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Values and Harvard

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VALUES in education have come in for some powerful affirmation in recent days. Gov. Mario Cuomo of New York a week ago declared that the public schools should restore the teaching of basic moral values: ``What's happened in the last 20 years is that we've said, `No values -- we'll teach no values.' It's all produced a vacuum. I don't think we're teaching any moral structure in any formal way.''

Last week Secretary of Education William J. Bennett emphasized the fostering of artistic and civic values in the United States elementary schools: ``An elementary school that treats the arts of the province of a few gifted children, or views them only as recreation and entertainment, is a school that needs an infusion of soul. . . . What our children need are lessons that explore unfamiliar possibilities, that play on their imaginative capacities while teaching core democratic values like respect for persons, property, and truth.''

And at Harvard's 350th anniversary convocation in Cambridge, Mass., Prince Charles said, ``To avert disaster, we have not only to teach men to make things, but to teach them to have complete moral control over the things they make. Never has it been more important to recognize the imbalance that has seeped into our lives and deprived us of a sense of meaning, because the emphasis has been too one-sided and has concentrated on the development of the intellect to the detriment of the spirit.''

A civilization cannot be complete if its people do not aspire and work toward fullness of character, breadth of interests, and a progressive inclination.

Surely Harvard has represented the best of such aspirations -- the expansiveness that comes of study -- in its 350 years. And it is good to see others in public life today emphasize the importance of ``values'' in their various shadings.


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