Kilpatrick, William H.
WAR IN THE DEGREE THAT IT IS actively present brings a period of dynamic flux. The "cake of custom" gets broken in the stress of war-stirred efforts as perhaps at no other time. New ideas are welcomed, new institutional forms are forged in the heat of zeal for victory. Under such circumstances wisely visioned choices and consistent steering count with pregnant importance. There are dangers involved, however, as well as possibilities. War can hardly be run except autocratically. Invaluable democratic processes may be seriously pushed aside if not permanently lost.
The philosophy of education as seen by the present writer stands on a foundation of general philosophy and exists to help conscious education manage itself better than otherwise it would. The philosophy of education especially undertakes to render this help (1) by criticizing the assumptions used by educators, (2) by helping to clarify educational aims, and (3) by evaluating critically the various educational methods as these bear on the selected aims.
THE title as worded is meant to call up for review a widespread attitude which contrasts and opposes thinking and action to each other, at times to the disparagement of thinking. Many, as they consider our present troubled times, roll the term "action" under their tongues, counting it the one thing lacking to bring "the" new social order. One of this group is quoted as saying, “Thinking! Hell, it's time to stop thinking and get to action."
THE racial and religious intolerance and persecution rampant today in many parts of Europe appalls us. We stand aghast at such a return of barbarism. But, as was discussed on this page not long ago, our American record is far from spotless. Many among us fear that a contagion from Europe may again stir the old hates to even new heights. It is a real danger, and there are urgent calls that our schools make the effort to help lessen or avert the evil. This is a natural demand, for America has long cherished an almost magical faith in the power of public education. But how far the schools can be effective and along what lines they should work—these are questions which only extended study can answer. Obviously, we can here make no more than a beginning.
THE world stands aghast at the latest outrageous action of Hitler. No, not all the world. There seem to be two worlds. There are those, and they are still a majority, who yet believe in right and duty, law and justice, and in the slowly developed orderly processes of deciding upon what to do in the light of discussion and agreement. Those who so think make up our world. Opposed to them stands a very different world, saying in effect that will and might, not ought and right, shall rule.
SELDOM is the path of progress straight or the rate steady. Some would use the term zigzag to describe this path, while others, doubtful of progress at all, speak of a pendulum swing. However, to have a vision of where one would go and to hold one's self to that vision is to make progress more likely. And the stronger the reactionary opposition, the more need to hold to the vision.
THE inquiry at this time is not of the international situation, dark though that be. Nor is it directly of the business outlook, though that remains still sullenly stagnant. The inquiry here is of the general social-economic-political situation in this country and its present movement. Considering where we wish developments to lead us, the question is as to whether we seem to be moving satisfactorily in the desired direction; and if not, what factors are at work to thwart our aims, and what, accordingly, should we do?
THE Nazi anti-Semitism is so wrong and so ugly, and it so outrages every sense of decency that the writer of this page has many times felt stirred to condemn it. But thus far a feeling of being inferior to the task has stood in the way. The undertaking has seemed to require a skill and choice of words beyond the writer's power to command. However, anti-Semitism is not confined to Nazi Germany. We have in this country—to our shame and humiliation, be it said—too much of the same thing.
PROBABLY IT IS too soon to say with any certainty what the election means, but we have to try. We must think. That there has been a reaction, a turning back, of some sort cannot be denied. The obvious facts speak for themselves. But even a slight analysis discloses not a simple situation, but a complex one; not a single movement, but a contrariety of movements.
A MONTH AGO this page discussed the threat to the democratic social processes arising from bad newspaper behavior. That discussion is here continued, but this time with attention especially directed to the problem of professional ethics, more specifically to the need for better professional ethics on the part of the editorial management.
The question concerns the newspapers of our country, their motives, their honesty, the influence they exert, and what will result.
THAT a new social-economic-political situation confronts the world today is widely, almost generally, admitted. Far-reaching economic changes along with very fundamental intellectual shifts have brought such modifications of the culture as to demand other changes to keep it all working efficiently together as one whole. Any uneven cultural growth brings its measure of, with correlative social problems. There is an upper limit to the load of unsolved social problems that any nation can carry. This country is no exception. We dare not sit idly by while our unsolved problems accumulate indefinitely.
IT becomes increasingly clear that among the forward looking today, two contradictory views of social strategy struggle more or less consciously against each other. One view would count it the proper strategy to map quite closely the clear-cut theory of a remade social order and advocate this distant aim consistently on all occasions. The other view is stronger on "practice" than "theory." It looks ahead to be sure, but its weather eye is on the present majority, to appeal to it as far forward as it will go but taking good care not to alienate by going too fast.
SELDOM have the American people been so uncertain what to think or do about foreign affairs. The World War and the increasingly disheartening outcomes from it make our people more than ever hate war. Accordingly they strongly avoid any commitments that might entangle them in war. This attitude has shown itself negatively in opposition to the League of Nations and the World Court, and positively in the enactment of the isolationist policy, which we apply doubtfully in Spain but find difficulty in fitting to China. Probably most who accept this general isolationist outlook are skeptical about the present naval expansion and analogously critical over any "quarantine" proposals. However, the proponents of this outlook are not altogether consistent. While skeptical of the present naval increase, they still, on the whole, favor preparedness programs, including the R.O.T.C. and the like, ostensibly in order to protect our shores.
