and social mechanics of Thebes, Miletos, or Athens. By thenfifth century, city-dwelling Greeks of the middle and uppernclasses were making sure that their boys received instructionnin the arts of public speaking and debate, and this rhetoricalncurriculum dominated ancient higher education down tonthe very end of antiquity.nThe object of this education was, in Quintilian’s phrase, an”good man skilled in speaking,” by which the Romannrhetorician meant a man whose morals and training fittednhim to be of some use to his society. This emphasis onnrhetoric was to outlast even the fall of Rome. The medievalncurriculum, while derived directly from ancient practice asnwell as from ancient handbooks and treatises, was necessarilyndiff^erent, since it was adapted to the needs of the church, butnthe differences may be less significant than the continuity.nThe same can be said of the first great curriculum reformnknown as the Renaissance. The main “project” of thenRenaissance humanists was educational, and despite thenvarious waves of change and reform, the 14th-century idealsnof Petrarch and his successors were institutionalized as thencore of humane learning and remained in force down to theneady decades of the 20th century.nThroughout its long history, the classical curriculum wasntraditional in form and outlook. There was reform, ofncourse, and even progress, but the core remained thenteaching of ancient languages and ancient literature.nEven at the height of its power and influence, the classicalncurriculum did not go unchallenged, and beginning at leastnwith John Locke, Enlightenment thinkers in Britain andnFrance set about their quiet work of curriculum revolutionn— the first such revolution in the history of education.nThat it was meant as a revolution can be seen on nearlynevery page of Rousseau’s pedagogical novel, Emile, in whichnthe author instructs us to “Take the exact reverse of currentnpractice and you will almost always do right.” But theneducational ideas of Rousseau and Helvetius and the othernEnlightenment intellectuals had to remain on the drawingnboard, until the French Revolution furnished both the willnand the means to do something about refashioning thenhuman race.nAmong the business pursued by the various revolutionarynassemblies was a series of reports and commissions on whatnto do about French education. The authors of these reportsnwere among the brightest intellectual stars of the revolution:nMirabeau, Talleyrand, and Condorcet. Each had his petntheory to push and favorite hobbyhorse to ride, but theynwere in accord on several basic principles: 1) that educationnwas the business of the nation and therefore the responsibilitynof the state; 2) that a new education was needed for thennew species of man that would live in post-revolutionarynFrance — the classics were out; 3) that education should bennationalistic and ideological in preparing the minds ofncitizens.nIn the infant republic of the United States, there were alsonEnlightenment intellectuals who opposed the classical curriculum,nbut their ideas made little headway in the firstnhundred years of our nation’s history. Our ancestors sawnthemselves in the mirror of antiquity, and it was not by somenhistorical accident that Jefferson and Adams and Madisonnturned constantly to ancient examples in their deliberationsnon the best form of government for the new United States.n14/CHRONICLESnThey chose to set up a free republic, and that choice wasndetermined by their reading of the classics. The decay ofnrepublican government, by the way, exactiy coincides withnthe decay of the classical curriculum.nH owever,nnnby the turn of this century, the Progressivesnwere firmly in the saddle, both in politics and inneducation. Presidents Roosevelt and Wilson beat the drumnmercilessly for change and progress, and a new generation ofnprofessional educators finally adopted, the principles ofnDiderot, Mirabeau, and Condorcet in the same way that ournpolitical leaders adopted the principles of Robespierre. Thisnwas not, I remind you, simply a change in content orntechnique. The educational reformers of the early 20thncentury wanted to remake human nature. In the SovietnUnion they were to speak of the New Soviet Man, and innthe United States the followers of John Dewey would give usnthe New Democratic Man. Woodrow Wilson, himself annex-college president, summed up the aims of the newneducation in 1914: “The use of a university,” he said, “is tonmake young gentiemen as unlike their fathers as possible,”nand universities ever since have been working hard to turnnstudents against their parents’ ideals.nThe revolution was made in the period between ChadesnEliot’s appointment as president of Harvard in 1869 andnJohn Dewey’s retirement from Columbia in 1930. Eliotndevoted much of his career at Harvard to promoting annelective system that, in the end, required only French. Ifnsome teachers and some students could not survive under ansystem that stressed individual responsibility and competition,nthen that was just as well, since Eliot’s vision of thenuniversity, like his vision of life, was essentially a genteelnform of social Darwinism.nDewey, on the other hand, was not only a democrat but anstatist and an anti-individualist. It was up to the nationncollectively to decide what its goals were and how itsnchildren should be brought up to strive for those goals.nAmerica was an experiment in democracy, and for thatnexperiment to succeed, it must indoctrinate its students fornlife in a society where people were committed to taking carenof each other.nUnder the influence of these and other educationalnleaders, American colleges and high schools abandonednLatin to the tender mercies of student choice, and let in anflood of new studies, first in the humanities and sciences andnnext in the social sciences. Since Eliot’s elective system wasnfar too elitist and libertarian to win widespread support,ncollege administrators picked and chose from among thennew disciplines to find an alternative both to freedom and tontradition. What had been a coherent curriculum, refined bynexperience and precedent, turned into a grab bag ofnelectives, whose only shape was determined by a loose set ofncore requirements. Where I went to school in the 1960’s,nthis meant one or two years of English, two years of history,ntwo years of foreign language, one of science, and one ofnmathematics. Of course, this same reactionary collegenimposed an additional requirement on anyone wanting tongraduate with an A.B.: four years of college-level Latin ornGreek.nAt most schools, however, the requirements were loosernand less coherent: no history requirement but a socialn