The University Record
University of Florida
Roscoe Pound, Ph. D.
Dean of the Harvard Law School
June 4, 1934
Vol. XXIX, Series I
Sept. 1, 1934
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University of Florida
The Task of Education
9 N ONE WAY or another the problems which press upon all of us, as distinguished
from those peculiar to each of us by himself, translate themselves into one of main-
taining, furthering and transmitting civilization. They come to one of maintaining.
furthering and transmitting that control over nature, both external nature and human
nature, which has made it possible for man to inherit the earth and to preserve and increase
his inheritance. Each of us must adjust, and in some measure must be constrained to
adjust himself to an environment which is both physical and human. One could do little
toward this adjustment if it depended on his own strength and his own experience. The
organized strength of his fellow men and the accumulated and organized experience of
generations, make it possible. Thus adjustment to one's physical environment rests upon
the adjustment to one's human surroundings which is achieved or assured through social
control. Social control is a presupposition of civilization. Concrete systems of social control
are products of civilization and agencies, as one might put it, of particular civilizations.
Social control as a whole or in its details is involved in pretty much everything which
gives us concern in the crowded world and in the complex social order of the time.
Partly social control goes on through determinate, deliberately set up, and consciously
directed machinery. Partly, and by no means least, it goes on through less determinate
or even indeterminate agencies, spontaneously arising and with little or no conscious
direction. The latter, indeed, may have much to do, as it were, behind the scenes in the
functioning of the former, for the background of the operation of the machinery of
social control is usually the decisive factor. Hence if we look at the systems of determinate
social control, we shall see only the surface. We must look also, at least, to the systems
which give form and content to the background of operation of the deliberately set up
and consciously directed machinery.
Four of these determinate systems may be recognized: household discipline; organized
religion; politically organized force, functioning through government and law; and
organized opinion acting through voluntary associations. By putting these in the order
named I do not mean to suggest anything as to their relative importance. Roughly
speaking, they have been named in the historical order of their development as major
agencies of control. Ancient society was kin-organized. Groups of kindred on the model
of the household, or associations set up on a fiction of kin-relationship bear the brunt
of social control in primitive society. In modern society the kin group, higher than the
family, has disappeared, and the family has relatively little to do in the organized,
consciously directed part of the process. Organized religion had its turn also at carrying
the chief burden. Everywhere it still bears no small part. But this agency also operates
today more in the background than, in the stress of direct and immediate adjustment.
From the end of the sixteenth century, the paramount agency has been the force of
politically organized society. Law and government have established a monopoly of force
as a means of adjusting conflicting human claims; the state has made good its pretension
to stand over all other agencies and determine the bounds of their operation. Potentially
every other agency of social control is accountable ultimately to the law. Yet the state
itself has been interpreted in terms of voluntary organization of opinion. To the Puritan
we were to be with one another, not over one another; there was to be consociation, not
subordination; a "willing covenant of conscious faith" was to be at the bottom of political
no less than of religious organization. Moreover, our classical American political theory
declares that political organizations derive their just powers from the consent of the
Nor is social control by voluntary organization of opinion a mere theory. More and
more professional, business, and trade organizations, social clubs, and fraternal societies,
with their codes of ethics, standards of conduct, traditions of a gentleman, or traditional
morals, bring a heavy pressure to bear upon their members, through the organized opinion
of their fellow members, and constrain them to avoid anti-social conduct.
Behind these four systems and providing the background of their operation, are home
influence, religion, ethical custom, that is, the sentiment of one's neighbors as to what is done
and what not, and education. If, by and large, we may say that the succession among
systems of social control has been kin-discipline, religious organization, and political
organization, we may say with respect to the background that the succession has been,
household, ethical custom, religion. But behind these things, culminating, it may be, in
the nineteenth century, a new agency, namely, education, has been continually gaining
in importance. Indeed, in the latter part of the last century there was something very
like an attempt to substitute an educationally given background for that given by home-
training, ethical custom, and religion. From the Reformation to the end of the nineteenth
century organized education seemed to be taking over much of the role of organized
religion in the past.
