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Betsy's Trivia: Education Edition

One of the landmark education discussions on Meet the Press came not from a politician or a secretary of education – but a famous college dropout. American poet Robert Frost was Meet the Press’ only guest for its Christmas program of 1955, a tradition that would continue for the next two years. Frost was then 83 years old, but he livened up the program, often teasingly resisting the Meet the Press panel’s efforts to characterize him politically. But he did define his views on one topic: “I tell you I’m very radical about education.” He declared to MTP’s Lawrence Spivak that it wasn’t necessary for every young person to get a college degree. Frost had as a young man had trouble finishing an undergraduate degree, and had dropped out of the Ivy League Dartmouth College after just a few months.  On Meet the Press, it was clear that the poet’s early struggles informed his view of the modern education system. He said that colleges were in danger of conformity and encouraged students to focus instead on their artistic dreams: “I think a young writer, young musician, young painter, better get about writing, painting, and music … And it ought to be young because all the great names in literature anywhere, the big reputations were made before 25 years anyway.” But Frost in fact had a deep fondness for education and students that came through on Meet the Press; he didn’t really want to do away with the college education system – just open it up. Though he was a “radical” on education, Frost had by that point in his career turned his attention to educating the next generation of artists, as a professor and fellow at multiple colleges. One, in fact, was the very institution he had abandoned as an undergraduate: Dartmouth. That university’s website today proudly notes that Frost dropped out of its college, adding that he “ did return, however, as a beloved and respected poet.”  Robert Frost ended his discussion of education on Meet the Press by noting that his goal now was to inspire students, and fight the restrictions of conventional colleges from the inside, with his own “free and haphazard” teaching style. Perhaps MTP Moderator Ned Brooks said it best at the program’s start: “Robert Frost is now past 80 years old but he is still young in hope and in dreams, free from despair and pessimism.”

You can watch Frost’s exchange about education with the Meet the Press panel in the 1955 video below. And catch up with NBC’s Education Nation coverage here.

\Every Monday, Betsy Fischer Martin - the Executive Producer of Meet the Press - poses a trivia question on Twitter about the 64 years of history-making moments and guests on Meet The Press. Check back every week for answers and video clips!