Reader Response

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After reading On The Values of Useless Knowledge I have many mixed feelings about the comments made by Mrs. Roosevelt and Dorothy Thompson. When I finished reading the piece I thought about Mrs. Roosevelt’s comment “I believe girls had better get out of college and go to work, unless their college training is helping fit them for some specific task. Few have the right now to train themselves for nothing in particular. I don’t believe people can get by without working in the world of the future.”

I thought it was very strange that she would state something absurd like that to the public because she was a very influential role model during that time for young girls and women. This statement was going against her inspirational uplifting for women and I wasn’t expecting a comment like that to come from her. I considered maybe she meant to achieve something different during the press conference instead of saying women should be uneducated and should begin to learn for themselves outside of the school environment. Once the class discussed the piece I realized that Mrs. Roosevelt and Thompson were trying to achieve the thought that education does not always teach everyone the skills needed in life, while it may allow critical thinking and specialized skills to be learned, it doesn’t provide the positive and negative experiences outside of the classroom that people could gain from learning on their own. I do not completely agree with the statement “On the one hand, she praises training for something in particular. On the other, she outlaws study of “nothing in particular”. I do think on a high level that people should go to school and learn how to read, write and be skilled in specific things if they choose to do so, but I also agree that working in the world and learn on your own can have benefits as well. I do not agree that she made the right word choice when she says ‘nothing in particular,’ I think everyone can excel in something unique and amazing in their...
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