CONGRESSIONAL RECORD - SENATE
SEPTEMBER 12, 1961
Mr. MUSKIE. Mr. President, in education, as in so many other fields, technological developments have opened new vistas in the expansion of knowledge and in the better use of our resources. As a nation which has grown by innovation and the wise application of new techniques, we should be in the forefront in the use of such techniques as audiovisual aids.
One of the results of our tremendous population expansion since World War II has been the extreme pressure of increased school enrollment on school facilities and teachers. Audiovisual aids can help us to make better use of available facilities and to expand the scope of the classroom teacher.
Earlier this year the Senate passed a bill providing grants to the States for the construction of educational television stations. It is my hope that this Congress will enact that program.
In Maine three private colleges have joined in the establishment of an educational television station. They are about to begin their programing. It is hoped that the University of Maine will be able to initiate its program of educational television in cooperation with the State Department of Education.
The potential of educational television for Maine is very great, and it has excited the interest of many Maine citizens. The proposal advanced by the University of Maine would, for example, bring educational television to 98 percent of our population.
Maine is a relatively large State in the northeast, covering one-half the total area of New England. It is sparsely settled through much of its area, with a substantial rural population and with many small schools. For these small schools educational television could open new doors of learning for children, especially in the field of science, arts, social studies, and language. Educational television would not replace teachers but would increase their power to teach.
It is my hope that educational television will come to Maine because it is so important to the future of our children and our State.
Recently, the enterprising editor of a small weekly shopping newspaper carried a series of articles on educational television. Mr. Kenneth G. Larrabbee, publisher of the Shopping Notes of Yarmouth, Maine, was skeptical about educational television, but, as a good reporter he conducted an exhaustive investigation of the subject. The results of his studies are illuminating.
Because his comments are of value outside the State of Maine as well as within the State of Maine, I ask unanimous consent that they be printed in the RECORD.
There being no objection, the articles were ordered to be printed in the RECORD, as follows:
[From Shopping Notes, Aug. 10, 1961]
What is educational television? What does it attempt to do? How well has it accomplished this in areas where educational TV exists?
To answer these questions, we shall refer to and quote liberally from the Ford Foundation booklet, "Teaching by Television." The Ford Foundation has been a prime developer and instigator of educational TV, and has subsidized this new educational development to the extent of approximately $31 million in the past 6 years.
Educational television has two broad categories: cultural and informational programs * * * for an adult audience, and programs that are part of a school or college curriculum. This latter is that which Maine is immediately and primarily considering. Much of the effort of the Ford Foundation has been directed toward multiplying the effectiveness of able teachers.
We would like to elaborate a moment on this last sentence, emphasizing that educational TV is not an easy or inexpensive way out of our educational responsibilities. It requires able teachers capable of competent preparation, interpretation, and follow up. Educational TV programs presently considered successful comprise only a small proportion of the total classroom time and are no substitute for adequate faculties and facilities. Educational TV is a plus to the conventional educational process and, if we are to be realistically intelligent, must be so considered.
The Ford Foundation admits that it is too early to draw final conclusions about television's ultimate role in education. It has determined that grounds for encouragement exist, that students generally learn as much -- and in some cases significantly more -- from televised instruction as from conventional instruction.
In addition, experience to date has shown that the team approach to teaching, particularly at the elementary and secondary levels, opens up exciting new possibilities for capitalizing on the varying teaching skills among teachers in any given school system. Television courses have been much more carefully planned and organized than conventional courses, and the combination of the skills of the studio teacher and of the classroom teacher has made possible a cooperative teaching effort far better than either teacher could achieve alone.
"One of the biggest single problems has been that today's school buildings were not designed for instruction by television * * * exploration is needed on how to deal effectively with differences among individual students." Obviously, the first reference -- that to school building design -- refers to the difference in size of class when TV becomes a factor in education. One prominent college in surveying the economic aspects of educational TV, found that it was advisable to have a class of at least 200 students in order to maintain the normal expense ratio. Most of the elementary and secondary schools which use educational TV as an essential ingredient of the educational process have similarly large classes. For example, "the principal characteristics of * * * the experiments * * * was the large class. At the elementary level, the television classes ranged in size up to 175. At the junior and senior high level, they were much larger, ranging in size from 200 to 500."
