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The Purposes of Education 
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The Prnposd&f: 

. : 44'J 

in Americatf 

Educational Policies Commission 

National Education Association of the United States 
and tie American Association of School Administrators 
1201 Sixteenth Street, Northwest, Washington, D. C 

Copyright, 1938 

Washington, D. C. 

First printing, September 1938 
Illustrations by BORIS ARTZYBASHEFF 


A STATEMENT of the purposes of education is a 
1 L project of such magnitude and importance 
that it has necessarily been considered by the 
Educational Policies Commission at each of the 
seven meetings it has held during the past three 
years, The work in this field has been carried 
forward also by a series of conferences directed 
by subcommittees of the Commission. An ac- 
count of these conferences and their personnel 
is given at the end of this book. The report in 
its present form was approved for publication 
by vote of the Commission on April 25, 1938. 
Although the Educational Policies Commission 
recognizes that DR. WILLIAM G. CARR, in his 
capacity as its Secretary, has contributed to every 
pronouncement and publication of the Commis- 
sion, his relationship to this particular project has 
been unique. The Commission is indebted to Dr. 
Carr, not only for much of the structure and 
substance of this volume, but especially for its 
cogent and vigorous style. 

The Educational Policies Commission 

Appointed by the National Education Association of the United States 
and the American Association of School Administrators 

Appointed Members 







Ex-Qfficio Members 


Advisory Members 

William G. Carr, Secretary 

noi Sixteenth Street, N, W. 

Washington, D. C. 

Table of Contents 


Forewords vli 


I. The Nature and Sources of Educational Objec- 
tives i 

II. The Democratic Processes 7 

III. The Objectives of Education: A General Re- 

view 39 

IV. The Objectives of Self -Realization 51 

V. The Objectives of Human Relationship 73 

VI. The Objectives of Economic Efficiency 91 

VII. The Objectives of Civic Responsibility 109 

VIII. Critical Factors in the Attainment of Educa- 
tional Purposes 125 

Conferences and Personnel 156 

To the Teacher: 

'A million teachers in America have listened to addresses 
and read books, articles, reports, and courses of study on 
the purposes of education. These talks and publications 
sometimes fail to affect what is done in the classroom. 
One reason for their limited influence has been the ten- 
dency to deal in extremely broad generalizations which, 
for classroom procedure, could mean almost anything and, 
therefore, mean almost nothing. 

In this book your Educational Policies Commission has 
tried to do just two things. First, we have stated what 
we think the schools of the United States ought to try 
to accomplish. Second, we have described some of the 
things which we think need to be done if these purposes 
are to be realized. We venture one more discussion on 
educational objectives because we hope to carry our analysis 
forward to the point where its meaning for the classroom 
and the administrative office will be clear. 

The introductory chapters, dealing with the relation 
between education and democracy, provide a necessary 
basis for the rest of the statement. The kind of society in 
which we are to live is important for education. The demo- 
cratic way of life establishes the purpose of American 
education. And the democratic way is being sharply and 
sometimes successfully challenged at home and abroad. 
These hard facts make the achievement of democracy 
through education the most urgent and the most intensely 
practical problem facing our profession. 

The Commission hopes above all that this book will 
lead you to think, for yourself and with others, about the 
purposes back of your daily work, to grow in professional 

skill and insight, and to hear more clearly than before the 
sharp imperatives of your great opportunities and your 
great obligations. 

To the Layman: 

Suppose you were a stockholder in an enterprise with 
a million employees, doing a two-billion-dollar business 
every year and occupying a plant valued at six billion 
dollars. Suppose also that this enterprise had a vital and 
direct effect on the welfare, safety, and happiness of you, 
your children, and your countrymen, and that it was 
concerned with the protection and development of a cer- 
tain natural resource worth five times as much as all 
our material, mineral, soil, oil, and forest resources put 
together. Would you not want to meet occasionally with 
representatives of the management and consider with 
them and with the other stockholders just what this 
great organization Was attempting to do, and how it 
could secure the greatest success? You would not sit 
back and let your vital interest in this concern go by 
default. You would eagerly follow the activities and reports 
of the enterprise and you would be found occupying a 
front seat at the meetings of the stockholders. 

The public schools are not such a business corpora- 
tion, but they are even more important. The youth of 
America are the natural resource which they are devel- 
oping and protecting. The teachers and other workers in 
the schools are the employees. The school buildings and 
grounds are the plant. Every American citizen is a con- 
tributing stockholder, pays taxes for public education, and 
sees that his children attend school. Few of us give fur- 
ther thought to the matter. 

Why do we have schools in this country? What differ- 
ences ought the schools to make in the way people think 

and act? Every child must attend the schools and the 
laws will punish his parents if they do not provide for 
his schooling. What is the reason for such strict legisla- 
tion? Why are schools so important that everyone in the 
community is required to help, through taxation, in their 
support? You know that the fire department is to prevent 
and extinguish fires, the police department to maintain 
order, the public health department to control disease. 
Public education has unique and pervasive purposes and 
powers which set it in a class by itself. 

The purposes which direct education are of the greatest 
significance to everyone. The Commission hopes that you 
will agree with our analysis of what these purposes ought 
to be in the American democracy of 1938. Even if you 
do not agree with us, our publication will succeed if it 
helps you to think seriously about the great cause of 
education. And if you do accept the conclusions of this 
book, we invite you, on behalf of the educational profes- 
sion, to work with us in making our schools what they 
should can must become. 



If philosophy is for anything if it is not a kind of 
mumbling in the dark, a form of busy work it must 
shed some light upon the path. Life without it must 
be a different sort of thing from life with it. And the 
difference -which it makes must be in us. Philosophy, 
then, is reflection upon social ideals, and education 
is the effort to actualize them in hitman behavior. 


Educational Objectives Depend on 
a Scale of Values. 

Every statement of educational purposes, including this 
one, depends upon the judgment of some person or group 
as to "what is good and what is bad, what is true and what 
is false, what is ugly and what is beautiful, what is valuable 
and what is worthless, in the conduct of human affairs, 
^ Objectives are, essentially, a statement of preferences, 
choices, values. These preferences are exercised, these 
choices made, these values arranged in a variety of ways. 

Educational Purposes Are Rooted 
in the Life of a People. 

The purposes of schools and other social agencies are not 
"discovered" as a prospector strikes a gold-mine. They 
evolve; they reflect and interact with the purposes which 

1 The terms "aim," ''purpose/* and "objective" are used nere inter- 


permeate the life of the people. In each of the phases of 
individual and social living, there are elements which people 
commend, others which they condemn. Such judgments are 
based, in the last analysis, on moral standards or ideals. That 
which, out of their intelligence and experience, the people 
declare to be good, they will attempt to maintain and per- 
petuate for the benefit of their children and their chil- 
dren's children. They strive through education to transmit 
what they think is good to all the generations to come. 

The Objectives of Schools Are a 
Form of Social Policy. 

A society which exalts force and violence will have one 
set of educational aims. A society which values reason, 
tranquility, and the paths of peace will have another and 
very different set. Again, a society which worships its 
ancestors and blindly reverences the past will have and 
does have different educational purposes from a society 
which recognizes the necessity for adjustment and change. 
The educational objectives in each case rest on certain ideas 
of good and bad, but these ideas are different in each case 
and lead to aims for the schools which differ from one 
another as the day from the night. 

Educational purposes, then, are a form of social policy, 
a program of social action based on some accepted scale 
of values. Since the application of these values varies from 
place to place and even from day to day, detailed purposes 
of education can never be developed so as to be universally 
applicable and perpetually enduring. Constant study and 
revision are required to keep them meaningful to the people 
and effective in the schools. Only the broadest lines of 
policy can have more than temporary and local applica- 
tion, but these controlling principles are of prepotent 
importance. Everything, in fact, depends upon them. 


The early Protestant sects believed It morally necessary 
that each person acquire salvation in a certain way. Once 
this moral decision was made, certain educational purposes 
followed. It was thought necessary, for instance, that each 
person consult the Bible at first hand. Hence each person 
must learn to read. Given these premises, the subsidiary 
purpose of literacy followed inevitably. Today, everyone 
takes instruction In reading as a matter of course. Yet a 
moment's consideration will show that such instruction 
is not justified by the sheer act of reading itself, but rests 
upon such considerations as religious necessity, or good 
citizenship, or personal enjoyment. The controlling pur- 
pose represents a choice of values. 

This illustration suggests that many influences determine 
the scale of values cherished by a people. The development 
and continuing revision of this scale, and the consequent 
statements and revisions of educational purposes require 
attention to the conditions and trends of social and eco- 
nomic life, of practical efficiencies, and of ethical principles. 

The Conditions and Trends of Society 
Must Be Considered. 

.Educational objectives, if they are to be of significant 
practical value must not be established in defiance of 
known or ascertainable facts concerning the economic and 
social situation as it is and as it may become. The values 
cherished by individuals and by social groups are the prod- 
uct of experience and may be changed by the same force 
which created them. In this realm every effort must be 
made to substitute tested truth for ignorance and hunches. 
Every major change in the structure of human society 
from tribal government to nationalism and from chattel 
slavery to capitalism has been accompanied by profound 
changes in educational purposes. A clear and exact knowl- 


edge of the status and direction of any culture is Indis- 
pensable to a statement concerning Its educational purposes. 

Social Values Vary in Application. 

The principles which guide any society in establishing 
its objectives and those of its educational systems are 
usually simple, deep-rooted, and persistent. But the ap- 
proved conduct which conforms to these principles Is 
necessarily complex, variable, and transient. ,New social 
and technological developments change the mode of 
applying ethical principles to conduct. Vital decisions 
change with racial experience. Constant reapplications of 
the scale of values to specific problems are necessary. 

Thus, the simple distinctions between mine, thine, and 
ours, which sufficed for the conduct of life in more primi- 
tive times, become immensely complicated in a society 
marked by entrepreneurial profits, holding companies, 
International finance, and corporate ownership. The de- 
sirability of making the distinctions persists; the practical 
difficulties in so doing are multiplied and perplexing. 

The Methods of Effective Teaching and 
Learning Should Be Sought and Utilized. 

Scientific studies of the process of education itself affect 
the nature of educational objectives. Such studies may 
ascertain the degree to which given" objectives are accept- 
able to the public, to the profession, or to any segment 
thereof. They may discover how universally or how per- 
fectly the objectives are or have been attained by any 
person or group of persons. They may measure the positive 
or negative contributions made to the objectives by the 
schools or by other social agencies. They may compare and 
evaluate the relative efficiency of various educational agen- 


cies, methods, or materials in approaching the objectives. 
They may throw light on the nature of man as learner and 
teacher and thus color the entire policy of education. 

Ethical Judgments Control the Application 
of Other Standards, 

The most potent and universal bases for determining 
educational objectives, however, are those which deal with 
ethical or moral distinctions. 

Consider a single example. Schools are expected to pro- 
mote a desirable present and future family life for the 
children in their care. But why is this purpose given promi- 
nence? Clearly, it is emphasized because people generally 
believe that the home and the family are wholesome insti- 
tutions, capable of contributing to a good and significant 
life. If we thought that the home was an unimportant or 
worthless institution, we would not include education for 
home life among our educational purposes. 

This purpose of the school is frequently summarized in 
the phrase "worthy home membership." Again, what is 
worthy home membership? The objectives of the school 
in this area acquire concrete meaning only when that word 
"worthy" is defined. This definition must be made, ulti- 
mately, upon an ethical basis. We have all known families 
ruled by a stern, personal, yet not unkindly autocracy. 
Many look with favor on this type of home membership. 
Others believe in a mort democratic family regime. Which- 
ever party is right, it is clear that the two types of home 
membership are quite different and that each would require 
a different education. Which of them is the worthy one? 
Or are both unworthy? The answer to these questions 
involves a choice of values, essentially ethical or moral in 
nature. And that ethical choice determines the real pur- 
pose of the school in this regard. 


This conclusion is reinforced as we examine the other 
great areas in which the schools operate. We are told that 
the schools ought to develop good citizens, possessing 
ethical character, who make a worthy use of their leisure 
time. But what is good, ethical, or worthy? 

Every nation is interested in education for "good" citi- 
zenship. But the ethical decision as to what is "good" in 
this field produces widely variant and indeed opposing 
practices at different times and in different parts of the 
world. A good American citizen, we think, is humane, 
just, and restless under restraint. But these same qualities 
may be the marks of a very unacceptable or bad citizen in 
the cultures of other times and places. 

Quantitative and other scientific studies of current social 
problems and social trends, as well as of the nature of the 
learning process, are of great value in helping to direct 
social policies. Equally important in the selection of either 
social or educational policies is the way in which facts are 
related to issues and the interpretations placed upon the 
facts. Science can help us to determine what the facts are, 
but it has no answer to the question as to whether existing 
conditions ought to be changed or perpetuated. Science, 
physical or social, declares, "These things are so/' Ethics 
alone lifts a finger to the things that ought to be. 



The critics of democracy have the easiest of tasks 
in demonstrating its inefficiency. But there is some- 
thing even 'more important than efficiency and expe- 
diency, namely, justice. And democracy is the only 
social order that is admissible, because it is the only 
one consistent with justice. The moral consideration 
is supreme. ROBERT BRIFFAULT. 

The Social Policy of America Is Democracy. 

We have seen that before the objectives of education at 
any point of time and place can be stated, people must 
decide which of several possible social policies are to claim 
their allegiance. We have seen also that this decision hinges 
primarily upon certain fundamental judgments of values. 
The social policy thus accepted and endorsed by the Amer- 
ican people is the continued striving toward the demo- 
cratic ideal. A general description of democratic ways of 
living is, therefore, an indispensable part of our statement 
of educational purposes. 

-^ Democratic living is a developing and complex process 
in which certain great elements stand out in bold relief. 
This chapter attempts to sweep into a few broad general- 
izations these minimum essentials of democracy. 

The General Welfare. 

Democracy prizes a broad humanitarianism, an interest 
in the other fellow, a feeling of kinship to other people 
more or less fortunate than oneself. One who lives in 


accordance with democracy is interested not only in his 
own welfare but in the welfare of others the general 

Civil Liberty. 

Democratic behavior observes and accords to every indi- 
vidual certain "unalienable" rights and certain inescapable 
corollary responsibilities. One who lives in a democratic 
way respects himself. And to self-respect he adds respect 
for the moral rights and feelings of others, for the sanctity 
of each individual personality. 

The Consent of the Governed. 

Democratic processes also involve the assent of the people 
in matters of social control and the participation of all con- 
cerned in arriving at important decisions. This implies that 
all the people must have access to the facts which will help 
them to reach a wise decision, 

The Appeal to Reason. 

Peaceful and orderly methods of settling controversial 
questions are applied by a democracy to matters of national 
and international policy as well as to private disputes. The 
callous use of force and violence is rejected as unworthy of 
a civilized people. 

The Pursuit of Happiness. 

Finally, democracy sets high value upon the attainment 
of human happiness as a basis for judging the effectiveness 
of social life. 

We are to examine each of these five ideals of democratic 
conduct, seeking from them to derive a general under- 


standing of the purposes of our schools. It is desirable to 
preface this examination by a brief sketch of some aspects 
of the development of democracy in this country and of its 
present status in the world* No comprehensive treatment 
is attempted here; the Commission has in preparation a 
more extensive report on the historical background of edu- 
cational and social purposes. 

Democracy and Education Have Developed Together. 

The natural environment of America has been unusually 
congenial to liberty, yet we have never been entirely free 
from arrogance, intolerance, and despotism. Long before 
1776 battles for democracy were fought. Traditions of 
distinction as between the rich and the poor, the educated 
and the ignorant, the governing and the governed, were 
imported by the early settlers along with their household 
goods. More than one group, learning nothing of sympathy 
through its own persecution, sought America's shores, in 
the words of the earnest young clergyman, "in order to 
worship God in our own way and compel all others to do 
the same." Many a European "gentleman" crossed the 
Atlantic with full intent to make himself a landlord over 
wide domains and to enrich himself at the expense of other 
immigrants whose passage he paid. The craftman came, 
with what amounted to a monopoly on his particular kind 
of training in a country where craftsmen were scarce, with 
the clear determination to bring himself to power and 
riches through the work of his apprentices. 

Education in the Colonies, reflecting these influences, 
was primarily the support of various authoritarian groups. 
In New England, where public education began, it was the 
bulwark of a Protestantism which dictated its content, 
methods, and general administration. Other religions, too, 
founded their own schools. The wealthy landlord hired 


private teachers to instruct his own children and grudgingly 
established inferior charity schools for the poor. In the 
towns and small farms along the Eastern Seaboard the 
"bound boy" fared a little better. The apprenticeship sys- 
tem, however, was the nearest approach to universal educa- 
tion which America could claim for nearly two centuries. 
Such educational arrangements were a far cry from the 
schools of today. There has been a ceaseless struggle for the 
extension of education to all. The wresting of educational 
opportunity from those who found it a convenient means 
of perpetuating a religious belief, and from others, more 
worldly-minded, who gained monetary advantage from 
the limitation and restriction of educational opportunity, 
fills many stirring pages of history. 

Democratic Schools Arose from 
American Conditions. 

Changes in the objectives of education which our fore- 
fathers imported from Europe were inevitable. The in- 
fluence of frontier and wilderness, the substantial economic 
and social equality of the people began to break down Old 
World class barriers. Colonists of the second generation 
began to demand genuinely American schools schools 
which would educate their children for their day and loca- 
tion. The inadequacy of the traditional schools was slowly 
undermining them. Many a growing boy girls were then 
little considered found no school equipped to teach him 
what he most needed and hence was obliged to study out- 
side any school. Many another was financially unable to pay 
for the education provided. The ideas gained by these young 
people naturally reflected the influences of life as it was lived 
in America rather than life in the atmosphere of the classi- 
cal schoolroom. Finally, the isolated schools of each state 
were welded into systems of public education free, tax- 

supported and open to all, of whatever creed or condition. 
At last a universal education, deemed suitable and necessary 
for the citizens of a democracy, was envisioned. But the 
battle to keep free schools politically, economically, and in- 
tellectually free goes on. It may well be that we are now 
mobilizing for the greatest conflict of all. 

