SEPTEMBER 5, 1962
HYDE PARK, N.Y —In my column of July 25, I called my readers' attention to an essay written by a Charleston, South Carolina, high school honor graduate and published in one of their local newspapers. Carefully omitting the name of the boy who had written the essay, I spoke of the apparent indoctrination which had led him to present a distorted view of our American form of constitutional government.
Ordinarily I do not take notice of criticisms which may be directed at something I have felt it right to bring before the public. But since the publication of my column, I have received letters from Charleston and elsewhere which criticize me for attacking the boy who wrote the essay, and that is something I do not wish to let pass.
It is quite evident that none of my critics had read my column correctly. Not only was I careful never to mention the boy's name, but what I specifically criticized throughout the column was the teaching—the school indoctrination—which did not allow for the growth of a "free, open and enquiring mind." If the people of Charleston knew the boy and knew he had written the essay, they were the only ones who did. Nowhere else would this information have been available through me.
Some of the letters describe this 16-year-old boy's remarkable achievements. How anyone could have attended so many schools and accomplished so much as my correspondents claim for him in these 16 years is really difficult to understand. But in any case, I would like to draw the attention of my correspondents to this sentence in my column: "The important thing about this essay which has seriously troubled me is the fact that it reveals a type of teaching given today in probably more than one of our Southern states." This is a far cry from being a "personal vendetta" against the student, as one anonymous correspondent writes from Michigan whose origin may or may not be Southern.
I am quite sure no Southern state would acknowledge that any of its schools were allowed to indoctrinate. But I think it might be well to look a little closer into what brings about a certain type of trend in thinking which is centered in that region, and which rarely looks at the world as a whole—not to speak of the United States as a whole.
I was interested to hear the other day about a film series designed especially for the entertainment of sub-teenagers, a group not usually given too much attention. The series will be sponsored by the Children's Film Foundation of Great Britain, a non-profit foundation set up by the British motion picture industry to produce films for youngsters between the ages of six and 12. Walter Reade, Jr. has brought these films over for showing in this country, and support has been given by PTA organizations, civic groups and by many editorial writers.
The films, which are being shown on Saturdays in different parts of the country, include such adventure series as "Raiders of the Rover," and modern science forms the background of much of the imaginative material presented in them. It would seem to be an excellent way to bring worthwhile entertainment to these six-to-twelve youngsters.
(Copyright, 1962, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)
About this document
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, September 5, 1962
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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