This short course sponsored by The Adler Society was created by a group of free-thinking students. Their general goal is to present a mosaic about what people have called the “American Mind,” but more specifically they wish to highlight the connection between character and citizenship.
Each section in this course experience features a photo, signature, and several original quotations from one of 17 great Americans, ranging in perspective from Benjamin Franklin to Martin Luther King, Jr.
The sections of this course are like puzzle pieces. Put together, they form a picture of the “American Mind,” which is quite extraordinary. As you interact with John D. Rockefeller’s thoughts on enterprise or Booker T. Washington’s views of individual responsibility, you will encounter different aspects of this American personality.
The writings from each person have been carefully selected. Before you read them, look at the eyes and the signatures. Even the photos and signatures can tell you something about these individuals.
In addition, each section begins with a definition of the character quality being discussed. Permission has been granted to reprint the definitions from the original 1828 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, by G. and C. Merriam Company. These original definitions add context to the comments from each of the great Americans we profile.
Reflect on these concepts and determine which you most value. Then consider how your perspective might lead to actions, which create habits, which shape your character.
C.S. Lewis observed in his book The Abolition of Man that we cannot separate moral instruction from education without bad consequences. “We laugh at honor, and are shocked to find traitors in our midst,” he wrote.
Why is this discussion so important? Among other things, it is because great character makes great citizens, and great citizens make great nations.
Enjoy the journey!