The public schools were launched a century ago under 
conditions entirely dissimilar to those of today. Never since 
the development of primitive agriculture, say the experts, 
have such revolutionary changes occurred in the basic ac- 
tivities of life. It has been said that the founding fathers 
were nearer to the age of Confucius than we are to them. 
Their schools were located in the open country or in small 
towns. People were relatively independent and self-sup- 
porting. They owed their bread and their shelter to no one 
but themselves or to friends and neighbors who were 
equally indebted to them. No group or individual was in 
position to demand individual liberty in exchange for the 
necessities of life. 

Science and Invention Have Created 
Social Tensions. 

But today a new social force of incalculable strength has 
disrupted the rural civilization that founded our democ- 
racy. The independent, self-sufficient farmer has been suc- 
ceeded in many cases by an industrial employee, dependent 
for livelihood on persons who may have no direct interest 
in him as a human being and who may recognize no re- 
sponsibility for his welfare. A new industrial society is here. 
New means are found for developing and using the re- 
sources of nature. Machinery of every sort multiplies the 
strength of man a thousandfold, sees and hears more keenly 
than any human senses, and surrounds us by a material 
and social environment unlike anything known by any 

people of the past. It is clear that if democracy is to func- 
tion effectively tinder these new conditions, new require- 
ments must be met. Just as religions domination over the 
purposes of public education once made room for con- 
siderations of personal economic gain and political effi- 
ciencies, so now social adjustments arising from the de- 
veloping technology urgently demand attention. 

It is scarcely necessary to pause to document the fore- 
going statements. Everyone can testify to the changes made 
in his own habits of living by scientific discoveries and 
their applications in industry, medicine, or homemaking. 
In the literature of the day these trends are convincingly 
summarized. We are told that approximately one and one- 
half million new patents were granted during the first third 
of the twentieth century. Invention on such a scale, even 
though many of the patents are of negligible importance, 
must be accompanied by social adjustments or it will be 
followed by social collapse. Our food, our travel, our com- 
munications, our very lives now depend on an intricate 
network of technological processes. A machine has no 
philosophy of life, no organs, senses, affections, or passions. 
Largely because the social consequences of scientific ad- 
vances have not been anticipated or met, we witness eco- 
nomic depression, technological unemployment, desolating 
wars, and confused loyalties. 

Science and Invention Must Serve Humanity. 

The gap between traditional social processes and the 
material phases of life widens daily. Many social institu- 
tions of today are poorly prepared to meet the demands 
and make the adjustments required. Inventions designed 
to save time, energy, and health and to increase produc- 
tivity are somehow followed by unemployment, occupa- 
tional diseases, and scarcity of the necessities of life. These 


are the manifestations of a culture in which material prog- 
ress has outpaced social control and individual character. 
At the present time, humanity, not the machine, is having 
to make the required adjustments. New wine ferments 
menacingly in old bottles. These tensions can be resolved 
only through the application of intelligence and good will. 
\ A new birth of freedom freedom which is effective in 
QQ an industrial culture is required. Technology places in 
our hands the means of freeing ourselves from scarcity. 
This great and novel efficiency must be made to serve the 
ideals and purposes of democracy. 

The time ripens for a new companionship between ethics 
and science. An eminent biologist, in the 1937 presidential 
address 1 before the American Association for the Advance- 
ment of Science, puts the issue succinctly: "As scientists 
are inheritors of a noble ethical tradition. . . . The 
s^ profession of the scientist, like that of the educator or 
religious teacher, is essentially altruistic and should never 
\be prostituted to unethical purposes. To us the inestimable 
\ privilege is given to add to the store of knowledge, to seek 
v* truth not only for truth's sake but also for humanity's sake, 
\ and to have a part in the greatest work of all time, namely, 
the further progress of the human race through the ad- 
vancement of both science and ethics." As this call is 
^ heeded, democracy and science will succeed together. The 
^ records of the past strongly suggest that the great advances 
N in scientific inquiry have been coeval with the great periods 
H of democratic ferment. 

Certain Modern States Reject Democracy. 

Industrial and cultural changes confront the entire 
world with perplexing problems of adjustment. And some 

1 Conklin, Edwin Grant. "Science and Ethics." Science 86: 595-603; 
December 31, 1937. 


modem states have dealt with these problems by means 
which are repugnant to democratic ideals. 

Of Italy, we are told, "The universities have lost their 
old independence." Even the peasants and the children in 
rural village schools are propagandized by the radio. The 
press is under strict governmental control. Freedom to 
know, to think, and to express their thoughts, so essential 
to educational processes, are denied the Italian people as far 
as it is possible to deny them. 2 

Of education in Germany, Charles A. Beard states: "It is 
evident from the mass of laws and decrees spread over hun- 
dreds of pages that German educational administration is 
not concerned merely or even primarily with providing 
favorable physical conditions for intellectual and moral 
life. , . . Decree after decree shows that it is ... openly 
hostile to every manifestation of free inquiry and discus- 
sion in the schools from the bottom to the top. The sub- 
jects to be taught, the books admitted to schoolrooms, the 
papers and magazines bought for libraries, and the very 
spirit of instruction are prescribed in minute detail. No 
room is left for private opinion. . . . The life and sports 
of students as well as the thought and conduct of teachers 
are brought within the system of regimentation. The de- 
clared purpose and program of education is to crush all 
liberty of instruction and all independent search for 
truth." 8 

Whether the effort is to establish and preserve certain 
fixed classes or whether, as in Russia, it is bent on destroy- 
ing all class distinctions, the results for education appear 
to be the same. Not expansion of thought but crystalliza- 
tion of opinion around one point becomes the objective. 
"It follows logically that education under the rule of a 

2 Poole, Ernest. "Sons of the Wolf." Harper's Magazine 175: 460-69; 
October 1937. 

s Beard, Charles A. "Education under the Nazis." Foreign Affairs 14: 
437-52; April 1936. 


single party which boasts of its monolithic character and 
power, which suffers no competitors, must be an authori- 
tarian affair. . . First and foremost, authoritarian dicta- 
torship means for education a uniformity and fixity of 
ideas and faithfulness (stimulated by close scrutiny and 
realized through the expulsion from service of those not in 
conformity) to orthodoxy in political, social and economic 
thinking as defined by the party line/* * 

Japan also weaves a net in which the intellectual powers 
of her people are entangled. The organization chart of the 
Imperial Japanese Department of Education includes a 
Bureau of Thought Supervision coordinate with the Bureau 
of Higher Education, the Bureau of General Education, 
and the Bureau of School Books. The Bureau in question 
was created in 1934 when "movements of somewhat radical 
character arose to gain the hearts of the people" and "even 
teachers and various bodies of youth were found involved 
in them/' The staff of the Bureau includes "thought super- 
visors" and "thought inspection commissioners** who are 
dispatched from headquarters to the various prefectures 
"for inspection, for guidance and for supervision in con- 
nection with thought matters/* s 

The Gains of Many Generations Are at Stake. 

The political organization through which education is 
controlled thus definitely affects the educational product 
which may be desired or expected. These examples have 
their chief value for us in providing a sharp contrast with 
the objectives of education suitable for a democracy. They 
remind us that the safety of democracy will not be assured 

4 Woody, Thomas. "Towards a Classless Society Under the Hammer 
and Sickle." Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social 
Science 182: 140-52; November 1935. 

5 Japanese Department of Education. A General Survey of Education 
in Japan. Tokyo, 1935. p. 7, 58, 59. 


merely by making education universal. The task is not so 
easy as that. The dictatorships have universal schooling and 
use this very means to prevent the spread of democratic 
doctrines and institutions. American education today plays 
a role of world-wide importance. The resistance to be 
hurled in this and future generations against the menace 
of dictatorship in its proposed reconquest of the world 
will stem chiefly from the strength and the clarity of think- 
ing of the American citizen. If schools are to help in de- 
fense of the democratic ideal, their purposes must be de- 
fined in terms of that ideal, and their activities must be 
resolutely directed toward it. Those who administer and 
teach in the schools must regard the study of democracy as 
their first professional responsibility. 


The General Welfare Is Promoted 
by Human Sympathies. 

Ideally, each able-bodied person should provide through 
his own efforts for the comfort and welfare of himself and 
of those dependent upon him. If this desirable condition 
does not exist, a democratic society does not hesitate to take 
appropriate forms of governmental action. Such public 
activity does not, however, exempt the individual from the 
duty of responding to his own natural and kindly impulses. 
Personal charity and helpfulness need not be sidetracked 
or stifled by the increasing activity of organized relief. 

The conduct of those who live in the democratic spirit 
is guided by a broad and expanding humanitarianism. Dis- 
tress, frustration, unhappiness are of concern to persons 
other than the sufferer. The members of a democracy share 

its responsibilities no less than Its advantages. Callous in- 
difference to the desires and needs of others and short- 
sighted concentration on personal welfare are discouraged. 
Eadti individual, working alone or cooperatively in private 
or public efforts, seeks to prevent, cure, or ameliorate the 
sufferings of others, and thus to advance the general wel- 
fare. More than that; the democratic way of life seeks not 
merely freedom from suffering but also a positively whole- 
some, constructive, and abundant life for all. 

The General Welfare Places Individuals 
above Institutions. 

Social institutions are convenient systems of relationships 
among individuals, the lengthened shadows of groups of 
individual men and women. The State, for example, con- 
sists of its members. Destroy all the members and the State 
is gone; but destroy the State and the members remain. 
Apart from these individuals the social organization has 
a merely fictional existence. There can be no such thing as 
the welfare of "the State" at the expense of, or in contrast 
with, the general welfare of the individuals who compose 
it. Man is not made for institutions. Institutions are made 
by and for mankind. 

The institutions of a democracy are not, therefore, set 
up as golden calves to worship or as Molochs demanding 
human sacrifice. They sanctify no symbols greater than 
man himself. They are subject to adjustments at any time 
according to the wisdom, tolerance, and enlightenment of 
the individuals who function in them. It is, of course, true 
that social institutions are not only inescapable but are 
positively essential for individual well-being. Nevertheless, 
particular institutions of society can be, and often are, 
fundamentally changed in form, function, and authority. 


The General Welfare Is Decreased by the Lag 
of Social Institutions. 

A savage tribe may exorcise a plague by sacrifices, dances, 
incantations. By some coincidence the epidemic abates. 
The ceremonies which were observed immediately acquire 
a special sanctity. Their value may be entirely fictitious; 
better measures may be ready to hand. Yet the mighty 
medicine becomes firmly established among the tribal 
customs. The ceremonies are repeated on the same date 
every year. Those who question the necessity or value of 
the ceremony are regarded with suspicion or hatred. I the 
skeptic is a member o the tribe he is condemned for flout- 
ing the exemplary traditions of his forefathers. If an out- 
sider, he is suspected of spreading "subversive" doctrine or 
of being the secret tool of an alien tribe. 

This resistance which social institutions offer to change 
is well known. Man in setting up his social organizations 
runs the constant danger of creating, like Frankenstein, a 
monster which threatens his own welfare and happiness. 
There are several reasons why the momentum of social 
institutions is so difficult to check or turn from its well- 
worn course. Change brings a perplexing and uncomfort- 
able rearrangement of the mental furniture, a painful ad- 
justment of established habits of acting and thinking. And 
then, change is always uncertain. One can never be abso- 
lutely sure how a social institution will work under a new 
set of conditions. The proverb about the fire and the frying 
pan distills the experience of the race in this dilemma. 

Moreover, success in solving grave social problems is 
gained with difficulty and people are reluctant to surrender 
ways whose effectiveness has been demonstrated, to their 
satisfaction at least, in favor of other ways which, though 
defensible by every evidence of science and every principle 
of logic, are new and untried. The willingness of people to 


suffer accustomed evils rather than risk untried remedies 
was remarked by the authors of the Declaration of Inde- 
pendence: "Mankind," said they, "are more disposed to 
suffer while evils are sufferable than to right themselves 
by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed." 
A further difficulty in modifying social institutions arises 
from the attitude of the persons in control. Minorities who 
depend for livelihood or prestige upon keeping an institu- 
tion unchanged, and those who derive indirect benefits 
from controlling it, often prevent fundamental changes 
in the institution itself. Occasionally such vested interest 
leads to deliberate untruthfulness and other forms of dis- 
honesty in efforts to maintain the institution unchanged, 
regardless of the general welfare. But this selfish minority 
interest is seldom recognized as such by the general public 
or even by the group which exercises it. More often the 
minority in control, by wishful thinking, convinces itself 
as well as others of the "great social necessity" of some 
archaic social institution or agency. An important func- 
tion of education, as an agent of the general welfare, is to 
encourage a continuing and critical appraisal of the suit- 
ability of all existing social institutions to the needs of 
people in the current social scene. Obviously, the schools 
in a totalitarian state are entirely unable to perform this 
function. In a democracy, however, the schools neglect a 
proper duty if they fail to promote the general welfare 
by reducing the lag between social institutions and human 

Social Customs Are Conservative 

It is no doubt futile to hope for instantaneous adjustment 
of social institutions to every transient desire of restless 
humanity. Even if it were possible to make such adapta- 


tions, it would be unnecessary and harmful in many cases. 
There is virtue in a certain degree of stability. Social insti- 
tutions cannot be built for the moment, like a child's pile 
of blocks, without plan and without mortar. Public con- 
venience and necessity require institutions which can be 
depended upon in an emergency. But the strongest build- 
ing ^gives" a little in an earthquake or tornado, while the 
building which is completely rigid is easily toppled in ruins. 
Social institutions minister to general welfare most fully 
when they have an appropriate degree of stability because 
of the very fact that they are built to provide a little flexi- 
bility in periods of stress and strain. 


Democracy Endows the Individual with Important 
Rights and Duties. 

The "essential, necessary, and unalienable rights" of man- 
kind include free speech, unhampered access to the facts 
on important questions, the voting franchise, religious 
liberty, impartial justice, the equal protection of the laws, 
and the great triad named in the Declaration of Indepen- 
dence lif e, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. 

We seldom pause to count these blessings. The right of 
a man to speak his mind, to worship according to his con- 
science and his training, or not to worship at all, to enjoy 
the freedom of the press, to have access to sources of in- 
formation, to appeal in criminal cases to a judgment by 
his peers, to be governed by laws rather than by the caprice 
of men, to be respected even though in a minority 
recognition of all these was attained at a great cost which 
we today have nearly forgotten. 

Not only should each of us in a democracy have these 
rights; but each of us must be willing to accord them to 


all the rest, sometimes under extremely difficult conditions. 
For example, we must not deny the right of free speech to 
another person even though we profoundly disagree with 
him. It is easy and natural to seek impartial justice for one's 
friends. It is not so easy to grant the same rights to one's 
enemies. Nor are these the most arduous of our tasks. For 
we must not only grant freedom of speech and press to 
friends and opponents alike but we must restrain any third 
party from denying these rights to either side in the con- 

These Rights Presuppose a High 
Regard for Humanity. 

The basis of all human rights appears to be a respect for 
personality, a belief in the worth, a reverence for the essen- 
tial sanctity, of all that is human. The members of a suc- 
cessful democracy are, therefore, eager to recognize, de- 
velop, and protect the unique and valuable traits of each 
individual child and adult. They believe that every indi- 
vidual, if given the chance, can make at least some contri- 
bution to the common welfare and to his own happiness. 
They approve Horace Mann's thesis concerning "the ac- 
celerating improvability of the human race" and applaud 
Emerson's dictum that "all men are capable of living by 

This doctrine of the worth and dignity of every man 
received a perennially challenging expression in the ethics 
of the founder of Christianity. In economic terms it has 
been described as the supremacy of human rights over 
property rights. In American literature the dignity and 
the unique value of each personality have been celebrated 
by the poetry of Whitman and the prose of Thoreau. The 
doctrine is revealed as a moving force in American life 


through many social trends, perhaps by none more clearly 
than by the gradual extension of the voting franchise. 

Thus, the democratic Ideal sharply differs from any and 
all theories which regard the individual as a mere instru- 
ment for serving the state, the church, the school, or any 
other social institution and organization. The individual 
must occupy a place of primacy, superior to every institu- 
tion he himself has ever devised, the point of reference from 
which values are taken, the final criterion of worth. De- 
mocracy and education alike find their warrant in respect 
for the individual. Democracy strengthens the individual 
by requiring much of him. "Even the least of these" is given 
every chance to realize his own inherent capacities; demo- 
cratic institutions derive their just powers through service 
to the individual. Through the achievements of individuals 
the democratic process maintains the solidarity of the 
group and lifts it to higher planes of civilization. 

Education Is the Ultimate Guarantee 
of Civil Liberty. 

Applied to education, this great doctrine reminds us of 
the dangers of mass instruction, dangers which are all the 
more deadly because of the superficial efficiency of factory 
methods as applied to schools. A truly democratic school 
system strives above all else to recognize individual differ- 
ences and provide for the development of desirable traits. 
Neither democracy nor real education can exist without 
each other. From a thousand rostrums the fact that our 
democracy needs education has been proclaimed. It is 
indeed quite clear that no government based on demo- 
cratic principles can long endure In a nation of ignorant 
people. But the equally important thesis that our educa- 
tion needs democracy has been given less than the con- 
sideration it deserves. Opportunity for education to follow 


its natural process of growth, experimentation, change, 
development, is afforded only by liberal governments. 

The drift of nations toward dictatorship has alarmed 
many people, and justifiably so. As a result they are fran- 
tically casting about for some means of "saving" democ- 
racy. But the greatest menace to the institutions we desire 
to perpetuate is within our own borders within us, in- 
deed. Safeguarding democracy is no simple task, and many 
of its well-meaning friends are in the way of becoming its 
worst enemies. They would hamper freedom of speech, if 
those who disagree with them are speaking; they would 
persecute persons who suggest social innovations; they 
would place a halo of sanctity above prized political tra- 
ditions. In other words, they would protect democracy by 
using the weapons of the dictator. It cannot be done that 
way. Democracy must rely on those defenses which are 
appropriate to its own nature. It is a growing thing, nour- 
ished by the intelligent cooperation of free men. As such, 
a liberal education (literally, the education suitable for a 
free man) is its only proper defense, and the only defense 

Social Objectives Are Not Neglected. 

