National Public Radio is reviving a radio series from the 1950’s called “This I Believe” that was hosted by Edward Murrow. The show featured essays from both the both the famous –Eleanor Roosevelt, Jackie Robinson, Helen Keller and Harry Truman– and the not so famous. One of the more interesting entries on the site is the comparison of two essays by Elizabeth Deutsch–one from when she was 16 and another 50 years later as a professor at Cornell.

Murrow’s introduction to the original series is chilling in the similarities between our current situtation and the concerns in the US during the 1950’s about the Cold War, McCarthyism and racial division. For many of my conservative friends, the 1950’s were seen as America’s golden age, but Morrow’s short explanation of the need for the country share this personal philosophical essays offers a much more unsettled vision of life.

An Aside About Personal Philosophy Statements

One of the first exercises when I enrolled in my graduate program in adult education at Syracuse was the construction of a personal philosophy statement Roger Hiemstra, who chaired the adult ed program at that time, and Ralph Brockett, who was teaching the course, shared a common belief that ethical practice by teachers required continued and careful reflection on the nature of reality, meaning, and human nature. I’ve continued the tradition in many of my own courses, even though many students find the exercise very difficult–as I did.

(Ralph went on to edit a book published by Teachers College Press on Ethics in Adult Education, and Roger outlined his rationale statement in a chapter in that book.)