Home Articles Reader Opinion Editorial Book Reviews Discussion Writers Guide About TCRecord
transparent 13
Topics
Discussion
Announcements
 

Nation-Building in Africa: Challenges to Education


by Wilton Dillon - 1960

Out of all the ideological, organizational, and financial issues to be faced in devising education for new nations and regional African coalitions, there are at least two related sets of major problems to which American social research and education may make a contribution. The first deals with the need to clarify the aims of education for Africans in their new technological and political environments. The second is the question of how education, by providing technical skills and incentives, can give new dignity to manual and machine labor and thus contribute to increased industrial and agricultural productivity.

THE CRISIS IN the Congo has dramatized the crushing set of expectations placed by Africans on educators of the world to find ways to "package" and to "deliver" the modern knowledge needed by all age groups in the emerging countries between the Sahara and the Limpopo. Education is no longer thought of as a leisurely process of training the minds of individual truth seekers. It is sought as messianic magic, and demanded with "all deliberate speed" to build new nations. Out of all the ideological, organizational, and financial issues to be faced in devising education for new nations and regional African coalitions, there are at least two related sets of major problems to which American social research and education may make a contribution.


The first deals with the need to clarify the aims of education for Africans in their new technological and political environments. English-speaking Africans and others otherwise may face the boredom of an endless and "dysfunctional" debate about whether American degrees and educational standards compare with the quality they were taught to admire in European institutions and examination systems. The second is the question of how education, by providing technical skills and incentives, can give new dignity to manual and machine labor and thus contribute to increased industrial and agricultural productivity.


Adapted by the author from a report made in June, 1960, to the American Society of African Culture.

EDUCATION AND NATIONHOOD


On July 25, 1960, Tom Mboya, the Kenya nationalist leader, and Patrice Lumumba, then newly-installed Prime Minister of the Congo, were in New York. They talked with each other and later separately with Americans and U. N. officials. They reminded their listeners in different ways that Africans ultimately will be conducting their own affairs, deciding their own educational priorities, and determining how trained talent will be utilized. They said or implied that education is the necessary tool for the development of African nations and, in the long run, a United States of Africa. As men of action, they saw a direct relationship between education and nationhood, and they challenged Americans to help organize educational assistance on a massive scale, preferably through the United Nations.


Before examining two aspects of the problem of "mass" or "massive" education, I invite American educators to consider the personal dimensions in back of the gigantic African quest for education. Joyce Gary, the late novelist who served in the Nigerian Political Service, has a word for all of us in a prefatory note to a recent edition of The African Witch:


The problem of education in Africa, like all the rest, is full of uncertainties and dangers. We must educate the Africans as fast as we can. And the Africans will take education because they eagerly desire it. They want it at any cost, not because it will give them peace and happiness, but for the same reason they desire wealth (if only a reach-me-down suit of cotton and a Manchester cloth for their wives): to satisfy need, to create some glory and dignity for themselves and those they love. (2, p. 3)


Cary thus gives a preliminary answer, to the question raised in the United States in 1948 by Robert S. Lynd (6), who asked, long before the advent of the African boom in America, "Knowledge for What?"1 It is a provocative and troublesome question. As social scientists and educators collaborating in the triple tasks of research, administration, and teaching, we often get so lost in "ideas," "issues," "methods," "systems," and "costs." The passion and desires of individuals, the beginning and the end of education, are too easily forgotten. I am making a plea, therefore, for Americans, faced by the challenge of Africans' quest for education, to ask the question of knowledge for what and to remember that the answer must include knowledge of the ways and means for individual Africans to find money, glory, and dignity in the process of joining the modern world as citizens of some African version of a self-governing nation or association of independent states. Given these gross reasons for Africans' wanting an education, we are in a better position to deal with the techniques, details, and operations necessary to organizing American responses to the African challenge.


Like other African leaders who have made journeys to the United States in the past several years, Lumumba and Mboya prefer to leave to Africans the problems of planning educational policies and teaching the young. Being realists, however, they know that they must move swiftly to enlist outside assistance in order to fill their nation-building needs for administrative and technical skills of almost every kind. Previous ad hoc education supplied by mission schools and colonial governments, to nurture souls and produce clerks, has not been sufficient for running nation-states, even if previous education produced the aspirations for nationhood. They are eager to reduce the chances for instability and failure if only to prevent such uncharitable remarks, on the part of ex-colonials and others, as "I told you so; these people are not ready for self-government." There is no glory and dignity in perpetual dependence. Education, therefore, must bear the unbearable burden of producing independence, dignity, health, and food—in miraculously short order. Dependence on outside educational aid, invited by African regimes, is a concession African political leaders are willing to make.

