kitchen table math, the sequel: Woodrow Wilson on fathers, sons, and universities

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Woodrow Wilson on fathers, sons, and universities

I am interested in [this organization - the YMCA] for various reasons. First of all, because it is an association of young men. I have had a good deal to do with young men in my time, and I have formed an impression of them which I believe to be contrary to the general impression. They are generally thought to be arch radicals. As a matter of fact, they are the most conservative people I have ever dealt with. Go to a college community and try to change the least custom of that little world and find how the conservatives will rush at you. Moreover, young men are embarrassed by having inherited their father’s opinions. I have often said that the use of a university is to make young gentlemen as unlike their fathers as possible. I do not say that with the least disrespect for the fathers; but every man who is old enough to have a son in college is old enough to have become very seriously immersed in some particular business and is almost certain to have caught the point of view of that particular business. And it is very useful to his son to be taken out of that narrow circle, conducted to some high place where he may see the general map of the world and of the interests of mankind, and there shown how big the world is and how much of it his father may happen to have forgotten. It would be worth while for men, middle-aged and old, to detach them selves more frequently from the things that command their daily attention and to think of the sweeping tides of humanity.

Woodrow Wilson on the Christian Men’s Association
Needless to say, I personally do not agree that a sentiment such as "the use of a university is to make young gentlemen as unlike their fathers as possible" can be advanced without "the least disrespect for the fathers" even once, let alone often.

Well, at least Woodrow Wilson thought character education happened via instruction in the disciplines, not vendor-produced character-ed "curricula" and the like.

I suppose that's something.

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