Social progress and individual freedom interact; each is 
essential to the other. Yet this vital fact is slowly under- 
stood. The real nature of social institutions is all too easily 
disguised. Only in brief, brilliant flashes of insight has the 
individual gained control over his social agencies and 
known them for what they are nothing more than sys- 
tems of related human activities. The terms university, 
church, or state refer to activities which individuals in 
certain relationships perform. They achieve a second-hand 
reality only through the individuals who use them to 
achieve some human purpose. 


Yet throughout almost the whole course of history there 
have been those who, to further their own ambitions, would 
set institutions over man, their creator, reducing him to a 
mere social atom, meaningless outside of some institutional 
frame of reference. History conspires with ambition to 
obscure the worth of the individual. Myriads of people 
have labored to create vast empires, to conquer continents, 
to raise skyscrapers and pyramids, to establish well-defined 
social and legal codes. Man's works overshadow himself, and 
the individual contribution to those stupendous achieve- 
ments seems of little worth. It is difficult but necessary to 
realize that for him alone those majestic works in the 
physical realm were raised; for him alone, those greater 
cathedrals of the mental world, systems of government, 
economics, education, religion, and family life were lifted. 

Emphasis on the liberties of the individual need not de- 
tract from the values placed upon group life; neither does 
it lessen the need for social objectives. A delicate balance 
between individual and social purposes is necessary. Society 
can act upon no wiser policy than to allow each of its mem- 
bers the freedom essential to his own capacities; this to be 
contingent only upon' his recognition of the rights of others 
to the same privileges. No other factor in all history has so 
impeded progress as have deliberate and unnecessary re- 
straints imposed by powerful institutions upon the freedom 
of the individual. Only by the attainment of full mental and 
spiritual maturity by each of its members can a democracy 
create the conditions of its own success. 

Men Are Also Endowed -with Important 

Modern investigations concerning the nature and extent 
of individual differences in intelligence, artistic ability, 
dexterity, strength, vital capacity, and scores of other 
traits indicate how wide is the range of human abilities 

[ 24 ] 

and how complex is the pattern of each human personality. 
These studies suggest the way in which the democratic 
doctrine of human values is to be put into effect. 

When Thomas Jefferson included among the "self-evi- 
dent" truths listed in the Declaration of Independence 
that "all men are created equal" he meant to imply that 
they are equal in the ethical and legal sense. He certainly 
knew that all men are not equally tall or equally intelligent. 
The American people have rightly turned to their public 
school system as one of the great agencies for bringing 
about the ideals set forth in the Declaration of Indepen- 
dence. Today there runs, through the procedures of the 
classroom, through the arrangements for educational guid- 
ance, through textbooks and courses of study, through the 
theory of school administration, and even through the 
formulae of school finance, the objective of an ever more 
equitable distribution of educational opportunity, an in- 
creasingly emphatic denial of multiple-track educational 
systems based on economic and social distinctions. 

This ideal does not, however, require identity of educa- 
tional programs but rather equality of educational oppor- 
tunity. The two are not necessarily the same. Attempts to 
provide identical programs are, in fact, doomed to failure 
by the very existence oi individual differences. Democracy 
does not require that every child comprehend some abstract 
theory which delights the mind of certain gifted pupils. 
That would be identity of program but not equality of 
opportunity. Democratic school systems, seeking the latter, 
will provide for every child an opportunity which that par- 
ticular child can really accept, an opportunity not inferior 
in its own kind to that given to others. Democracy does not 
make one man "as good as another"; it merely seeks to re- 
move all artificial barriers and to assist every man to 
amount to as much as his ability, character, and industry 
permit. , 



Popular Government Is a Long-Sought Ideal. 

We have been saying. In effect, that democracy Is not 
merely a form of political structure; it is a method of liv- 
ing. But government does play an important part in en- 
couraging and exemplifying democratic processes. Demo- 
cratic government, as such, was dimly but hopefully 
foreshadowed on this continent in the Mayflower Compact 
and announced in its most inspiring' form by the Declara- 
tion of Independence, especially in that reference to the 
right of the people to change their government so as to 
make it "most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness." 
The practical operation of this policy was greatly facili- 
tated by the writers of the United States Constitution 
when they devised many skillful governmental techniques, 
including especially the plan of combining federal powers 
with substantial amounts of state and local self-govern- 
ment. Still more recent developments include the steady 
extension of the voting franchise and the establishment 
of universal education to make that franchise both intelli- 
gent and wholesome. 

The separation of the state from all authoritarian con- 
trols other than the popular will has been achieved in 
theory. Whatever may be the shortcomings in practice, 
our theory recognizes no arbitrary controls over govern- 
ment, no vested economic, ecclesiastic, or other interest 
authorized to over-reach the popular will. From the ulti- 
mate popular verdict there is no mundane appeal. 

Popular Government without Universal 
Education Is a Prologue to Tragedy. 

It is easy to see the direct educational implications of 
representative and democratic forms of government. We 


need not go very far back in history to find examples of 
the fact that mere plebiscite is not necessarily the hall-mark 
of democracy. The ballot is a travesty unless it is cast by a 
citizen who is not only free to vote as he pleases but also 
informed and intelligent with respect to the issues involved. 
The men who created the framework of American state- 
craft were keenly aware of the vital relation of education 
to the new social order which they were forging in the 
fires of revolution and controversy. Having committed 
themselves to representative government, to a government 
dedicated to definite social responsibilities, they turned to 
education as a guarantee that the nation so conceived and 
so dedicated might endure. They recognized, too, that 
mere political education was not enough. They sought the 
deepest and surest possible foundation in the arts, indus- 
tries, institutions, and amenities of civilization itself. They 
recognized that good government and economic welfare 
alike rest upon widely shared ideals, wisdom, and knowl- 

Knowledge Is Extended, Particularized, 
and Diffused. 

The serious difficulties confronting democratic ways of 
living are frequently cited. The full audit, however, must 
not fail to note the assets. Modern democracies have certain 
advantages over those of the past and those advantages 
happily provide the particular kind of strengthening which 
democracy requires. 

First, there is abundance of knowledge. Science and the 
specialization of scholarship will never again permit one 
man, single-minded, to amass and classify all knowledge 
as Aristotle tried to do. Intelligence is potential power- 
knowledge alone can transform it into dynamic energy 

A second advantage lies in the specificity of knowledge. 


Democracies today have direct, pertinent knowledge to 
bring to bear on a particular problem even on those per- 
taining to social living, though this last has been long in 
coming. We no longer study the stars to gain insight into 
the character of an individual or to determine the probable 
course of events. We no longer resort to the auguries as a 
means of determining foreign policy. Nor need we consult 
soothsayers for lack of a better source of advice. Man has 
at last discovered that the way to get the facts about a 
particular object or event is to study the thing itself. 

A third advantage is the universality of "knowledge. 
Through universal education the people receive the greatest 
of all benefits from a powerful institution without in re- 
turn being forced to pay with their freedom. Knowledge 
multiplies manyfold the chief defense of democracy. The 
liberal governments of the distant past had no system of 
education through which enlightenment could be spread. 
Today, knowledge that was once the revered possession of 
a few has been placed within the reach of all. "Widely 
diffused and courageously applied, it affords the means of 
attack on social and economic ills. It is a curative, the most 
potent remedy possible, not only for the pestilences which 
attack the health of the body but also for those evils which 
infect the body politic. 

The individual, the reason for the existence of democ- 
racy, becomes through enlightenment its chief defense. 
From humble sources come those who, sharing in the op- 
portunity for education, rise to defend the institution 
which provides it. Here is a reciprocal process in which 
both the group and the individual benefit. The inherent 
tendency of man to grow in stature and wisdom is turned 
to excellent account. Where shall the peoples of the world 
turn for light if the great darkness closes in? Would not 
wisdom and experience point to those nations where free- 
dom dwells? To individuals whose minds are not crippled 


by shackles? To places where knowledge Is cherished and 
extended? To governments whose just powers are derived 
from the consent of the governed? "Education has now 
become the chief problem of the world, its one holy cause. 
The nations that see this will survive, and those that fail 
to do so will slowly perish. . . . These must be re-educa- 
tion of the will and of the heart as well as of the intellect, 
and the ideals of service must supplant those of selfishness 
and greed. Nothing else can save us." 2 


Democracy Repudiates Violence. 

We try to settle our differences by counting noses rather 
than by cracking crowns. We try to resolve conflicts by 
the process of compromise, conference, debate, search for 
pertinent facts, plebiscite, and cooperation, as contrasted 
with the use of force. When controversies come, as come 
they must, we provide for balloting to ascertain majority 
views, accepting the decision with the door always open 
for appraisal and review. The entire process is carried on 
under the ref ereeship of even-handed justice and with due 
regard to minority rights. The innumerable associations, 
conferences, and committees which mark the transactions 
of American life are another evidence of our reliance upon 
peaceful and rational methods. 

It is not to be supposed that coercion is unknown in 
a democracy. There will long continue to be required that 
minimum of coercive restraint which prevents one indi- 
vidual or small group of individuals from harming others 
or invading their liberties. 

2 Hall, G. Stanley. Life and Confessions of a 'Psychologist. New York: 
D. Appleton and Co., 1923. p. 21. 


Violence and War Frustrate the 
Ideals of Democracy. 

Applied in the international sphere, democracy neces- 
sarily stands for peace among nations. The resort to aggres- 
sive war, declared or undeclared, denies the tenets of de- 
mocracy, War and civil riot always encourage the blind 
worship of institutions, the suppression of individual rights, 
the circumvention of representative government., 

The World War offers an excellent example. It was 
fought, we believed, "to make the world safe for democ- 
racy/ 5 Now we see nation after nation falling under auto- 
cratic rule. Many now laugh at the old slogan in cynical 
disillusionment, declaring that the ideal of democracy for 
which men and women gave their lives, and more, was a 
dream of idealists who refused to face reality. The world 
was not made safe for democracy by the World War. It 
may not be made safe by any war in the future. It has been 
wisely said that there will never be a war between a democ- 
racy and an autocracy because the moment war begins, 
the former will lose its democratic characteristics. Vio- 
lence, whatever its forms, its agents, or its motives, makes 
for material destruction, intellectual regimentation, and 
spiritual and physical impoverishment. 

Constructive means which insure mental, physical, and 
economic integrity are essential to the maintenance of the 
democratic ideal. There is nothing wrong with the slogan, 
"Make the world safe for democracy." But methods must 
be chosen to advance this cause which are akin to it in 
spirit. Not in democracy but in the unwise and ineffective 
means taken for its attainment, does disappointment lie. 
To lose faith in democracy is to lose faith in humanity. 
Other philosophies require faith in institutions, rather than 
in the builders of institutions. Since democracy rests on in- 
dividual rights, its chief support must come from each 


citizen and its decay is from the same source. Its oldest and 
greatest enemy is the greed, indifference, selfishness of its 
members and the inequities which exist within its borders. 
It is clearly a function of education to encourage the use 
of democratic processes as substitutes for coercion. The 
possible contribution of education to the development of 
tolerance, reason, and fair play has been clearly demon- 
strated. That the ordinary school does too little in develop- 
ing these attitudes may be admitted. The omission repre- 
sents one of the great areas in which the objectives of edu- 
cation need to be reformulated and reemphasized. 

The Spirit of Ediication Outweighs 
the Forms of Schooling. 

The spirit and organization of the school are prepotent. 
We shall not enthrone peace and reason, at home or in the 
international sphere, merely by conducting model Leagues 
of Nations or model Senates in our classrooms, or by 
memorizing the Kellogg Pact or the Bill of Rights, or by 
teaching children about the cunning habits of their little 
Eskimo, Italian, Russian, Japanese, or Ethiopian "cousins,' 5 
or by a study of the legal system of the United States. The 
attitudes basic to a wholesome viewpoint on controversial 
matters will not be created in so simple a manner, though 
at appropriate times and places the various devices sug- 
gested may prove helpful. There can be no lasting contri- 
bution to peace, reason, and order from a school in which 
the discipline is based on autocracy; from a school in which 
the mainspring of effort is rivalry; from a school in which 
the chief purpose is personal advancement; from a school 
where the very atmosphere is heavy with intolerance, fear, 
and suspicion; from a school that ignores and overwhelms 
the living individual personality of each child. 

Only from a school which is served by a socially in- 


formed and socially effective teaching personnel; from a 
school with a broad, humane, and flexible curriculum; from 
a school saturated with the educational philosophy which 
commands respect for the personality of each child that it 
touches; only from methods of instruction which not only 
teach but which actually are democracy and cooperation, 
will the appeal to reason be heard and heeded. 


Opportunity To Secure Happiness 
Is a Democratic Ideal. 

The purposes that impelled the establishment of this 
democracy were different from those that had dominated 
other governments. This new nation, established in the 
wilderness, was a cooperative endeavor to secure an un- 
fettered opportunity for the pursuit of happiness. Other 
rights, such as life and liberty, were included but, sig- 
nificantly enough, the series culminated in the right to 
pursue happiness. The term "happiness" as used here, and 
undoubtedly as conceived by the authors of the Declara- 
tion of Independence, does not refer merely, or even pri- 
marily, to that effervescent and transitory joy that comes 
from the exuberance of living, or to the careless excitement 
frequently generated by the artificialities of life. Happi- 
ness is that abiding contentment that comes from a com- 
plete and abundant life, even though such a life includes, 
as all lives must, both success and failure, prosperity and 
adversity, sunshine and shadow, cradle songs and funeral 
hymns. To be happy, we must know the realities of life, 
whatever they may be. We must be able to understand 
relative values in the midst of confusion, to seek the deeper 
meanings beyond the shallow, to desire worthwhile achieve- 
ment in the midst of much that is trivial. 


Initiative Is Necessary in the 
Pursuit of Happiness. 

The mere guarantee of the right to pursue happiness 
would be but an empty gesture unless some means were 
provided to give effect to this promise. The establishment 
of schools did not settle the problem. First occurred the 
struggle to make them free. Then came the battle, which 
has not been fully won to this day, to make the schools 
minister effectively to the varying needs of all the people. 
From the beginning the greatest challenge has been to select 
and make effective those methods and procedures best 
adapted to make real for each individual his right to pursue 
happiness. Several aspects of this problem require further 

In the first place, what will be accomplished by giving 
a person the right to pursue happiness without the develop- 
ment within him of that initiative, which will lead him 
to make an effort to realize his right? Initiative is the 
priceless quality that causes one to undertake voluntarily 
a search for solutions to problems that confront him. How 
futile it would be for an individual to be a citizen in a 
democracy and lack initiative! The value to the individual 
of the right to pursue happiness lies in his willingness to 
claim that right. 

Initiative can be developed in the same way in which 
other learning takes place; that is, by confronting the 
learner with as many kinds of situations as possible that call 
for the exercise of initiative under the guidance of an 
expert teacher. It is the same pattern that is followed in 
teaching a person to read a foreign language, or to walk, 
or to swim, or to do problems in mathematics. Day in and 
day out, year in and year out, the growing child is sur- 
rounded by an environment that presents real problems 
for solution. The problems raised by that part of the en- 


vironment which comprises the school should be closely 
related to life as it is lived at each age-level and as it will 
be lived in the future. The learner is asked to help select 
the objectives of his study in order that the learning may 
mean more to him and be more directly related to his inter- 
ests. Those problems are so chosen that he will want to 
solve them, will be challenged to put forth his best effort 
to do so, and will understand the practical implications of 
the solutions when found. Of course, the problems are 
simple and concrete in the early years of life and expand in 
complexity as the activities of the learner become more 
complicated and abstract. 

The educational method of the past was expressed largely 
in sentences of the declarative and imperative type. We 
told and we commanded. Today, the interrogative and 
exclamatory sentences have been added to the process. We 
question and we stimulate. The learner is confronted by a 
situation that requires a solution; under some circum- 
stances he may be told the answer, but usually he is re- 
quired to find it for himself. He is asked questions such as: 
"What do you suggest?" "What will you do about it?" 
"What do you think is the way out?" "Where and how do 
you think the problem should be attacked?** He begins to 
think, to act, to study, or, in other words, to use his initia- 
tive to start out on his search for happiness. 

Happiness Involves Wisdom in 
Making Judgments. 

A second question confronts the schools in this process 
of educating the individual to attain success in his pursuit 
of happiness. What is to be gained by giving the right to 
pursue happiness, by developing the desire and the ten- 
dency to begin the search, if we fail so to educate the citizen 
that he can and will make the proper choices as, time and 


time again, he comes to an issue? As he grows older he dis- 
covers that life becomes more and more complex. He finds 
his way through the maze only by choosing as carefully 
as he can between an endless variety and succession of alter- 

Can critical judgment be developed through the process 
of education, and, if so, how is it done in the schools? We 
are dealing again with an acquired ability which comes as 
the result of innumerable opportunities to make choices 
and to arrive at conclusions, under the guidance of an ex- 
pert teacher. In other words, critical judgment is developed 
just as is the ability to play chess, or to read a book, or to 
solve problems in geometry; that is, by long and continuous 
practice under the criticism of someone qualified to evalu- 
ate the decisions. The child must learn the value of evi- 
dence. He must acquire a reverence for facts, must desire 
to find them, and must learn where they can most likely 
be secured. There are certain sources of facts, certain re- 
positories of knowledge, that have been authenticated 
through the years. The student must learn what they are 
and acquire the technique of using them, and develop the 
habit of turning to them when called upon to solve prob- 
lems. He must learn to defer judgment, to consider motives, 
to appraise evidence, to classify it, to array it on one side 
or the other of his question, and to use it in drawing con- 
clusions. This is not the result of a special course of study, 
or of a particular part of the educative procedure; it 
results from every phase of learning and characterizes every 
step of thinking. 

