Bel Kaufman

Wednesday, March 23, 1966

This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.

Author of "Up the Down Staircase," Bel begins her talk by mentioning that her first work published was a poem she wrote at age 7. She speaks about how she became a teacher and the hiring process she went through to gain a position in the New York school system. She talks about flunking her teaching license exam and the lengths she went to to pass it.

She discusses characters from her book, and how they relate to her career. She also speaks of the broad variety of schools she taught in, the many types of students she has taught and types of teachers she has worked with. Kaufman also speaks of difficulties of the administration and the complications of a bureaucratic system.

Kaufman mentions the many letters she has received since the publication of her book - both from fellow teachers and students.
She also laments the current state of education, which she sees as a "capsule culture, pre-digested" which lacks free thinking and in which the joy of learning has been forgotten.

No question and answer section follows.

Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection

WNYC archives id: 70710
Municipal archives id: T1975


Bel Kaufman


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About Overseas Press Club

Comprised of both speeches and question-answer sessions, this news program brings together foreign correspondents and public figures from culture and politics.

The Overseas Press Club (1940-1967) contains voices from the past that help us understand their time and place in history. What sets these talks apart from others like them is the presence of a live audience of foreign correspondents — reporters with international perspectives and questions. The resulting sessions have a distinctly different dynamic than would those with an audience of American journalists of the period.

Speakers include the German writer Günter Grass talking about his fascination with American prize fighters; a fiery young LeRoi Jones (later known as Amiri Baraka) telling his audience "where it’s at with Mr. Charlie"; James Farmer on the civil rights movement and where it should be going; David Halberstam on the trials of covering the war in Vietnam; Josephine Baker on the focus of her later years, her adopted children; and Herman Kahn on being pushed to the nuclear edge.  Other notable speakers include the actor Alec Guinness, Richard Nixon, and a gaggle of early female pilots competing in the air race known as the Angel Derby. 

With presentations ranging from rambunctious and spirited to contentious and political, this collection provides invaluable access to the language and nomenclature of America's burgeoning global culture.


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