Typical teaching procedure of a television class consists of an approximate 5-minute period of preparation and introduction by the regular classroom teacher, or a 20-minute studio broadcast and a following period by the classroom teacher devoted to questions and answers, and to stimulated discussion. Follow up guides, usually studio prepared, are used as guides to the classroom teacher and students. Finally, it should be emphasized that no student received all of his instruction over television -- the televised instruction received represented only a small portion of the total.
Evaluation: In addition to above values, the following has been determined: Brought about a rethinking of the curriculum and course objectives. By bringing a superior teaching to the attention of a great many classroom teachers, television proved to be a valuable means of improving the in service training of teachers. Television brought into the classroom far richer educational experiences than had been possible before -- a much wider audience (on open circuit TV) than the students in classrooms -- other school systems were tuning in and that parents were watching regularly. School librarian reported that the TV students -- stimulated by provocative teaching were making much more extensive use of the library than other students. Several school systems reported substantial savings in teaching positions and in classroom space with no sacrifice in quality. Tardiness and absences fell off sharply among students in the television classes. Discipline was not a problem. Classroom teachers, far from being relegated to a minor role, assumed a new importance.
Problems: Inadequate facilities: Auditoriums and cafeterias were not designed for use as classrooms. and they were far from ideal. Finding, recruiting, and training studio teachers.
The problem of training classroom teachers in the techniques of handling large classes, particularly in the techniques of eliciting student participation. Students, too, need to learn the techniques of learning in a large class situation.
The problem of integrating the telecast part of the lesson and the classroom follow up into a unified, meaningful whole * * * a question that needs much fuller exploration.
The problem of reorganizing the curriculum to take maximum advantage of television as a teaching tool.
The problem of adapting the new technique of teaching by television to the varying abilities of students.
The problems of scheduling.
Finally, there is the never-ending problem of quality.
A look ahead: Today the question is no longer whether television can play an important role in education. That question has been answered in the affirmative. * * * The continuing activation of new educational television channels, the flexibility offered by videotape * * * and the emergence of networks linking schools and colleges are all aspects of the broadening frontier of educational television. * * * It is important to bear in mind, however, that television is essentially neutral. It can transmit the bad as well as the good, the mediocre as well as the superior. Consequently, it demands the very best of creative, imaginative talent if it is to do its job well. * * * Television is not a panacea that will cure all the ills of American education or solve all its problems. It has been described, and rightly so, as the most important new educational tool since the invention of movable type, but, like the textbook the new medium is essentially just that -- a tool. Like any tool, it can be misused or badly used. But if it is wisely and imaginatively used, television can play a major role in broadening and enriching the education of American students.
In our research on educational television, we have run upon some startling facts on education in Maine generally.
Did you know that in 139 communities, the schools have less than 100 population; that of 240 high schools and academies in Maine, only 29 were properly accredited in 1960; that of 458 communities having public schools, only 207 have formal music programs, only 35 formal art programs; that, per capita, Maine spends more money than 50 of the other States on highways, and less money than 38 of the other States on education?
Educational television boils down in Maine to a very difficult choice -- whether we need most desperately that relatively small amount of money most for educational TV, for organizing better schools in neglected areas, for raising teacher standards and salaries, for implementing the University of Maine or for any one of a hundred other needy areas of the total educational picture.
Is it right that we should superimpose educational TV upon a poor educational system? Let us put it another way: Would educational TV so stimulate educational consciousness as to spur us to provide other necessary improvements? If so, the answer is obvious. On the other hand, would we consider it as pie in the sky, a remedy for all evils, an inexpensive substitute for an expensive educational process and, in smug assurance, lull ourselves back to sleep in the hot sun of our own complacency?
On the practical aspects of an operational educational TV system, there are good questions. How, in the face of the single studio outlet, is it proposed to coordinate the entire State to a single educational TV broadcast? We are assured that this is possible through a breakdown into regional broadcasts.
This is enabled by the acquisition of three video tape recorders -- via a grant assured by the National Education and Radio Center -- which will permit different and simultaneous broadcasts to different areas in conjunction with planned facilities. And what about the beaming of an educational TV lesson into the 139 communities with less than 100 students -- the most needy segment of our educational system of which educational TV advocates express concern and who, through necessary economic pressure, are limited to from one to four rooms and teachers for the entire school program?
It would appear that to feed a fourth-grade lesson, for example, into a room occupied by four grades and a single teacher would be most impractical. We await a conference with Don Taverner at which we hope this question will be answered.
