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ERIC Number: ED375052
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1993-May
Pages: 50
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
"That Knowledge Most Useful to Us:" Thomas Jefferson's Concept of "Utility" in the Education of Republican Citizens.
Wagoner, Jennings L., Jr.
This paper discusses Thomas Jefferson's evolving concept of the form and manner of education most useful for republican citizens. Jefferson both respected and resented Europe's claims of superiority in cultural matters. But as captivated as Jefferson was by European artistic and literary attainments, he was appalled at the misery and squalor that he observed among the masses in France. In letters from Europe to those in America, Jefferson expressed his opinions of European education, and what was necessary for education in the new republic of the United States. In numerous letters and documents, Jefferson elaborated in some detail on the value of a knowledge of the classics, modern languages, mathematics, chemistry, agriculture, botany and other branches of science, as well as the study of history and ethics. Studies such as these Jefferson considered the bare essentials, the core areas of knowledge that should be in the possession of any American who sought enlightenment. His writings warned of the pitfalls of sending young men to Europe for an education. Convinced that enlightened Americans needed to attend consciously and deliberately to the serious work of educating the body politic, Jefferson sought to distance his countrymen from the social and political traditions that he believed contrasted so markedly with the conditions that should emerge and prevail in the new nation that was forming. To Jefferson liberty depended on education, an education that would ensure that the inalienable rights recently proclaimed and fought for would be realized. Theoretically Jefferson's educational scheme was both democratic and meritocratic. (DK)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Historical Materials
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A