Cedar Rapids Gazette (Newspaper) - February 24, 1974, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Youth habits extendable
Leisure comes of age: Prepare
By Norman Cousins
HP HANKS in part to the energy crisis, A the five-day work week in (ireal Britain is practically dead. Americans will probably in* on a four-day work week before I he end of the decade
The main problem posed by this development will not be the maintenance of high production — automation will more than make up the difference — but the inability of many people* to make use of their free time.
What will make this problem all the more acute is the increase of life expectancy and the lowering of retirement age. Within a decade, it is likely that the average person can expect to live well into his 70s. Since retirement age will drop from 65 to about 55, this means that millions of people will have about 20 years of a work-free existence long before they experience old age.
The practical effect could be the greatest boon or the greatest disaster in the history of the nation. By and large, Americans have never been educated to cope with increased leisure time.
Absence of work has generally produced idleness and waste rather than a fuller and richer life. People with a great deal of time on their hands tend to go to pieces instead of being able to develop and enlarge their creative capacities or become involved in all sorts of socially useful activities.
Medical researchers have collected
enough evidence to convince them that the lady's endocrine system tends to dry up when the mind has little to anticipate in the way of challenge. Dr. Anna Aslan, the well-known Romanian expert on aging, believes there is a direct connection between a person’s health and the level of his creative interests. Once the will to live is dimmed, the body’s entire mechanism begins to run down.
Similarly, family counselors and psychiatrists know that divorces and broken homes can be produced by supposedly “ideal” situations in which the man of the house is able to stay home most of the time What actually happens is that once the pattern of relationships is changed, people tend to get in each other’s way.
This, then, is the great failure of our institutions, particularly education. We don’t train people to make the most of increased freedom. We don’t prepare them for creative involvement in the affairs of the community.
The place to begin is very early in schooling. Conventional homework is an extension of the classroom and therefore fails to provide balanced and varied stimulation for the growing mind.
The development of good taste is as vital as any other single aspect of education. I see no reason why children
To discipline is not to punish
By Jenkin Lloyd Jones
I HAVE BEEN reading a peculiar and heartwarming document — an annual report of a shrunken, once-pres-tigious boys’ military school in a northern state.
It does not follow the pattern of most such reports, booming with optimism, rowdedow and puffery. It is a thoughtful and restrained account of a struggle, an issue still in doubt. The writer, who is the headmaster, is a West Pointer who was brought into a decaying situation four years ago.
As America moves into the last quarter of the Twentieth century, all prep-school military academies are in trouble. “Militarism” is a 10-letter dirty word.
Parents generally permit kids to pick their schools, and not many kids go for spit, polish and reveille. Even the nonmilitary preps are having trouble enough competing with the easy standards of most high schools and the free life around the drive-ins,
When our hero arrived at the old campus he found that the discipline was both overly severe and overly lax. Theoretically, the increasingly turbulent cadet corps was bell*; handed more demerits than it could possibly walk off around the guard path. Practically, there was little punishment for misbehavior. Drugs were becoming a problem.
Academically, the once-proud standards had softened. Students were allowed to go down a cafeteria line of courses and they selected the easiest. Many, having belly-flopped through youth before the TV set, could hardly read at all.
The new headmaster had several options. He could deemphasize the bothersome military training and produce
something that could parade a little for the parents Saturday morning. He could make his institution coed and thus supply in a measure the social amenities of high school. He could further water down the academic standards and operate a holding pen for the lazy and directionless.
lie chose none of these. The coddling teachers were fired. Fifteen major demerits got you thrown out—period. A tough remedial reading program was set up. Stiff courses were included in the requirements for graduation.
Old students who had grown sloppy under a system that had turned plebes into their servants bent once more to make their beds and polish shoes. The right of older boys to haze—the old comeback come-on—was knocked off.
The result was awful. At the beginning of the school year of 1970 the enrollment was 343. In 1971 it was 270. In 1972 it was
220. The school sold off unneeded real estate. It pledged other assests for a $900,000 line of bank credit. The enrollment report for last fall was awaited with apprehension
But the decline had stopped There was a net gain—of exactly five. More cheerfully, alumni and parents were beginning to show some interest in what the headmaster was trying to do. Inquiries have been increasing. Tougher admission standards naturally haven’t helped the new enrollment figures, but they’ve halved the dropout rate. The “head” views the future with cautious optimism.
