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Education and Responsibility

Education and Responsibility

Copyright Date: 1955
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Education and Responsibility
    Book Description:

    This book reveals the sources of the disquiet prevailing among educators over the apparent failure of the public school system to develop moral responsibility in America's youth. The doctrine of separation of church and state has made sectarian religious training illegal in public schools, and Tunis Romein shows that the task of providing moral guidance, suddenly thrust upon educators, has disclosed their deep schisms in educational philosophy -- basic contradictions which have split American education from top to bottom.

    Romein explains the basic conflicts in education by examining three educational philosophies -- progressivism, educational reconstructionism, and classical humanism -- and comparing all of them with the traditional Christian view. He holds that all educational philosophies, whether secular or not, are based on faith, and that all can be tested with regard to their beliefs about the nature of man and about the kind of moral responsibility education should develop in man.

    With sincerity and frankness, Romein analyzes the moral and intellectual poverty of much of the thinking dominant in education today, and he shows the necessity as well as the difficulty of making faith in God once more the underlying influence in American education.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-6428-1
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Tunis Romein
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xi-xiv)

    Simply speaking, responsibility is answerability. In a higher sense, responsibility seems inseparable from human existence, for man’s humanity has a deep relationship to man’s community and the human community is essentially dependent upon human answerability. This human capacity to be accountable may be fulfilled in response to a ruler or to the dictations of a powerful state or to the inner law of the “ought” or to the divine imperative of love.

    Responsibility for different kinds of societies—the response of the primitive man to his rigid social structure and customs, the response of the modern man to a dictator,...


    • Chapter One Progressivism in Outline
      (pp. 3-9)

      In the long and tortuous transtion from medieval to modern civilization in Western history the changing concept of authority was basic and crucial. In medieval times the Christian church was the authority which permeated all levels of society. By contrast the modern mind is far removed generally from that medieval faith. Currently a wide range of contradictory authorities has supplanted the church and its sovereign God. Pragmatism today is one of the faiths in revolt against older traditions.

      Pragmatism the theory, which is progressivism in practice insofar as education is concerned, is a philosophy peculiarly American, a philosophy which appeals...

    • Chapter Two A Pragmatic Concept of the Nature of Man
      (pp. 10-19)

      In the best pragmatic tradition men are not sons of God but sons of earth. Man is a child of nature and is continuous with nature; nature is his origin, his home.

      In philosophy naturalism, the basis for a pragmatic interpretation of man’s constitution, is not the naive or literary admiration of nature as opposed to the artificialities of civilization, but the metaphysical basis for explaining the origin and destiny of man. Naturalistic philosophy assumes that “the universe requires no supernatural cause or government, but is self-existent, self-explanatory, self-operating, and self-directing.”¹ The idea of a self-sufficient universe seems dominant today...

    • Chapter Three A Progressive Solution to the Problem of Developing Responsibility
      (pp. 20-34)

      The development of responsibility is without question a basic and serious problem for the pragmatist. The morale of youth in the face of twentieth century social and moral schism presents a disturbing picture. The democratic ideal in action is shaken to the foundations because of a tendency of the youth in America to be more taken up with the rights of freedom than with its obligations. A recent survey of more than 2,000 high school students discovered that “over two-thirds [of the students] defined democracy solely in terms of rights and liberties without reference to responsibilities.”¹ It hardly seems possible...


    • Chapter Four Classical Humanism in Outline
      (pp. 37-44)

      Is there or is there not a realm of law above the natural continuum discoverable to man? Does the law already exist, or does man make his own laws? The conflicting answers to these questions by the pragmatists and the classical humanists result in seemingly irreconcilable deadlocks involving basic cleavages concerning the nature of man’s mind and the nature of the universe.

      Outstanding in this controversial area is the question of ends. The Dewey philosophy strikes the classical humanist as comparable to a beautiful ship which sets out to sea piloted by an intelligent skipper who is unusually capable of...

    • Chapter Five A Greek Concept of the Nature of Man
      (pp. 45-52)

      How can we consider man’s destiny unless we ask what he is? asks the classical humanist. For him more than for any other educator, perhaps, the nature of man is consistently a primary theme, because the purposes of education are fixed by the nature of man. Of course the classical humanist is by no means singular in his preoccupation with man’s nature, for this problem is also central with men of sociological, psychological, and anthropological bent. For the classical humanist the safest way of escape from this contemporary whirl of intellectual and scientific crosscurrents is a return to the ancients,...

    • Chapter Six A Classical Solution to the Problem of Developing Responsibility
      (pp. 53-72)

      Surely no phase of educational endeavor begins to compare in importance with the moral aspect of education: the ordering of a program in terms of what is right and what is wrong, of what ought to be and what ought not to be. Ironically, in the face of this ever profound problem, education currently seems hopelessly divided about the question of foundations for morals. At a time when education sorely needs a vigorous constructive approach to this problem, it finds its energies seriously dissipated because of its conflicting philosophies and ideals.

