DECEMBER 8, 1959
NEW YORK—More and more in these days it is pressed upon me that the most important thing for our future is education.
I attended a meeting one night last week at which a young representative from the State of Israel was talking about the need for a cultural bringing together of the people who live around the Mediterranean in order to help bring about better understanding and better cooperation in solving their mutual problems.
This, of course, includes the countries of the Arab world and the State of Israel. And when I inquired if it were possible to have them sit down together I was told there would be no difficulty whatsoever because they were intellectuals. They understood the need for cooperation, this gentleman said, and were able to transcend temporary difficulties among their countries because they could see the larger picture of the good of all the people.
I hope this is true. If it is, then the problems of the future will be easier, and as we gain in leisure time for our working people more people will be able to cooperate together and, through understanding, to help each other to live without force in a peaceful world that has learned the uses of reason.
Here, at home, education that is known as adult education is, of course, most important. It is needed by such people who are going to be leaders in every community. We constantly hear people talk about the need for leadership training. And this is nothing more than adult education.
We become leaders because, as we have grown older, we have learned how to accept responsibility and to learn new things, to analyze new problems and find answers to new situations.
Adult education is the only answer to the problems, for instance, of automation. We in the United States are facing the fact that those who work with their hands are going to work fewer hours at the jobs at which they now earn a livelihood. Some of them, who need a better livelihood, will probably use this extra time to work at other jobs.
Others will have extra time on their hands, and how will they use it? Watching television, perhaps? Now, television may fill leisure time, but to increase the time spent watching TV is not going to give us more productive and creative citizens.
The answer lies in education.
We must increase the avenues of enjoyment. People who have never had time to look at a painting or go to a concert and who perhaps had never wanted to because they knew nothing of the arts must learn appreciation. Suppose a man is going to become, in his leisure time, a craftsman. He must learn something about what craftsmanship means, about the history of the guilds, about good taste and bad taste and what makes it, about line and color. All these things enter into the development of a good craftsman.
All these things can be developed only through adult education.
Here in New York City you can watch this kind of education going on in a number of private and public schools, and as we watch the fact is impressed on us more and more that solving the future's problems must lie in the hands of a better educated people.