Schooling for What?

Schooling for What?

Schooling for What?

Schooling for What?

Excerpt

On a fine April morning in 1968--insulated from the shock waves of revolt spreading across the country in the wake of the assassination of Martin Luther King and the Columbia University uprising--I sat musing at a conference on "improving education," one of dozens I had attended over the previous eighteen years. "To what avail?" I asked myself. "What are the young trying to tell us out there?" Suddenly my thoughts coalesced around one burning question: Schooling for what? Later that day I put this question to top educators in corridors, over cocktails, at meals; I even scrawled it on a note pad and passed it, schoolboy fashion, to others during the sessions of the conference. Reactions ranged from jaw- dropping and head-scratching to cop-out answers such as, "Well, I guess to pass on the culture." One of the sharpest educators I know simply said, "I'm afraid I don't really know." If the educators didn't know, who did?

The question set me on a 33,000-mile trek across the nation, to thirty states and the District of Columbia, at my own expense. I ended up with personal, private tape-recorded interviews with 1,000 people of all ages, from every walk of life, representing as accurately as possible 200 million Americans in our various ethnic groups and life styles--all zeroing in on the question, Schooling for what?

It was not always easy to get the interviews that lasted from fifteen minutes to an hour and a half and covered the spec-

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