BOOMERANG CLAPTRAP

The intense desire of the two American virtuosi in virulence, Messrs, Mencken and Nathan, to till against every windmill on the plain has led them to attack one of the most respected of modern pedagogical theories. The review of D. W. Fisher's new book, "Teaching the Young to Think", too neatly annihilates the fallacy of teaching how to think, without teaching what to think.

It is claptrap to say. "We will give you the method of science, but we will not stoop so low as to give you any science." Evidently claptrap is contagious, for since when have educators withheld the material body of knowledge from their students? Under German tutelage, universities became gristmills of fact, which ground small the meal of knowledge and then stuffed it into the puppet's head. More recently, educators have begun to recognize that the method of searching out, weighing, and using the facts which life presents to men is more important than any encyclopedia of knowledge. The ability to grasp and reason with experiential fact is supposed to be developed by the testing and teaching of a college course. Naturally the emphasis has been shifted from the body of facts to the method of using them, but Messrs. Mencken and Nathan are merely shadow boxing with an ethereal opponent if they conceive that education has been evaporated to a highly concentrated essence, devoid of all relation to the world of problems surrounding modern man.

Instead of so airy and fragile an educative purpose, about as comprehensible as pure theology, it is plain that the aim of education is not to implant in young intellects any given set of dogmas--even the very interesting dogmas of the dogma-hating Mr. Mencken. Education does not ignore the issues that confront the modern world, but, avoiding the ex cathedra dictation of belief, tries to lead the student to reason for himself, to cull and consider to become a thinking atom in a difficult universe of conflicting purposes.