Great expectations as to the possibilities for social control in systematized, properly
directed education, were not anything new. Socrates held that ignorance was the cause
and the basis of the anti-social, and Plato's Republic was pivoted upon a system of public
education. But the putting of these ideas into practice, the elaboration of systems of public
education and extravagant reliance upon them as equal to the whole task of providing
an adequate background for social control through politically organized society, belongs
to the rationalism which succeeded the Reformation, and in particular to the rationalism
which was classical in the formative era of our American institutions.
In the last decade we have seen signs of a reaction from these expectations. Just now
it is fashionable to disparage the educational institutions and methods of the last century.
Criticism of the ideals and purposes of American education has become widespread. It is
common to profess lack of hope that much may be achieved by conscious effort. The
bulk of mankind are taken to be incapable of much beyond following good or bad leaders,
except as they are creatures of rooted behavior tendencies with which we cannot reason.
Nor, it is said, can we expect much of the leaders. They, too, have their behavior ten-
dencies, which we may study and learn to subject to some prediction, much as we may
predict the weather. But there is taken to be as little likelihood of meteorology affecting
the weather or of astronomy affecting the phases of the moon as there is of any of our
sciences determining the course of human behavior. Partly this reaction from great
expectations from public education is a phase of the reaction from rationalism in the
social sciences. Partly it goes along with the shattering of the complacent self-confidence
of the American pioneer, when the sons and grandsons and great-grandsons of the pioneer
face the transition from the pioneer, rural, agricultural society of the past to the urban,
industrial society of the present and seek to meet the exigencies of that transition with
the ideas, the institutions, and the political machinery of our formative era. Just because
we expected so much from education, education, itself in a like process of adjustment to
the transition, must bear the blame.
Reaction from the expectations of nineteenth century liberalism is a normal phenomenon
and need give us no fear that our moral fibre has weakened, that our people is decadent,
or that our ideals of one hundred and fifty years of national life have been futile. Perhaps
one need not preach the gospel of efficacy of intelligent effort to youth. Our younger
academic leaders have been showing a great faith in political and economic experimentation
BY ROSCOE POUND, Ph.D.
and a lively belief that they can do what the past had found impossible. Moreover, what
the elders call disillusionment is often more a disbelief that others or the rest of us can
achieve collectively anything toward their ends or the ends of all of us, than that the
individual disillusioned can do things effectively toward the particular ends he has at
heart. If there are assertions of general abandonment of the idea of progress directed
by education, there are abundant signs of faith in the efficacy of effort toward special
individual ends. Indeed, those who, in their professional and trade associations declaim
most vigorously against creative lawmaking, usually have their own budget of measures
to be urged upon the next legislature and are most persistent in pushing them. So without
giving up to the current of so-called disillusionment, let us make some inquiry into what
we may reasonably expect to do for civilization through organized education.
Such an inquiry has to do, let us remember, with an element in the background of
social control. In part, this background is a matter of habits or tendencies formed or
acquired in our formative years, and the systems which operate in the background have
to do with giving direction to them. But beyond this a decisive factor in our efforts to
maintain, further and transmit civilization is to be found in ideals, both generally received
ideals and individual ideals, of social life and social institutions and activities as they
should be. Let us use a more concrete word. In their origin "idea" and "ideal" mean
"picture." Let us say picture. Let us say that in what we do individually and collectively
we are guided, sometimes consciously and many times or in large part, unconsciously,
by a mental picture, more or less definite, of things as it seems to us they ought to be.
Take a case which the philosophers have put from antiquity. The old time smith
has his tools and a piece of steel. Also he has in his mind the picture of a saw. He
applies his tools to the steel and fashions the steel to the picture. Thus the picture is
made real in the completed saw. But we have had a more striking example in the
present generation. Daedalus had in his mind a picture of a man flying. With wax
and feathers he made wings for Icarus. The sun melted the wax and Icarus came to grief,
as many aviators have done since. Yet the picture has remained and has urged men and
guided their efforts until today it has become a reality in aerial navigation.
