Posted by E. Wayne Carp
In 1928, with the financial support of her father, Jean Paton went off to the University of Wisconsin to study economics and sociology. But Jean’s scholastic difficulties followed her to the Badger University, discovering again that her inner demons prevented her from engaging in the vigorous life of the mind that professors demanded of all students. In 1929, at the end of the academic year, she traveled to Philadelphia, to work at the Children’s Aid Society in Philadelphia. This position was, in Paton’s words, “my port of entry into social work . . . after a miserable failure at college.” Jean had just turned twenty-one, and she was “utterly inadequate to the task” of functioning as a social worker. After floundering in this position for several months, Jean decided to return to the University of Wisconsin, and three years later, she received her B.A. degree cum laude. Looking back, Paton blamed the extraordinary length of time she spent at college to an unidentifiable “psychological blockage to get myself to classes,” which resulted in failing some courses.