Education Is the Key to an 
Abundant Life. 

Finally, the schools must, in the preparation of the indi- 
vidual, search for the types of experiences that will make 


probable the realization of happiness. Somehow, the learner 
must come to know what constitutes real happiness, must 
learn where it is most likely to be found, must desire to 
acquire it for himself and others, and must master the way 
of claiming it. For what is the use of establishing a democ- 
racy guaranteeing the right to pursue happiness, and of 
developing through processes of education the initiative to 
search for it and the ability to choose the right path, if we 
leave the person unable to recognize happiness when he 
finds it, or to interpret its deeper meanings if he recognizes 

The ability to claim and live the abundant life is not 
innate. It is acquired through long and patient study. 
Therefore, the modern school gives a large place to those 
subjects and those types of experiences that mankind has 
found to satisfy the deeper longings of the soul, and to in- 
spire the noblest achievement. Many phases of the curricu- 
lum help the individual to supply his needs in relation to 
his physical existence; other phases include the skill subjects 
which enable one to use his environment and deal with his 
fellow-beings; still another phase has to do with the various 
forms of expression of human thought and feeling that 
constitute the culture of mankind. This last includes our 
religion, art, literature, architecture, music, poetry, drama, 
and all other forms through which noble thoughts and feel- 
ings have been added to the social inheritance and handed 
down through the centuries as man's tribute to his Creator 
and his gift to posterity. 

It is the function of the schools to help every person to 
find and use the key that will unlock the riches that are the 
common possession of all. Unlike some other inheritances, 
this one can be claimed only by those who will prepare 
themselves to be worthy of it. Merely dotting our land with 
buildings that point their spires heavenward, or hanging 
the masterpieces of art on our walls, or making countless 


books available through a thousand libraries, or bringing 
the drama of the ages into every city, village, and hamlet, 
or making great music available to everyone, does not mean 
that all will be able to claim the heritage that these and a 
myriad other sources of happiness provide. Only those who 
have acquired the methods of interpreting, who have 
learned the meanings of the various languages through 
which the heritage is transmitted, who have attuned their 
eyes and ears, their thoughts and emotions, to catch the 
messages that are all about us like the unsensed and un- 
caught radio waves which in the dead of night flood the 
world only those are educated to succeed in the great task 
of happiness. 



There is only one subject -matter for education, 
and that is Life in all its manifestations. Instead of 
this single unity, we offer children Algebra, from 
which nothing follows; Geometry, from which 
nothing follows; Science, from which nothing 
follows; History, jrom which nothing follows; a 
couple of Languages, never -mastered; and lastly, 
most dreary of all, Literature, represented by plays 
of Shakespeare, with philological notes and short 
analyses of plot and character to be in substance 
committed to memory. Can such a list be said to 
represent Life, as it is known in the midst of the 
living of it? The best that can be said of it is, that 
it is a rapid table of contents which a "Deity might 
run over in his mind while he was thinking of creat- 
ing a world, and had not yet determined how to put 
it together. . . . ALFRED N. WHITEHEAD. 

The Purposes of Education Have Received the Attention 
of Leaders in Thought and Action. 

What is education to accomplish? What changes in 
human conduct should the schools seek to bring to pass? 
Is growth or achievement the fundamental aim of educa- 
tion? Should the schools render first loyalty to the promo- 
tion of individual welfare or to the general social improve- 
ment? Should schools seek primarily to adjust students to 
the conditions of life as it is or to impel them to improve 
these conditions? Should organized education emphasize 
ideals and attitudes or facts and skills? Should the public 


schools try to prepare young people for specific jobs? What 
knowledge is of the most worth? 

These questions have been found worthy of sustained 
and devoted attention by such great philosophers as Plato 
and Spencer, such religious leaders as Luther and Loyola, 
such men of letters as Milton and Montaigne, such states- 
men as Marcus Aurelius and Thomas Jefferson, such scien- 
tists as Agassiz and Huxley, and such educators as Comen- 
ius, Pestalozzi, and Parker. These great thinkers, and many 
more besides, have left us a store of trenchant wisdom and 
inspiration regarding the purposes which education and the 
schools should promote. 

Popular Opinions on the Purposes of the Schools 

Are Held. 

Interest in the objectives of educational institutions has 
not been confined to a few exceptional leaders. Plain citi- 
zens, parents, taxpayers, and even the young learners them- 
selves have in mind, although more or less confused and 
dimly perceived, some notion as to the reasons why they 
support and participate in the means of education. 

An examination of these popular concepts of educational 
purposes would reveal much that is trivial, much that is 
inspiring. We ask a child, "Why do you go to school?' 5 He 
replies without hesitation, "To get a good report card." 
What answer could be fnore conclusive or more pro- 
foundly disturbing? 

Ask a youth in high school the same question. The an- 
swer: "To prepare for college; to be on the team; to be a 
better citizen." And the college student may reply: "To 
get ahead in the world; to get a better job; to earn more 
money; to keep up with my crowd; to learn to make the 
most of my life." 

Many parents, especially those whose own schooling is 


limited, have a touching faith that the possession of knowl- 
edge (particularly the knowledge recorded in books) will 
somehow make their children happier, better, more success- 
ful. What parent does not share with Enoch Arden 

". . . the noble wish 
, To save all earnings to the uttermost 

And give his child a better bringing-up 
Than his had been." 

From all of these sources from the writings of leaders 
in thought and action, the deliberations of professional 
groups, the quick, naive responses of youth, and the dimly- 
felt, ill-expressed longings of the ordinary citizen there 
emerges an array of stated educational objectives, similar 
in some respects, but differing in viewpoint, in form, in 
arrangement, in degree of detailed analysis, and in the 
methods thought suitable for attaining the desired goals. 

A Democratic Way of Life Is the Inclusive Purpose 
of American Education. 

The general end of education in America at the present 
time is the fullest possible development of the individual 
within the framework of our present industrialized demo- 
cratic sbciety. The attainment of this end is to be observed 
in individual behavior or conduct. The term education im- 
plies the existence of some person other than the learner, a 
person moreover who is interested in the outcome and who 
desires to encourage one type of conduct rather than an- 

Ideals and values derive their entire practical importance 
from the behavior which results from them. The expression 
of high ideals accompanied by the doing of wrong is thor- 
oughly vicious. Education, therefore, seeks to encourage the 
mastery of such knowledge, the acquisition of such atti- 
tudes, and the development of such habits as make a socially 


desirable way of living likely to be followed by the learner ,x 
The choice of this way of living, as we have already seen, 
is primarily determined by the prevailing scale of social and 
personal values; that is, by ethical standards in the broad. 
The definition of this scale of values is a continuing and 
crucial problem of both social and educational policy in 
this age or in any other. 

We have seen also that the way of living to be encouraged 
by the education of the American people is a steadily closer 
approximation to the democratic ideal. In the immediately 
preceding chapters, the value of this ideal has been defended 
and its essentials have been described. 

The Aspects of Democratic Living May Be Classified 
in Diverse Ways. 

We are ready now to set down in some detail a descrip- 
tion of the necessary and desirable elements of information, 
skill, habit, interest, and attitude which will most surely 
promote individual development and encourage democratic 
ways of living among the people of this country. 

This is a large order which can be carried conveniently 
only if it is wrapped up in several smaller packages. There 
is a real difficulty at this point. All behavior is interrelated. 
Even the facile distinction between the conduct which con- 
cerns an individual alone and the gregarious conduct which 
the individual shows in his relation with others, eventually 
breaks down. What a man does about his own health, for 
instance, may be a matter of concern to his family, to his 
business associates, to the entire community in which he 
lives, perhaps even to the people of the entire world. 

It is necessary, nevertheless, for convenience and clarity 
in writing and thinking about the purposes of education to 
consider separately the various dimensions of total behavior. 
One can identify and name various mountain peaks even 


though all of them are part of one unbroken mountain 
range and even though the exact spot where one mountain 
ends and another begins may not be located. But, in the 
process of dividing and subdividing, we must always re- 
member that this body of behavior which we dismember 
on paper is carried on by a living whole person. 

Educational Leaders and Professional Groups Have 
Classified the Objectives of Education. 

Herbert Spencer, writing in 1860, was perhaps the first 
to popularize the classification of human activities as a 
basis for classifying educational objectives. He identified 
five major classes of human conduct: "(i) self-preserva- 
tion, (2) securing the necessaries of life, (3) the rearing 
and discipline of offspring, (4) the maintenance of proper 
social and political relations, and (5) the activities which 
make up the leisure part of life, devoted to the gratification 
of the tastes and feelings/ 51 

Since Spencer's day scores of similar analyses have been 
made and published. One survey discovered 44 such classi- 
fications defining a total of 349 different areas of human 
activity. 2 There will be no attempt here to review com- 
pletely that extensive and interesting literature. A few 
illustrations will suffice to suggest its general trend. 

Groups of teachers have been particularly active in 
stating the aims of education. Representative of their work, 
and undoubtedly the most influential of the resulting state- 
ments, is the 1918 Report of the Commission on Reorgani- 
zation of Secondary Education of the National Education 
Association. In twenty years over 130,000 copies of its chief 
report have been distributed. Crucial excerpts from that 

1 Spencer, Herbert. Education. New York: D. Appleton and Co., 
1861. p. 32. 

2 Frederick, O. I., and Farquear, Lucile J. "Problems of Life/* I and II. 
School Review 46: 337-45 and 415-22; May and June, 1938. 


document have been reprinted and circulated by the mil- 
lions. It is probably the most influential educational docu- 
ment issued in this country. The heart of the report is its an- 
alysis of individual activity leading to "seven cardinal prin- 
ciples of education: (i) health, (2) command of the funda- 
mental processes, (3) worthy home-membership, (4) voca- 
tion, (5) citizenship, (6) worthy use of leisure, and (7) 
ethical character/* 3 

Chapman and Counts, 4 a few years later, identified "six 
great interests about which human life revolves." Men 
must always " (a) care for their bodies, (b) rear their chil- 
dren, (c) secure the economic necessities, (d) organize for 
civic action, (e) engage in recreation, and (f ) satisfy their 
religious cravings." 

An important document 5 on the curriculum issued in 
1928 identified four general areas of education by listing the 
relation of the individual first, to his own growth and de- 
velopment; second, to the world of nature; third, to the 
systems of organized society; and fourth, to the Power 
which in some way orders the development of man and his 
universe. "The individual self, nature, society, and God 
these four and in particular the adjustments which the In- 
dividual self must make constitute the objectives of edu- 

The most detailed analyses of human activities for cur- 
riculum building purposes are probably those prepared by 
Bobbitt. He adopted the following tenfold classification 
of activities: (i) language (social intercommunication) , 

3 U. S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Education. Cardinal 
Principles of Secondary Education. Bulletin, 1918, No. 35. "Washington, 
D. C.: Government Printing Office, 1918. 32 p. 

* Chapman, James Crosby, and Counts, George S. Principles of Edu- 
cation. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1924. p. 195-365; 437-78. 

5 National Education Association, Department of Superintendence. 
The Development of the High School Curriculum. Sixth Yearbook. 
"Washington, D. C.: the Department, 1928. p. 51-56. 


(2) health (physical fitness) , (3) citizenship, (4) general 
social activities (meeting and mingling), (5) spare-time 
activities (amusements and recreation), (6) mental fitness, 
(7) religion, (8) parental, (9) imspecialized or non-voca- 
tional practical activities, and (10) vocational activities. 
By analyzing each of these ten areas, lists of literally hun- 
dreds of specific objectives were developed. One publication 
names 160 specifics in the first nine fields alone, and analyzes 
each of these into twenty or more still finer subdivisions. 6 

A New Classification Is Proposed. 

It should be clear from the preceding discussion that 
there is no ultimate virtue in any single classification of ob- 
jectives.. The particular analysis followed in this volume 
lends itself well to the type of discussion desired. It permits 
a reasonable degree of specificity in pronouncement while 
avoiding the enmeshment of detail. It is not identical with 
any of the above lists, although, in a general way it resem- 
bles some of them, as they resemble each other. 

Education Is Concerned with the Development 
of the Learner. 

The first role, or phase of total behavior, is that of the 
educated person. Conduct in this field is centered on the 
personal development, growth, and learning of the indi- 
vidual. It includes his use of the fundamental tools of learn- 
ing, his health, his recreation, his personal philosophy. The 
placing of these objectives first in the list is not accidental. 
They deal with the development of the individual himself . 
In a democracy this field is of supreme importance. Success 
in this role conditions one's success in every other phase of 
life's activities. The purposes of education which fall under 

6 Bobbitt, Jolin Franklin. How to Make a Curriculum. Boston: 
Houghton Mifflin Co., 1924. p. 7-9. 


this section of total behavior will be referred to as the ob- 
jectives of self-realization. 

Education Is Concerned with Home, Family, 
and Community Life. 

A second area is that of home and family relationships 
with their immediate and natural extensions to neighbors 
and community) Educationally the home is the most power- 
ful, as it is perhaps the oldest, of all social institutions. 
Good homes and good communities are the basic units of 
democracy. The activities of the educated individual which 
relate to these immediate, person-to-person contacts are, 
therefore, grouped together in a section on the objectives 
of human relationship. 

Education Is Concerned with Economic Demands. 

The next aspect of the activities of the member of a 
democratic society includes the economic sphere the crea- 
tion and satisfaction of material wants. Here we consider 
the education of the individual as a producer, a consumer, 
an investor. The importance of such education in providing 
the indispensable material basis for comfort, safety, and 
even life itself is clear. The objectives within this general 
area will be classified under the heading of the objectives of 
economic efficiency. 

Education Is Concerned with Civic and Social Duties. 

Finally, there are the activities of the educated citizen. 
They involve his dealings with his government local, 
state, and national his relationships with the peoples of 
other nations, and his other "long-distance" contacts in 


large-scale collective enterprises. This field of activity is 
served by education through the objectives of civic respon- 

Four Groups of Objectives Are Identified. 

To recapitulate, four aspects of educational purpose have 
been identified. These aspects center around the person 
himself, his relationships to others in home and community, 
the 'creation and use of material wealth, and socio-civic 
activities. The first area calls for a description of the edu- 
cated person; the second, for a description of the educated 
member of the family and community group; the third, of 
the educated producer or constt-mer; the fourth, of the edu- 
cated citizen. The four great groups of objectives thus de- 
fined are: 

1. The Objectives of Self -Realization 

2. The Objectives of Human Relationship 

3. The Objectives of Economic Efficiency 

4. The Objectives of Civic Responsibility. 

* Each of these is related to each of the others. Each is 
capable of further subdivision. 

Before we begin to discuss separately each of these groups 
of educational purposes, several comments regarding the 
classification as a whole may be made. It is not intended that 
we should think of the purposes of education as a field 
which is now neatly divided into four equal quarter-sec- 
tions, each of which is in turn to be further surveyed and 
staked out into claims. The classification will be more help- 
ful if we think of it as a series of four vantage points from 
which the purposes of education may be studied, the total 
result being a comprehensive view of the whole. In making 
our reconnaissance, each field of view will be seen to shade 
imperceptibly into the others and into the 'field as a whole. 

Furthermore, the school is only one of the many educa- 


tional influences In these various fields of human life. Its 
responsibility extends to all of these areas, but in some areas 
the weight of education rests on the schools more exclu- 
sively than in others. The role of the school is especially 
definite in preparing for civic responsibility. The school, 
therefore, must condition, and concern itself with, every 
phase of civic education. It must concern itself with loyalty 
to society as a whole rather than to the political manifesta- 
tions of society as revealed in any single institution. Vested 
control of this function by the political State leads to dicta- 
torship. The field of human relationship is shared by the 
school, the home, and the rest of the environment. Educa- 
tion in the field of self-realization or personal development 
is coming to be more and more a duty of the schools al- 
though much of this responsibility necessarily inheres in the 
home and the church. Under modern economic and indus- 
trial conditions preparation for economic efficiency is 
largely a function of the school. A, 

Finally, it should be clear that the following four chap- 
ters are not in any sense to be regarded as a pattern of in- 
struction at any particular educational level. There will 
necessarily be variation in the application of the objectives 
to instructional need within particular schools, communi- 
ties, states, and regions. These are the objectives of educa- 
tion qualities and conduct to be encouraged by all educa- 
tional agencies for all American citizens. 


The Inquiring Mind. The educated person has an ap- 
petite for learning. 

Speech. The educated person can speak the mother 
tongue clearly. 

Reading. The educated person reads the mother 
tongue efficiently. 

Writing. The educated person writes the mother 
tongue effectively. 

Number. The educated person solves his problems of 
counting and calculating. 

Sight and Hearing. The educated person is skilled in 
listening and observing. 

Health Knowledge. The educated person understands 
the basic facts concerning health and disease. 

Health Habits. The educated person protects his own 
health and that of his dependents. 

Public Health. The educated person works to im- 
prove the health of the community. 

Recreation. The educated person is participant and 
spectator in many sports and other pastimes. 

Intellectual Interests. The educated person has mental 
resources for the use of leisure. 

Esthetic Interests. The educated person appreciates 

Character. The educated person gives responsible di- 
rection to his own life. 


And, if we think of it, what does civilization itself 
rest upon . . . but rich, luxuriant, varied person- 
alism? To that all bends; and it is because toward 
such result democracy alone, on anything like Na- 
ture's scale, breaks up the limitless fallows of human- 
kind, and plants the seed, and gives fair play, that 
its claims now precede the rest. The literature, songs, 
esthetics, etc., of ft country are of importance prin- 
cipally because they furnish the materials and sug- 
gestions of personality for the women and men of 
that country, and enforce them in a thousand effec- 
tive ways. 

The purpose of democracy . . . is, through many 
transmigrations, and amid endless ridicules, argu- 
ments and . ostensible failures, to illustrate, at all 
hazards, this doctrine or theory that man, properly 
trained in sanest, highest freedom, may and must be- 
come a law, and series of laws, unto himself. . . . 


