32 / CHRONICLESnOPINIONSnDreams of Education by E. Christian Kopffn’They say such different things at school.n-W.B. YeatsnThe Legacies of Literacy by HarveynJ. GrafF, Bloomington andnIndianapolis: Indiana UniversitynPress; $57.50.nFrom Humanism to the Humanitiesnby Anthony Grafton and LisanJardine, Gambridge, MA: HarvardnUniversity Press; $27.50.nWilliam Butler Yeats, Senator ofnthe Irish Republic, heard aboutncontemporary trends in education fromn”a kind old nun in a white hood”:nThe children learn to cipher andnto sing,nto study reading-books andnhistory,nto cut and sew, be neat inneverythingnin the best modern way.nAll that industrious scurrying after mediocritynmade Yeats dream of the heightsnof human beauty and self-fulfillment,npolar opposites to the goals of modernneducation. A year ago a columnist in anDenver paper found out how muchnmoney is paid to teenage girls who havenillegitimate children. He demanded highnschool courses to teach poor girls not tonproduce babies. Such different things donwe seek from education in our time.nWhat is the history of such disparatencravings and demands?nHarvey J. Graff, of the University ofnTexas at Dallas, tries to answer part ofnthat question in The Legacies of Literacy,nan ungainly but interesting survey ofnthe secondary scholarship on literacynfrom the ancient Greeks to today’s ThirdnE. Christian Kopff is professor ofnclassics at the University of Colorado.nWorld. Graff does not ask much ofnliteracy: It is the ability to write yournname and read a basic document. Somenpeople can do one and not the other. Ansociety may be literary, that is, dependnon written laws and a written sacrednscripture and yet (as in the Middle Ages)nhave only a minority of literate citizens.nSocieties have achieved total literacynwithout a school system, such as LutherannSweden and Iceland in the 17th andn18th centuries. Literacy by itself doesnnot correlate highly with economic progressnor, indeed, any social good. The fastnrising literacy rates in modern Africa, forninstance, have not led to democracy ornwealth. Take-off periods such as thenRenaissance and the Enlightenmentnwere not heavily literate. Although theneducation industry in America claimsnthat we need ever more education, “newnliteracies,” most new jobs in Americanneed less reading ability, not more.nWhen the U.S. Army tested its recruits,nit found that “they were able to performnsuccessfully in jobs where the readingndifficulties of material exceeded theirnaverage reading ability by four to eightngrades,” because they were interested innthe tasks and friends helped them.nAt this point the reader of Chroniclesnis becoming impatient. It is all very wellnto assert the absence of a literacy crisis, asnlong as literacy is defined as the ability tonsign a welfare check and read the wantnads and TV Guide, as the Los AngelesnSchool District did some time ago. Butnin today’s complex world we need muchnmore. We need access to several foreignnlanguages and cultures, to mathematicalntypes of reasoning, and to the ability tonanalyze issues and facts critically andnobjectively. Most people in America,nhowever, receive their culture orallynfrom movies, radio, TV, and cassettes.nnnPublic school literacy enables them tonfunction at their jobs. They study thenBible in Bible study groups, not withnGreek and Hebrew lexica and commentaries.nThey do not read Gibbon, Rabelais,nor Chronicles, and they do not feelnthe lack.nThe average person gets along quitenwell on his own level with skills derivednfrom public schools and on-the-job training.nOur leaders, on the other hand,nsuffer from short-sightedness rooted in anmonoglot ignorance of the world, pastnand present, and an uncritical acceptancenof what is dished up in the publicnprints. Anthony Grafton of Princetonnand Lisa Jardine of Gambridge (UK)nthink that the liberal arts curriculumninherited from the Renaissance is part ofnthe problem. From Humanism to thenHumanities traces the development ofnHumanist education from 15th-centurynteachers such as Guarino of Verona, whonemphasized the ethical significance ofnreading great Latin authors, to the 16thcenturynworld of Peter Ramus, who lednthe way towards a more pragmatic, joborientedncurriculum.nGrafton and Jardine are both excellentnRenaissance scholars, and Grafton isnone of our best intellectual historians.nThis, however, is not a very good book.nIt exudes the Pushmepullyou bouquetnoften emitted by double authorship. Thenidea for the book was born 10 years ago,nwhen the authors’ paths crossed for ansemester; and although their originalnresearch has developed, their thinking onnthis topic is still immature.nHarvard University Press claims thatn”the book is based on intensive archivalnresearch,” but most of it is an interpretativensummary of earlier scholarship, suchnas Lauro Martinez’s Social World of thenFlorentine Humanists (1963) and WalternOng’s Ramus, Method, and thenDecay of Dialogue (1959). Page afternpage is derived from T.W. Baldwin’snWilliam Shakespeare’s Small Latine andn