By Leonard Harris
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Extra resources for Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher
The social aspects and values in human experience are inescapably there but are likely to be more than occasionally a source of pollution, even though this very threat, as the surreptitiousness suggests, is to be mediated in socially acceptable ways. One modern historian of Philadelphia has described the city’s culture as being a mixture of the patrician and the provincial, a combination that set it off from other cities of similar size such as Boston and New York: Patrician, because of the close relationship of families composing its principal social and financial institutions; indifferent, rather than hostile to the rising new rich, even when the latter were ready to make their public contributions.
At this time Mason, for her part, was full of ideas that equated the so-called primitivism of colored peoples with an energy that would revitalize a decadent Western civilization, and she felt Locke was too cautious and repressed in announcing his own excellence. Locke may have been responding to her when he proposed a self-description that stressed the need to break down certain forms of control. He goes on to reminisce about the family’s sense of propriety: The family was always honest with itself behind closed doors—But how those doors were barricaded!
He took the entrance examination for nearby Haverford College, and while he passed Latin, despite his earlier good marks in mathematics, he missed the mark in algebra and plane geometry, thereby failing to be admitted. Instead of Haverford, however, Locke entered the School of Pedagogy and Practice. This was an extension of Central High School; today it would be called a teachers’ college. Organized to devote one year to the practical aspects of teaching and another to the theory and principles of instruction, it eventually provided Locke with the avenue to considerably more education than even Haverford would have offered.