This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.
Irita Van Doren welcomes the audience and introduces some members present for the luncheon. There is a give away of autographed books.
Maurice Dolbier, acts as emcee. A portion of his opening remarks were not recorded.
John Gardner, president of the Carnegie Corporation and author of "Excellence: Can We Be Equal and Excellent Too?" He discusses the book and the society of the day. He discusses his interest in individual achievement and self-fulfillment.
Next, Cedric Hardwicke speaks of his career as an actor. He is the author of "A Victorian in Orbit."
Finally, Barbara Ward speaks. She discusses her book "India and the West." She discusses the great technological changes, the developing nations.
Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection
WNYC archives id: 71193
Municipal archives id: LT9252
This is a machine-generated transcript. Text is unformatted and may contain errors.
If you are comfortable and face the day if you want to. Progress. And should like to introduce to you friends on the dance you are going to be speaking to. If we start for instance that extreme the gentleman who should be sitting that is now standing is Mr Charles Anderson manager I'm distance bookshop in Larchmont I'm chairman of the board of directors of the American Booksellers Association. On his right is John Fisher editor of Harper's Magazine. And Vice President and Secretary of harp and brothers Mr Fisher. And then comes the president of the. Company George Brockway. If you will pass over to the side of the day just my right I'd like to introduce to you the chairman of the board of the. Company. And then the executive vice president of hop on brothers Evan Thomas. On his right is every day company. Extreme end of the table as usual our friend Joe Duffy the executive director of the American Booksellers Association. Now this time I'm going to ask Mr Anderson which explains why he was standing here so conveniently. To make the drawing of the car of the autograph books because. I will remind you that Mr Anderson is chairman of the board of directors of the American Booksellers Association so I think you can count on his being completely in this business Mr Manders. Well you may have to help me read this Mr Anderson Oh this is a good clear one Mrs William Rast Stein is the first lucky person. Grows John God knows the book excellent. You will notice that these are being announced. So they can be no contention among. The next when he went in very deep. But the next one is Mrs Henry Hewitt and this is. With this book. Incidentally he has a little inscription in his autograph book it says. I'm too busy now wait a minute I'm. Very nice inscription and very plain but I didn't read it properly into this book. Good luck to see. The third lucky person is Miss Frederick. This is by Nikka. In the West this is. After the lunch is over you may call for your books here at the speaker's table and there will be some one to get. Now. I want to introduce to you the master of ceremonies today my colleague Maoris Darby out conducts the book in the author's column in The Sunday Herald Tribune and twice a week does the daily book column three times a week now I get this wrong almost every time. Now I. Think I'm going to start writing one of those comments on. My coincidence the speakers will be in alphabetical order to. This had happened in nine hundred forty six at meetings of the United Nations Atomic Energy Commission and Frederick Osborne deputy American delegate decided to try what science could do he sought the services of someone to advise him on the psychology of Russians His choice was John W. of God. Who had been born in Los Angeles attended Stanford taught psychology at Mount Holyoke worked in the Federal Communication Commission is Latin American section served for the O. S. S. in the European theater of operations and in nineteen forty six had become an executive associate of the kind of good cooperation of which Mr Osborne was a trustee Mr Garner attended commission meetings for a month but understanding the Russians is a project that calls for the services of more than one man and one science and the effective result of Mr aspens decision by Mr God in this response was the launching by the comic operation of the Russian Research Center at Harvard for a long range scientific study of all faces of Russian life is important as it is to understand the Russian We are under the great Of necessity of understanding ourselves of recognizing and increasing the strengths of recognising and repairing the weaknesses in our own society. This is one of Mr all the godless goals as the ninth president of the conic operation and as president of the Carnegie Endowment for the advancement of teaching he was the major office of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund report on the pursuit of excellence one of the three members of the Governor Walker's Committee on higher education and he contributed the working paper on education in the panel report of President Eisenhower's commission on national goals the theme of his book just that we must all seek excellence in our work and it off family lives in. Our public behaviors and in the secret places of our heart the effect of his book In the words of Clifton fadam maybe and a rousing of what may be half asleep in us but is nonetheless there that national passion for excellence without which we cannot survive as a civilized man Mr John God. I. Thank you. Airman ladies and gentleman after I sit down you're going to hear to magnificent speeches I reflected on that fact during lunch it didn't help my that Justin and then I hit on what seemed to me a very generous thought it a curse and speeches might be on the sensible thing for me to do would be to limit myself to some relatively brief remarks which I shall do. I should like to. Thank the chairman for his kind remarks about the book I've been very pleasantly surprised by the generous reception it has received across the country matter of fact a good many things which have occurred since publication have been a source of some surprise to me I recall entering one of our leading bookstores on the day of publication. I just happened to be passing by on the fan and before I went in and I. Stood in front of the window the star window for some little time hoping to discover my book among the Egyptian calf's and the Babylonian jewelry. And some of you know the story. And I didn't find it I don't want to leave the impression that there were no books and that there was one as a matter of fact it was made out of some kind of ceramic material. Inside the star I asked myself what for they would shelf a book entitled excellence I looked in the among the educational box it wasn't there I look among the Public Affairs Books there either I tried philosophy sociology I even glanced for other African children's books. But I found it among the health and self-improvement books. Specifically it was shout but tween arthritis and common sense on the one side and modern sex techniques on the other. I started out to write a book on education I ended up writing a book on the kind of society we live in and how the book is in some respects very critical of certain aspects of our society today but this is hardly unique social criticism has become quite fashionable today everyone it can spell the word conformity is writing a book attacking it this is the latest way to conform and social critics attack T.V. and Madison Avenue much as athletes do push ups and the bans not with any profound purpose but just to get the blood circulating. A good man a good deal of the criticism seems to me to be lacking in a certain time perspective I was amused the other day for example to be told that the last several decades have seen a decline and moral fiber I I'm too old to quite believe that I can't see any light in this