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There are three reasons why the study of President Wilson's war addresses may wisely be included in the course of study of every secondary school in America. The first is their intrinsic literary merit. President Wilson has a happy faculty for expressing his thoughts in remarkably clear and forceful English. His feelings, however provocative the occasion, never obscure his thought. His terse, clear-cut, cool-headed manner of stating facts is worthy of careful study by America's young people, whose thinking, as a rule, is not characterized by these qualities.
A second reason for the study of President Wilson's addresses is their timeliness. Fortunately the day is passed when America's teachers were afraid to introduce the writings of living Americans into the curriculum as literature. Because young people will be more interested in the addresses of President Wilson than in Burke's "Speech on Conciliation,” for example, is certainly not a reason for refusing to study them.
The third reason may best be indicated by a quotation from the President's letter of August 23, 1917, to school officers :
The war is bringing to the minds of our people a new appreciation of the problems of national life, and a deeper understanding of the meaning and aims of democracy. Matters which heretofore have seemed commonplace and
trivial are seen in a truer light. The urgent demand for the production and proper distribution of food and other national resources has made us aware of the close dependence of individual on individual and nation on nation. The effort to keep up social and industrial organizations in spite of the withdrawal of men for the army has revealed the extent to which modern life has become complex and specialized.
These and other lessons of the war must be learned quickly if we are intelligently and successfully to defend our institutions. When the war is over, we must apply the wisdom which we have acquired in purging and ennobling the life of the world.
In these vital tasks of acquiring a broader view of human possibilities the common school must have a large part. I urge that teachers and other school officers increase materially the time and attention devoted to instruction bearing directly on the problems of community and national life.
Such a plea is no way foreign to the spirit of American public education or of existing practices. Nor is it a plea for a temporary enlargement of the school program appropriate merely to the period of the war. It is a plea for a realization in public education of the new emphasis which the war has given to the ideals of democracy and to the broader conceptions of national life.
It is the belief of the editor that a study of the President's discussion of the aim and purpose of the war will do more than any other equal amount of study to bring to our young people a realization of the real meaning of the democracy for which we are trying to make the world safe. Clear, cogent thinking is vastly more important as an element of patriotism than flag-waving and cheering, though these latter have their place.
The work of editing these addresses has been a real pleasure. The length of the Introduction is due to an effort to make the setting of the addresses clear to young people who perhaps were not in high school when the war began. The notes are brief, because it has seemed better to let the President speak for himself. The aim of the teacher should be to help the pupil to grasp the real thought of the addresses, to appreciate their clear-cut conciseness, and to arouse a thoughtful, earnest love for the land that fights for no selfish ends.
It may be added that President Wilson has expressly authorized the editor to use these addresses in this manner.
ARTHUR R. LEONARD COLUMBUS, OHIO