Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Schools; Universities and colleges; Education; Education, Higher; Students

Longhand Note of President Harry S. Truman, Not dated. President's Secretary's Files - Longhand Notes.

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I'm thinking of a program for youngsters of senior high school age and first and second year college. My plan is to address assemblies of high schools and colleges on citizenship, political responsibility and the duty of a citizen owes to the Republic of which he is a citizen.

I want to give high schools and small colleges preference. I have an idea that 100 schools with a 1,000 students is of much more value to the country than two schools with 50,000 students.

The objective is to build character find brain power and make responsible citizens to keep the freedom of the individual intact.

Personal contact with instructors of character is absolutely essential to these objectives. Mass production of college graduates is not the answer to an educated citizenship.

When the pioneers came into the Ohio-Mississippi-Missouri Valley the first thing they thought of after shelter and safety for their families was education for the children. In every settlement a church was built and then a school house-sometimes one building for both purposes.

Some of the greatest men of the 19th century in our great nation had to make the hardest kind of struggle for education. The fundamentals, reading, writing and arithmetic were hard to obtain.

As the settlements grew and communications improved great schools both religious and secular grew also. I am anxious to see that thirst for knowledge encouraged at the base.

The GI Bill of Rights proved conclusively that young men from 18 to 26 after some experience thirst for learning and that they are willing to work hard and at some disadvantage for and education.

My definition of an education is the lighting of that spark which is called a "thirst for information or knowledge." A college graduate with the right sort of instruction should find at his graduation that he is only at the door of knowledge. He should have learned in going through his schooling where to find the information on the subjects that make for scholarship.

If he hasn't learned that the time spend in school has been wasted for no good purpose.

If, when he comes out of school, that thirst for learning has been brought out he never ceases to find fields for study that open up endlessly before him.

The old idea of grammar, rhetoric, logic, arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy constitute the basis of an education is just as true now as it always has been.

Archimedes, Aristotle, Euclid, Galileo, Leonardo di Vinci, Sir Isaac Newton, Einstein all started from these fundamentals, as did the great literary lights and the great musicians.

So lets not forget basic principles based on character.


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