It is appropriate to begin a survey of educational pur- 
poses with a program for the development of the individual 
learner. There exists at the moment great pressure on schools 
and other social agencies to "mold" the child in the interest 
of his future economic efficiency, his future adult citizen- 
ship, his future membership in the family. There is real 
danger that our preoccupation with "preparedness" in 
education may defeat itself by weakening our concern for 
the child as he is, as a growing individual human being, 
quite apart from remote social preparatory ends. 

Here is no unsocial motive, for after all, as we have al- 
ready seen, it is only through individual growth that social 


progress can come. The ancient and artificial antithesis be- 
tween the individual and society and the concept of a per- 
petual struggle between the two is not supported by this 
analysis. The realization of "self ,' s as considered here, occurs 
through interaction between that "self* and society. It can- 
not occur unless the individual effects a satisfactory rela- 
tionship to the society in which he moves. If an individual is 
to become his own best self, he must constantly be in con- 
tact with the best that is in humanity. Thence, he will draw 
his highest aspirations, thence his greatest achievements. 

The processes of growth, or of self-realization, therefore, 
are a primary concern of education, a concern which in- 
cludes, but also reaches far beyond, the memorization of the 
useful and useless facts which usually makes up the bulk of 
the school curriculum. Only as each individual grows in 
power to write his own declaration of intellectual inde- 
pendence can we keep unfettered the spirit of that other 
Declaration written a century and a half ago. 

The Educated Person Has an Appetite for Learning. 

The educated person in the years of his immaturity has 
been started upon a career of life-long learning. With an 
active and wide-faring curiosity, even an untutored man 
may become an educated person. Without it, the holder of 
the most decorative diploma from the highest school in the 
land remains essentially uneducated. 

The curiosity of the educated person ranges widely over 
many topics and probes deeply into a few. Because of the 
enormous and growing stock of human knowledge, every 
one must be content with a limited education in many fields. 
A little knowledge is a wholesome thing; only its misuse is 

The educated person finds a sense of intellectual adven- 
ture in learning all he can about the world in which he lives 


and about the people, the animals, and the plants which 
share his existence on this planet. In addition to this general 
learning the educated person, through continuing study, 
experience, experiment, and reflection, has made some cor- 
ner, however small, in the vast field of knowledge securely 
his own by right of personal conquest. Let it be noted in 
passing that this learning does not by any means depend 
solely upon books. Its sources are as varied as the life of 
man. Such an education is not gained in a few years in 
school; it is a lifetime enterprise for which formal schooling 
should supply a good running start. No great exaggeration 
is contained in the observation in the Education of Henry 
Adams "They know enough who know how to learn/' 

The Educated Person Can Speak the Mother Tongue Clearly. 


A mastery of the various arts of using one's own language 
is the most universal of all educational objectives. It was a 
primary concern of the schools of ancient, as it is of those 
of modern, times. It is perhaps an open question which of 
the four language arts speaking, listening, writing, and 
reading is most important. The ceaseless grind of the 
printing presses and the existence of basic literacy among 
almost all of the adult population combine to magnify the 
importance of the reading aspects of language. Yet the 
spoken word remains, for the great majority of American 
citizens, the principal channel of receiving and giving in- 
formation and of exchanging ideas and feelings. Modern 
inventions seem to be emphasizing listening and speaking 
activities at the expense of reading as a method of educa- 
tion. The telephone, spreading its network throughout the 
country, makes possible remote conversation for social as 
well as business transactions. The talking motion picture 
watched by an average weekly audience of 115,000,000 per- 
sons, is another invention which now emphasizes the spoken 


word. Finally, there is that one-way conversation, the radio, 
which pours through 30 million loud-speakers enormous 
amounts of information and propaganda, as well as material 
designed for amusement and recreation. In sum, it has been 
estimated that speech is the basis of 90 percent of all our 
communication, leaving only 10 percent for writing and 

Since speech in its most rudimentary form is acquired in 
the home and elsewhere, it seems to require less highly de- 
tailed techniques of teaching than does the acquisition of 
the art of reading. This fact, however, scarcely excuses the 
school from assuming some share in the responsibility for 
improving the ability of the people to express themselves. 
Certainly the disparities between actual and desired achieve- 
ment are more readily detected in oral speech than in 
reading or in any other school subject. 

Observers familiar with social life in foreign countries 
often comment disparagingly on the aridity of American 
efforts at conversation. Even people who are otherwise well 
educated frequently lack the ability to converse coherently 
and interestingly about any topic, even (or perhaps es- 
pecially) about the topic with which they are most fully 
acquainted. True, successful conversation is no simple art. 
"It is much more than a matter of composing, more than 
mere communication of one's ideas; it obviously includes 
choosing which ideas to communicate, and which, for the 
time at least, to suppress. It may involve finding a topic in 
which the vis-a-vis is interested. It involves tone of lan- 
guage, tone of voice, manner, all suited to occasion and 
personalities. And in addition it involves the ability to an- 
ticipate the effect produced." 1 There seems to be no good 

1 Hatfield, W. Wilbur, chairman. An Experience Curriculum in 
English. A Report of the Curriculum Commission of the National 
Council of Teachers of English. New York: D. Appleton-Century Co., 
*935* 3*3 P- 


reason why this ability, so useful for disseminating infor- 
mation and increasing the value and satisfaction of social 
contacts, should not be more generally included as a definite 
aim of instruction in American schools. 

To conversation, which is private speaking, we should 
add ability in public speaking. The tongue-tied confusion, 
or worse, the unorganized loquacity which afflicts many of 
us when "called upon" is neither necessary nor wholesome. 
The degeneracy of public speaking is by nothing more 
clearly shown than by the common reference to a speaker as 
a "spellbinder." If more of our people possessed the ability 
to speak their minds and their hearts clearly and simply, 
they might assume a more critical attitude toward the 
demagogues who often aspire to public office. A nation of 
Daniel Webster's or Patrick Henry's would, no doubt, be 
altogether too voluble and resounding for comfort. But 
for the general run of students the schools may well sacri- 
fice the studied arts of the orator if they will provide instead 
instruction in the ability to state what one knows or be- 
lieves in a simple, brief, and direct fashion. 

The Educated Person Reads the Mother Tongue Efficiently. 

In addition to the eager search for knowledge which the 
educated person always exhibits, he needs to have available 
every possible means of satisfying his urge to know the 
truth. One of the important tools in this quest is an ability 
to read. When we teach this skill to a child, we hand him a 
passport to cross boundaries of time and space, a letter of 
introduction to the great minds in all parts of the world 
and in all periods of time. To this ability should be added, 
wherever possible, the ability to read in other languages, 
although the availability of translations of practically all 
important writings makes the possession of a second read- 
ing language a matter of less than primary importance and 


one which need be undertaken only by those students who 
have at their disposal a relatively long period of formal 

There are three kinds of illiterates. First, there are those 
persons, now happily few in number, who do not know 
how to read. Programs for the reduction of illiteracy among 
the adult population, combined with almost universal ele- 
mentary schooling, are making this a problem of rapidly 
declining importance. There is, however, a second type 
the functional illiterate who possesses some degree of skill 
in reading but who never reads anything. And there is yet 
a third type who possesses the skill to read and who does 
read but who never reads anything significant. The last two 
types of illiteracy are even more dangerous than the first. 
To teach the mechanics of reading without giving guidance 
in the selection of reading material and without developing 
reading habits is, to put it mildly, wasteful on a colossal 
scale. The schools must be concerned with eradicating all 
three types of illiteracy. 

We must never be content, therefore, to declare our 
objective gained when a child has first learned to stumble 
through words and sentences. Nine thousand different 
books are issued in the United States alone every year. This 
is at the rate of a new book every 60 minutes. Magazines, 
pamphlets, newspapers represent an even greater mass pro- 
duction. The schools must, as part of the program in read- 
ing, show the child how to select his reading, to read some 
things carefully, to skim other books hastily, to reject still 
others entirely, to comprehend what he reads and to apply 
it in the solution of his problems, to use reading as a means 
of experience, and to enjoy to the fullest degree possible 
the rich domain of his heritage of world literature. Noth- 
ing less than this is a justifiable goal in teaching reading. 
The amount, distribution, and quality of reading done by 


a population is likely to be an excellent index of cultural 
development and social competence. 

The Educated Person Writes the Mother Tongue Effectively. 

Since every citizen of a democracy should be able and 
willing to contribute from his experience and his beliefs 
to the solution of the common problems of all, it is clear 
that every citizen should be able to write a simple and 
straightforward statement in clear, cogent, and legible Eng- 
lish. Writing^ activities fall into such functional categories 
as letter-writing, formulating announcements, reporting 
an experience, writing directions or explanations, and keep- 
ing personal memoranda. These expressional activities are 
basic to tile teaching and learning of written composition. 
They should contrast with the formal theme, the academic 
forms of discourse, and literary rhetoric. 

In addition to the functional program in written English 
there should be provided opportunity for creative expres- 
sion, the artistic translation of personal experience into 
words. This type of writing may develop the pupil's capac- 
ity to value experience for its own sake rather than for any 
utilitarian end, and increase his pleasure in the experience 
through the effort to translate it into words. The obligation 
of the writer to present his ideas legibly is universally recog- 
nized. For those students who are likely to spend time in 
formal education at the college level or elsewhere, the abil- 
ity to write shorthand and to write on the typewriter is a 
desirable aid to further learning and, often, to finding a 
job. Writing as practiced by the newspaper reporter, the 
journalist, and the professional author is a vocational sub- 
ject, the treatment of which belongs elsewhere. For these 
persons, however, as well as for those whose writing will not 
be directly associated with earning a living, the character- 
istics of the writing desired consist especially of simplicity, 
clarity, honesty, legibility, and brevity. 


The Educated Person Solves His Problems 

of Counting and Calculating. 

Some acquaintance with numbers' and skill in the funda- 
mental operations' of addition, subtraction, multiplication, 
and division is an educational objective to be taken for 
granted. The skills to be taught in this field and the types 
of problems to which these skills are applied should be de- 
termined by the kinds of arithmetical calculations which 
the ordinary American citizen has occasion to make. Elab- 
orate and helpful investigations have been made to bring 
these fundamental operations into a position of prominence 
and recent revision of the curriculum in many school sys- 
tems has resulted in great improvement in arithmetic in- 
struction. In addition to skill in mathematics there needs 
to be developed an appreciation of the cultural value of 
mathematics, and of its usefulness as a mode of thinking 
and as a means of interpreting world affairs. 2 

Closely associated with the fundamental arithmetical 
operations are the elements of intuitional geometry and ap- 
plied algebra. Intensive technical study of more advanced 
mathematics should be offered to those whose vocational 
outlook, future education, or other special interests will 
make it necessary or helpful for them to use such knowl- 

New aspects of applied mathematics are constantly de- 
veloping and the educational experiences of children and 
adults need to be extended to include them. For example, 
the presentation of numbers in graphic and tabular form is 
becoming extremely common. Children should learn the 
rudiments of graphic presentation, particularly since this 

2 Williams, K. P., chairman. The "Place of Mathematics in Secondary 
Education. Preliminary Report of the Joint Commission of the Mathe- 
matical Association of America, Inc., and the National Council of 
Teachers of Mathematics. Ann Arbor, Mich.: Edwards Brothers, Inc., 
1938. 70 p. 


form of presenting data is at once so effective and so easy 
to misinterpret. The presentation of numerical data in 
graphic form is becoming a language with its own grammar 
and syntax. It is, however, a language which can ensnare 
and deceive the unwary. If children are to be taught that 
in the number 376, the 3 is in the hundred's column, the 7 
in the ten's, and the 6 in the unit's, why should they not 
learn also the proper form for a chart and know that a 
chart which lacks certain features is potentially or actually 
dishonest and unreliable? 

The ability to deal with number and form, the funda- 
mentals of mathematics, has always been a basic human 
need. In an age such as ours where almost every phase of 
life is strongly marked by applied science and technology, 
the appreciation and use of basic mathematical skills and 
concepts offer significant assistance for self-realization. 

The Educated Person Is Skilled in Listening 
and Observing. 

"With a fine disregard of orthography, the fundamental 
skills of learning have been traditionally referred to as the 
three R's reading, writing, and arithmetic. The scope of 
these basic skills needs extension. The true fundamentals 
of learning include much more than those three which have 
been enumerated. Most of our knowledge is gained, and 
most of our thinking engendered, by other methods, par- 
ticularly by speaking and other means of self-expression, 
by listening, by observing, and finally by reflecting on what 
we have read, written, counted, calculated, said and done, 
heard and seen. Hazlitt's remark that "it is better to be able 
neither to read nor write than to be able to do nothing else," 
is in point here. 

The traditional three R's, it is true, require for their 
mastery, a certain intensive application which is probably 


unnecessary for the other cultural fundamentals. But this 
does not mean that some training in the other fundamentals 
is unnecessary. It requires less skill, no doubt, to watch with 
some comprehension a moving-picture version of "Treas- 
ure Island" than it does to read the book of the same title. 
Both may be wholesome activities for an educated person. 
If so, is it not a part of the fundamental cultural equipment 
to be able to extract from a play, a motion picture, a radio, 
program, or even from the observed events of everyday life 
their utmost in the possibilities of life-enrichment? There 
are, in short, more than three "tool subjects," and schools 
should be concerned with securing the greatest possible 
proficiency in the use of all of them. If the rudiments of 
some skills are acquired outside of the school, the school's 
task remains, nevertheless, that of perfecting the effective 
use of these more common tools and of promoting safe- 
guards against their exploitation to the disadvantage of the 

The Educated Person Understands the Basic Facts 
Concerning Health and Disease. 

Health is a factor which conditions our success in all 
undertakings, personal and social. For that reason schools 
properly place great emphasis on health as an outcome of 
education. For the educated person the first requirement in 
the field of health is an inoculation against superstition, 
voodoo, witchcraft, and humbug in the fields of medicine 
and human biology. The best serum now available for this 
purpose is scientific knowledge concerning the human mind 
and body as a functioning organism. Thus protected, the 
educated person looks with sturdy skepticism on the claims 
of the makers of patent medicines for the ills of the body 
and the appeals of the large tribe of pseudo-psychologists 
who claim to minister to the mind diseased. 


The national health survey completed in 1938 by the 
Public Health Service showed that six million people in the 
United States are incapacitated by illness or accidents on a 
typical winter day. In one year there occur twenty-two 
million illnesses disabling for a week or longer. The average 
person is disabled approximately ten days out of every year. 
People ignorantly waste many millions of dollars on need- 
less illness and on useless or harmful patent medicines, 
spiritualistic seances, mind healers, and a sorry train of sim- 
ilar nostrums and quacks. The schools would save more 
than their own total cost if they could see to it that the 
oncoming generation of adults used its resources for health 
more wisely. 

The Educated Person Protects His Own Health 
and That of His Dependents. 

Knowing what is necessary for maintaining health in 
body and mind, the educated person so conducts his life as 
to respect these great rules of the game. For himself and his 
family he tries to secure competent medical advice and 
treatment with special attention to the early discovery and 
treatment of remedial defects and a systematic plan of 
health inventory and illness prevention. 

Knowledge of the structure of the human body is in- 
complete and of little value without knowledge of how the 
various parts operate. The instructional emphasis here 
should be positive, dealing with the healthful functioning 
of the human organism, rather than with the breakdown 
of this function in disease. The approach should be rational 
and scientific; should include all the basic biological func- 
tions, such as nutrition, respiration, and reproduction; 
should be adapted to the maturity and interests of the 
learner; and should eventuate in firmly established habits 
of healthful living. The scope of health education should 


clearly include the promotion of mental, as well as of physi- 
cal, health. 

A democracy, with its respect for individual life and 
happiness, is dedicated to the proposition that all children 
should be well-born, carefully guarded against avoidable 
infections, properly nourished in body and mind, and given 
an environment in which they can grow into healthful 
maturity and have a chance to live long, happily, and well. 

Safety from mental and physical disease suggests safety 
from accidents. A collision with a ten-ton truck may be as 
deadly as a collision with a streptococcus. Accidents cost 
the nation one hundred thousand lives and a million injuries 
in 1937. An encouraging phase is the steadily declining acci- 
dental death rate among children. Much of this gain is ap- 
parently attributable to safety instruction. These efforts 
should be continued and expanded, with particular em- 
phasis on carrying over safety habits into adult life. 

The Educated Person Works To Improve the 
Health of the Community. 

The interests of the educated person in the field of health 
are comprehensive. That which he desires for himself in this 
field, the educated person desires also for others, knowing 
that health is one commodity which is increased in propor- 
tion as it is shared. Especially in a democracy, the educated 
person will cherish a sincere interest in maintaining the 
health standards of the entire community. His humani- 
tarian sympathies can here be strongly supported by self- 
interest since the transmissible nature of many diseases as- 
sures security for the individual only when the entire com- 
munity is protected, and safety for the community only 
when the health of each individual is maintained. The edu- 
cated person, therefore, insists on community, state, and 
national health services which not only enforce sanitary 


ordinances and guard against the more obvious epidemic 
diseases, but which definitely promote the health of the 
entire population. He shows an active concern in all condi- 
tions which threaten the safety or injure the health of 
others, promotes the health work of schools and other social 
agencies, and encourages study and corrective action con- 
cerning the economic, physical, and social conditions which 
cause disease and imperil health of mind and body. 

The Educated Person Is Participant and Spectator 
in Many Sports and Other Pastimes. 

Under the stress of modern life recreation has become a 
first cousin to health. The educated person does not make 
the mistake of confusing health with strength. He under- 
stands how to utilize both his working time and his leisure 
time to the maximum personal and social advantage. His 
hours of relaxation from the strain of productive effort are 
carefully guarded and wisely used. 

The American people stand in urgent need of learning 
how to relax. Material success has too long been made our 
supreme objective in schools and elsewhere. Psychiatrists 
and other physicians are testifying to the mental and bodily 
damage caused by the ineptitude of the average American 
for the fine art of having a good time out of one's own re- 
sources. Many have attained success only to find they have 
lost happiness in the process. An extravagant worship of 
the unremitting drive of business activity prevails in many 
quarters. Even our everyday language betrays this con- 
fusion of values; we even speak of the "business" of living, 
whereas the principal and important part of living is an art 
and not a business. The precepts taught by the school in this 
field need to be supported in many cases by changes in what 
the schools are actually doing. 