On every side of human activity these pictures enter into all that we do. Look, for
example, at what we are pleased to call the facts of history. Chiefly we know them
through narratives of actors and witnesses. These narratives are not and cannot be
photographic or phonographic records of the exact details of all the occurrences of the
past. There has to be interpretation, selection, sequence and development, and the
narrator or witness is governed in these things by his mental picture of things as they
Thucydides is the first, and perhaps the greatest, of those who have weighed and sifted
evidence and striven to make their narrative conform to a picture of a history that should
be an exact record of things as they were and as they happened. Yet it appears that
Thucydides had another picture in his mind that gave shape to his conception of what
was and what happened. Perhaps, unconsciously, he thought of a world governed by the
sequence of rise, prosperity, arrogance and fall, as portrayed by the Greek tragedians.
He assumed this sequence in his inquiries. He had this picture of human life before him
as he interpreted, selected, arranged, and developed his materials. Naturally he so wrote
history as to make it set forth that sequence. Indeed, it is now well recognized that history
writing involves a selection of topics and materials, a choice of what is to be held relevant
or important and what not, a judgment and an interpretation in which the picture in
the mind of the historian is decisive. He cannot go on an assumption that all facts
were created free and equal and endowed with an inalienable right to appear in his
pages in all their multifariousness and original nakedness. He goes rather on an assump-
tion that some are significant and some are not, and this significance is determined by
his picture of what a history should tell and to what end.
Thus in an age when a great people, whose best energies had, been given to religious
development, found their religious institutions torn down and their worship proscribed,
the Book of Daniel gave us the first religious interpretation of history. In an age when
another great people had been pioneers in the development of free political institutions
and had emerged from a long struggle in which those institutions had prevailed and
taken form and were being copied the world over, English historians gave us political
interpretations of history. Indeed Grote, in the great days of English liberalism, wrote
the history of Athens in terms of the liberal movement of the middle of the last century.
And nowadays, in an age in which industry is the conspicuous human activity, we find
historians giving all things an economic interpretation, looking at history upon an economic
background, and thinking of it as a record of human strivings to satisfy economic wants.
When statesmen, members of a leisure class, contending for political power, were the
conspicuous figures in English life, Athenian history was interpreted in terms of statesmen
and demagogues. Today, when the labor party in England has brought a new type of
political leader before our eyes, we find English writers, with a different mental picture
giving direction to their thoughts, telling Athenian history as a record of an attempt by
workingmen to use political power in order to maintain their standard of living.
One may make the point even better in my own immediate field of the law. Not the
least element in the everyday administration of justice is a body of more or less definite
ideals of the social order and of the end or purpose of law, and hence of what legal
institutions and doctrines and precepts ought to be and ought to achieve. In the aggregate
they make up a picture in the minds of judges to which decisions tend to conform, by
which precepts are interpreted and applied, and doctrines are given content, and developed
or limited. But not all the details of this picture are received, authoritatively established
ideals which may be said to form a part of the law of the land. Our Anglo-American
legal theory does not admit any place for ideals, and so it is common to confuse subjective
ideals of the particular judge and received ideals which are an element in the law. When
he has to decide what is "reasonable," as he has to do so often, he turns to his picture
of things as they should be. What accords with this picture is reasonable. But the law
does not give him the details of this picture, nor even in many cases, its outlines. As
Mark Twain said of the judgment of Solomon, it all lies in the way Solomon was raised.
Hence dissents and judicial disagreements are as common in cases calling for a judgment
of what is reasonable as they are rare in cases calling for application of a definite rule
of law. The difficulty is in treating the administration of justice as though it had no
ideal element, so that when that element must come into play it comes in more or less
unconsciously, and so without critical discrimination between the ideals which are those
of the social order, and the ideals which are those of the particular magistrate. The
judge is not unlikely to use his individual picture of what ought to be as if it were an
absolute measure like a rule of property.
