For students to take on such works in high school and college, they need a solid foundation in reading, writing, math, and science. Adler later published The Paideia Proposal: An Educational Manifesto (1982) and The Paideia Program: An Educational Syllabus (1984), which called for terminating the Progressives’ segmented educational system. He argued that
a single elementary and secondary school program for all students would ensure the upgrading of the curriculum and the quality of instruction to serve the needs of the brightest and to [educationally] lift the … least advantaged. He proposed that … vocational … training be given only after students had completed a full course of basic education in the humanities, arts, sciences, and language.
Starting in the late 1920s and continuing through the 1930s, Hutchins and Adler taught a seminar titled “Great Books of the Western World” at the University of Chicago and elsewhere. The reading list included primary sources from scientists, mathematicians, philosophers, literary figures, and sundry diverse thinkers—such great minds as Plato, Euclid, Galileo, Shakespeare, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, and others.
Hutchins decried vocational training in education, arguing that an employer could train a thinking person in vocational skills in a matter of weeks. He claimed that
the object of general education should be “the training of the mind”… . The kind of educational program that was needed … would teach students to appreciate the importance of ideas, to understand history, the fine arts and literature, and to grasp the principles of science.
Hutchins was a young, brilliant, eloquent spokesman for intellectual training, and his message received an enthusiastic reception from newspapers, magazines, and the general public.