Monday, December 22, 2014

The Americans: The Colonial Experience. Book 2. Viewpoints and Institutions. Part 6: Educating the Community

Chapter 28.  The Community Enters the University
  • European education
    • property of an exclusive few
    • universities were hothouses where only certain kinds of thinking could flourish
  • American differences
    • legal vagueness and blurring of distinctions between college and university helped to break educational monopolies
      • sharp and significant distinction in England
        • colleges had no powers to grant degrees
        • university a degree-granting institution
        • until early 19th century Oxford and Cambridge were only
          English universities
      • old world distinction became confused and ceased to have meaning
      • uncertain and unsolved questions concerning Harvard have lasted into 20th century
        • legal foundation
        • origin of authority to grant degrees
        • question of whether and in what legal sense, if at all, it is property a college or university
      • history of colonial colleges
        • triumph of legal practice over theory
        • needs of community over abstruse distinctions of lawyers
    • outside control drew college into community
      • European education
        • colleges and universities centers for a proud and eminent group of learned men
        • university independent of community
        • university isolated from community
        • remained entrenched behind medieval walls
      • American education
        • colleges were brand-new artifacts
        • no large body of learned men
        • control fell to community
        • college president
          • result of outside control
          • power vacuum left by trustees (with no time to govern) and professors (oftentimes transient and youthful)
          • combined the academic and the man of business
          • living symbol of the breakdown of cloistered walls

Chapter 29.  Higher Education in Place of Higher Learning
  • Religious sectarianism and variety
    • mid 18th century - after the Great Awakening -- led to rapid growth of colonial colleges
    • colleges were founded to support established church of colony
    • by the Revolutionary War, nearly every major Christian sect had its own institution
    • competition for students
      • no single sect could furnish an entire school
      • nonsectarianism, through a logical development, became the ideal of American education
  • Geographic distances and local pride
    • never an effective movement for a national university
    • numerous and diverse American colleges never formed a self-conscious community of learned men
    • colleges were definitely institutions of local community
    • primary aim was to supply its particular region with doctors, lawyers, ministers, merchants, and political leaders
    • early American colleges
      • center of each colony's affairs
      • link between learning and public life
  • Social and geographic mobility:  the competition for students
    • study recruiting then was similar to techniques of modern era except for use of sports scholarships
    • schools put large sums of money into construction of new buildings
  • Proliferation of colleges
    • increase in quantity of degrees, but not quality
    • issuing an inflated intellectual currency
    • traditional curriculum
      • tutors passed on what had been taught to them
      • what distinguished American colleges was not corpus of knowledge, but how, when, where, and to whom it was communicated
    • became less identified with any one profession
    • anxious to spread learning to a large number of students
    • shaping new tests in the value of learning

Chapter 30.  Ideal of the Undifferentiated Man
  •  Vagueness of American social classes
    • liberal or professional education could not retain its former precision
    • distinction which had been hallowed by custom, law and language in Europe came to seem vague and artificial in America
  • Diffusion of roles
    • hard for a man to prepare for any one role in America since roles had not yet been sharply defined
    • new and more diversified role of women
    • scarcity of labor tended to remove social prejudice
    • one in the learned profession was judged on how well he performed rather than on how much he knew in some subject
    • lack of enthusiasm for the man of profound, detached, and pure intelligence

Related posts:
The Americans: The Colonial Experience by Daniel Boorstin,  Book 1.  The Vision and the Reality Part 1.  A City Upon a Hill:  The Puritans of Massachusetts.  (12/8/2014)
The Americans: The Colonial Experience. Part 2. The Inward Plantation: The Quakers of Pennsylvania.  (12/10/2014)
The Americans: The Colonial Experience. Part 3. Victims of Philanthropy: The Settlers of Georgia.  (12/13/2014)
The Americans;  The Colonial Experience, Part 4.  Transplanters:  The Virginians.  (12/14/2014)
The Americans: The Colonial Experience. Book 2. Viewpoints and Institutions. Part 5: An American Frame of Mind.  (12/17/2014)

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