Matt Weinstock -- April 18, 1959
April 18, 2009 | 4:00 pm
On EducationJulius Sumner Miller teacher physics at El Camino College, is writing a book and on alternate Sundays (tomorrow) conducts a provocative program, "Why Is It So?" On KNXT, Channel 2.
Between times he is a stormy advocate for a complete overhauling of our educational system. when he gets on the subject his eyes flash, his voice thunders and he pounds the table.
Unless we do something about it, he feels, we may be lost.
Miller says, "We have reared a generation of intellectually lazy, illiterate, picture-reading, mathematically incompetent, culturally lacking boys and girls."
Worse, he adds, is their lack of values.
As recently as the '20s, he recalls, students received rigorous academic discipline in fundamental knowledge.
"Learning," he said, "was an exciting adventure."
Then came the educators, concerned with the "better-adjusted, well-rounded, whole child." He calls their doctrine "regressive education." It has, he says, eliminated the formal disciplines which alone can communicate a body of knowledge and the capacity to think critically.
WHEN RUSSIA SENT ALOFT the first Sputnik in October 1957, the nation was shocked almost into panic. It was inconceivable that another nation had surpassed us in science. There were stern warnings that we must take up the slack in education, particularly in science, on an emergency basis, to meet the Soviet threat. It is Miller's belief that nothing will come of the warnings, that we have already settled back complacently.
If we are to throw off our present intellectual confusion, Miller thinks we must write off the present high school generation and start fresh with first-graders. he estimates the task will take a generation.
A first step would be to train teachers to a new responsibility. He considers many of them incompetent and either unaware of or untrained in the true meaning of teaching.
"NO ONE can be taught anything," he says. "His interest can be stirred, his curiosity aroused, his enthusiasm awakened, his imagination fired, and he may go on to learn it. But not enough teachers are endowed or equipped to do these things.
"If I had my choice I would have enthusiasm first. The teacher must himself be excited if he is to sell his goods."
Miller is frequently accused by his colleagues of undue emphasis on his favorite subject. He denies this. He makes the point that before a person can understand physics he must be able to read and write.
"By this," he explains, "I mean the ability to grasp the full and proper meaning of the printed page and to express ideas in intelligible prose."
Does he consider that his formula for correcting the present sorry state of education is too drastic?
"It's a free country," Prof. Miller replies. "This is my point of view.
DEDICATED newsmen have been facing the abhorrent prospect that one of the week's big stories would remain uncovered, in fact, unmentioned, except in hilarious conversation. Let's see what can be done.
First, to set the scene: Crystal Room, Beverly Hills Hotel. The Hollywood Women's Press Club annual Men's Day luncheon. A couple hundred vivacious folk have just drunk and eaten well. It's time for the entertainment.
Cowpoke Rex Allen rides his horse Coco onto the stage. It creates a sensation. It isn't every day a live horse stomps into the elegant Crystal Room. Sitting astride, Rex starts singing a song. Coco either disapproves or decides to steal the scene and --
I guess the newsmen were right. They said it couldn't be done and it couldn't.
FOOTNOTES -- Another bit of press high jinks occurred during Atty. Gen. Mosk's press conference on conditions at Camarillo Hospital. At one point a man who reporters assumed was a deputy A.G. took over and answered their questions. Turned out to be fun-loving Pat McGuinness of KNX ... The Embassy Theater advertised "Two Adult Shockers -- Adults 60¢, Children 25¢." Presumably the children were shockproof.