Educating for Democracy--The Schools and the Defense

by Thomas H. Briggs - 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.

1. Every educator, administrator, or teacher, should accept as a prime responsibility educating for democracy.

2. In order to do this, everyone should clarify his mind as to what democracy means. Helps: (a) The Creed of Democracy procurable at the Teachers College Bureau of Publications in the Pamphlet "Democracy and Education in the Current Crisis" and in a large poster; (b) Russell and Briggs, The Meaning of Democracy, Macmillan, 1941; (c) Counts, The Education of Free Men in American Democracy, National Education Association, Washington, D. C.

3. Formulate in cooperation with others who are interested and responsible—the more, the better—a statement of what you consider to be the essential principles of democracy.

4. Consider carefully and as fully as possible what those principles imply for attitudes and consequent action in numerous common problems-of life, emphasizing those that are local and of general concern, to the common man as well as to leaders.

5. Consider carefully and honestly (a) what exemplifications of these principles there are in your school; (b) what obstacles there are to exemplification; (c) what further applications of the principles are possible and desirable in your school and in your community.

6. Plan to excite interest in the problem and to secure active support from as many civic groups as possible.

7. Use the publications and advice of various organizations, as the National Education Association, 1201 16th Street, Washington, D. C., the American Association for Adult Education Association, 525 West 120th Street, New York, and the Council for Democracy, 285 Madison Avenue, New York.

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 43 Number 1, 1941, p. 4-5 ID Number: 9046, Date Accessed: 1/16/2022 5:24:58 PM

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