The object of liberal training – 1909 1


I enjoyed finding this speech by chance, delivered by Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States in 1909:

“The object of liberal training is not learning, but discipline and the enlightenment of the mind. The educated man is to be discovered by his point of view, by the temper of his mind, by his attitude towards life and his fair way of thinking.

“He can see, he can discriminate, he can combine ideas and perceive wither they lead; he has insight and comprehension.

“His mind is a practised instrument of appreciation. He is more apt to contribute light than heat to a discussion, and will oftener than another show the power of uniting the elements of a difficult subject in a whole view; he has the knowledge of the world which no one can have who knows only his own generation or only his own task.

“What we should seek to impart in our colleges, therefore, is not so much learning itself as the spirit of learning.

“You can impart that to young men; and you can impart it to them in the three or four years at your disposal.

“It consists in the power to distinguish good reasoning from bad, in the power to digest and interpret evidence, in a habit of catholic observation and a preference for the non-partisan point of view, in an addiction to clear and logical processes of thought and yet an instinctive desire to interpret rather than to stick in the letter of the reasoning, in the taste for knowledge and the deep respect for the integrity of the human mind.

“It is citizenship of the world of knowledge, but not ownership of it.”

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One thought on “The object of liberal training – 1909

  • Des Squire

    Absolute magic. In particular I love
    “It consists in the power to distinguish good reasoning from bad, in the power to digest and interpret evidence, in a habit of catholic observation and a preference for the non-partisan point of view, in an addiction to clear and logical processes of thought and yet an instinctive desire to interpret rather than to stick in the letter of the reasoning, in the taste for knowledge and the deep respect for the integrity of the human mind.
    What a pity this is not the thinking today?