RECIPROCAL EDUCATION


Why are Americans in a position despite our unsolved problems to offer Africans help in shaping educational policies and practices in areas marked by rapid technological and political change? Because we started as colonies and adapted European educational models to fit some of the needs of an aboriginal, tribal population and of immigrant settlers in making a living and organizing a nation, we have some relevant experience Africans are eager to study. Moreover, in recent years, we have the beginnings of a reciprocal relationship between social scientists and educators in the U. S. This new collaboration, suggested by the presence of social scientists on the faculties of teacher education institutions (e.g., Chicago, Harvard, Columbia Teachers College, Stanford), has the advantage of keeping attention focused on the whole psycho-social process of individuals learning to be adults through both formal and informal education in a variety of cultural settings. Formal education through schools is increasingly being analyzed as but one part of the process by which human children learn how to be men, women, and citizen-workers. For example, it is significant that the first translation of Arnold van Gennep's classic The Rites of Passage (8), was recently initiated and introduced by a social anthropologist at Teachers College, Solon T. Kimball. If a study of "life crisis" situations is pertinent for understanding the direction of education in urban industrial America, how much more appropriate is such an approach in Africa, where formal education has been cut off even more recently from kinship and religion as the primary agents for transmitting a tradition and preparing children for adulthood.


It is at this point, however, that I should address a word of caution to Africans at the moment I am starting to make a case for the use of American-style social research in helping to shape educational policies and practices in Africa: Please do not think American education and social science are endowed with the powers of magic; the fusion of education with science sounds like a powerful brew, even more potent when mixed than as separate properties. We have made an early mistake of considering education as magic2 and realize now that the social sciences may help us to take a more realistic and sober view of what education can and cannot do for the development of individuals and nations. We hope that the social sciences will keep educators alert to what novelists such as E. M. Forster (4) has pointed out as the five main facts of human life: birth, food, sleep, love, and death; they may thereby inspire us to educate ourselves to deal effectively and sensitively with these facts. We also hope that the social sciences, applied to educational policy making, can help to plan for a wise development and use of human resources and talent and to reduce the wastage associated with casual, uncoordinated approaches to education. We want to find out how to guide the direction of our society without losing sight of the individuals in it. But we do not yet have the answers. Africa has knocked at our door "before the data are in." Having been trained by American schools, families, and religious institutions to be hospitable, generous, honest, and responsible, and to exercise enlightened self-interest, we can only open the door on our unfinished experiments, give assurances that we have no magic, and then proceed to offer humble advice and ask reciprocation if other experiments "succeed" ahead of ours.


What is offered here consists of a crude lumping of educational problems about which research in the human sciences might throw some light. I offer no comprehensive plan for research. Nor do I hold any beliefs that policy makers in any country, fully armed with research findings, will ever work in concert, rationally plotting the future, carefully isolating themselves from political passions and acting like philosopher-kings in a windowless, map-lined room. Nevertheless, let us face some of the issues.


Clement Odunukwe, lecturer with the Emergency Training Scheme (Science), Lagos, wrote (1) upon his return to Nigeria from the United States:


American education is different from British education. American education is good for America because it is what the people want and are willing to pay for. It must be presumed that British education is good for Britain. Neither as such is good for Nigeria. Education is a social function which must fit the environment for which it is designed.


While Odunukwe seems to have made up his mind about the task ahead in "Nigerianizing" the curriculum in Nigerian schools, scores of other Africans, Americans, and Europeans are not so sure that "Africanization" can take place without jeopardizing "standards," and they have not reached his conclusion. Uninterested in futile arguments as to whether American education is inferior or superior to British, they are nevertheless concerned with competing "standards" as one of the unresolved issues in African schooling. It is directly related to a failure to take a functional behavioral view of the aims of African education. The issue of competing standards pops up in debates about what should be included in examinations determined either in the United Kingdom or by the West African Examinations Council. It appears again in decisions about where to send Africans overseas for training, and about how to "reward" British or American trained Africans by "good" assignments when they return. One West African government was sufficiently worried about the quality of American degrees that some of its officers pleaded for an official "approved" list of institutions which might measure up to British standards. Finding that this was impossible to obtain through official channels, these officials have been presented with an informal guide, a ranking system devised by an American who must have consulted the various accreditation bodies and made up a list of his own. All this suggests an understandable African quest for certainty, for formulae, for absolute measures with which decision-makers may turn a wheel, so to speak, and pick out the right body for the right job— without the necessity to take risks or to make judgments based on anything except qualifications symbolized by a degree from the "right" institution.

