A Lower-Middle-Class Education is Robert Murray Davis's memoir of his student days at a small Catholic college in the early 1950s. An engaging, witty ... Show synopsis A Lower-Middle-Class Education is Robert Murray Davis's memoir of his student days at a small Catholic college in the early 1950s. An engaging, witty account of one man's coming-of-age, this is also the story of a whole class of students who were first in their families to go to college, where they discovered a world far different from the one they left behind. The title of the book, Davis explains, is a description, not a value judgment. Compared to a middle-class education, which is "supposed to help you maintain status so that you can understand what your family is saying", a lower-middle-class education is "supposed to improve your status so that your family will not understand what you are saying". When Davis left his hometown in rural Missouri and arrived in Kansas City to attend Rockhurst College, he had yet to see television or the New York Times or a foreign film. The college aimed to mold such impressionable young men into upstanding Catholic laymen, but Davis's increasing interests in girls, jazz, and writing took him down a path less traditional than the one the college had in mind. Davis's account shows the real 1950s. Though now hailed as the era of staunch family values, this was a time when such values were starting to be challenged, when an increasing number of people sought alternative ways of seeing and experiencing the world. Called the Silent Generation because they did not openly rebel, many of these young people did not easily accept the values their parents and teachers espoused. The lessons Davis learns during his college years extend beyond those provided in the classroom. With increasing experience, he realizes what he cannot do or be: he cannot liveat home again, and, despite a serious love interest, is not ready to marry or settle down. By the time of graduation he does know he wants to be a writer, but after a stint as a journalist for a small-town newspaper, he pursues a career as a professor, the role he finally knows will suit him best. Education, as Davis and his peers were constantly reminded, comes from the Latin educare, to lead out. In the end, Davis's story is not about success or failure but about the process of moving forward. As Davis explains, "What matters is less where you go than that you go".
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