The Soul of Democracy by Edward Howard Griggs

By Edward Howard Griggs

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Well, in the mood cited, the institution raises and standardizes its entrance-requirements and generally excludes special students. One readily sees why: it is much easier to work with the regularly prepared freshman, he fits much more smoothly and comfortably into the machinery of the institution. Many a wise teacher will admit, nevertheless, that the best students he ever taught and the ones whose lives he is proudest of having influenced, were often men and women, thirty, forty, fifty years of age--teachers who suddenly realized that the ruts of their calling had become so deep they could no longer see over them, ministers awakening to the fact that they had given all their store and must get a new supply, business men aware of a call to another field of action-- working with a consistent earnestness the average fledgling freshman cannot imagine--he is not old enough; yet generally the tendency is to exclude such students, unless they will go back and do the arduous, and often for them useless, work of preparing to pass the examinations for entrance to the freshman class.

American education began as a subsidiary process. Children got organic education in the home, on the farm, in the work shop. They went to school to get certain formal disciplines, to learn to read, write and cipher and to acquire formal grammar. With the moving into the cities, the industrial revolution and the entire transformation of our life, the school has had to take over more and more of the process of organic education. If children fail to get such education in the school, they are apt to miss it altogether.

Thus, the utmost possible fraternization of officers and men is desirable, and social snobbery, the snubbing of officers who come up from the ranks, and other anachronistic survivals, should be stamped out, as utterly foreign to what should be the spirit of the military arm of democracy. Further, in estimating the two types, one must remember that paternalism may exercise its power in secret and that it accomplishes much in the dark. Democracy, on the other hand, is afflicted and blessed with pitiless publicity.

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