With Age Comes Wisdom Henry Adam

758 words - 4 pages

Henry Adam's was born February 16, 1838, in the United States of America. His father, grandfather, and great-grandfather were all either presidents or congressmen. Adams was a very talented novelist and historian who published many books. Adams also was a professor of history at Harvard. His most famous Pulitzer Prize winning essay called "The Education of Henry Adams" is an autobiography about Adams' education at Harvard College class of 1858. His essay goes on to discredit Harvard's educational system, stating that they graduate men who learned how to regurgitate facts but not how to solve real life problems. He is upset because he wanted to learn how to analyze a situation and not spit up a collection of facts. Adams mentions Harvard in the aspect that "any other education would have required a serious effort, but no one took Harvard College seriously" (32). He also states that "Nothing in education is so astonishing as the amount of ignorance it accumulates in the form of inert ...view middle of the document...

The reason why I say this is because Henry Adams seems to be scrutinizing every aspect of Harvard. One might even construe his criticism as complaining even. I recall Adams saying that "If the student got little from his mates, he got little more from his masters" and "The four years passed at college were, for his purposes, wasted" (35). It's easy to see by the tone and word choice of his essay that he is just a teenager. But as the essay goes on to other sections he seems to gain wisdom or a sort of sophistication. He stops criticizing as much and starts analyzing situations for their deeper meaning instead of focusing on the outer layers. Based on this information, I believe that Adams was wrong to blame Harvard for their poor teaching skills. Harvard was a fine school with good teachers. The problem was that he expected too much from education. He states that "the literary knowledge counted for nothing until some teacher should show how to apply it" (42). Was he so dependant on the teacher that he could not learn to apply what he was taught? It is not a college's job to teach analytical thinking. The purpose of college is to broaden your academic horizons. Harvard's job was to create well educated, successful men to send out into society not a team of philosophical problem solvers. College is supposed to teach you about a myriad of subjects so you can enter the world with a competitive edge. What Adam's didn't conclude was that how you apply your intelligence is as individual as the person who learned it. Harvard could not teach you how to dissect or how to approach a problem because everyone does it differently. Personal circumstances change how a person analyzes a situation. So how could Harvard teach a skill that has so many broad deciding variables. It's up to the individual to decided how they can apply their knowledge to their own problems. Adams didn't realize that because he was callow and sort of a do gooder type. He wanted to fix the world in day. He out grew this stage, as most of us do, and, he then realized that he may have been too critical of Harvard. He is so discriminating of Harvard and, I believe that is because he was of a younger mind set. Teenagers are synonymous with being a rebellious free spirits and, I think Adams is no different. His harsh scrutiny of Harvard was only a product of his age.

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