For example, in old decisions before the Fourteenth Amendment, which are not con-
troversial, we find judges saying that legislation which "violates the social compact" is
void, without regard to any specific constitutional provision. We find them laying down
that things inconsistent with institutions of free government are to be held void by judicial
pronouncement without reference to any particular constitutional prohibition. Also we
find them deducing from the "social compact" as if it were as definite a document and
as knowable in its details as the Statute of Wills. Thus, in effect, the judges' picture of
an ideal American society became a super-constitution to which all lawmaking must conform.
BY ROSCOE POUND, Ph.D
Ample illustration of this ideal super-constitution in action may be found in the law
books in old cases to which present controversial ideals do not attach.
For example, in the Dred Scott case, we see a judge from south of Mason and Dixon's
line and one from the north reaching with absolute assurance, diametrically opposite
results by means of what each assumes to be inevitable logical deduction from the same
instrument treated by the same legal technique. During the Civil War we find the judges
in one of the leading states of the Confederacy laying down that a statute is void if it
infringes upon "states' rights", even if no specific constitutional provision is infringed.
The picture of an ideal political order, which served in the minds of the judges for a
super-constitution was the real measure of decision. Again, some seventy-five years ago
the judges of the highest court of New York reached the conclusion that a prohibitory
law was not due process of law upon the basis of the very constitutional text which, a
few years since, afforded no obstacles when like statutory provisions came before the
courts. The constitutions and the statute were the same. But the pictures of what ought
to be in the minds of the judges had changed completely.
Turn to a wholly different field. Think how obstinately men have clung to their
received pictures of the order of the physical universe. So sure have men been of these
pictures of the nature of things, that they have assumed to know as much about the
architecture of God's universe as about that of a house in the next street. They have
felt that there was something dangerous, if not impious, in questioning or unsettling these
pictures. From the Greek philosopher, who ventured to guess that the sun was a hot
stone and might be as big as the Peloponnesus, to Einstein with his challenge of the
Newtonian plan of the Universe and his upsetting conception of relativity, those who
have compelled us to erase or redraw such pictures have been felt to be dangerous
disturbers. So, too, with those, such as Darwin, who have disturbed received pictures
of man's place in nature. Men have resented inquiry into such pictures. Whatever was
out of accord with them has been pronounced heresy or schism or infidelity or agnosticism
or revolution or anarchy or bolshevism or whatever has chanced to be the current opprobri-
ous epithet of the time.
No doubt to some extent this resentment has behind it a certain amount of original
sin in the form of mental laziness. We resent the suggestion of going to the labor of
criticising, revising or replacing our settled views. I suspect that we teachers, notwith-
standing our reputation through all ages for heresy, are very prone to this attitude. But
there is something much more legitimate behind it as well. In a sense, men have been
justified in feeling uneasy about those who call on them to erase or redraw or modify
received pictures of things as they are and as they ought to be, for these pictures are
so controlling an element in all that we do, that the stability of the social order may
prove to be involved even where there is no immediate interference with the obvious
pillars of the political and economic organization. Yet it is far too common and too easy
to assume that these pillars rest on a foundation of our personal fixed and indelible pictures
of what ought to be.
Even when we find it necessary to give up our pictures of things as they are or of
things as they should be, in whole or in part, we like to think that it is good for the
generality of men to keep to them. We have a picture of the place of our fellow men
in the order of nature. In that picture, I fear, we are in the foreground and the great
bulk of mankind occupy very insignificant positions and serve chiefly to set off the
central figure, namely, ourselves. Hence we are likely to fear that our fellow men will
get out of their place in the scheme of things if they are permitted to know what we may
feel obliged to concede is the truth. Men have been prone to feel that there is a social
need of deceiving the mass of the people in the interest of that picture of their place in
the universe. Thus, to give but one example, Cicero, in his essay on divination, demon-
strating the futility of augury, yet argues that it would not do for the public to lose their
faith in it, and would retain the whole silly system of high state officials watching the
sacred birds as they eat their corn and inspecting the entrails of sacrificial victims.