OPPOSING CONCERNS


In the language of the Harvard and Columbia sociologists, we find here two social systems in contact, but which have not yet worked out ways to apply the principle of replaceable parts. There are bound to be parts which do not fit the other system, and Africans, like other people with bureaucracies, may like neatness and order. Above all, the government officials who have to spend dollar credits from a sterling area to pay for a young African's American studies will want "the best." Trained talent is too precious in new countries to squander. If you have a graduate from Oxford or Birmingham or Cambridge or Durham, you have a better idea of what he has been exposed to and where to put him than the returnees from Drexel or Purdue or Michigan or Fisk. And think of the complications when Africans start returning from Moscow, Leningrad, Prague, and Warsaw!


What, then, have the social sciences to contribute to understanding, if not solving, the issue of competing standards of education?


The first and—to me—the most important potential contribution of the social sciences to policy makers wrestling with this problem is the reminder that at the basis of any policy or "standard" is an identifiable human being, an individual with a name and a life history which shows him to be both like and unlike the other people who are members of his society. We need to learn to see the faces in the African crowd. Another reminder is that human beings learn how to be adults in a variety of ways which may have little relationship to what goes on inside a school classroom.


To observe the different kinds of behavior required in certain positions and jobs, and to assign people to work on the basis of what they show they can do, is merely to supplement the present dependency on the slide-rule approach to recognizing and assigning human talent in Africa. Too little attention is being given to understanding the individual products of earlier systems of education through which Africans have passed. Similarly, too little speculation is being done about the kinds of individual behavior we might like to see come out of the educational systems now on the drawing boards. When these two kinds of knowledge are developed through social research, the confusion over competing standards may be partly reduced, and officials will have life histories as well as grades, degrees, and institutions as indicators of what an African may be expected to do in an African environment.3


To suggest the possible utility of understanding individual behavioral products of various educational systems, African, European, and American, and how such individuals are taking their places in the new political scheme of things in West Africa, I wish to introduce three West Africans, A Senegalese Moselm with a "French" education, a Nigerian Christian with a "British" education, and a Sierra Leone woman who received her primary and secondary education in an American mission school.


All three happen to be elites—persons who, in varying degree and in different fields, are promoters of change and preservers of tradition. All have lived under colonialism, and as a result of contact with Western cultures, they speak one of the "universal" languages, French or English, in addition to their native Woloff, Yoruba, or Mende. They all practice a religion of middle-Eastern origins with claims of universal validity. They all are committed, in various ways, to creating a distinct, national tradition in the framework of a larger association of African states and world states.


The functional requirements of leadership include, in Lasswell’s terms, the ability of the political intelligentsia to survey the environment and to relate universal ideas to the particular environment in which they operate. The West African elites mentioned here studied courses in their British, French, and American schools which had not been "Africanized." Somewhere along the line, they had learned to use their basic intellectual training and imitative learning to behave as modern Africans, helping to phrase and give political substance to "the African personality."


The Senegalese served in a cabinet post in Dakar after his completion of law studies in Paris. When I saw him recently in Senegal, he was at work on a new African history for schools, making use of his French training in human geography and the results of American scholarship with which he had become familiar during visits to African studies centers at Boston and Northwestern Universities. His "traditional" African education helped put him in rapport with the "bush" people and Moslem imam, who count significantly in the present political maneuverings behind the troubled efforts to create the Federation of Mali. His knowledge of the Magna Charta and the slogans of the French and American revolutions was being synthesized and tempered by an imaginative response to the demands of the moment. At his luncheon table, I consumed a French soufflé, a Senegalese dish of chicken and rice, and drank a glass of Algerian rosé, while he spoke French to his wife, children, and me, and vernacular to the servant.


