the food is as good every day as it was on my visit, I don't wonder the men gain weight. One man said he had gained eight pounds—and he did not seem entirely pleased about it!
There is an atmosphere of wanting to learn, but it is one of relaxation, too. The library is well stocked with books to suit different tastes, and classes are sometimes held there or in the big, comfortable living room at the end of the house.
Classes are conducted at different periods throughout the year, and it was particularly lovely there during my visit. The flowers were in bloom and the trees and shrubs were fresh and green after a rain.
As I walked through the house, I noticed that there was not a single room without a fireplace, so I could not help think that even in winter the place would have a warm and welcoming atmosphere, with men gathered around the hearth in the evening to discuss what their guest speakers had said during the day.
Guest speakers talk for only 20 minutes; then the questions begin. I found these questions interesting and stimulating, even though I had been a little worried that I might be asked questions that I would be unable to answer.
On the way home I was given several copies of the Electrical Union World, a publication of Local 3 of the IBEW, and there I saw photographs of some of the special lecturers—Anna Rosenberg, David Dubinsky, Jacob Potofsky, Mark Starr and Mayor Robert F. Wagner of New York—whose names I recognized.
I was attracted to an editorial on education in one issue which said:
"Nobody questions the right of any boy or girl to a high school education, but that is a victory a century old and the time has come for the trade union movement to move into the field of higher education with the same determination as organizing the unorganized.... Higher education, public school education are all of one piece."
It is interesting to note a trade union group thinking along these lines. This is true because some of us, in watching recent developments in education in the Soviet Union, have come to think that we cannot afford to waste human material like we have been by making financial ability the criterion as to whether a child receives a college education or not.