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

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NEW YORK—I have been out in the Middle West, beginning with Indianapolis last Thursday morning when I spoke to 10,000 teachers in the old tabernacle auditorium. There had been an editorial in the paper several days previously urging the teachers to boycott the lecture. But as my subject was "Is America Facing World Leadership?" I did not mention the campaign, and the editorial did not seem very pertinent. It turned out there was not even standing room available in the auditorium when we reached there.

Teachers are genuinely troubled about the future of education. They realize that increasing amounts of leisure for the masses will put more of a burden on education in a variety of new ways. Many of the things that only the very rich enjoyed in the past will become generally available to a greater and greater degree. To use this leisure time simply in spending more hours watching TV or spectator sports will not increase our value as citizens to our country. Hence the change in our economy which is coming with automation involves a real change in education both for children and adults.

Now many of us with increased leisure will not necessarily become great painters or artists in other fields. But we can become capable of appreciation and understanding; and it may well be that, as man more and more watches machines do the work he was obliged to do in the past, he may get a great sense of satisfaction out of participation in some of the various crafts. To enjoy these thoroughly, however, we must again not only learn a skill but also appreciation. We must learn about design. We must have taste, which is only formulated by great opportunities for contacts and experience. One learns about furniture and decoration at different periods and one's taste develops as one learns. Those of us who knew the masterpieces of the old times must learn also to appreciate the efforts of the moderns to create something new and to express themselves in new ways.

This will be something the masses can participate in if our education meets the challenge. The teachers with whom I talked were conscious of the challenge; but many of them had not thought through the possibilities of the future. I am sure that those in charge of training teachers today must revise and enlarge their thinking. In the world of tomorrow teachers will have great importance not only in the formation of taste and the setting of standards, but in being the intellectual leaders in whatever environment they find themselves. Naturally, this requires adequate pay so that they may continue to develop themselves; otherwise they will not be satisfactory teachers.

All of this I thought of as I looked at the sea of faces before me while I spoke. Some were young and some were old, full of life or approaching weariness, full of fire or with fire spent. Yet a reference to children was enough to bring from all of them a quick response. These are important people in our community. We should not only give them the tools with which to work, but the recognition and respect. And the tangible proof of this is more adequate pay.

Matt Welsh, the young and vigorous candidate for Governor in Indiana, told me there was a tremendous interest in the campaign. I got the same impression on Thursday night at a rally in one of the distant suburbs of Chicago. It was not only well attended, but I had the feeling of a greater interest in what was happening in our government that I have experienced for a long time.

On Friday Nixon began what I think may prove to be the first of a number of promises that will follow. He pledged himself if elected to tour the Russian satellite countries in Eastern Europe to "carry the message of freedom into the Communist world."

Does Mr. Nixon really think we are going to believe that anything can be gained by this sort of promise? In the first place, I doubt that even as President of the U.S. would he be allowed to go to those countries. And if he made that kind of speech, he would certainly be restricted very quickly in his meetings. Moreover, you have to be invited to a country, and we have already seen that without the real wish of the people it is very difficult to get that invitation. Also people do not like to be endangered.

This is an empty promise of the Vice-President's designed to catch people's hopes, but it will mean nothing in real accomplishment.



Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • New York (N.Y., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, October 31, 1960

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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Digital edition published 2008, 2017 by
The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project

Available under licence from the Estate of Anna Eleanor Roosevelt.

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MEP edition publlished on June 30, 2008.

TEI-P5 edition published on April 28, 2017.

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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.