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So little for the mind Hardcover – 1953

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Clarke, Irwin; 2nd edition (1953)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0007IU032
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,844,275 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Marshall Fritz on April 8, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Hilda Neatby's "So Little for the Mind" was

published in 1953 as a major indictment of

the Canadian "public education" system. Like

all serious attacks on the establishment

schooling system in yesteryear and today, it

was met by derision from the "professionals."

She writes,"[M]any who read the book, including many professional educators, found the indictment not only basically unjust but expressed in harsh and even hysterical terms. Unfortunately most of the written replies which appeared in numerous educational and other periodicals were themselves somewhat hysterical. There was an unfortunate failure on the part of any leading professional educator to give a calm and reasoned reply" p. v

Like Arnold Bestor in the same year and

Bernard Iddings Bell a bit earlier, and

Rudolf Flesch a few years later, she lambasts

the mainstream government system pretty


"Instead of using their enormous new resources in material equipment, knowledge and skill to cope with their tremendous task, they [pragmatist schoolmen] frittered them away in making school life easy and pleasant, concentrating on the obvious, the practical, and the immediate. Democratic equalitarianism encouraged the idea of a uniform low standard easily obtainable by almost all. Special attention was given to all physical, emotional and mental abnormalities, but the old-fashioned things called the mind, the imagination and the conscience of the average and of the better than average child, if not exactly forgotten, slipped into the background." p 15

To find out just how bad the government

schools were by the 50's, also read

Arthur E.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Hilda Neatby was a professor of History, the first woman president of the Canadian Historical Association (1962), inside the system at the highest levels, and a careful analyst of official education documents published by Canada's ten provinces. Basically, she concludes: "Bah, humbug."

It's easy to fall in love with Hilda's mind. It is gaudily superior to what one encounters among the people she is examining, so-called educators. Her clarity of expression is wonderful. Her wit has a fine sharp edge.

But the main emotion in reading this book is one of inexpressible sadness. She is writing in the year 1953; and she is writing from the perspective of near-total defeat.

John Dewey's ideas are as powerful and corrupting in Canada as in the United States. Oh, these progressives issue many ringing declarations of noble intentions; but as Hilda Neatby's book shows, the actual results are dumbing-down and worse.

An excellent book; so much of it is quotable. Here are a few typical quotes that give a sense of how bad things had gotten 60 years ago:

"Progressive education] is frankly anti-intellectual. There is no attempt to exercise, train and discipline the mind. This is old-fashioned language, now forbidden by the experts, but its meaning is still clear to the literate person....Progressivism is anti-cultural...Finally, progressive education is, or has been, amoral."

"It is well, however, to skirt Dewey's philosophy lightly, not through irreverence, but rather through godly fear.
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