The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, Digital Edition > My Day
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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FORT WORTH, Texas, Monday—I wonder how many people realize what it costs to teach someone things he should have learned in school, after he has come into the Army? Dr. Studebaker feels that even now this adult education should be done in the home communities before a man is taken into the Army.

There are some 240 men in Aberdeen, Md., training center, who are going to school. Ordnance work requires an ability to read, because as one officer said, if you can't read the marks on the ammunition boxes and you get the wrong ammunition, it is just the same as having none.

To be sure, a certain number of these troops, going to school, are colored men from the deep South, but there are also a considerable number of white men who are learning what they should have learned in the primary grades—how to read and write and how to add and subtract.

Occasionally, the difficulty lies in the fact that a man is a foreigner and does not speak English, or at least did not go to school in this country. One young man with whom I talked, was born in Pennsylvania, another in New Jersey. The first boy's parents died when he was eight, and then he went to work in the mines and has taken care of himself ever since, with the result that he has had four months of school in his life.

One man with greying hair, who told me he was 44 years old, was laboriously picking out letters from a pile in front of him to spell the word "dog." The group of officers teaching these men are really quite extraordinary. They have developed a remarkable system of visual aids. Many of them have had teaching experience in the past.

They try to keep the classes down to ten or twelve and they give a great deal of individual attention to each pupil. But these pupils are costing us somewhere around $175 a month. Wouldn't it have been cheaper for all of us if we had seen that they had had decent educations when they were young?

Illiteracy of this kind does not speak well for our type of civilization. Evidently it takes a war to show where we have been negligent in our duty to the people as a whole. I remember the last war and know that all this came up then. I wonder if we shall have more intelligence this time, or whether we shall forget again and continue to be penny-wise and pound-foolish.

General Simpson and Major F. A. Stutz, who were kind enough to look after us while we were in Aberdeen, certainly are doing remarkable training. I saw a review of some of the troops and much of the building which is going on, and marvelled at the expansion which can be made while a comprehensive training program goes on.



Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Fort Worth (Tex., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, September 29, 1942

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.