The Nigerian Christian was instructed in Anglican mission schools during childhood and later continued his studies of music in England with knowledge of Yoruba culture of his kinsmen. A solid grounding in classical Mediterranean languages and mythology, a specialty of English higher learning, awakened his interests in Yoruba's classical past. The arts of drumming and story telling gave him ideas for compositions; and, now with the benefit of Western musical notation and European recording equipment, he is attempting to create a national musical literature from tribal sources all over Nigeria. It is no surprise that he was called upon to decide among entries for a national Nigerian anthem to celebrate independence in October, 1960. With these public duties out of the way, he wishes to return to his private research on New World music, the jazz and spirituals of the American Negroes, the tribal "liturgies" of the American Indians, and the English ballads of the Tennessee mountaineers. Like many other West African intellectuals, he works for a government, drives his own car, and lives in a flat.


The lady from Sierra Leone is a Paramount Chief who was formed as much by her traditional training for that job as by her formal learning in the mission school across the road from the compound where she grew up as a chiefs daughter. She serves as the only woman member of the legislative body in Freetown. With no formal training in law or economics beyond her preparation as a teacher, she now must exercise judicial judgment in hearing complaints, settling disputes, passing sentences, initiating legislation, negotiating with foreign traders on the price of ginger exports, and mediating between competing political groups. In the United States, she made speeches, talked with diplomats and economists, and danced the cha cha in Puerto Rico. As a mother she is training one of her children to be qualified to succeed her eventually, with the proper campaigning and election to the chieftancy.


Each of these three cases bespeaks the resiliency of the human being, and, for me, the necessity to look at the end products of a variety of educational influences before continuing with what Odunukwe called "the futile arguments" about the superiority of different systems of education. Africans are taking leadership positions, and performing with distinction, both because of and in spite of Euro-American education which was not designed for the African environment. The Senegalese, the Nigerian, and lady from Sierra Leone are meeting the test, no doubt, of the University of Chicago's Dean Alan Simpson, who recently said, "I am not a professional educator, but I do know an educated man when I see one."

NEW ROLES FOR ADULTS


These three examples suggest what Africans can do as adults after exposure to systems with differing "standards." Systematic research is needed to find out how other adults learn their new roles in societies where they are suddenly thrust into new responsibilities. Similarly, starting at an earlier point in the life cycle, research is needed on child development. Sutton (10) recommends that:


At least two sorts of fundamental knowledge ought to be available to guide . . .educational planning: one is knowledge about the African children the educational system must serve; the other has to do with the likely effects of education in preparing men and women for needed occupational roles in developing societies.


To the child development studies now started, with Ford Foundation help, at the Institutes of Education in Ghana and Nigeria, I should like to see initiated some research about adult "development," i.e., the quick "crash program" type of learning to which a young nationalist must subject himself when, hardly months away from his European, American, or African degrees, he has to "play like" a cabinet minister, an ambassador, or a head of a political party. What are the models for his behavior? Do the intensity and pace of "learning by doing" here compare with his earlier childhood learning? How does Freudian theory about the primacy of childhood experience bear up under the observed phenomenon of African nationalists compressing a number of years of experience into a few months as adults?


Whatever the immediate practical educational applications may be for such research, the results are bound to be intrinsically interesting to Africans and others alike who, for a variety of political, religious, or scientific motives, like to find new evidence of man's ability to adapt quickly and responsibly to the complex demands of human life.


Having suggested that looking at the behavior of the "whole person" may help to clarify educational goals and answer the question of knowledge for what, I wish now to turn to the second set of problems related to discovering, developing, and assigning talent and skills in Africa: how to improve the prestige of jobs that are not now associated with what is proper for the educated man.


Despite the recent recognition which European metropolitan powers have given to African needs for vocational, agricultural, and technical training, there remains a decidedly white collar orientation among Africans who have had European education either in Europe or in Africa. Intellectual and administrative elites formed through European education may have a Marxist sympathy for "the working class" and possess romantic views of toilers and tillers. Their education as "gentlemen and scholars," however, make them unconvincing models for younger Africans who listen to them extol the virtues of manual labor but notice that they often do not stir far from their desks in Accra, Lagos, Addis Ababa, Ougadougou, or other capitals.


On April 23, 1959, Daniel A. Chapman, former Ghana ambassador to the United Nations, now principal of Achimoto School in Ghana, told a Committee on Information from Non-Self-Governing Territories,


Difficulties continue to be experienced in many territories in persuading the youth on leaving school to enter occupations involving manual work. This is a problem which faces many colonial and former colonial countries and may stem from the type of basic education which has developed in these territories with the emphasis on "white collar occupations." To restore the balance somewhat, a little more emphasis will have to be placed on vocational training and the rewards its gets; and new attitudes toward manual work will have to be inculcated in the youth of the territories.


