The older generation is at fault for "the disillusionment, the cynicism, the hardboiledness of the younger generation" about the war and the problems it raises for America, Walter M. Kotschnig. Smith College Professor of Education and Child Study, and student of unemployment problems, asserted today in the Harvard Educational Review published by the Graduate School of Education.
Professor Kotschnig charged that, while thoroughly "debunking" the World War, the older generation failed to learn and teach the lessons of that war; it failed to solve the democratic problem of providing equal educational and employment opportunities for youth; its teaching "has tended to undermine and destroy the sense of values of the younger generation"; it failed to match the dictators' power of evoking the loyalties and purposefulness of youth; and now it fails to realize that deep-seated changes in its own attitude and teaching are required to meet the problem.
Germany as Example
"Germany is strong," he said, "because German youth has been given a definite purpose. They have been given an ideal greater than themselves,--false as it undoubtedly is,--which has liberated them, which has given them a sense of exhilaration. In spite of regimentation and the loss of individual freedom, German youth is in many ways happier than ours. They have something to live for. It is also true that this very fact constitutes the greatest challenge to our democratic existence. Unless we can match this purposefulness of German youth, unless there are loyalties in us greater than theirs, all our battleships and tanks and airplanes will not save us from eventual defeat."
"We do not need to falsify history as has been done in the totaltarian countries," he said. "We do not need to indoctrinate. All we need to do is to set aside our cheap rationalist utilitarianism, our Babbittism, and return to a true understanding of history."
"The young must be made to see that there are still frontiers to be conquered, that there are conquests to be made which demand the best that is in them. Democracy today is an empty phrase to our schools.
"Our much advertised equality of educational opportunity is a myth," he said. "Generally speaking the children of large families in the lowest income brackets have little chance of graduation from high school. They have to leave school early to help their families. Most of them will never be anything but poorly paid unskilled workers. There is inequality also along geographical lines, owing to the unequal distribution of wealth and income in the various parts of the country. In spite of real efforts the poorer states are not able to provide adequate educational facilities for their children.
"Deprived of decent educational opportunities the young are doomed to a life of poverty and frustration. It is small wonder that they are disillusioned, that they say they have nothing to fight for, that they are impatient with those who day in and day out talk about saving democracy and at the same time oppose every measure, such as Federal support of education or improved social laws, which would go far to establish real democracy in this country."