Teaching About Communism

April 25, 1962

Report Outline
Need to Explain Communism to Youth
Extent of Instruction in Communism
Handicaps in Teaching About Communism

Need to Explain Communism to Youth

Demand for Study of Communism in Schools

Courses on communism in American high schools—inconceivable only a few years ago—are being introduced on a rapidly expanding scale all over the country. Impelled by a strong sense of urgency, school authorities have been developing new course outlines, assembling study materials, drawing up reading lists, and issuing instructions to teachers on this newly emphasized subject of study. In a few cases the authorities have acted under mandate of state legislatures; in most cases, state departments of education or local boards of education have taken the initiative. Either way, it is clear that the schools are responding to a growing demand that the rising generation be given full understanding of the nature of the forces with which the free world is contending in the cold war.

U.S. Commissioner of Education Sterling M. McMurrin acted recently to help meet this demand by calling a conference of 150 educators and other civic leaders to consider what the schools should teach in the areas of (1) American democracy, (2) other non-Communist systems of government, and (3) communism itself: what it is, how it functions, what it seeks. Preliminary reports from the conference, held at Washington March 26–28, stressed the need for more intensive study of other societies, including Communist societies. The conference urged that regional meetings of educators be called to plan courses of study and to recommend appropriate teaching materials and techniques.

The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Internal Security asked a number of educators and other authorities last year to present their views on the question of expanding the public's knowledge of communism. In a foreword to a committee publication which included the testimony, Sen. James O. Eastland (D Miss.), the committee chairman, wrote: “The subcommittee has been impressed recently with the fact that the American people … are most strongly insisting, for themselves and for their children, that the fundamental facts about the Communist conspiracy, its whys and its wherefores, be delineated….The American people want their children to be forewarned and forearmed against the insidious wiles of this conspiracy,”

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Apr. 25, 1962  Teaching About Communism
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