Monday, Jul.

21, 1941

Brave New Peace
Around a nest of bridge tables in University of Michigan's plushy Rackham Building, 20 of the ablest educators of Europe and America gathered last week to sketch a brave new post-war world—a world in which education would play a role denied it at Versailles. Like certain famous beer-hall conferences conducted some 20 years ago, this conference had a leader—a tubby, broad-shouldered ex-German named Reinhold Schairer—and a conspiratorial air, but its ideology was far different. In the minds of the conferees the outlines of a new world order took definite shape; an organization to establish it had already been born. This brain trust met at a conference of the New Education Fellowship, 26-year-old international organization of Progressive Educators, convening for the first time in the Western Hemisphere. Ann Arbor, bright with intense sunshine and the chatter of 1,800 delegates from 22 nations, had a Geneva flavor. At the last moment the Fellowship learned that its president, Finland's Laurin Zilliacus, had been detained. He cabled enigmatically from Finland: LEAVING FOR THE FRONT. . . . STILL BELIEVE IN DEMOCRACY. But while delegates talked, Reinhold Schairer and his fellow conspirators retired to a conference room to put their dreams on paper. It was an oddly assorted group: small, baldish John Bell Condliffe, eminent Australian economist now teaching at University of California; Ivor Armstrong Richards (Basic English), of Cambridge University and Harvard; Progressive Educator William Heard Kilpatrick, of Columbia University's Teachers College, and his vigorous wife; dark young Philosophy Professor Max Black, of University of Illinois; stocky young Robert Bauer, an Austrian youth leader; bush-browed Malcolm MacLean, president of Hampton Institute; others of whose practical idealism Leader Schairer felt sure. The meeting represented four years of Schairer planning. An authority on European education and youth, he ran a central student-aid bureau for German universities from 1921-33, launched a Werkstudenten movement whereby thousands of poor boys were enabled to attend universities. When Nazis seized his bureau headquarters and its $6,000,000 treasury in 1933, he fled Germany. In 1937 he became head of London University's Department of International Studies. Already expecting World War II, Dr. Schairer and a few fellow educators began to plan for another post-war world.

Bell-clear to Dr. Schairer were two causes of Germany's (and Europe's) disaster: 1) unemployment of youth; 2) failure of the Versailles peacemakers to give any thought to post-war education. Dr. Schairer also thought he knew a remedy for Europe's ills: the highly successful Danish educational system and economy. Feature of this system was Denmark's Folk Schools, which taught Danish peasants breadth of vision, thus making them better democrats, by means of poetry, history, religion. From the Folk School movement sprang agricultural schools, cooperatives, a new system of dairy (instead of grain) farming and decentralized industry, which had made Denmark one of the most prosperous nations in Europe. Dr. Schairer's ideas won support among British educators. A year ago he arrived in the U.S., soon formed a U.S. Committee on Educational Reconstruction. Famed Frank Aydelotte, ex-president of Swarthmore, became its chairman, and Dr. Schairer got a fellowship from the Rockefeller Foundation to finance his studies. By last week he had addressed 140,000 U.S. citizens from coast to coast, won many a bigwig to his cause. Such was the background of Dr. Schairer's conference in Ann Arbor last week. Basic assumption in his group's discussions: at war's end Hitlerism will be defeated and Europe will be chaotic. Not ready to plump for the Danish scheme, the brain trust nevertheless favored a decentralized economic system, held that electrification would make it possible to disperse industry. At week's end, they announced their plan: > A small "action group" will be organized with the U.S. Committee on Educational Reconstruction as its nucleus. > It will organize a new democratic world youth movement. > Democratic governments, U.S. and foreign, will be urged to begin now to plan and budget for reconstruction. > Experts will be recruited and trained in the U.S. in agriculture, education, health, nutrition, arts, crafts, cooperatives. > When the hour strikes, all these experts will march into the ruined countries and begin to educate their people by feeding their children, giving medical care, rebuilding houses and public services. > They will be assisted by an army of inside experts, many of whom are already secretly stationed in the totalitarian countries. > Steps will promptly be taken for employment in Europe's rebuilding of every ablebodied person, especially youths (of whom Dr. Schairer estimates there will be 20,000,000 unemployed after the war), if necessary by new agencies like the Chinese cooperatives, British Youth Councils, NYA, CCC.

> The experts will then proceed to help organize the new democratic order. Some of its principles: equal educational opportunity for all, opportunity for every youth to do useful work and serve society, respect for the dignity of man ("Every man is an end in himself and may not be used merely as a means."). Delay in preparing for reconstruction, Schairer & Co. warned, may result in failure not only to win the peace but to win the war. Said they: "[We] assume that Hitlerism cannot be permanently defeated on the field of battle alone, but only in the hearts and minds of men, and especially of youth. ... To develop, men need action; to act, men need faith; to keep faith, men need reason; to direct all three, men need a vision of excellence."
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