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Pre-Induction Education for Military Service--The Schools and the Defense

by Nickolaus L. Engelhardt - 1941

During the summer of 1940 the faculty of Teachers College developed the Creed of Democracy under the leadership of Professor Thomas H. Briggs. This and the associated documents have had a far-flung influence. Every department of Teachers College probably has members on Defense Committees and Emergency Committees and in similar activities in their particular fields—members who will gladly be of service to teachers and school administrators anywhere by furnishing information on specific questions. To facilitate the process of getting together persons interested in the same fields, Dean William F. Russell asked Professor Paul R. Mort to serve as a correlating agent. As a result, several committees were appointed. During the year additional faculty members were drawn into various defense activities outside the College. Conferences of the committee chairmen during the Summer School of 1941 led to the plan of holding a meeting at which persons concerned with various aspects of the defense problem would present brief statements of their activities. The purpose was to help teachers build a picture of what might be done by the schools on their own initiative. Professor Benjamin R. Andrews was instrumental in preparing the present document to supplement these verbal statements with brief accounts of what some of the Teachers College Staff are doing in defense work and with suggestions of services that teachers everywhere can render to promote community stability and welfare at present and also the protection and improvement of the position of America on into the post-emergency period. Teachers should be ready to initiate local leadership in their own communities by consulting with municipal officials and bringing together informal groups to canvass the local situation, getting in touch with their governors and such national agencies as may be necessary, in order to provide local committees to undertake such community services.

A pre-induction educational program for those entering military service might be carried on in every school system. To assist in the development of such a program, handbooks have been prepared as follows:1

Is Your Number Up? by Blake Cochran deals with civilian clearance problems.

Attention! To Your Health by Ernest I. Stewart is concerned with the individual's health program before and after entering military life.

A handbook on recreation for the selectee by William J. Pitt is planned to encourage prospective trainees to develop, before going to camp, interests which could be pursued constructively during camp life.

Other handbooks are needed as follows:

1. An army and navy primer might be prepared with a glossary of terms. Here should be included an overview of organization, services, and equipment, an outline of opportunities, and an introduction to experiences. For example, types of tests to be taken might be introduced here for the first time to selectees. Here they would get broad overviews of tanks, aeroplanes, battleships, terrain problems, and the like. It is conceivable that such an introductory course would reduce embarrassment, confusion, and misunderstanding when trainees enter camps.

2. One of the most serious problems confronting the trainees is that -of being in new environments where they are faced with the necessity of getting acquainted with people and places. Especially is it true that a trainee may, for the first time, be stimulated in camp to become acquainted with himself as an individual and as a member of the human race. These trainees should be taught how to take advantage of the cross section of America in which they happen to be stationed. They should learn what contributions have been made to American life, history, and progress by that section of the country. The handbook should teach them what to look for, what to study, how to develop sympathetic approaches to the problems of others, and how to relate their new experiences to home problems.

3. Another area of major interest which invites study is what might be called the civilian aftermath of military service. The story of this aftermath in the past history of the United States might very well be written. Growing out of the present military service there will be new alignments in civilian life. What these alignments might mean and the direction that their interests might take are points upon which many men should seek enlightenment. From the "Order of the Cincinnati" to the "American Legion" a history has developed, the major trends of which the trainee should know.

1These handbooks are published by the Bureau of Publications, Teachers College, Columbia University. Is Your Number Up? and Attention! To Your Health are ready now, and others in the series will be available in die near future.

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 43 Number 1, 1941, p. 6-7
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 9060, Date Accessed: 1/16/2022 5:22:36 PM

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  • Nickolaus Engelhardt
    Professor of Education, Teachers College

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