Saturday 9 March 2024

Abolition of Traditional Education

Paul Shorey, The Assault on Humanism (Boston: Atlantic Monthly Company, 1917), pp. 75-76:

   From their own point of view it is natural that they [those against classical education] should deprecate with sullen jealousy the inoculation of the adolescent mind with standards and tastes that would render it immune to what one of them has commended in print as the ‘science’ of Mrs. Elsie Clews Parsons. The purpose, or, at any rate, the tendency of their policies is to stamp out and eradicate these things and inculcate exclusively their own tastes and ideals by controlling American education with the political efficiency of Prussian autocracy and in the fanatical intolerance of the French anticlericalists. Greek and Latin have become mere symbols and pre-texts. They are as contemptuous of Dante, Shakespeare, Milton, Racine, Burke, John Stuart Mill, Tennyson, Alexander Hamilton, or Lowell, as of Homer, Sophocles, Virgil, or Horace. They will wipe the slate of everything that antedates Darwin’s Descent of Man, Mr. Wells’s Research Magnificent and the familiar pathos of James Whitcomb Riley’s vernacular verse.
   These are the policies that mask as compassion for the child bored by literature which, they say, it cannot be expected to appreciate and understand, or behind the postulate that we should develop aesthetic and literary sensibilities only by means of the literature that expresses the spirit of modern science, not that which preserves in amber the husks of the dead past.