room who is old enough to remember the flapper era but I do remember it and it was not morally fibrous but in the book I'm not concerned to see how black a picture I can paint of our society although I am quite critical I'm interested in where we go from here very much interested as you know the focus of my own interest is the field of education I'm interested in individual fulfillment I'm interested to see that each individual achieve the best that's. Not only so that he may live a more satisfying life but so that he may contribute more effectively to the shared purposes of his society I want a society and a world in which that in which such fulfillment it's possible it's a very large order and it brings us directly back to questions concerning the adequacy of education. Well your child and mine discover within themselves. The capacities the talents which are there waiting to be discovered and I don't mean just your child and mine obviously they are unusual children. I mean all children bright and all including that youngster down the street who is always getting into trouble will each youngsters be useful citizens while a big good company for themselves when they develop the self-awareness rationality and understanding of themselves and the world around them which we like to think of as characteristic of man it is best well a defect to meet the challenge of a dangerous and rapidly changing world House to some degree the answers to these questions depend upon the adequacy of our educational system but everyone knows that the schools do not function in a vacuum whether or not we achieve our goals in education depends to a considerable degree upon factors outside the educational system and ultimately it depends on what we believe in what we care about what we think important and that's what concerns me in the book I'm concerned about our attitudes toward standards of performance in this society I'm concerned about how we think about talent in this society I'm concerned with what kinds of talent we think are worth developing and rewarding and concerned with the prep pressures toward mediocrity in this society what do we mean by quality we mean more than a foggy of opportunity but how much more what do we mean when we say let the best man win. Can you look at our society today and say that we live by that and what kind of society would we have if we really did live by it and would we like that kind of society don't answer to quick who should go to college do we want an aristocracy of talent that's another one not to answer too quickly just society reward every kind of talent should it don't be too sure I'd love to answer all of these questions for you here and now but I don't want to spoil a plot of the book for you there's just one question I'd like to deal with very briefly before I sit down and that is perhaps the main question why are we worrying so much about excellence anyway what's the point why bother how some people argue that the main reason for improving our educational system is to compete with the Russians others say hotplate that the Russians have nothing to do with the case well they do and they don't if one asks whether our system our whole way of life is in a competitive situation the answer is unequivocal yes there are plenty of people in the world today who believe that the whole concept the whole idea of a free society is unworkable and cannot possibly result in the enhancement of individual life and social values and many of those people are quite prepared to work toward the destruction of free societies in the face of that belief anything that we can do to improve and perfect our way of life and to make it more true to its own values is a countervailing argument it's in that sense that I say we are in a competitive situation but we have always been. Those that think that the competition began with the Cold War have forgotten their history and those who think that it will and if the Cold War and mistake the hazards of human social organization as long as free societies exist they will have to prove and reprove their superiority to a more cynical and seemingly more efficient systems they can never rest on their reputation so the question is not whether a challenge exists it will always exist Russians are no Russians the question Has the nature of the challenge and I have the unshakable conviction that the challenge that it's a challenge to us to be true to ourselves and in seeking to be true to ourselves I think we should remember that our founding fathers saw the mission of America and universal terms they believed that their struggles had implications far beyond our shores and that success or failure and their efforts had meaning for men everywhere it's in this perspective that we should see our current efforts to improve education we're not just trying to solve certain shortages in educated man hour we're not just trying to outdo the Russians when we strive for individuals all filmed for the fulfillment of each and every citizen and when we seek to perfect a society in which such self such fulfillment is possible where being true to our conception of man and our vision of what he might be now each of you will find your own way of stating that goal depending on your religious or philosophical presuppositions but the terms of the argument are clear we're fighting a battle in behalf of the human spirit and if we're not we should be. When he was interviewed by Herald Tribune columnist OPIC Wald he said that he'd like to win an Academy Award so that he might make this acceptance speech I am happy to receive this award which I so richly deserve and which means even more to me because I wanted to in spite of a bad direct talk of jealous uncooperative cast a group of unbelievably lazy technicians and unfortunate story which was turned into a tragic script with some the most ridiculous lines an actor ever had to send screen that was in one thousand nine hundred fifty four here it is nine hundred sixty one Academy Award time again and he still hasn't had a chance to make that speech. Perhaps because somebody in Hollywood who could read had read off a lot he has won many prizes and began really at the age of won first prize in a magazine contest for most beautiful baby. A few years later he was taken to the circus fascinated by the sword swallower and try to emulate the feat at home fortunately his father was a doctor as he grew older he wanted to be an actor his father wanted to be a doctor and said you would have to make your mistakes in public eye bearing in mind. Despite this advice he adopted the status of Korea started to have the bomb tree a school of the drama two of the stock company in South Africa joins about Jackson's resident company in Birmingham and was well launched on a lifetime in the theatre but he describes in his memoirs a Victorian in all that. George Bernard Shaw once told him that he was just fifty favorite actor the other four were the Marx Brothers. Want to cook I was referring to him when he wrote in a column headed to Iraq for grown up Actos that it's a great pleasure to sit in the theater and watch people who have found themselves and are satisfied with what they have found concerning knighthood upon him King George the fifth had some problem with his name and dubbed him so Samuel Pickwick. The rest of us know him more accurately and with as much admiration as a civic heart. Ladies and gentlemen I am Kenyan facet as an actor to be in this scene just calling him the day after stare savagely and frightened to death I think you have every reason Incidentally I noticed since Doubleday launched me to Victoria and all that the rich very quickly got into the act. So I'm probably in direct response to this man who went on the. I hope not I think you have every reason to say what business has an actor got writing a book and I have no more right to write a book than Mr Gardn