a Sorokin nemesis (Porter Sargent on Sorokin)

 

Caustic without being bitter is Boston’s white-thatched, bow-tied Porter Sargent. The saltiest commentator on U. S. education, from which he makes his living but for which he has a certain amused contempt, Porter Sargent prefaces his famed annual catalogue of 4,000 private schools with his shrewd opinions on men and affairs. Last week, in the 22nd edition of his Handbook of Private Schools, he threw most of his custard pies at the two most popular favorites of U. S. higher education —President James Bryant Conant of Harvard and President Robert Maynard Hutchins of University of Chicago.

President Conant, glooms Porter Sargent, started out as Harvard’s head “with the naivete and boldness of a scientist,” but soon “sacred cows were jostled” and today Conant has subsided “to the dead level of mass alumni opinion.” Sprightly, 66-year-old Porter Sargent criticizes President Conant most severely for keeping as head of Harvard’s sociology department Pitirim Alexandrovitch Sorokin, whom he calls a pseudo-scientist, a defeatist and a reactionary. “Harvard is maintaining him in a position of influence where he is misguiding and frustrating American youth. . . . The sociology department is the White Russian WPA.”

— “Plain Talker.” Time, May 30, 1938, pg. 39

 

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Porter Sargent (1872–1951) was a prominent educational critic/gadfly and founder of Porter Sargent Publishers. In 1949, he was described in an article in the Journal of Higher Education as “probably the most outstanding and consistent critic of the American educational scene.”

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

     February 2019