A similar plea was heard at Jos, Nigeria, not long afterwards. The Exploratory Commission on Educational Policy for Africa, a new agency of the World Confederation of the Organizations of the Teaching Procession (WCOTP), pondered a whole range of policy questions, and asked about the ways a new nation might estimate "emerging social needs" and plan rationally an educational system to meet such estimates, making sure that there are proper proportions of persons entering professional, technical, and agricultural pursuits.4


African ministers of agriculture and education with whom I have talked are also beginning to ask for help in solving a problem which has beset other nations where secondary and higher education have produced "rising levels of expectation" to the extent that blue collar and manual work are considered degrading, unfit for "freedom fighters." Even with the most grandiose promises of automation and atomic energy, it is not likely that African politicians or civil servants will rid themselves soon of the question of "how do we keep the young on the farm after they have seen the lights of the town." There seems to be no prospect of dispensing with human intelligence coupled with muscle power, either in the field or in the factory.


The National Science Academy mission, dispatched to Africa by the International Cooperation Administration to advise U. S. foreign aid officials on approaches to developing African scientific and technical manpower, also has recommended greater vocational training for Africans. The mission, headed by Dr. John Harrar, a Rockefeller Foundation scientist, referred to the scarcity of skilled labor and the dismal prospects for economic development if there are not sufficient numbers of Africans trained as plumbers, masons, mechanics, electricians, machinists, etc. The AFL-CIO International staff in Washington, D. G, is studying ways that American labor unions can make an educational contribution to Africans.


How, therefore, can manual labor and the trades be made more attractive, indeed, something of a patriotic duty? The way to initiate such schemes and the kinds of appeals nationalist leaders might make (incentive payments, public recognition) would be a fertile field for social research. Educators, economists, and researchers would have to learn how to work together—itself a problem in management development—if they were to devise policies based on realistic predictions of psychological and social responses of given human groups.


Social research would not solve the problem. However, various types of studies might help administrators plan more persuasive appeals or to predict whether it is even realistic to try to devise incentive schemes which could combat (a) the lure of the city, with its higher wages, neon lights, and moving escalators, and (b) the inescapable fact that European and African societies attach greater status to people who push paper rather than the plough or lathe or bag of wheat. Half seriously, I could suggest that Vance Packard and such serious sociologists as Seymour M. Lipset might produce a study, "Status-Seeking in Modern Africa."


In Northern Ghana, I saw a recent graduate of University College, a newly-appointed civil servant, awkwardly trying to supervise workmen in the hoisting of sacks of American wheat flour being distributed in a food shortage area. If he had ever lived in a village where African kinsmen strained under headloads, he showed no aptitude for such work, and, indeed, some distaste at having to be so far away from Accra. He appeared amazed when an American soil chemist picked up one of the bags to show me its contents. Even more amazing to Ghanaians, no doubt, was the sight of Prime Minister Ben Gurion cutting wheat in a field when he received a delegation of Ghana visitors to Israel.


Social research on occupational and social mobility, imitative learning, and the kinds of popular heroes young Americans try to emulate, may throw some valuable light on the formal and informal kinds of education needed to restore real dignity to manual labor in the new African nations.

CONCLUSION


Seen against a backdrop of the world scene, African educational issues are but small instances of a larger set of problems facing human societies with the advent of possible nuclear warfare and the US-USSR struggle to control outer space. These facts, however, have a direct bearing on how young Africans learn to live in the modern world of science, technology, and new political associations. They give rise to the cliche that man's knowledge of machines has outstripped his knowledge of himself and produce such a rationale for the social sciences as found in the following passage from the preface to a 1955 UNESCO booklet, The Social Sciences:


The evolution of political and social structures, under the impulse of tremendous technical development, of economic upheavals and of world conflagrations, has created an urgent duty for our time. Humanity cannot rest content with trying to understand and explain the processes and machinery by which the modern world is being transformed. Swept along at a dizzy speed, it must, if it wishes to survive, guide and control the phenomena that are the source of the disturbances in national and international life . . . During the past 50 years and especially since the end of World War II, a new interest in the social sciences is everywhere observable ... the role, potentialities, and methods of these sciences, far from remaining the preserve of small coteries of specialists, have attracted the attention of the public as well as the nation's leaders.