      The present moment in history presents a unique hazard...


    • Chapter Seven Educational Reconstructionism in Outline
      (pp. 75-87)

      The educational reconstructionist is dissatisfied with the pragmatic progressive position which holds so insistently to its faith in a naive evolutionary progress as the means of overcoming the tragic abnormalities of the age. The ideal of a gentle and orderly progress educationally nurtured may suit eras of relative stability in society, but not the period of tortured transition which the world is presently undergoing. For different reasons the educational reconstructionist is also skeptical of the philosophy of the classical humanist with his cold reasoning in ivory towers, a procedure which can do little that is illustrious in the face of...

    • Chapter Eight A Social Concept of the Nature of Man
      (pp. 88-95)

      The reconstructionist is convinced that one of the critical weaknesses of contemporary Western civilization is the cult of individualism. Both ancient Greek humanism and modern Christianity have helped develop an individualistic trend in almost every sphere of human activity—in philosophy, religion, science, economics, politics, education. The result has been an unnatural isolation of the individual from his neighbor, accented more than ever by the machine age. Now finally there is evidence of a strong counter movement toward a new understanding of the social nature of the individual, a new appreciation of the necessity to interpret the individual in the...

    • Chapter Nine A Radical Solution to the Problem of Developing Responsibility
      (pp. 96-110)

      Surely no one can be more serious about the problem of responsibility than the educational reconstructionist, although with his dynamic concept of the role of education in society he shifts the weight of responsibility from individual to group. He recognizes the gravity of the present trend toward the magnification of power in the modern world and what this trend implies in reference to the responsible application of this power. In a simple society, man cast himself upon the mercy of some inscrutable higher power. But now man realizes he must take the place of the gods because he himself possesses...


    • Chapter Ten Education, the State, and Christian Faith
      (pp. 113-126)

      Today the proper relationship of Christian faith to public education is a serious problem. It is reasonably safe to say that the educational history of the United States is quite unintelligible apart from Christian faith. Christian influence is deeply felt not only by contemporary leaders in education, progressivists and classical humanists, but even by educational reconstructionists who admit certain Christian ethical forms pervading their otherwise non-Christian educational faith.

      Although it is relatively simple to argue the vital historical relationship between Christian faith and public education, it seems extremely difficult to analyze this relationship. Education is complicated by its divergent philosophies,...

    • Chapter Eleven Reformation and Thomistic Concepts of the Nature of Man
      (pp. 127-143)

      Thomism and Reformation faiths seem to stand side by side in their fundamental opposition to secular concepts of the nature of man. Yet there are serious differences of view between these two Christian outlooks which in some respects lead to widely separated positions in theology and in education. To trace the lines of agreement and divergence, however, is a difficult undertaking. Hebrew, Christian, Greek, and modern secular outlooks contribute to an interweaving of theological and philosophical themes which seem far beyond the comprehension of this review.

      It is important to preface a study in contrasts with a brief review of...

    • Chapter Twelve Education and Neo-Reformation Christian Faith
      (pp. 144-160)

      America’s whole cultural history, it has been noted, has a significant Protestant orientation, with early Calvinistic influences playing a leading role. With Protestantism so strongly a part of the American tradition, it is reasonable to suppose that a new Protestantism is significantly related to contemporary life with its crucial spiritual problems. AsTimein a recent editorial says, the critical problem for America is to discover the means of bolstering moral progress so that it. can catch up with material progress. Perhaps, writesTime, the most significant movement in this direction for “predominantly Protestant U. S. is the recent movement...

    • Chapter Thirteen A Theological Solution to the Problem of Developing Responsibility
      (pp. 161-177)

      The implications of personal responsibility are not so profound in a closed society, either primitive, with its set frame for determining men’s activities, or totalitarian in the modern sense, where the state makes the critical choices and the individual simply defers to the state. But in our open society with its framework of individual freedom as outlined by the Greeks and vitalized by the Christian faith in Western culture, personal responsibility becomes at once a great glory and a heavy cross.¹ Western civilization has drunk deeply of the wine of individual freedoms, and the thought of losing these freedoms seems...

    • Chapter Fourteen Education, the Community, and Christian Faith
      (pp. 178-198)

      Christian faith, both Reformation and Catholic, agrees that education cannot be neutral about faith, that education by virtue of its moral and spiritual tasks must have its sustaining faith. And from the Christian point of view an education for the development of free and responsible persons cannot proceed upon nontheological premises. The modern Western world, therefore, simply cannot afford to neglect its Christian tradition and heritage. Neither the state nor education can fulfill its responsibility to our kind of a society without Christian foundations and Christian direction. Until the men of contrary opinion can demonstrate more satisfactory alternatives, both the...

  9. Critical Essay on References
    (pp. 199-208)
  10. Index
    (pp. 209-210)