Additionally, it should be understood that both plus and minus considerations have not been taken into account for obvious reasons. On the plus side, it is reasonable to anticipate the considerable assistance of outside sources, as in the case of the above-mentioned tape recorders whose value approaches $200,000. Educational TV being in a still early development, such help can be a considerable factor in the next few years. Again the loud and insistent pushing of this new medium by the Gannett and Hildreth interests would seem to indicate that their good will should extend somewhat further than merely telling the legislature that it should meet and enact educational TV.
We hope to wind up this series over the next week or so, pending the receipt of a few more facts we need to draw conclusions. In the meantime, we have a bit of editorial comment we would like to present.
Even a superficial survey of our education in Maine abounds in facts as cited earlier. It is evident, factual, and appalling to so stumble onto some of the weaknesses. And, even more appalling is the discovery of the total imbalance of our State budget in relation to education and in comparison with other States. The total abdication of responsibility for maintaining a realistic balance is a legislative disgrace.
[From Shopping Notes, Aug. 24. 19611
Preparatory to a summation of this series, we have visited WGBH-TV in Boston. This has been one of the more successfully managed educational television projects. Our debt to their personnel is considerable, for they were most generous of their time, arranging a private showing of a film of typical course excerpts, answered fully our numerous questions, and concluded by giving us a number of study guides used by teachers of television courses.
The great majority of students in Massachusetts are now using educational TV in one or more courses. WGBH-TV was originally instituted as an adult educational project and it was by specific request of the many school systems now involved that courses were provided for classroom consumption. This was a point emphasized over and over again in the discussions. That educational TV cannot, successfully, be imposed upon one or more school systems but must, instead, in order to be successfully employed, be needed and wanted by any specific system.
Statewide educational TV systems are still not common. Nebraska is the most comparable State using such a system and has, as do we, a sparsely settled population in a large land area. In Nebraska, experience to date indicates success both from point of scholastic attainment and of economics.
It takes little imagination to envision the scholastic advantages of educational TV when properly used. In the field of modern languages, for example, extremely successful experiments have been carried out with elementary students whose minds appear peculiarly adaptable in their early years to language instruction, particularly from the speaking angle. Social studies, civics and geography are naturals for this medium. We saw demonstrations of fascinating interest.
Discussions with Nehru, Eleanor Roosevelt, Carl Sandburg and others on topics of interest to each of us today and which brought in colorful and authoritative manner these people and topics face to face with students. Courses in music appreciation dramatically break down a symphony orchestra, a Jazz band, folk music, etc., to show the child of what instruments they are composed, of their purpose and structure. Far more comprehensive than a mere concert presentation, the course first creates interest and then instructs. Science employs the great university laboratories and museums together with noted scientists to inspire and instruct. Natural history can be traced dramatically by a trip through the fabulous Agassiz Museum at Harvard.
It is impossible to see what is actually going on in this new educational medium and to come home and reflect less than complete enthusiasm; to be willing to see our children denied its advantages.
Nor do we propose to do this. But, we do propose to emphasize, again and again, that educational TV is no cure-all, no easy way out; not something which will be eagerly grasped by all teachers and by all school systems in the early stages; that it is no substitute for competent local teachers; that it will require intensive training of instructors on both State and local levels. Being new, it is still suspect in the eyes of many within and without the profession.
Economically, and on the State level, educational TV is relatively inexpensive, representing a very minor potential part of the budget. Actual construction of the system -- and here we run somewhat higher than the proposed figures for reasons of experience in such things -- will probably run, in total, slightly over $2 million in the initial years. Total annual operating expense, including not only the figures specifically proposed, but the less tangible expenses of training, of printing and distribution of guides, etc., etc., could run in the neighborhood of half a million dollars, in these same years.
The future development of this medium makes speculation beyond the next few years impossible and impractical.
Locally, the implications vary. One of the fears of some teachers appears to be that this will be a form of automated teaching, replacing teachers on the local plane. Nothing could be further from the truth. From what we have seen, we strongly suspect that -- because educational TV is necessarily rigid, and great effort will be necessary with the slower than average student as well as special effort with the better students -- educational TV will mean an overall and considerable increase in teacher staff as the medium develops. It is obvious that the incompetent teacher will be ruthlessly exposed.