THE report of the President's Advisory Committee on Education raises in new degree the question of public support for private and parochial schools. Never before in our history has so prominent and seemingly disinterested a body gone on record as favoring such support. While the wording is somewhat veiled, the meaning of the report seems clear.
William H. Kilpatrick - 1938
OUR country has of late been deluged with insistent propaganda (for so it seems by all the signs) that "business confidence" has departed from among us and must somehow be wooed back before the system will again work, as "it should." We need not, for present purposes, debate as to how much of this propaganda is honest it belief in lost confidence or how far it is a calculated device to compass hidden ends. On either basis or with any combination of the two, the immediate facts are the same: the business system refuses to work properly, and the nation suffers.
THE ultimate social conflict, perhaps of all, is that between force and reasoning; between rule by willful men and rule by intelligence and by law; between the position which says, "It shall be so because I will have it and I have the power to force it," and the opposed position which says, "Come let us reason together, let us decide the matter by orderly processes in accordance with justly established rights." When we hear that Hitler or Mussolini or any of their henchmen subordinates have used unabashed force to compel their will, we are not surprised. It is all of a piece with their dictatorship theories.
MEN live in society and will continue so to live. How good any life will be depends then greatly on the character of the surrounding society, and this in turn is in some measure under our control. In order therefore to guide efforts we are concerned to know as best we can the desirable character of the good society. When it was proposed that I comment on Walter Lippmann's The Good Society, it was simply a book review that was contemplated. Now, however, in order to make the discussion more general it seems better to put it on this page.
ONE pertinent question, of course, might well be whether one who does not "profess"—and does not possess—any special knowledge of finance should discuss the matter at all. However, the stock market clearly has bearings beyond finance as such. Social educative effects, for one thing, are involved. Possibly then the present effort may not be amiss.
William H. Kilpatrick - 1937
THE outrageous invasion of China by the Japanese army has stirred to indignation the rest of the world. The aim of this article, however, is not the study of militarism as such, still less to proclaim the Japanese as sinners above all others. Rather is the effort the more sober one of taking this obvious wrong as an instance of a much wider evil, namely the danger of mistaken action which confronts any group in the degree that is satisfyingly isolates itself from the corrective influence of other minds.
The following outline of principles was prepared by Professor Kilpatrick at the request of the Executive Committee of The Social Frontier and discussed by him at the mass meeting of teachers held on the evening of August 10th, 1936 in the Horace Mann Auditorium of Teachers College, Columbia University.
THE effort herein made is at definition and statement of position rather than any present argument in behalf of the position taken. The definition and position are offered partly for The Social Frontier as a journal of educational criticism, but more definitely to American education in general.
WE CAN perhaps best answer the questions of the Editors as we see why academic freedom is needed and the part it thus properly plays in a democratic society.
WHY loyalty oaths for teachers? What underlies the concerted drive to demand that teachers the nation over shall give oath to support the Constitution? What is the aim and what the fear? Is constitutional government threatened? Is any evil seriously threatened that a loyalty oath would remedy or correct?
ANY educator concerned to serve society today must, if he be sensitive, feel the nullifying effects that somehow arise out of our general social-economic situation to block the aims and ideals that he would uphold in behalf of the young committed to his care. Too often his efforts are thwarted in the end even when they are not discounted and perverted in advance. Closer scrutiny seems to locate the crux of these evil influences in the pervasive struggle within our business-economic system for competitive gain. The term profit motive may serve as a convenient label for the aim and incentive supposed to underlie the efficient working of the business system. The aim of this paper then is to study the profit motive working within its setting and to trace out the resulting social and educative effects that oppose and thwart the ideals of the educator.
With this October issue, THE SOCIAL FRONTIER, a journal of educational criticism and reconstruction, becomes a reality. Its founding is definitely related to the new spirit of creative social inquiry which has been apparent among American educators and teachers during the past three or four years. If the hopes of its founders are to be realized, this new journal must become the expressive medium of those members of the teaching profession who believe that education has an important, even strategic, role to play in the reconstruction of American society.
Anyone who has taken part in any thorough-going discussion of curriculum-making will admit that it is one of the most controversial of topics. Certainly almost, if not quite, all other educational disputes enter to complicate it. Naturally, then, when the men whose names are subscribed to the introductory statement began to consider "controversial issues in curriculum-making"—for that was the original statement of the enterprise—great differences of opinion at once appeared.
The problem raised in this study is no simple one of devices. It cuts much deeper and in this depth lies its difficulty, because it involves in varying aspects one of the most fundamental of human problems—how to relate the individual to the larger group. Throughout history is to be seen the struggle to maintain freedom through law and institution. Without using institutional forms, the individual can neither co-operate effectively with his fellows nor derive adequate profit from the experience of his forebears.
In this essay, Kilpatrick contends that schools must consciously assume an important part in the attempt to effect a better state of civilization, and must determine their aims and consequent procedure in consistency with this duty.