ERIC Number: ED187182
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1980-Mar-7
Reference Count: 0
Liberal Education and the American Dream, 1920-1950: Educators' Responses to Changing Times.
Guyotte, Roland L.
Changes between 1920 and 1950 in the American idea of going to college, from an aspiration into a right, are described. The interplay among educational leaders during this period illuminates many of their uncertainties and concerns. One element in the debate is the centrality of liberal education as a normative concept to explain and prescribe for steady growth. Debaters are consistently divided on the appropriate boundaries to ascribe to liberal education. The liberal education defended in the 1920's was education for leadership in a stratified society. The apparent inability of institutions to fulfill this mission, especially with rising enrollment, and an apparent revolution in student morals and manners were criticized. The depression era marked a silent shift away from elite higher education toward a general education model oriented to citizens and masses. It specifically called for education for following as well as leading. The world crisis leading to the second world war stimulated a revival of the humanities in the curriculum. Events and constituencies outside education influenced the growth of mass education in the 1940's, especially the GI Bill. Work at Harvard (the Harvard Redbook) promoted a significant revival of the liberal arts ideal, and the report of a presidential commission during the Truman administration was also a milestone. When mass higher education triumphed by the mid 1950's, some educators abandoned their earlier enthusiasm. During these decades the educational system enlarged and transformed itself in directions far different from the enduring liberal education goals. Although the goals were retained, the content and even purpose of liberal education remained vague. (MSE)
Descriptors: Academic Education, Access to Education, College Curriculum, Educational Change, Educational History, Educational Policy, Enrollment Trends, General Education, Higher Education, Liberal Arts, Public Policy, Social Change, United States History
Paper prepared for the Missouri Valley History Conference (Omaha, NE, March 7, 1980)
Publication Type: Historical Materials; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A