But this is of concern only to that undesirable part of our system today. It does appear that in the larger schools, potential savings are at least theoretically possible. Here, however, we must realize that the rapidly expanding population is creating a teacher shortage which educational TV could merely tend to alleviate in slight degree. In the towns of small schools -- less than one room per year -- the teacher staff will undoubtedly require supplementary people and space. This opens up an exciting possibility. Many, many of our citizens today are equipped to teach mathematics, various sciences, etc. Many of these people may be made available for specialization in work which holds their interest and which requires but a few hours a week in the rewarding work of teaching. By acting as special subject teachers in small schools, these people could accomplish much at relatively minor addition to the school budget. It is reasonable to assume that brush-up courses in the various subjects could be presented on TV for credit to these people.
Except for the factors mentioned above, a start in TV on the local level entails little expense. As on the State level future development of this medium makes conjecture on the future impossible.
(From Shopping Notes, Aug. 31, 19611
It is not only in the field of communications that a dramatic change has occurred in recent years. What was, 50 years ago, the skill and ingenuity of mechanics is now the science of chemistry and physics. The new sophistication of old principles now requires understanding of the atom and of space. A Henry Ford was owner, business manager, designer, comptroller, and labor expert, and combined these with numerous other responsibilities to the satisfaction of the first decades of this century. Today, each of these responsibilities requires not a single expert, but a team of specialists coordinating and pooling their knowledge painstakingly and meticulously gathered. This is not because men are less intelligent; it is because the learning of man, with the advent of the printing press, became cumulative and, when diligently applied, soon passes the point to which undeveloped intelligence, ingenuity, and ambition may bring it.
And it goes much further than this. A people which permits education to lag exposes itself to a self-consuming delusion of superiority which can delay corrective action to the point of no return. A hallmark of our times is the sad fact that as we envision travel to the Moon, Mars, and Venus, we fail to adapt our intelligence to cope with the vital problems of conflicting political vehicles, or to the acceptance of a moral code to which we pay only hypocritical obeisance.
One of the glories -- and one of the disgraces -- of today is television, representing an ideal of communications which has long been the dream of farseeing men. Its screen is a key to the world, by which we may know our neighbors across the seas intimately and understandingly, by which we may see the wonders of the globe from the depths of the sea to the infinity of space. We may pace the ruins of an ancient civilization on the spot or by a visit to Agassiz Museum. The rhetoric of a Churchill, the pathos of a Marian Anderson, the sensitivity of a Rubinstein, the passion of a Van Gogh, the tolerance of a Gandhi -- all of these and infinitely more press to open wide a door to present and future, the while we rigidly bar that door and wallow in portrayal of murder and rape.
Television, a gift with infinite potential for good, becomes a toy for the cultivation of boredom and mass hypnosis. Inane amusement, not undesirable as surcease from the rigors of today, becomes a part of those rigors.
Nor is it impossible to so produce a program of value that it is interesting. We watched, recently, a 2-hour forum on race relations which, in Boston, was repeated by insistent demand.
The promise of television is bright. Its role in the future of man is infinite in both scope and direction. The need for education in today's world is an incontrovertible fact which must be accepted and acted upon if the world is to live in harmony, indeed, if it is to survive.
We have reviewed, over past weeks, the problems and the potentials of educational television after consultation with many authorities and study of numerous reports from educationally oriented organizations. Short of a very long book, it is impossible to satisfactorily picture educational television in all of its aspects.
But our conclusions are simple and direct: educational television is the wave of the future upon which education will become increasingly dependent. Educational TV is not, and never can be, a substitute for the good teacher. Rather, it is a supplement to vastly increase a good teacher's productivity in terms of accomplishment and which will bring face to face with the student the innumerable new developments in all phases of life which it is impossible to otherwise teach.
Educational TV is, in relation to the total educational budget, a minor expense and, if we accept it as of significant value, we must accept the tax effort as worthy and necessary.
For the foreseeable future, it appears that the practical approach in Maine is via VHF channels available to all and of superior quality to other media. This means that channels 7 and 12, presently in contention, must be reserved immediately or be lost for the indefinite future. Since the close of the legislative session, developments have occurred which indicate an immediate special session is necessary which will act to safeguard these channels. Much as we deprecate special sessions, we urge that this is necessary, and that you write Gov. John H. Reed urging him to call the session immediately.