Recreational skills may be divided into two general types: 


those which emphasize direct participation and those 
which emphasize the role of the spectator. Both are im- 

The participant in recreational activities requires a cer- 
tain mental and physical equipment which can be improved 
through education. The development of the physical skills, 
strength, and agility necessary for participation in a variety 
of wholesome games and sports is an important aspect of 
education. The athletic and physical education programs of 
secondary schools and colleges are moving slowly and tardily 
toward a democratic basis which serves the entire group of 
students rather than being largely concentrated on a few 
favored individuals who "make the team." This trend is 
wholesome; it should be accelerated and broadened. 

Competitive sports are a powerful and, within limits, a 
desirable motivating force in encouraging wholesome bodily 
activity, but such competition may do more harm than 
good if it centers on a few persons to the neglect of the 
majority, if it elevates winning the game over playing the 
game, or if the game is too rigorous, exhausting, or other- 
wise dangerous. Recreational training, therefore, should 
include in its purview the less competitive physical activ- 
ities such as walking, camping, swimming, skating, and 
various forms of manual and creative arts. 

The fact that recreative activity is as essential for adults 
as it is for children and youths, and the desirability of pro- 
moting common family interests, suggests the importance 
of giving training in sports and other activities which are 
suitable for both adults and youths. Games and creative 
activities which children and youths enjoy and which also 
carry over into the interests of adults, have a strong claim 
for attention. 

Recreation also includes the role of spectator in the 
theatre, at the opera, or at the stadium. Only a small pro- 


portion of such activity has learning for its purpose, though 
involuntary learning, wholesome or the contrary, may well 
occur. Some fear has been expressed lately about the evils 
of "spectatoritis" on the ground that the American public 
is becoming altogether too concerned over passively watch- 
ing others play and not sufficiently interested in taking an 
active part. Whatever the present trend may be, there is 
little to be gained by debating the relative merits of observ- 
ing and participating in various recreational activities. 
Most of us are not likely, under present conditions at least, 
to get too much of either. We should not quarrel about par- 
ticipation versus observation, but should seek to encourage 
both. The right balance of these two types of activity 
varies with the individual, but for the average person each 
actively supports and enriches the other. 

There is some tendency to regard the role of spectator at 
certain recreational activities as being inferior to others. 
Many people feel that a visit to the theatre to watch pro- 
fessional actors perform is somehow more wholesome and 
worthy than a visit to the baseball park to watch profes- 
sional athletes perform. There is probably little justification 
for such an attitude. It is true that some ugly and debasing 
aspects are associated with professional sport but the pro- 
fessional theatre is not always noted for its freedom from 
siich influences. It is at least open to question whether there 
is anything intrinsically more dramatic and elevating in 
watching the struggle on a darkening stage between Mac- 
beth and his conscience than in watching under a warm 
summer sun a good nine-inning pitching duel. In any case, 
we may well teach boys and girls how to watch and appre- 
ciate a well-played football or baseball game. Similarly, we 
may learn to enjoy taking part in amateur theatricals and 
through such activities reap a richer harvest in watching 
the performance of professional actors. 


The Educated Person Has Mental Resources 
for the Use of Leisure. 

Properly defined, the term recreation lias an even wider 
meaning than that already developed. Despite a common 
misuse of terms, "recreation" is not synonymous with 
"exercise/ 5 The former is not, nor should it be, limited to 
vigorous large-muscle activities. Is there any good reason 
why a curriculum which can include football and baseball 
might not also include checkers and even bridge? 

Reading, of course, is one of the major forms of recrea- 
tion. Skill in the use of printed material for acquiring in- 
formation has already been mentioned. Reading for fun 
likewise is no unworthy occupation, nor is it one that can 
be followed without some preliminary training. Children 
should come to know books as a means of acquaintanceship 
with other boys and girls, as a way of learning about ani- 
mals and birds and plants and stones, of finding out how 
people live in the country and in the city, and of enjoying 
fairy tales, nonsense rhymes, and stories of wonderland. 
From these beginnings emerge the continuing life interests 
in recreational reading pursued during adult life to escape 
temporarily from reality, to relive common everyday ex- 
periences, to satisfy curiosity about human nature and 
human motives, to enjoy pleasurable emotional experiences, 
to learn of immediate current happenings or of those far 
away from one's own environment, and to pursue a hobby. 

Fiction, travel, biography, history, or even scientific and 
technical materials, may serve these ends depending upon 
the interest and purpose of the reader. Even catalogues, 
shoppers' leaflets, and railroad time-tables may sometimes 
represent recreational reading. 

,For many persons the playing of musical instruments, 
alone or in orchestras, is a satisfying recreation. Almost 
everyone can sing and enjoys doing so; with some training 


for the singer, others may enjoy It too. The rudiments of the 
international language of music are for most people easier 
to acquire than the art of reading words. We are told that 
in Elizabethan England, for example, every educated per- 
son had musical competence. Should any child today leave 
our schools who has not added to the art of reading words 
the simple and pleasure-giving art of reading music? 

Painting, sketching, photography, and other forms of 
representative art can also be placed within the reach of 
many by means of a little preliminary assistance, encourage- 
ment, and instruction. The wide and ingenious range of 
hobbies must also be included among the constructive recre- 
ation possibilities. Under present conditions, leisure-time 
interests which require a minimum of expense and equip- 
ment are particularly desirable. 

None of these matters is unworthy of serious attention 
by schools which are earnestly concerned with the demo- 
cratic ideal of helping each individual to grow in self- 
realization. These are extracurricular in name only; indeed 
it is to be doubted whether any elements of the "regular" 
curriculum are more truly educative than the activities 
associated with recreation. A shallow respect for false and 
harmful "standards" has in the past kept the recreative 
arts in the place of the poor relation. It is time to place them 
in a position of honor at the educational table. 

The Educated Person Appreciates Beauty. 

Beauty is one of the great desires of the human heart. 
Even very young children eagerly and unmistakably re- 
spond to beauty in color, rhythm, harmony, and form. A 
bright toy is treasured above a dingy one. A cube, a ball, 
or a wheel seems to contain in its very contour elements 
of form which bring forth the approval and delight of 
children.^ is one of the important functions of education 


to help the growing child to seek, to enjoy, and to treasure 
beauty throughout his entire life. The delicate colorings of 
fine paintings, the balanced masses of sculpture, the strength 
and lightness of noble architecture, the rhythm, harmony, 
and melody of poetry and music all these should sur- 
round the growing child. He should hear beautiful music 
and participate in making it. He should make with his own 
hands the designs of representative art in order to increase 
his understanding and appreciation of the artistic work of 
others. These are not easy things to teach and the first re- 
quirement for doing so is the teacher's own understanding 
and appreciation of the esthetic elements of life. It is more 
difficult and much more important to teach a child appre- 
ciation of the beauty of poetry than it is to require him to 
memorize a poem or to identify the grammatical elements 
which enter into its construction. It is easier to teach the 
rules which permit one to classify plants than it is to teach 
an appreciation of the color and form of flowers. 

The importance of the school environment in this con- 
nection can hardly be overemphasized. The people of the 
United States will not reach their full stature in esthetic 
development while their children spend formative years in 
school buildings with unkempt grounds, ugly architecture, 
and bare or garish walls. The home life of many children is 
lived in mean and sordid conditions. This fact increases the 
responsibility of the schools to see that the stars are not 
completely shut out above their heads, to keep alive in them 
the love for the song of a bird, and to stimulate the am- 
bitious reach of the soul for the things which enrich it. 

The Educated Person Gives Responsible Direction 
to His Own Life. 

Our democracy, with its necessary and wholesome sepa- 
ration of Church and State, gives to every man and yroman 
complete freedom of religious belief and opinion. \We all 


have a right, a constitutionally-guaranteed right as well 
as a moral one, to choose that form of religious expression 
or outlook which we find most completely satisfying. The 
public schools are required, by law and by every element 
of their tradition, scrupulously to respect this American 
doctrine of religious liberty. The inculcation of any par- 
ticular religious creed is therefore entirely foreign to the 
proper function of public education, although other edu- 
cational agencies, particularly the home and the church, 
may well be actively concerned with such tuition. Yet 
there remain the great problems of human destiny which 
will always perplex, inspire, and ennoble the human spirit 
problems of the relation of man to that which is beyond 
man, of the plan, if plan there be, which directs or con- 
ditions human existence on this planet, of the meaning in 
human birth, life, aspiration, suffering, and death. That 
man is not well educated who ignores these problems. Nor 
is he educated who maintains an attitude of cynical indiffer- 
ence or of intolerant bigotry toward the efforts of others 
to satisfy their spiritual needs. He is educated only when 
he understands and appreciates the spiritual and ethical 
principles which constitute a central part of the heritage 
of the race. 

Many Americans find a satisfying answer to religious 
questions in the teachings of one or another of the organ- 
ized churches. Others find a solution which satisfies them 
outside of the framework of organized creeds. Education 
for self-realization in a democracy permits these perplexi- 
ties to be squarely faced and confers on each of us the 
priceless privilege of developing his religious philosophy in 
his own way and in an atmosphere of tolerance and free- 
dom. The educated man uses this privilege to attain a per- 
sonally satisfying religious philosophy. 

Out of the sheer necessity for some interpretation of him- 
self and his world, each person develops his own philosophy 


of life. This functioning philosophy may be regarded as a 
framework through which one views the circumstances of 
everyday life, an organizing accumulation of ideas, feelings., 
and attitudes which comprise a basis for the individual's 
criticism and evaluation of what comes within his experi- 
ence. A philosophy of life is not the exclusive possession of 
scholars and priests. It is an everyday necessity. Although 
he may be unaware of its existence, or if aware may see no 
semblance of its design, each man, nevertheless, is finding 
always a certain pattern by which he interprets and con- 
ducts his life. He has his own way of meeting the disap- 
pointments that are his lot. He possesses some set of values, 
some code of ethics, some sense of the esthetic. And he has 
a certain faith upon which he relies when his knowledge 
has carried him to its ultimate limits. The result of this 
philosophy in his everyday life reveals his true religion no 
matter to what formal creed, if to any, he may subscribe. 

The development of a philosophy of life is highly im- 
portant from the standpoint of society as well as from that 
of the individual. A man may consecrate himself to the 
finest ideals of a great religion, to a loyalty to truth, to de- 
votion to human brotherhood, to reverence and aspiration 
toward his God. On the other hand, he may interpret vital 
matters in terms of the grossest supernaturalism; his inter- 
pretation of religion may lead him to persecute those who 
strive to find truth by means which he neither approves 
nor comprehends; his code of ethical values may lead him 
to applaud the most vicious depravity and the most selfish 
exploitation. Although such a philosophy may be satis- 
factory to its possessor, it is definitely unsatisfactory to 

It is of especial concern in an evolving democracy that 
educational experience shall develop a strong sense of re- 
sponsibility for the direction of one's own affairs. Economic 
maladjustments have often conspired with human frailty to 


encourage a degree of indolence and a willingness to saddle 
upon others the burdens which are properly one's own. 
Whether such dereliction of duty takes the form of allow- 
ing one member of the family to carry an unfair share 
of the household work, or of idle and luxurious living 
without attempting to produce goods or services of social 
value, or of failing to vote at important elections, or of 
allowing one's front yard to become a neighborhood eye- 
sore, or of accepting relief or charity when able to find 
suitable employment, this lack of self -responsibility is a 
serious threat to democratic ways of living. 

Such attitudes are to a large degree a product of faulty 
environment and faulty education. A democracy must be 
concerned not only with giving every one an opportunity 
to hew out his own destiny but must also seek to develop 
in each individual strong qualities of initiative, accounta- 
bility, and self -direction. 

The development of a philosophy of life, or a religion, is 
based on the learning process. Like other learning, it is not 
fully consummated until it makes a difference in the prac- 
tical conduct of one's life. No imposition of the thinking 
of another, however well fortified with threats and prom- 
ises, can give the individual a ready-made philosophy, or a 
set of superior values. Any other mode than following the 
processes of education through their natural course of ques- 
tioning, testing, and forming judgments, is poorly suited to 
self-realization through democratic processes. 



v - ..,-: r^rr"-" 



Respect for Humanity. The educated person puts 
human relationships first. 

Friendships. The educated person enjoys a rich, sin- 
cere, and varied social life. 

Cooperation. The educated person can work and play 
with others. 

Courtesy, The educated person observes the amenities 
of social behavior. 

Appreciation of the Home. The educated person ap- 
preciates the family as a social institution. 

Conservation of the Howie* The educated person con- 
serves family ideals. 

Homemaking. The educated person is skilled in home- 

Democracy in the Home. The educated person main- 
tains democratic family relationships. 



Education maintains and demonstrates human re- 
lations indispensable to the good life and to the per- 
durance and functioning of a democratic society. In 
the classroom and on the playground is woven during 
the formative years of youth a texture of knowledge, 
habit) aspiration and 'mutual respect which aids in 
holding society together and helps to sustain hu- 
manity amid all the forms of untried being through 
which it must pass. 


The previous chapter emphasized some important pur- 
poses of education with respect to the development of the 
individual. The present chapter is devoted to the objectives 
of education as related to the more intimate connections 
of the individual with his friends, his immediate neighbors, 
and the members of his own family group. On the whole, 
there is perhaps no field of human activity requiring the 
services of education which has been so meagerly dealt with 
by the schools. Between the individual's inner life and his 
far-flung contacts with 130 million fellow citizens, there 
is an important intermediate area of day-to-day, face-to- 
face relationships which could be profitably studied by 
those directing educational programs. 


The Educated Person Puts Human Relationships First. 

The impact of education on a developing personality 
should lead that person to place human welfare at the very 


summit of his scale of values. He should judge old tradi- 
tions and new inventions by the same high and single 
standard. "Whatever has an evil effect on human beings 
and their relations to each other is to be disapproved, 
regardless of the comfort, luxury, or economic gain it 
may bring. Too often, modern standards ignore the in- 
tangible effects of scientific and social inventions on human 
relationships. We tend to approve anything if only it adds 
in some small particular to our ease and comfort. The 
schools have a definite responsibility for developing a sense 
of values which exalts men above money or machinery. 

The history of inventions shows the disrupting effects 
of their uncontrolled use for economic gain without due 
regard to concomitant influences on human relations. New 
machinery for the weaving of cloth, for example, while 
it made possible a more ample supply of textiles, at one 
time deprived thousands of men and women of their means 
of livelihood, and degraded the level of living for other 
thousands. Many workers died of want before even crude 
social and economic adjustments to the new and more 
efficient methods of cloth production were made. The 
industrial revolution has taken its toll of lives as ruthlessly 
and cruelly as any political revolution has ever done. Its 
influence still shadows our path and much of the hardship 
and strife which have accompanied the struggles between 
owner and workman could have been prevented by a 
proper concern for the human elements in the situation. 

The application of machinery to transportation provides 
another example of unfortunate influences arising from 
the use of inventions without regard to human values. The 
automobile, for example, is highly attractive because of 
its speed and comfort. Yet, when we see the automobile 
in its total social effect, we remember that it has helped 
criminals to escape the reach of the law, that it takes an 


enormous toll of injuries and deaths every day, and that 
it has tended to disrupt community and family life. The 
school can inculcate an attitude and habit of considering 
inventions and social innovations with first regard to the 
human aspects of them. The desirable material advantages 
of inventions should be conceded, but the "march of 
progress" is a travesty unless the superior importance of 
human values be made the center of attention. 

In short, the educated person learns through practice 
to consider the well-being of others. The school is particu- 
larly competent to help in this process. It is detached 
from commercial and promotional interests to a degree 
which makes it more able than any other institution to 
appraise conflicting interests in significant terms. Children 
in school will probably never again be in a social situation 
more favorable for this purpose. 

The Educated Person Enjoys a Rich, Sincere, 
and Varied Social Life. 

When life was simpler than it is now, the satisfaction 
of the need for genuine friendships required little atten- 
tion on the part of organized social agencies. Today, the 
concentration of millions of people in large cities, as well 
as other social changes, have made the achievement of a 
genuinely social life difficult for many. Social groups are 
large and complex and especially so for that growing part 
of the population in the metropolitan centers. These nuclei 
of population give rise to many special problems relating 
to crime, delinquency, divorce, and other aspects of broken 
family life. Many children in urban schools have gone 
there from the country. From a relatively simple social 
environment they are thrust into one which is highly 
complex. The same circumstances hold for a large part 
of the adult population. Whenever such new adjustments 


have to be made, education lias a part to play In facilitating 
these changes. 

The newcomer to the city misses the spontaneous meet- 
ings of neighbors which he formerly knew. The shallow 
pretenses of "society" may be substituted for friendly 
sociability. He finds that almost every phase of his social 
life is highly organized and specialized. He must join some- 
thing in order to participate. Among the dozens of groups 
and organizations which compete for his attention, there 
is none, with the possible exception of the school, where 
he is regarded just as an individual. Organizations are in- 
terested in what he may contribute or in some one par- 
ticular phase of his behavior his religious activities, his 
recreational interests, his business or professional career, 
his political affiliations, and so on. His nostalgic longing 
for the old folks at home, the neighbors " Vay out 
yonder," is vividly portrayed on many a stage and screen 
and provides a recurrent motif in modern music and liter- 
ature. Each of the various separate aspects of his social 
life may be nurtured by the efficient and highly organized 
social life in the city, but the genuineness represented only 
by the relationships of whole personalities to each other is 
often lacking. Juvenile delinquency and crime often re- 
veal the failure of young people to adjust to this piece- 
meal type of social organization. Disintegration in human 
relationships finally results in disintegration of personality. 

