[Progressive education]

Sunday, January 15, 1956

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

Seldes tells the story of a quote wrongly attributed to a celebrity. He believes this mis-crediting to be commonplace.
He then quotes Dinah Shore regarding her daughter attending a semi-progressive school. He goes on to defend progressive school and dismiss some of the stereotypes related to this type of education (namely, that students don't know how to read). Talks about the book "Why Johnny Can't Read." He moves on to discuss the political parties, lamenting how similar the parties are. The problem of education will play role in next political campaign. He agrees that we shouldn't play politics with education but he thinks it's a good idea for it to be in the campaigns. Raises issue of giving money to private schools in Southern states. Both Democrats and Republicans ask "What kind of education is essential?"
He wishes the party's would debate classical versus modern art. This leads to a discussion of art as a political issue. Art is a political issue in the Soviet Union. The right ideas in art become a matter of the party line. Notes that it is even retroactive. Talks about Georgy Malenkov. Asks "how do you make a person typical?" "Soviet art must depict in positive, artistic terms people of the new type in the splendor of the human dignity...of a society free from blemishes and vices spawned by capitalism." Romantic idealism...hammock reading. Break up of marriages due to conflict between life in the movies vs. reality. This new freedom has extended to jazz. Talks about a story about a golden fox by James Thurber. Our obligations are in our uses of the arts. This is also true in education. Why do we make a fuss about art? Use education to prevent people to grow in a certain directions you don't want them to grow in. Control what is said on radio station. Prevented motion pictures that undermine current government. When an artists says art is the highest expression of the human mine, you may sometimes be doubtful.

Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection

WNYC archives id: 70555
Municipal archives id: LT7536

Hosted by:

Gilbert Seldes


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About Lively Arts, The

Legendary critic and author of The Seven Lively Arts Gilbert Seldes discusses big-thinking issues in art and life from his characteristically populist perspective.

Simultaneously a timely and visionary program, Gilbert Seldes's The Lively Arts (1953-1956) examines contemporary issues of 1950s television, radio, and theater, as well as current events and the intellectual arts. Seldes, who was the first Director for Television at CBS News and the founding Dean of the Annenberg School of Communications at the University of Pennsylvania, was also a renowned critic, author, playwright, and editor. As a major social critic and observer, Seldes viewed theater, television, and radio with a prescient eye to the future based on a well-informed understanding of the past. 

These programs feature commentary and discussion on a wide range of topics — from sex and censorship in the movies to progressive education to juvenile delinquency to political campaigning on television — many of which are still hotly debated today. Serving as a precursor to Seldes's television programs and providing an audio context for his seminal books, this show is key to understanding today's cultural commentary.


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