One predominant idea, and perhaps the most provocative, resulting from increased discussion of American public education, is that well defined goals are no longer to be achieved. To say that “life adjustment” or “education of the whole man” are satisfactory goals is to cloud the horizon with platitudes.
Caught between a decline of “Deweyism” and an attempt to re-establish “traditionalism” in education, American public education today has a large “gray ghost” area. The future of America in scientific technology and social behavior hinges on what we can do about the goals of public education.
The organization which has long sheltered the “gray ghosts” is the National Congress of Parents and Teachers. Arm in arm with the National Education Association, PTA has limped along on innumerable half-hearted goals for over a quarter of a century.
The end result has been that the organization founded in 1897 as the National Congress of Mothers and dedicated to the welfare of the child in home and school has unwittingly sponsored and underwritten not only a mediocre public educational curriculum but also has created a curious parental neglect of children by making the school responsible for their social and moral development. One recalls the anecdote of a child who, seeing both parents depart for an evening PTA meeting, remarked, “I wish you and Daddy would stop doing so much for us at school and do something with us at home for a change.”
The statement of PTA goals seeks “to develop between educators and the general public such united efforts as will secure for every child the highest advantages in physical, mental, social, and spiritual education.” Another part of the Permanent Platform reads: “Active Spiritual Faith-Religion has a fundamental ...1
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