Perhaps I have said enough to show the need of critique of these pictures. Men with
very different conceptions, groups of men with one picture and other groups with wholly
divergent pictures, must live together and work together in a complex social organization.
Clashes must be avoided, friction must be reduced to a minimum. And a prime cause
of clash, a prime occasion of friction, is disagreement where each, referring to his picture
of the nature of things, in the best of faith, is conscientiously persuaded that what he
demands is absolutely and inevitably right, or that what he would interdict is absolutely
and obviously wrong. Without inquiry, or with little inquiry, as to how and whence we
get these pictures, each is apt to assume that he is justified in forcing his neighbors'
lives, even his neighbors' thoughts and beliefs, into conformity with the details of his
picture of things as they ought to be. He is not unlikely to identify his particular picture
with the divine plan, or with eternal justice, or with the wisdom of our fathers, or with
the Constitution, or Americanism, or progress, or the new social order, or whatever is
the correct solving word or solving phrase for the time being. Uncritical acceptance of
a picture of things as they ought to be, by which unconsciously all things are measured,
is a chief source of intolerance, social misunderstanding, class hatred, race antagonism,
group hostility, and religious animosity. How easily serious misunderstanding may be
fomented and may lead to mistaken suspicions of lawmakers or administrative officers
or judges who act from the best of motives, is illustrated by a type of case of which
there are several examples in our law reports, cases where judges of Puritan bringing
up, with a picture of a congregational polity as the necessary organization of a Christian
church, have sought to enforce that polity upon a church with an episcopal or hierarchical
organization as the only legally permissible church organization.
In order to understand our fellow men-and we must understand them if we are to
live with them--we must understand both our own picture of things as they should be,
and their picture. We shall not understand them, and we shall only live with them at
the cost of much friction, if we assume as a fixed starting point, with no critique of our
own picture, that theirs is bound, to conform in all its details to ours. Dickens put the
matter well in Mr. Podsnap. Mr. Podsnap had done well in the insurance business and
was prosperous. His life consisted in rising at eight, shaving close at a quarter past,
breakfast at nine, going to the city at ten and a routine ending with a comfortable dinner.
All things were but expressions of this life. Nothing that could not conform thereto
was to be permitted. Whatever did not fit into this scheme of things was wrong and was
to be eliminated. Indeed, when any such thing was even suggested, Mr. Podsnap
magnificently put it behind him with a wave of his hand, and it perished from the earth.
His one conclusive argument to anything inconvenient or out of his experience was,
Very like Mr. Podsnap is the so-called "practical man" who assumes that his picture
of what ought to be, made from his personal experience, is an accurate picture of what is.
He flatters himself that his feet are on the ground. He disclaims theories. He goes on
facts. But his facts are interpretations in the light of an experience which is often narrow
and one-sided. The ground on which his feet are planted is a theory of things constructed
to fit that narrow and one-sided experience. What he thinks ought to be he takes to be
the hard world of fact and experience, and to that picture everything must needs conform.
It is not easy for the machinery of social control to operate with such a background.
If it is to operate effectively, men must be led to criticise the details of their pictures
BY ROSCOE POUND, Ph.D.
of things as they ought to be. They must be led to ask whence these pictures come,
whence they get their outlines, whence they derive their details. They must be led to
think about them and to criticise the subject, the picture as a whole, the drawing, and
the details. In particular, they need to inquire whether their picture of the nature of
things is anything more than an idealization of the conditions of their childhood, projected
into another time and used as a measure for a different society.
But where are men to get the materials for criticising their ideals of the social order
and of things as they should be? What shall guide them in revising,, erasing, redrawing,
and retouching? Where shall they find the materials for shaping, organizing, and giving
content to ideals more compatible with social life in a crowded world? There is no one
answer. I am not here with the one thing needful. What I would urge is, simply, that
herein is the task of organized education in the whole scheme of social control.