The school can closely parallel the simple, honest, and 
sincere forms of community life. It enjoys unique possi- 
bilities for providing in the life of the child an integrating 
influence. The school can help him to interpret and unify 
his detached and seemingly unrelated experiences. The 
child may learn several codes of ethics one at church on 
Sunday, one taught by the boss with respect to selling 
newspapers, and one accepted by his friends at play. In 
such a situation the school can never obtain its real objec- 


tives if it is content to regard itself as merely one more 
organization to concentrate on one special angle, the intel- 
lectual angle, of the personality. Schools should minister 
to all phases of the developing personality. 

The methods used in encouraging learning are extremely 
important as far as developing desirable human relation- 
ships is concerned. The work of the classroom is too often 
arranged so as to destroy, rather than to create, friendship. 
This is especially true when an undesirable amount of com- 
petition among pupils is stressed. The bright pupil grows 
jealous of his laurels. Every other member of his class looms 
as a competitor rather than as an ally. Meanwhile, the less 
favored pupil may develop a bitter and natural resentment, 
not only against the school which continually places the 
mark of failure upon him, but against his more fortunate 
classmates who consistently surpass his efforts. The school 
which permits and encourages such antagonisms needs to 
re-evaluate its purposes and methods in the light of human 
relationships. The bookworm who has exchanged friend- 
ships for erudition has made a poor bargain at best. 

The Educated Person Can Work and ~Play with Others. 

Democracy is a highly cooperative undertaking. It can 
become more effective if children learn to cooperate in 
school. The traditional methods of teaching, however, 
stress competition rather than cooperation. Marks of dis- 
tinction and honors of all kinds have been showered on the 
pupil who surpasses his fellows. Ideally, our schools should 
give prizes not to the one who wins more credit for him- 
self, but to the one who cooperates most effectively with 
others. We pin the badge of failure on the child who is 
defeated in a competition rather than on the child wh> 
has not learned to cooperate. This not only makes the 
social life of the competing children unhappy and unf ruit- 


ful while they are young, but it destroys those impulses 
towards friendly cooperative effort which might have 
made their lives as adults happier and more wholesome. 

As a practical matter, the substitution of cooperation 
for competition as the chief motivating force of education 
must be accomplished gradually. In many schools, where 
the children have known no other guide to learning but 
competition, other motivations will have to be introduced 
slowly and tactfully. Democratic cooperation in the class- 
room, and outside of it, is only possible when the group 
works toward some common goal. Each individual shares 
the opportunities of leading and of following; each carries 
a part of the responsibility; each shares in the total product. 
Children should learn through experience, as directly as 
possible and at an early stage of their lives, that the com- 
bined efForts of a cooperative group can often solve prob- 
lems that the ablest individual in the group cannot meet 
unaided. The possibilities of cooperation through govern- 
ment, cooperative marketing and purchasing, voluntary 
associations, credit unions, and similar devices should be 
explored by children at appropriate times in their educa- 
tional experience. 

A reconciliation must here be effected between two de- 
sirable and to some extent conflicting outcomes. It is im- 
portant that young people gain confidence in their own 
individual powers. This calls for a measure of success in 
competition with others. A certain degree of self-reliance 
is highly important. It is not likely to come except through 
demonstrated individual achievement. At the same time 
the development of the self should not be allowed to run 
to excess. Democracy must have its leaders but they should 
be leaders who work in the spirit of cooperation. In the 
schools of democracy successful cooperation should be a 
part of the experience of all. 


The Educated Person Observes the Amenities 
of Social Behavior. 

The Chinese, it is said, open a conversation with a new 
acquaintance by inquiring, "And what is your honorable 
age?" In America we usually say, "What line are you in?" 
Every society develops its code of polite behavior, the 
lubricating elements in its machinery of human relation- 
ships. A genius may be able to get along in defiance of these 
amenities. Most people find them inescapable necessities, 
sometimes annoying, but usually extremely useful. 

Knowledge and practice with respect to one's conduct 
at a social gathering, the approved method of introducing 
one person to another and of acknowledging an introduc- 
tion, the use of "please" and "thank you," table manners 
which are not offensive to others, and other similar social 
courtesies ought to be learned by every child. 

It is true that many of these customs are of little in- 
trinsic significance; true, also, that most of them are rooted 
in the customs of antiquity and have little current logical 
justification. Nevertheless, they simplify and facilitate 
social intercourse and thus fulfill an important function. 
The educated person has learned these rules of conduct, 
with some understanding of their origin and role in social 
contacts. He realizes that the origin of all politeness is 
courtesy, and that the root of all good manners is consider- 
ation for others. So taught, these customs will make easier 
and more profitable the development of desirable human 


Among all social institutions the family holds first place 
as a creator and guardian of human values. What the child 
shall become depends first of all on the kind of family 


responsible for his upbringing. The home is literally the 
nursery of humanity, the matrix of personality during the 
most impressionable years, and a continuing influence 
throughout life. To what degree a person is fearful or con- 
fident, malicious or kindly, ruthless or reasonable, bigoted 
and autocratic or tolerant and democratic is perhaps deter- 
mined more completely by relationships in early family 
life than by any other set of experiences. Not only are 
these experiences first in time and prepotent in effect 
during childhood, but family relationships continuously 
influence the manner in which persons conduct their affairs 
in other groups. 

One important responsibility of education, therefore, is 
to improve and develop home and family life. Effective 
discharge of this responsibility requires work with younger 
children, with adolescents, and with adults. Children at 
various points in their school careers may be helped to 
understand the family as a social institution, to acquire 
homeniaking skills, and to work out happy and socially 
constructive adjustments with members of their immediate 
families. Young people may be helped to master and appre- 
ciate the specific knowledges and insights needed in mar- 
riage, homemaking, and parenthood. Married couples and 
parents on the job may be given opportunity to study their 
problems and work out ways of handling their obligations. 

The Educated Person Appreciates the 
Family as a Social Institution. 

The family, that is the system of relationships among 
parents and offspring, is important everywhere, but the 
structure of the family group and family activities and 
customs differ from culture to culture, and from age to 
age. The size and composition of families, marriage cus- 
toms, the obligations of members one to another, and the 


responsibilities of families as units to other social groups 
all seem to vary under the influence of climate, topography, 
natural resources and the methods of utilizing them, the 
dominant forms of social, economic, and political organiza- 
tion, and the prevailing ethical standards. 

However varied, the institution of the family performs 
two fundamental and interrelated sets of services. For the 
individual the family provides care and protection while 
capacities are maturing, guidance in learning to get along 
with others, security, and affection. Biological parenthood 
is only the first step. Without protection and nurture, in- 
fants could not survive. Without the give and take of 
family life they could hardly become social beings. With- 
out the affectionate intimacies of the family circle, per- 
sonality is not likely to develop normally. Every individual 
is thus the product of family life in a social as well as a 
biological sense. 

For society as a whole the family performs its second 
group of essential functions. It regulates sex relationships, 
making it possible for men and women to express the 
sexual phases of their nature in a socially constructive 
manner. It produces future citizens and nurtures them 
into adulthood, sharing this responsibility with the schools 
and other agencies during middle and later childhood. 

If a person understands how fundamental is the role of 
the family in human society, he will see social significance 
in every home and every family, and he will be more likely 
to value his own home and family life. Education should 
help to develop this appreciation. 

The Educated Person Conserves Family Ideals. 

Because of the headlong progress of invention and 
science, the forms of family organization are changing. 
Chores and common production enterprises were formerly 


training grounds of character. As labor-saving devices elim- 
inate or reduce the chores and as consumption becomes the 
primary family activity, conflicts tend to arise, not so fre- 
quently over who will do what work, but over what share 
of the family income each will have for his own use, and 
what use each will make, and when, of such family goods 
as the radio and the car. 

In the modern world women frequently find full-time 
employment outside their homes. One-fourth of the wage 
earners of the country are women, and of these gainfully 
employed women, more than one-third also maintain 
homes. It has been estimated that 40 percent of the wealth 
of the country is now held by women. Each year, therefore, 
economic security becomes a less important motive for 
marriage. These tendencies, together with more liberal 
divorce laws and a decline in the authority of the church, 
are accompanied by higher divorce rates. This trend, in 
turn, is complicating the lives of many adults and increas- 
ing the hazards of wholesome personality development for 
many children. 

Economic devolopments have given to those who own 
and control capital increased power over others. It is esti- 
mated that 80 percent of the families of America live on 
incomes of $2,000 per year or less and that half live on 
$1,200 per year or less. Millions of persons desiring work 
are unable to secure any; other millions work only inter- 
mittently. Many a family is forced to live from hand to 
mouth on a stop-and-go income. Under such uncertainty, 
expenditures cannot be planned. Deprivation and anxiety 
alternate with easy thrif tlessness. When the search for work 
goes long unrewarded, morale weakens and accusations are 
hurled. Hunger lurks at the threshold; tensions rise; tem- 
pers snap. 

With fewer jobs available, the employment of young 
people is delayed. Many remain dependent on their families 


at a period in life when they are most eager to be on their 
own. This delayed economic weaning increases the diffi- 
culties of establishing independence and adulthood and 
results in not a few strained family situations. 

Again, the concentration of manufacture and com- 
merce has resulted in the crowding of ever larger propor- 
tions of the total population into urban centers. The 
demand for living quarters sends land prices sky-rocketing 
and leads to the construction of smaller rooms and apart- 
ments. Crowding and cheap construction bring fire and 
disease hazards. Unplanned use of land for building de- 
prives children of outdoor play. The prevalence of such 
conditions, despite counteracting movements, adversely 
affects the lives of many families. 

To turn to a quite different influence, each year the 
women of the country of child-bearing age taken as a 
whole are giving birth to fewer children. This decline in 
the birth rate is greater in cities than in the country; it 
varies also by regions and by ethnic groups. This means 
that more attention may be concentrated on each child 
and that older children have less opportunity to learn the 
arts of homemaking and parenthood in their own homes. 

Most changes in family life stem back to changes in 
economic and social organization. However much we may 
bemoan the passing of older patterns and ideals, or fear 
the coming of new, we cannot hold back this tide of eco- 
nomic and social change that is breaking today into every 
corner of society. We can, however, with the help of edu- 
cation, try to understand it, use it, and control it for the 
attainment of our democratic purposes and the preserva- 
tion of cherished human values. 

The creation of satisfying and socially constructive 
family life under these conditions requires unstinting skill, 
intelligence, patience, and devotion. The pull of habit 
tends to keep us feeling, thinking, and acting as we always 


have. Yet we come to grief when we attempt to meet 
new conditions in old ways. For instance, when two and 
sometimes several members of a family contribute to the 
family income, sooner or later they expect to have a voice 
in spending it. For the father whose will has been house- 
hold law, adjustment to these expectations involves basic 
reorganization of deeply ingrained habits. Yet such co- 
operative participation in budgeting and income manage- 
ment seems to be indicated by the conditions under which 
many family incomes are secured. 

Many other adjustments are required of both young 
and old. For instance, during adolescent years many par- 
ents seek to control every detail of personal expenditures 
and friendships. Yet, to remain dependent on parents for 
all one's money, continuing in school or simply marking 
time unable to find a job, is a grueling experience for that 
host of young people who endure it. Consider also the pre- 
dicament of many couples today. Under the pressure of 
economic hardship or the frustration of ambition, affec- 
tions sometimes become strained. To face the situation 
realistically and to handle it constructively is more difficult 
than to drift into indifference or veiled hostility and then 
into divorce; or if the social and financial costs of legal 
separation are too high, to live in barren indifference, mean- 
while trying to secure the basic satisfactions of life outside 
the home. 

At such points, then, education has a task. If it can help 
people understand the social origin of ideals, how they are 
transmitted in family life, how they have changed in the 
past and are changing now, it can help them make the 
adjustments required. So far as education does help people 
make these adjustments, it will be making one of the most 
significant contributions both to individual happiness and 
to cultural development. 


The Educated Person Is Skilled 
in Home-making. 

Every member of the family plays a role in the drama of 
home and family life. Each role is different and, for all but 
the younger members of a family during their more de- 
pendent years, constantly fluctuating. Different kinds of 
food must be prepared with each year of infancy and early 
childhood. Changes in age and fashion dictate what cloth- 
ing shall be purchased and how it shall be repaired. Sim- 
ilarly, the managing of income, the operation of heating 
units, the upkeep. and repair of fixtures and appliances, the 
protection and maintenance of health, the special care of 
children in sickness and convalescence, the selection of play 
equipment and guidance in its use, and many other house- 
keeping and homemaking activities change with the ages 
of children and of parents, with shifts in income, with 
changes in taste and values, and with many other variables. 

Not only is each role constantly changing, but now- 
adays the players are often called upon to exchange roles. 
Here, for example, is a family where the father is out of 
work and the mother is able to find a job, leaving him to 
be the resident homemaker. Traditional lines between the 
man's job and the woman's work are thus erased. Both 
sexes and all ages are called upon to take responsibility for 
some or all of the tasks of homemaking. 

Most persons go a long way in teaching themselves these 
homemaking skills, with or without the help of interested 
relatives. In addition, girls for three decades past, and more 
recently boys, have sought help from schools in mastering 
the homemaking skills. The teaching of cooking, budget- 
ing, accounting, management of time, routine care of chil- 
dren, and consumer purchasing is rising toward a high level 
of effectiveness. 

Further development of this phase of education should 


give special consideration to new labor-saving and effi- 
ciency devices, new distributing and servicing facilities, 
and new consumption habits. It should be remembered 
also that skills serve in fact as instruments of personality. 
The teaching of homemaking skills is an important phase 
of family life education, but as in all education the develop- 
ment of skills should be correlated with the development 
of an understanding of the dynamics of family relation- 
ship and of the family as a changing social institution and 
with the cultivation of appreciations and insights. 

Every homemaker and parent possesses valuable re- 
sources in his own wit and in the wisdom developed by 
experience. But other resources are also available. Books 
contain rich stores of knowledge about housekeeping, 
health, nutrition, child care and development, and other 
phases of family life. Few persons live beyond the reach 
of libraries or traveling library services from which books 
on these matters may be secured. In all but a few of the 
more remote areas there, are also available the professional 
services of doctors, public health workers, home demon- 
stration agents, homemaking teachers^ social workers, 
and recreation leaders. As time permits, the educated per- 
son explores books for knowledge and his neighborhood 
for facilities and professional services which may be used 
for the welfare of his family. He tests each and makes use 
of promising discoveries. 

The Educated Person Maintains 
Democratic Family Relationships. 

The educated person understands that families will 
differ one from another, in order the better to meet the 
needs of their members, and that family living requires 
constant adjustments on the part of each member. Only 
when each young person discovers a scale of values which 


he believes socially desirable will he be able to let himself 
go in making these adjustments creatively. 

Education for family living will deal chiefly with prob- 
lems of everyday human relationship problems of chil- 
dren in their parental homes; problems of young people 
as they struggle to separate themselves from parents and to 
enter into comradeships within their own age groups; 
problems arising in the cycle of f alling-in-love, engage- 
ment, marriage, and the establishment of one's own home; 
problems of parents in trying to understand growing chil- 
dren and in cheerfully according an increasing measure of 
independence to children as they attain maturity. Such 
education will seek to make clear the important human 
values to be protected in all these different areas of life. 

"While the resulting scales of values will be different for 
each individual, belief in democratic ideals would result in 
certain common behavior. The educated person puts him- 
self in the place of other members of the family, both 
older and younger. He understands their experiences, en- 
joys with them their satisfactions, and undergoes with 
them their fears and sorrows. As older persons succeed in 
doing this, their assistance to those who are younger be- 
comes a spontaneous response to emotional need and so is 
more likely to be accepted and used constructively. 

When democratic ideals and processes are applied in 
family life, plans for enterprises in which the family as a 
whole engage are made cooperatively. This includes imme- 
diate activities, such as choosing what movie the family 
will attend tonight, as well as long-time planning, such 
as the making of yearly budgets. Every person expresses 
preferences and contributes opinions according to his ex- 
perience and ability. No member of the family who is 
mature enough to have an opinion on the matter in ques- 
tion is disregarded. 

In the democratic family the carrying out of family 


plans is also cooperative. Every member of the family has 
chores scaled to his ability, time, and interests. Sometimes 
these are done alone, sometimes with others. At successive 
stages of growth and family development, each accepts as 
just a share of the household work commensurate with his 
age, ability, and interests and with tasks being carried by 
other members of the family. Each exercises initiative in 
discharging these responsibilities and seeks to improve his 
performance of them. 

In the democratic family differences are settled by 
reason, persuasion, and compromise. This process works 
successfully to the degree that each participant makes an 
effort to discover how the other person understands the 
situation, and how he feels about it. If older members of 
a family rely upon this method, it is generally accepted 
by those younger as they mature. Qualifications are neces- 
sary: to expect children to be ^reasonable" before they 
are mature enough to understand the experiences of others 
is to desire the impossible. Again, when health or safety 
is in question, the parent's first obligation is protection. 

The person who learns how to be democratic in his 
family relationships will tend to participate in political 
and economic affairs in a democratic manner. It is no acci- 
dent that the early home life of many statesmen and other 
leaders, whose names are associated with democracy, has 
been characterized by broad humanitarianism, cooperative 
attacks upon the problems of family living, and the adjust- 
ment of differences habitually by methods of reason. To 
foster democratic family relationships is to build democ- 
racy into the economic, social, and political life of the 

Schools and other agencies of education have a long way 
to go before offerings in this phase of education will begin 
to meet the need. Although "worthy home membership" 
was one of the seven cardinal principles formulated in 


1918, education for home and family life is still unknown 
in many schools and a stepchild of the curriculum in others. 
Despite advances made during the past twenty years 3 only 
about 15 percent of the high school and college students 
of the country and probably less than 5 percent of the 
parents now engage in any kind of systematic education 
for home and family life. 

With increasing social and political complications, the 
tasks of operating family life and making needed adjust- 
ments in its pattern are increasing in difficulty. Education 
must bend anew to this work, for the stakes are vital. As 
citizens learn and practice in their families that regard for 
the common welfare and that use of reason in composing 
differences which are essential in the democratic way of 
life, they will be predisposed to democratic behavior in 
wider relationships, and democracy in the nation will 
receive fresh impetus at its source. 


