And where does Edwin H. Land's A.D. Little Memorial Lecture, Generation of Greatness, fit in this succession of events? (http://web.mit.edu/mwpstr/www/land.htm)
The plate he sets before his audience is full of unpalatable items. I find little sustenance there. To say that what follows the lecture in time is causally the result of it defies etiological clarity. The launch of UROP was 12 years after the lecture was delivered. One could just as well say that the great wave of electronic recording on camcorders and VCR's was inspired by Land's futile efforts to perfect instant motion pictures. That project left the operators knee-deep in the detritus evolved in the operation -- the backing on the transparent film that terminated the light path and that had to be removed after development. In the Introduction to the text of the lecture in the published version, the gentle Acting President, J.A. Stratton, says only that ...While there may be practical limitations to the feasibility of some of Dr. Land's proposals it behooves all of us, educators and laymen alike, to embrace his concern for the full development of the creative powers which are inherent in each and every individual. But what could have been said is that, even at that time, 1957, the Lecture is a male chauvinist, sexist, pipe dream. It describes the entering a male student being taken under the wing of a male mentor, Usher is Land's term, who fosters and nurtures and spiritually bonds with a group of ten freshmen. They develop a program of individual research for each student that is uniquely his own research, and which will vindicate the student's own measure of his own creativity and that of his mentor. The nurturing is to be a continuing activity of the mentor for these ten freshmen. The projects will be like the study of the theory of Von Frisch that bees navigate using polarized light from the sky. The suggestion to the entering freshman is that he find by what mechanism the bee analyzes the polarized light. The description of the mentor that would be sufficient to this task is that he have a warm feeling for teaching, and that behind him are the heady days when the stream of his professional career was coursing through rocky rapids and he is now drifting on quiet, broad river where he can afford to relax a bit. The usher will follow the men through the first two years, molding their education so that they become sophisticated in the world of literature and the arts by individually designing programs of study for each man. In return the mentor would be well paid and exempt from committee duty, Land suggests.
And for the introductory courses in chemistry, physics and mathematics, they should not be courses in which the chemistry genius or the physics genius or the mathematics genius flourish, but courses in which chemists and mathematicians, say, acquire a deep feeling for physics. The brilliant presentation of the most precisely delineated ideas, Land says, takes time, patience, and talent. To accomplish this within the given academic limitations of time, patience, and talent, Land proposes filming the great lecturers in action, and using these movies to replace live lectures. Land admit he has not spent a life in the university, but his friends have and he sees the flaws of the existing system.
The 1956-57 President's Report by President Killian says that the Land Lecture has stimulated conversation about the education process. The 1958-59 report by President Stratton says the Land Lecture has given rise to ...a variety of interesting projects that are being discussed by our faculty, all with a common aim of bringing our undergraduates into association with the senior members of our academic community. It is my sincere hope that these ideas will bear fruit. But President Howard Johnson had taken over the reins of the Presidency before anything happened. Why? It should be clear to those familiar with the MIT community. But to be specific let me list a few reasons.