For one thing, education has to do with these pictures directly and immediately. It
seeks directly and immediately to lead us to inquire into these pictures, both in their
details and as wholes; to see whence they come, how they got their form and content,
how they compare with the ideals held by men in the past, how they compare with those
of other peoples, and, not the least, how they compare with those of our neighbors. More
far reaching, however, it affects these pictures indirectly by leading to unconscious criticisms.
It affects men's application of them indirectly by making men aware of other possibilities,
by making them less absolute and dogmatically assured, by giving them pause when
they would measure all that their neighbors are and all that they do by an uncritically
formed, uncritically applied personal ideal. It leads them unconsciously to reflect that
the neighbor also may be measuring what they do by the neighbor's ideal. Thus it leads
or at least may lead them to seek to understand their neighbor's picture of things and
to see how that neighbor's ideal expresses the neighbor's claims and desires. Thus it
suggests or may suggest that our own picture may be but an expression of our personal
claims and desires.
Why do our pictures of things as they are, and even more of things as they should be,
err so that there is a different picture behind the assured conviction of each group and
each class and each bloc and at times of each man, that it or he is asserting claims in
title of right and truth and justice, or in title of inexorable economic laws and the inevitable
nature of things?
One cause of error is that so many pictures are drawn from insufficient or defective
information. Another is that too many are drawn on a limited and insufficient experience.
Yet another is that for the most part these pictures have been, as one might say, copied
from pictures drawn by others, who drew them for another time, another place, or another
society. In times of transition, especially in times of rapid and far reaching transition,
the latter cause of error is a potent cause of friction. The last census disclosed that the
balance had definitely shifted from country to city. The change from the pioneer, rural,
agricultural society of the last century to the urban, industrial society of today is a
profound one. The sudden rise of great cities, the springing up of huge metropolitan
areas where a century ago there were swamps or Indian missions or frontier outposts,
make the pictures that sufficed foe our grandfathers, for our fathers, and, in the case of
those who change their abode from one type of community to another, even the pictures
that once sufficed for ourselves, inadequate and inapplicable. We are required, almost
without warning, to revise and redraw to meet changes in the social and economic order
which are so involved and reach in so many directions beyond our experience that we
shrink from the task. To do this revising and redrawing intelligently, we must look at
the information behind our pictures and broaden it, we must look into the experience
behind them and deepen it and organize it and measure it, as far as we may, by all
organized experience. Broadening of information, deepening of personal experience through
comparing it with experience of others and of other times, organizing and measuring of
experience, these things are the work of education.
No doubt there is another conception of education. There are those who think of
teaching as a mechanical handing out of standard information, according in all its details
with some standard picture of what ought to be. Mostly this conception of education
obtains among those whose experience does not go beyond the elementary grades, who
therefore, idealizing their experience, can only think of all educational institutions as
glorified district schools. For current discussions of education are no different from
other human activities. The disputants consciously or unconsciously assume a type of
school-the elementary school, the old time college with a narrow, rigid curriculum, the
training school for British gentlemen, or the vocational school or professional school of
today-as the measure of what ought to be, and try everything by that standard. Those
of us who had the classical training of the past generation at least have hard work not
to think of all the problems of organized education in terms of the small college whose
loyal sons we are proud to be. But the rise of professional training in place of apprentice
training leads others to find an ideal in the school which imparts the technique of a craft
or the traditional learning and art of a profession. Perhaps the social prestige which
goes along with college life, may lead some to form a picture of a training for membership
in social clubs with a certain minimum of general information which must be part of the
equipment of a cultivated man of leisure. In such pictures, very likely the imparting
and acquisition of information is a chief element.
Even so conceived, the part of organized education in the background of social control
is no mean role. But the bulk of information in the complex society of today is so vast,
and the life of particular items of information is so short, that a mere system of imparting
information would not justify the faith in education which has put a university or college
or school as definitely at the center of every American city, as a cathedral or an abbey
was at the center of every medieval city. It would not justify the scattering of school-
houses over the American city of today as lavishly as parish churches were scattered over
the medieval city. It would not justify the devoting of wealth to educational foundations
in America, comparable only to the endowings of religious foundations in the Middle Ages.
