Wednesday, June 16, 2010

NY Times Editorial Elegantly Notes Today is Bloom's Day Or The Problem of a Good Education

The New York Times notes Bloom's Day today with an editorial about a corporate executive who sent Bloom's Day cards to 16 of his best executives in 1954.
Two years earlier . . . W. D. Gillen, then president of Bell Telephone of Pennsylvania, had begun to worry about the education of the managers rising through the company’s hierarchy. Many of these junior executives had technical backgrounds, gained at engineering schools or on the job, and quite a few had no college education at all. They were good at their jobs, but they would eventually rise to positions in which Gillen felt they would need broader views than their backgrounds had so far given them.
Gillen took the problem to the University of Pennsylvania where they set up a
 10-month immersion program on the Penn campus, what amounted to a complete liberal arts education.
 Besides classes and seminars and vast amounts of reading, they also did field trips to museums and concerts and to study the architecture of the cities nearby.  
Perhaps the most exciting component of the curriculum was the series of guest lecturers the institute brought to campus. “One hundred and sixty of America’s leading intellectuals,” according to Baltzell, spoke to the Bell students that year. They included the poets W. H. Auden and Delmore Schwartz, the Princeton literary critic R. P. Blackmur, the architectural historian Lewis Mumford, the composer Virgil Thomson. It was a thrilling intellectual carnival.
Finally, they struggled with James Joyce's Ulysses.
It was clear as the students cheered one another through their final reports that reading a book as challenging as “Ulysses” was both a liberating intellectual experience and a measure of how much they had been enriched by their time at the institute. . .
The institute was judged a success by Morris S. Viteles, one of the pioneers of industrial psychology, who evaluated its graduates. But Bell gradually withdrew its support after yet another positive assessment found that while executives came out of the program more confident and more intellectually engaged, they were also less interested in putting the company’s bottom line ahead of their commitments to their families and communities. By 1960, the Institute of Humanistic Studies for Executives was finished.

The whole article is well with thinking about.   The problem with a good education is that it is liberating.

1 comment:

  1. That reminds me of the PETERRINCIPLE that has been kicked around years ago. Now they at last get a chance to become more educated. Progress!


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