The Republic and the Person: A Discussion of Necessities in Modern American Education

The Republic and the Person: A Discussion of Necessities in Modern American Education

The Republic and the Person: A Discussion of Necessities in Modern American Education

The Republic and the Person: A Discussion of Necessities in Modern American Education

Excerpt

THE LATE William Allan Neilson, speaking at the 1940 commencement at Kenyon College, told the graduates that his generation of university professors and presidents had been guilty of wrapping the young in romantic cotton wool. Much school and university teaching in the 1950's continues to do the same. Years ago it hardly seemed to matter that American thinking was sentimental. Now, it is clear that such thinking will throw in jeopardy the world, our self-respect, and our safety. We can no longer afford leaders, thinkers, and voters in any large number who delude themselves or think irresponsibly.

The leadership of American education in the period between the world wars has generally been regarded as "liberal," and brief examination will reveal that not only the temper and vocabulary, but the announced aim of schools, colleges, and universities in the 1920's and 1930's endeavored to promote the "liberal" view of national life and policy. In many quarters American thought has toughened and matured since 1940, but not in the statement of the aims of education. If the more influential of such current statements continue to preside over general instruction in this country, we shall continue to promote, in the decade of integrated Russian despotism, the same sentimentalism which bedeviled and confused us in 1940 and which in 1942 and 1943 cost us dearly.

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