It would not justify the rearing of monumental buildings devoted to education, rivalling
the buildings dedicated to religion in the Middle Ages. It would not justify the concern
of American states, as declared by their written constitutions and made good by legislative
appropriations and state and municipal budgets, to make ample provision by public edu-
cational institutions of every sort for the elevation of the people through culture.
Information is an ephemeral thing. The last word in the way of information yesterday
is not unlikely to be obsolete tomorrow. Nowadays this is emphatically true in the sciences.
Thirty years ago I flattered myself that I knew something of botany. Today, after a
generation of neglect of that subject, when I open an up to date botanical periodical I
am not much more at home than a diligent first-year student in college. Forty years ago
I was a first-year student in a great law school and took careful notes under excellent
instructors, masters of the subjects which they taught. Yet today when I look over these
note books I find very little that I could pass on with assurance to the student of this
generation. It is not information that I got from them, which endures. It is rather the
technique of acquiring and testing and appraising information. And so it is in every
field of teaching. "On account iv fluctuations of rint an' trouble with the landlord,"
says Mr. Dooley, "it's not safe to presoom that the same tinant always lives in th' wan
house." Names and labels and formulas may remain unchanged while the content beneath
them has changed profoundly. A mere imparting of these names and labels and formulas.
BY ROSCOE POUND, Ph.D.
without the technique of getting beneath and behind them and trying them with reference
to the actual content to which they are attached, is of no moment.
What education can do and what organized education does, and does so as to justify
abundantly our lavish public and private support of education in all its form, is to help
students of all ages and degrees and in all stages of the process, to form and criticise
their pictures of what ought to be, by putting them in touch with information and teaching
them to acquire, to test, and to appraise it, by teaching them to test their experience and
appreciate its limitations, by showing them how to supplement their experience out of
the recorded experience of mankind and to organize it and give it depth, by leading them
to understand other types of pictures of what should be and to appreciate the factors that
go to give those pictures their content and their forms.
It has been suggested already that organized education stands to social control in
America today where organized religion stood in the Middle Ages. Educational institutions
command the devoted support of all conditions of men as religious foundations did in the
Middle Ages. Accumulated wealth is set aside to set up and maintain educational institu-
tions in twentieth-century America, as it was set aside to establish and maintain religious
foundations in the Middle Ages. Political institutions have seemed the central interest of
Western peoples since the Reformation. But in English-speaking lands, our faith in them
is not deep. Although the rise of social legislation in the last generation has greatly
increased the area of governmental action, and for the moment the exigencies of recovery
from an economic depression have seemed to be driving us toward an omnicompetent
national government, there are no signs that American government is likely to extend
permanently much beyond police, administration of justice, and national defense. Our
real and abiding faith is not in government, but in education.
There is good reason for this faith. Without expecting miracles from education, and
conceding that the work of organized education might be done better and that those who
are doing it have very much to learn, we may yet recognize that in the society of today
it bears the brunt of what is to be done in the background of social control, and is believed
in and supported for that reason.
I would not depreciate what is done in this background by domestic institutions-the
home and family-by organized religion, and by organized effort in trade and business and
professional associations. But in these men are set off in groups or denominations or
classes or businesses. On the other hand, in organized education men are brought together.
They come from households and denominations and races and groups and classes and
businesses, and meet simply as fellow students. So, too, in politics, where they participate
as fellow citizens. But that participation, as governments are conducted, involves strife
and contest and factions and parties. Education is the one major social activity in which
all the elements of the people may cooperate without requiring any distinctions save those
which individual qualification for study necessarily impose. However imperfectly our
educational institutions do their work, however much those institutions may fall short
of our picture of what they could do and should do, are they not the capital agency in
our national and social life, making for the furtherance of reason and the will of God?