“The society which scorns excellence in plumbing as a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy: neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water”
John W. Gardner
Excellence: Can We Be Equal and Excellent Too?
In Excellence: Can We Be Equal and Excellent Too? (1961), Mr. Gardner discusses the strengths and failings of our educational system, our confusion over the idea of equality, and the nature of leadership in a free society.
* John William Gardner suggested several views:
(1) That inequalities will always exist regardless of trying to erase them;
(2) That bringing everyone “fairly to the starting line” without dealing with the “destructive; competitiveness that follows”; and
(3) Any equality achieved will entail future inequalities. Substantive equality of opportunity has led to concerns that efforts to improve fairness “ultimately collapses into the different one of equality of outcome or condition.”
You may download a copy of the book here from the **Internet Archive website:
About John W. Gardner
* John William Gardner, (October 8, 1912–February 16, 2002) was Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare under President Lyndon Johnson. During World War II he served in the United States Marine Corps as a captain. In 1955 he became president of the Carnegie Corporation of New York and, concurrently, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. He was also the founder of two influential national U.S. organizations: Common Cause and Independent Sector. He authored books on improving leadership in American society and other subjects. He was also the founder of two prestigious fellowship programs, The White House Fellowship and The John Gardner Fellowship at Stanford University and U.C. Berkeley. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1964. In 1966 Gardner was awarded the Public Welfare Medal from the National Academy of Sciences.
Gardner’s term as Secretary of HEW was at the height of Johnson’s Great Society domestic agenda. During this tenure, the Department undertook both the huge task of launching Medicare, which brought quality health care to senior citizens, and oversaw significant expansions of the landmark Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 that redefined the federal role in education and targeted funding to poor students. Gardner was featured on the cover and in an article of the January 20, 1967 Time magazine, and later that year also presided over the creation of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. In 1970, Gardner created Common Cause. He also founded the Experience Corps.
Gardner resigned as head of HEW because he could not support the war in Vietnam.
In September 2000, Gardner lent his name and support to the John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities at Stanford, a center that partners with communities to develop leadership, conduct research, and effect change to improve the lives of youth.
* From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
** About the Internet Archive
The Internet Archive is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that was founded to build an Internet library. Its purposes include offering permanent access for researchers, historians, scholars, people with disabilities, and the general public to historical collections that exist in digital format. Founded in 1996 and located in San Francisco, the Archive has been receiving data donations from Alexa Internet and others. In late 1999, the organization started to grow to include more well-rounded collections. Now the Internet Archive includes texts, audio, moving images, and software as well as archived web pages in our collections, and provides specialized services for adaptive reading and information access for the blind and other persons with disabilities.