Way with words
Damned elusive, this old quote
By Theodor? M. Bernstein
HOW LANGUAGE changes. This started out to be a simple item demonstrating how the word damned changed from an impolite word to a don’t give-it a second-thought word. But the item has grown somewhat complicated
It all began with the publication of a letter to the editor of the New York Times pointing out “once again’’ the bowdlerized version of Charles Cotes-worth I’lnckney’s immortal refusal as Minister to Paris iii 1797 lo pay money to France. That well-known version is “Millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute ”
The letter to the editor said that this was a cleaned up version made fit to Im* inscribed on Pinckney’s tomb iii St Michael’s church, Charleston, S C. What Pinckney actually said. according to the
letter, was, “Millions for defense, but not one damned penny for tribute." A check with Bartlett’s “Familiar Quotations” substantiates this with the slight exception that it gives “not a (instead of one) damned penny for tribute." So far pretty good
But then a decision to make a second check brought trouble The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations has the quotation all right, but it never heard of Pinckney. It attributes the sentence (with the wording “not a cent for tribute") to Robert Good I oe Harper, saying he included it in a toast at a dinner given by congress at Philadelphia in 179K
Obviously further cheeking was advisable, and that was done in the En cyclopedia Britannica. The entry under Pinckney states that he was “said to have made the famous reply," but adds that another version is simply, “No, not a sixpence " The Columbia Encyclopedia
agrees with this “sixpence” version and indicates skepticism about whether the “millions for defense” statement was made at all Would you Iwdievc that this started out to be a simple item about the word damnedf
Word oddities. The word tribute Is related etymologically to tribe. The Romans were originally divided into three tribes (the word tribe, incidentally, contains the base tri, Hires*) and tribute liad the sense of allotting or granting or dividing among the tribes
Then the word came lo mean a tax and it still retains some of that meaning. In addition it has the sense of a gift or testimonial as evidence n! respect, gratitude or honor. And that kind of tribute is worth more than one damned penny.
N*w Yolk 11 mn Syndical*
The Cedar Rapids Gazette: San., I eh 2C 1174 »A
shouldn’t Im* assigned to read good books and magazines, or to watch quality television programs, or to listen to good music or to see reasonably decent movies instead of doing tile usual homework.
There is no point in complaining about miserable television programming if we don’t create an audience that is trained lo appreciate quality programs and that, indeed, will demand such programs if it doesn't get them.
The habits of good citizenship have lo fie cultivated and worked on. The teaching of public affairs can be enhanced by creating public forums in which students and members of the community can engage in structured debates on the outstanding issues of the day.
Without denigrating the importance of formal studies, I believe the total education of a youngster would be better served by having him practice a musical instrument, or giving him an opportunity to paint or take pictures in his spare time rather than (kung homework.
It may be said that the enjoyment of living comes naturally. This is true only up to a point. There are different kinds of enjoyment. Life at its fullest calls for the development of sensitivities and skills not always within the ready reach of youngsters.
Education should be as much concerned with these sensitivities arid skills as it is with the teaching of history or languages or sciences or vocational training.
The kind of life we live, and the satisfactions we get out of it, not only require but demand far more intensive and consistent preparation than is now generally available.
I believe educators would welcome such changes if they felt they had the support of the public.
Lo* Angel** Tim** Syndlcote
Maybe he’s right. Maybe not. It is not really terribly important whether the little school survives, for redistributing 225 boys is no big thing in this huge land. But he wrote something in his report that struck me, and here it is:
“America is faced with increased international competition from without and deterioration of its educational systems from within. To maintain such a collision course would be disastrous, but to deviate from such a course requires discipline.
“It is time the ‘do your own thing’ attitude be overcome. It is time for educators to take their work seriously and do away with ‘open campuses,’ a cop-out. It is time that judges supported school administrators who seek to maintain order in our schools, that ‘discipline’ and ‘punishment’ cease being synonymous in our society.
“We must benefit from history and have impressed upon us the repeated cycle of nations—hard work and discipline mean success; success means affluence and leisure time; affluence and leisure mean lack of discipline, and lack of discipline means failure.”
The ancient Greeks, who liked fancy words, spoke of the “macrocosm,” meaning the big world, and the “microcosm,” meaning the little world — or man himself. Out of the macrocosm man is shaped, and as he changes so does the world in which he lives change. He succeeds and his world smiles. He rots and his world becomes a terrible place.
In the outcome of the struggle of the little military school to keep afloat in a cockleshell of standards on a vast sea of permissiveness, one might be able to make some guesses about the future of America.
G*a*rol FeoHtr#* Corporotton
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