America generally and America's educators in particular have an opportunity to make a contribution of considerable importance in Africa to the necessary cause of mutual development. Much of their effectiveness in capitalizing on this opportunity depends upon the extent to which they can collaborate productively with research workers in the behavioral sciences and use the findings of social science with a humane understanding of the degree to which new developments in Africa reflect aspirations and longings that are thoroughly familiar to our own minds and hearts, regardless of the differences in national setting.

REFERENCES


1. Bunting, J. R. Certificates and education. West African J. Educ., 1958, 2, 100-104.


2. Gary, J. The African witch. London: Michael Joseph, 1959.


3. Chapple, E. The interaction chronograph: Its evolution and present application. Personnel, 1949, 25, 295-307.


4. Forster, E. M. Aspects of the novel New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1927.


5. French, W. Behavioral goals of general education in high schools. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 1957.


6. Lynd, R. S. Knowledge for what? Princeton: Princeton Univer. Press, 1948.


7. Odunukwe, C. Education in a dynamic society. West African J. Educ., 1958, 2, 88-97.


8. Van Gennep, A. The rites of passage. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1960.


9. Spindler, G. D. (Ed.) Education and anthropology: Stanford, Calif.: Stanford Univer. Press, 1954.


10. Sutton, F. X. Research and development in Africa south of the Sahara. Pub. Opin. Quart., 1959, 23, 262-272.


ISSUES & ITEMS


School and Community. Asked for recommendations about the location of new commercial laboratories, the Armour Research Foundation recently interviewed the executive and scientific officials of over 50 major firms. Their conclusion: Good schools are the most important single factor in determining the willingness of engineers and research scientists to move. A first-rate university near at hand also helps. All other considerations—geographical region, climate, availability of friends, etc.—while by no means negligible, are clearly subsidiary to this dominant requirement of adequate schools for the children of professional people.


In a mobile population like our own, this confirmation of a long-suspected notion that good schools help considerably to make good communities is particularly important. Municipalities and neighborhoods concerned with the dynamics of urban deterioration and the process of "city planning" might well take note—especially in their budgets!


* * *


Dignity and the Hand. Elsewhere in this issue, Wilton Dillon points out that a major problem in the new African nations is that of restoring dignity to manual labor. With the advent of industrialization and the Age of the Technician, there is a decline in the number of people who take pride in clever but humble craftsmanship, in the status of the artisan. As a result, a good deal of basic work in factories, on the docks, in garages, and in homes is done without competence and under an often troubled and resentful sense of inferiority.


Obviously, this problem is not restricted to Africa. Any home owner in the United States has been at least inconvenienced by delays in getting television sets or major appliances repaired, and there are few who have escaped an occasional bad experience with shoddy work by an electrician, carpenter, or mechanic. At a recent conference of public utilities executives, the problem that seemed most widely shared was that of finding capable men for the servicing and maintenance of machinery. Not long ago, the press carried stories that America's missile failures occurred not because of faulty design or engineering but because of careless or inept construction or assembly. Insecure bolts, poor insulating jobs, and similar trivia accounted, so it seems, for a fair proportion of costly and embarrassing incidents.


Here we have one of the ominous peculiarities of contemporary culture. The gadgets spawned by science and technology for our comfort or protection become increasingly complex. The talent demanded to keep this technological spiral curving steadily upward strains the ability of a nation to produce it, but the value placed on the craftsman and artisan becomes progressively less as our accolades go to the more highly developed scientists, inventors, and engineers. In pessimistic moments, one can easily become haunted by the vision of our most remarkable machines growing rusty and decrepit through the lack of capable mechanics and electricians to maintain them while we, like Dorian Gray, mysteriously sicken and die in their reflected anguish.


If the fantasy is farfetched, the problem is not. In our concern for standards of excellence, it would be well if we paid proper heed to the excellence of the craftsman. If he is not accorded a degree of dignity and the social appreciation to which he is entitled, he will disappear, and all of us will be the poorer. Is not this problem one for thoughful consideration in our schools, especially by our guidance personnel and the architects of our curricula?


* * *


International Fellowship. Kappa Delta Pi, a national honorary society in education, has announced a $5,000.00 award for foreign study and travel in 1961-1962. Established on a competitive basis, the Fellowship is open to competent professionals in education and related fields who are ready to undertake a significant investigation of educational problems outside the United States and who are prepared to spend nine months or more abroad, working on their study. Applicants must be American citizens with some knowledge of the country of their interest and its language, and they must hold a doctorate or its equivalent.


