The Faith of a Liberal: Selected Essays by Morris R. Cohen

By Morris R. Cohen | Go to book overview

30
EDUCATION AND THE CHANGING SOCIAL ORDER

PROBABLY no single word carries more prestige among us than education. It is not only on our lips--it has its roots deep in our hearts. Nowhere else in the world does the universal disinclination to pay taxes yield more readily to the Open Sesame of any word than does the heart of America yield to the word education. From the poorest hamlet or village to the largest metropolis, people gladly tax themselves to provide elaborate buildings for school purposes, and almost all of our states have provision for state universities, which, considering the limited available funds of the more sparsely settled of our states, are most generously provided with laboratory equipment and other necessary facilities. American parents are most anxious to provide their children with the best possible opportunities for their physical and moral development, and many a poor workman or farmer, or even his widow, struggles hard to earn enough to send the boy or girl to college. For that is the principal source of high and honorable positions for their offspring and just pride for themselves.

All this is emphatically true of the external side, i.e., in respect to the buildings, physical equipment and other accessories of the business of education; but we are as a people in a state of chaos and confusion in regard to the aims, purposes, and methods of education. A comparison of the typical European conception of education with that which prevails in America would bring this out: In Europe--whether we take France, England, or Germany--liberal education has been regarded as a

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