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Bill Thayer

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Chapter 4

This webpage reproduces a chapter of
MacArthur Close‑Up
William Addleman Ganoe

published by
Vantage Press
New York, 1962

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
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Chapter 6
This site is not affiliated with the US Military Academy.

 p41  The Invasion

During the next few weeks he visited professors in their offices and instructors in the classrooms. It was the only time, during my long experience in education, when I knew of the head of an institution being interested enough in his output to see firsthand what was going on on the assembly line.

Once, during a sally forth from the office, he called back over his shoulder, "I'm getting an education. I don't know yet how liberal!"

If the reaction to his first attempt at co‑ordination was resistance, it bordered on the rebellious as he poked into the little duchies of the feudal professors. The comments ran:

"Even if he is the Supe, he has no right to go over the heads of the professors and shove into the section rooms."

"All he's doing is embarrassing the instructors and belittling the professors."

"Certainly the Academic departments have done well enough, far better than in most schools."

"What does he think he can do? Improve the curriculum when he's had no experience in education? He's never taught."

"I never knew of such unadulterated cheek and officiousness."

"It's degrading to his position to go down so low and meddle."

I don't know whether any of these grumblings reached his ears. If they did he gave no heed, for he went cheerily forth in quest of what was being mentally delivered to the cadets. Neither did I feel disloyal in not apprising him of the petty talk. Certainly it wouldn't deter him, and could not put him in a more enthusiastic frame of mind. I was convinced the only way he could find out about the teaching was to see and hear for himself.

I well know, from my vantage point, that he was not undercutting,  p42 for he had demonstrated the opposite when he had refused to inspect my office and others.

But the distinction was difficult for me to make plain to the grumblers. It was hard to show that the only way he could acquire accurate knowledge of the instruction at the Point was to do exactly as he was doing. No one could give him a satisfactory, second-hand picture. It would be like trying to explain a Welsh chorus to one who had never heard one. He had to know firsthand the kind and amount of instruction the cadet was receiving, since he was solely responsible for turning out a product which would be most valuable to the nation in time of need. He was not responsible for the future of the clerks in my office, only for results.

This apparent inconsistency was my first real introduction to the niceties of his sense of discrimination.

I found, and trying to explain to the complainers the reasons for his personal reconnaissance of classrooms, that my words bounced off a wall. The grumblers were of the same opinion still. I think their attitude resembled my initial shock over the uselessness of bucking tradition with logic or bucking emotion with reason. Here were educated, intelligent men who let intellectual honesty fly out the window the minute their self-conceit was touched.

It was then my fear really took shape as to whether this relatively young Supe, without degrees or station in the pedagogical field, would be able to come through the deluge and have his way.

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Page updated: 14 Jun 16