The words of David B. Truman, dean of Columbia: “We are in danger of producing a generation that has spent more years than its predecessors in educational institutions but has not gained the kind of literacy that was once regarded as the mark of an educated man.”

Having read this I wondered why. At the same time I picked up a bibliography of readings put out by the National Education Association of Washington, D. C. There were fifty-two titles on the list as well as a note promising more of the same if you wanted it.

Listen to some of the titles. Experiments in Independent Reading, Guiding Children’s Reading through Experience, The Improvement of Reading, On and On in Reading, Growing into Reading, and the prize of them all, Readings on Reading. And so it goes for all fifty-two titles.

It has been one of my basic beliefs that the best teaching in the whole educational scheme is done by those wonderfully devoted women in the first and second grades. From my own experience and that of people I know, I surely have no complaints with what they get done year after year. What worries me is how any sober teacher of integrity can possibly “keep up” with a bibliography of fifty-two books on just the subject of reading. Furthermore, is reading really so tough? And furthermore, do you get the suspicion I do—that most of what is listed on a bibliography is there because too many people have to “publish or perish” or because there is nothing more impressive to a certain level of educated mind than a mimeographed bibliography? This sort of thing can push us eventually to a twentieth-century Tower of Babel.

As an old McGuffey Reader fan, I am more interested in content than in technique, in big ideas than in controlled ...

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