Massachusetts taxpayers, who are supposed to be part of the "silent majority," have subsidized an open-ended, televised discussion of the Vietnam war that is being shown repeatedly this week on Educational Station WGBH, Channel 2 in Boston.
The program, "Vietnam in Classroom," is intended to instruct secondary school teachers on how to lead classroom discussions on the war. Joan Goldsmith, a former teacher of South Boston High School, is featured, creating a "dilemma situation," in which a group of South High students respond personally to the problem of draft induction.
The students suggest a variety of alternatives-induction, refusal to comply, draft card burning, and-flight to Canada-and discuss the consequences of each action. Their reactions are completely unrehearsed.
Michael Berry, one of the program creators, said he was pleased with the students' comments. "Given the fact that the majority of the students came from lower-middle class families in South Bosson, and that they were subjected to undue family and community pressures, they made some very radical statements, he said.
"Vietnam in Classroom" is sponsored by the Graduate School of Education's Viet-nam Committee, in collaboration with station WGBH, Daniel Curaco, Ed. M. '70, Miss Goldsmith, and Berry, who is director of the media division of the Ed School library, conceived the original idea. They developed the program and produced it at the 21 Inch Classroom, a part of the Massachusetts Department of Education, in less than 60 hours. They expect to distribute the show nationally.
State Commissioner of Education Neil V. Sullivan, who earlier this fall told school superintendents and principals to encourage classroom discussion of the war. authorized a $2500 budget for the uncensored program.
Substantively, the content of the show was the "Vietnam Curriculum," a teaching aid on the war developed last year by a group of Ed School students. The "dilemma approach" is intended to raise not only the immediate problem of the draft, but the deeper issues of the individual's responsibility to himself and his country during any war.
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