The final application date is 1 February, 1961. Additional information and application forms may be obtained from Dr. Florence Stratemeyer, Chairman, Committee on Fellowship in International Education, Box 523, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York City 27.


* * *


The Wheeled Menace. You are dared to read this paragraph through! In 1959, death found 37,600 people on America's highways, an increase of 900 over 1958’s fatalities. In addition 2,870,000 were injured, an increment of 45,000 over the previous year. In short, we kill or injure nearly three million people per year with our favorite weapon, the automobile.


These data and many more are available in "The Dishonor Roll," distributed without cost by The Travelers Insurance Company of Hartford, Connecticut. Most of us won't want to look at it in spite of our growing concern with safety education. Perhaps the reasons for our avoidance reactions are touched upon by Professor Carl Hovland and his Yale associates in their studies of communication and persuasion. If a communication arouses anxiety, they say, the response most likely to be evoked is one that reduces the anxiety. Such a reaction may or may not be an adequate way of dealing with the content of the communication. Denial, a well known psychological mechanism, is a good example. If the facts about our highway carnage arouse strong anxiety, we can control this unpleasant affect by simply not attending to the facts or by depersonalizing them through the assumption of an it-can't-happen-to-me attitude. It has been known for some time that ostriches don't really bury their heads in sand. It would be a sad thing if this unadaptive habit were reserved for people!


* * *


Illegal Sabbaticals? In Louisville, Kentucky, the city school board has granted sabbatical leaves to public school teachers "for study, travel, rest, or any combination of the three," paying the teachers on leave the difference between their regular salary and the cost of their replacements. Recently, the state attorney general's office advised that unless they are specifically authorized to do so by Kentucky's General Assembly, local boards are "without authority to grant sabbatical leaves to public school teachers." A contemplated test case is likely to set a vital precedent, closely tied to the issue of whether teachers are members of a genuine profession. A look at the laws in other states seems in order.



1 By calling for people in America to use their best intelligence and talent for planning to "coordinate the institutionalized ways of doing things which are important to us as persons" (p. 209), Lynd's book (6) bears rereading in the light of contemporary African problems. He does not like for anybody "to be planned into the routine status of a robot," but thinks the social sciences might help to determine "which is the baby and which is bath, and not to allow both to be thrown away in the frothy suds of indiscriminate 'freedom.'" (p. 209). His views are echoed by Francis X. Sutton, (10), a Ford Foundation sociologist: "The role of social and economic research in the strategy and development of Africa is a subject that merits all the attention it is now getting and more .... If the underdeveloped areas are to make progress at rates at all in keeping with their impatient aspirations, they must avoid wasteful error by basing their efforts on careful planning, and this requires more extensive research. ... It remains to be seen how the forces of research can be effectively marshalled and applied in areas where trained talent is scarce and social change is swift and turbulent."

2 I owe this phrase, "education as magic," to Professor Karl Bigelow of Teachers College, who, in mentioning it during our travels together in Africa, promised to use it as the tide of a book that I hope he will write someday soon.

3 There are several examples of types of American research with possible applicability to the African scene. One is the work on interaction theory (5) and predictions of executive performance on the basis of life history interviews and observed behavior in a variety of stress situations. Another is exemplified in the reports on organizational behavior by Leonard Sayles of the Graduate School of Business at Columbia University and by Conrad Arensberg of Columbia's Department of Anthropology. A third comprises the studies by French (5) and the whole corpus of "personality and culture" investigations. Finally, there is the empirical work and the ideas presented by Spindler (9).

A notable attempt to bring the life history approach to bear on Nigerian educational standards is described by Bunting (1), Deputy Chief Federal Adviser on Education. He recommends the Nigerian use of an adapted version of the confidential personality record devised by the National Education Association as a way of informing African institutions of higher education and employers about the students' "qualities and development as human beings and citizens" as well as their academic achievement.

4 Copies of the report of the first meeting of the Exploratory Commission on Education Policy for Africa, help in Nigeria in 1959, are available from the headquarters of the World Confederation of Organizations of the Teaching Profession, 1227 Sixteenth Street, N.W., Washington 6, D. C.



Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 62 Number 2, 1960, p. 152-152
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 3169, Date Accessed: 10/21/2021 4:52:05 AM

Purchase Reprint Rights for this article or review
 
 
Member Center
In Print
This Month's Issue

Submit
EMAIL

Twitter

RSS