Work. The educated producer knows the satisfaction 
of good workmanship. 

Occupational Information. The educated producer 

understands the requirements and opportunities 
for various jobs. 

Occupational Choice. The educated producer has se- 
lected his occupation. 

Occupational Efficiency. The educated producer suc- 
ceeds in his chosen vocation. 

Occupational Adjustment. The educated producer 
maintains and improves his efficiency. 

Occupational Appreciation. The educated producer 
appreciates the social value of his work. 

Personal Economics. The educated consumer plans 
the economics of his own life. 

Consumer Judgment. The educated consumer de- 
velops standards for guiding his expenditures. 

Efficiency in Buying. The educated consumer Is an 
informed and skillful buyer. 

Consumer 'Protection. The educated consumer takes 
appropriate measures to safeguard his interests. 



Use, labor of each for all, is the health and virtue 
of all beings. Ich dien, I serve, is a truly royal motto. 
And it is the 'mark of nobleness to volunteer the 
lowest service, the greatest spirit only attaining to 
loumility. ' EMERSON. 

The objectives of economic efficiency relate to those 
activities which have to do with creating and using goods 
and services. At present, the major emphasis in education 
for economic efficiency is placed on the productive or voca- 
tional phase. It is often the only aspect of economic educa- 
tion which receives serious attention. This one-sided em- 
phasis is unfortunate. Granting the importance of pro- 
ducer education, the equal and corollary importance of 
consumer education must not be overlooked. Production 
and consumption are related to each other as the back of 
the hand is to the palm. The roles of the consumer and the 
producer are equally dependent upon education for effi- 

We begin with the objectives of economic efficiency as 
they relate to the production of goods and services. 


The Educated Producer Knows the Satisfaction of 
Good Workmanship. 

In a democracy each person contributes according to his 
ability to the essential welfare of all. This means that under 
ideal conditions each able-bodied adult follows an occtipa- 


tion for which he or she is fitted by ability, personality, and 
training and -which provides goods and services of social 
and individual value. It is important that children should 
learn that each may properly enjoy the fruits of civiliza- 
tion only by doing his part in the work of the world, Work 
should be regarded as something to be sought, enjoyed, and 
respected rather than as something to be avoided, suffered, 
and despised. "Work," as used here, includes the efforts of 
the teacher, the doctor, the housewife, the business man, 
the artist, as well as the usual shirt-sleeve and white-collar 
occupations. Even the younger children can learn the neces- 
sity of contributing effort to a common cause. Changing 
social conditions make work around the home for children 
difficult to arrange. Even at some inconvenience to the 
adults, however, such work would prove to be of whole- 
some educational value. 

In the schools opportunities for real and socially desirable 
employment may readily be found. Why should not stu- 
dents learn valuable practical arts, contribute to the social 
dividend, and save public money by improving and safe- 
guarding their own school building? Such work, of course, 
should be discontinued when the educational value of stu- 
dent participation reaches the point of diminishing returns. 

The barrier to providing work opportunities as part of 
the educational program is largely traditional. As with 
many other realistic educational suggestions, this proposal 
is slowly adopted because of an unwillingness to recognize 
that there can be educational values occurring outside of 
classroom study and book-centered recitation. It is declared 
that the students cannot spend time away from Latin 
declensions and geometry theorems in order to learn the 
value of useful work. Under such circumstances, we must 
always try to determine what activity has the maximum 
educational value for the particular child concerned. 


Nothing in the foregoing statement should be construed 
as indicating approval of exploitive child labor, curtail- 
ment of educational opportunity, or the use of children in 
occupations in competition with adult employment. Stu- 
dents should not be entrusted, of course, with work of a 
highly technical nature for which they lack strength or 

The Educated Producer Understands the 
Requirements and Opportunities for 
Various Jobs. 

The classic example of occupational learning is Benjamin 
Franklin's story of how he was led by his father from one 
shop to another to observe the work of the artisans. Under 
the relatively simple economic conditions of that day, 
occupational information was easily acquired outside of 
organized schooling. The boy learned about farming from 
his father and on his occasional visits to the county seat 
watched the blacksmith, business men, and the representa- 
tives of the other occupations of the day at their work. 
( Now all that is changed. There are more specialized occu- 
pations, less opportunity for learning on the job, and con- 
sequently greater need for the assistance of the school. 

The Educated Producer Has Selected 
His Occupation. 

Most people drift into some occupational field with the 
result that there is much wasteful occupational shifting 
and many a square peg in a round hole. The more nearly 
the age of entry to vocation coincides with complete ma- 
turity and all the responsibilities that go with it, the more 
imperative it becomes that the first vocational choice be 
as nearly right as possible. The future success, happiness, 
and efficiency of the individual, to say nothing of the direct 
concern of society in the matter, often depend on making 


a proper, though not necessarily a permanent, vocational 
adjustment not later than the attainment of adulthood. 
The guidance of the school with respect to such vocational 
adjustment will help the student to survey the needs and 
opportunities for employment and to appraise his own 
potentialities and opportunities. It will point out to him 
the educational programs which best meet his needs, and 
help him to make wisely the choices he will have occasion 
to exercise during his secondary school career, during his 
induction into his vocation, and during his progress in the 
vocation. A statement of the importance of vocational 
guidance need not imply that the school personnel is omnis- 
cient or gifted with prophecy. Existing methods for ap- 
praising individual vocational aptitudes and predicting oc- 
cupational trends leave much to be desired and call for 
further development through research and experimenta- 

Without vocational guidance, vocational education may 
be extremely wasteful. Such guidance, of course, is to be re- 
garded merely as one important part of a larger and con- 
tinuing process of education involving adjustment of the 
individual from childhood to old age in all the areas of 
human activity. For youths in secondary schools as well as 
those of the later adolescent years who are not in school, the 
major problems of guidance are concerned with entrance 
into occupational life, adjustment to the withdrawal of 
parental support and parental control, establishment of 
new family relationships, progress toward economic inde- 
pendence, and the commencement of the duties and priv- 
ileges of adult citizens. 

One of the most striking examples of the need for an 
expanded and effective program of vocational guidance 
is the existence of certain tutorial and correspondence 
schools making extravagant claims for training men and 
women in a variety of occupations. There are, it is true. 

many excellent schools of this type which conduct voca- 
tional training of a high type and render a real educational 
service. There is, no doubt, a definite need in American 
education for the services of a few such schools. But it has 
been necessary for the Federal Trade Commission on occa- 
sion to issue warnings to protect the public and control the 
more glaring examples of exploitation and quackery in 
this field. Well-designed programs of vocational guidance 
and education in the public schools should develop, among 
other things, the ability of young people to distinguish 
between the valid and the spurious types of private enter- 
prise in vocational preparation. 

The Educated "Producer Succeeds in His 
Chosen Vocation. 

Education for economic productiveness is affected by 
several comparatively recent developments in the per- 
sonnel to be served and in the prevailing socio-economic 
situation. With reference to the student personnel, there 
has been a considerable extension of the period of legally 
compulsory school attendance. This legal development is 
supported by equally important extensions in the period 
of voluntary school attendance, due to restricted employ- 
ment opportunities and greater social and individual inter- 
est in education.The result of both has been a phenomenal 
increase in the number of students in high schools and 
colleges. Although this spectacular numerical gain has 
occupied the spotlight of attention, it is eclipsed in real 
importance for education by the vastly increased range of 
interests, social backgrounds, vocational outlooks, intellec- 
tual abilities, and manual skills among the student per- 
sonnel. Thus the demands on secondary and higher educa- 
tion are not merely increased in quantity but are also made 
much more diversified and complex, 


Other socio-economic trends are affecting vocational 
education. There is a distinctly higher average age and a 
resulting greater maturity among those seeking gainful 
employment. Among youths unable to find profitable oc- 
cupations there is a fertile field for ill-defined but highly 
explosive feelings of discontent, unrest, and insecurity. 
Among adult workers, changing industrial processes create 
a demand for vocational retraining. Workers incapaci- 
tated for certain occupations by advancing age, illness, or 
disabling accidents also seek vocational rehabilitation. 

That preparation for vocational success is a part of the 
total educational job is not seriously questioned by anyone. 
The chief points at issue at the present time are the extent 
to which such vocational preparation should be provided 
within the organized schools, and the educational level at 
which specialized vocational preparation should begin. 
One need only consider the vast differences in the intellec- 
tual, physical, and other requirements for vocational suc- 
cess in the various occupations, to see that no single simple 
formula can determine the role of the school in each case. 
In most of the vocations which are usually called "pro- 
fessions," it is generally agreed that the school, college, and 
university must carry the primary educational responsi- 
bility, with some cooperation with the professions con- 
cerned through various forms of internship. In the voca- 
tional preparation of mechanics of various kinds, differ- 
ences of procedure are in order. Skilled occupations which 
are carried on quite uniformly in almost every community, 
such as carpentry, masonry, and automobile repairing, 
can be prepared for effectively by school agencies provided 
the demand for workers and the density of population are 
such that it is possible to assemble a sufficiently large num- 
ber of learners to provide instruction at a reasonable cost 
per student. In other occupations of a more specialized 
nature, as for example, those of the airplane pilot or the 


ship radio operator, vocational preparation has to be given 
either in state or regional training schools or in schools 
operated by the employers of the persons in these special- 
ized occupations. 

Although it is impossible to state in detail the specific 
responsibilities of the schools in equipping children with 
specialized vocational skills, there are certain general prin- 
ciples which seem to be valid. First, the relationship be- 
tween vocational education and the employing and the 
employed groups must be close, sympathetic, and cooper- 
ative. Schools ought to cultivate relationships with industry 
and other occupational fields. The term "practical" educa- 
tion should not be used solely to describe society's out-of- 
school efforts to deal with the occupational preparation. 

Second, it is no longer profitable, if indeed it ever was 
so, to debate the relative importance of vocational and non- 
vocational education. The two are not properly considered 
as competitive; they are phases of a single process. An edu- 
cational program which, taken as a whole, neglects either 
aspect, is incomplete, if not actually harmful. The differ- 
ence between vocational and non- vocational studies, then, 
is one of emphasis in the individual student's purposes. A 
working distinction cannot be based on any single logical 
or arbitrary classification of the parts of the curriculum. 
When a subject or part of a subject is pursued for the 
primary purpose of developing marketable initial skills or 
vocational competence, it may be vocational, but the very 
same activities undertaken to discover or develop inter- 
ests and abilities or to enrich living, become essentially non- 

Every subject of instruction and every daily lesson may 
relate to occupational activities the linguistic, mathe- 
matical, scientific, and social as well as the musical, artistic, 
homemaking, agricultural, and industrial studies. More- 


over, each may contribute a significant share to general 
education as a wholeJEvery subject is also, at some stage, 
a tryout of the interests and abilities of students. An eve- 
ning course, designed primarily to train workers in certain 
occupational skills, may be pursued by some students as 
a recreational activity, in which latter cases it is essentially 
non-vocational. Again, the prospective teacher of French 
or of drawing studies French or drawing as part of his 
occupational preparation, while other students ordinarily 
aim at enrichment of experience. 

The principle should also be made clear that when 
interests and abilities have been discovered in any field, 
opportunities should be provided for their continuous 
development without excluding other possible or desirable 
Interests or activities. The guidance program should aim 
to plan each pupil's total learning activities in harmony 
with his interests, abilities, and vocational outlook, and to 
provide the necessary safeguards against too early speciali- 
zation on the one hand and dissipation of effort and neglect 
of abilities on the other hand. This planning, it should 
never be forgotten, must be done pupil by pupil. It is not 
an activity suitable for mass action. 

Again, we must remind ourselves that the advance in 
technology in the present century and earlier, the social 
and economic dislocations following the World War, and 
the cataclysmic sweep of the cycle of boom, depression, 
and recovery have brought changes in the social organiza- 
tion which are significant for vocational education. Even 
a brief enumeration of these changes would include: (i) 
the increase of unemployment, particularly in the cities; 
(2) the decreased demand for the gainful labor of children 
and youth, reflected both in employment policies and in 
legislation; (3) delayed entry into full vocational respon- 
sibilities; (4) legislation marking the first steps toward 


social security in old age and in time of unemployment; 
(5) the increasing specialization of many types of trades 
and professions; (6) the mechanization of many agricul- 
tural as well as industrial operations; (7) the increase in 
the gainful employment of women; (8) a decreasing de- 
mand for labor requiring little special training, judgment, 
or manual dexterity and an increasing demand for workers 
with skill, insight, and adaptability; and (9) increasing 
acceptance of public responsibility for the social effective- 
ness of the entire population. 

These social changes confront America with the need 
for informed intelligence and a sense of social responsibility 
as well as vocational adequacy among its people. They do 
not suggest that the schools diminish their energies in voca- 
tional preparation although the period of vocational 
specialization may well be postponed in an increasing num- 
ber of cases until the completion of a general program of 
secondary education. The home and other non-school 
agencies help in supplying vocational needs, but they can- 
not and do not complete the job. Organized education is 
the primary agency which society holds responsible for 
seeing to it that these purposes are realized. The school, the 
only social agency whose sole business is education, com- 
pletes and organizes the work of the other agencies. It 
need not in all cases undertake to do the whole educational 
job. It may do part of the job and attempt to see that the 
rest is done by other agencies. 

The Educated Producer Maintains 
and Improves His Efficiency. 

Perhaps the most significant current development in 
American education is the growing recognition that the 
responsibility of educational agencies for the welfare of 
youth no longer ends with graduation or school leaving. 


The continuous study of the problems of vocational ad- 
justment which confront all youth and, to some degree, 
all adults, in school and out, must continually modify 
educational objectives. The schools and other educational 
agencies should develop attitudes which will lead the 
worker to attempt to improve his vocational fitness through 
constant study of the relationship of his work to that of 
other fields. Technological change indicates the wisdom 
of widespread opportunity for adult vocational training 
and retraining. Workers who, because of technological, 
economic, or accidental reasons, find themselves unem- 
ployed or unemployable must be helped to make a new 
choice of work and to retrain for competency in a new 

The Educated Producer Appreciates 
the Social Value of His WorL 

With proper social motives, a vocation may be made 
the most compelling purpose of education which we can 
set before a pupil. The fundamental subjects of study, 
preparation for home life and .citizenship, applied science 
and mathematics, and practical economics these and 
many other fields when approached from the viewpoint 
of the vocation and its related life often take on a richer 
meaning. On the whole, America has been fortunately free 
from the Old World concept that no "gentleman" can fol- 
low any occupation other than that of scholar, priest, or 
soldier. A democracy will not separate its work and its 
culture. It will not regard one who works as inferior nor 
set false distinctions between occupations. One of the im- 
portant tasks of education is to extend the worker's insight 
into the social utility and significance of his work, the 
scientific background of what he is doing, his relation to 
other workers, and what his work means to other people. 


The vocational life of many persons now includes an 
extremely narrow range of intellectual activity. Until 
more fundamental reforms can be devised and secured, 
society should take steps through its educational agencies 
to ameliorate the undesirable features of this trend. Equally 
desirable with a share in material wealth, is a share in the 
intellectual resources of the world. For this latter field, the 
schools are particularly responsible. Vocational education 
in a democracy should stress the contribution of the occu- 
pation to the social welfare and temper the all too common 
use of personal pecuniary advantage as the primary ob- 
jective of learning. 


The Educated Consumer Plans the 
Economics of His Own Life. 

The economic security of many people is highly tenuous. 
Disability, the cost of medical care, unpredictable losses 
of savings, incomes insufficient to provide a reasonable 
living standard, irregular employment, and complete un- 
employment are factors which interfere with the best laid 
personal economic plans. Individual action, no matter how 
prudent or industrious, may be quite inadequate to meet 
these hazards to personal economic well-being. These 
larger economic adjustments will need to be made by large- 
scale social and governmental action. The role of the edu- 
cated person in such action may best be considered in con- 
nection with the chapter on "The Objectives of Civic 

Apart from these larger socio-economic adjustments, 
however, there is no inconsiderable area for individual care 
and discrimination in planning and operating the eco- 
nomic phases of life. ,Not all economic insecurity is due 
to unemployment and illness. Foolish spending which yields 


no enduring satisfactions or advantages, general gullibility 
and thriftlessness, gambling against odds which can be 
stated only in astronomical terms these undermine eco- 
nomic security and efficiency at all income levels and among 
all sorts of people. The educated consumer budgets his 
expenditures in the light of good principles as adjusted to 
his own particular circumstances and financial ability. He 
has learned that small expenditures, constantly repeated, 
mount to large totals. He knows that all borrowing costs 
the borrower money, and sometimes exorbitantly so. He 
knows that instalment buying is a form of borrowing. 
He can balance a checkbook. He buys no gold-bricks. 
He uses good sense in his savings and understands the rela- 
tive advantages of banks, insurance, credit unions, the 
postal savings system, government securities, and the vari- 
ous types of business investments as a means of developing 
and utilizing his reserves. Through such means, the edu- 
cated consumer has learned to exercise the highest possible 
degree of economic self -responsibility. 

The Educated Consumer Develops Standards 
for Guiding His Expenditures. 

The individual judgments and preferences of the buyer, 
weighted in our economy by monetary incomes, determine 
the uses to which natural resources and human energies 
are put. To the extent that there is ignorance of need and 
undesirable standards, there will be discrepancy between 
effective demand and the line of general advantage in 
terms of health, vigor, beauty, creative activities, and 
similar values. Productive energy is misdirected on a grand 
scale by unwise consumer judgments. 

The consumer's education should seek to improve his 
scale of preferences by leading him to evaluate his own 
standards. Consumers should be acquainted, therefore, 
with the most important conclusions of science and ex- 


perience about liuman needs and the means of meeting 
them. Those tastes should be cultivated that are the source 
of esthetic enjoyment and the development of those arts 
and aptitudes that recreate, enrich experience, and widen 
the outlook. At this point of special need in our society 
our educational program is weak. Those whose knowledge 
is deficient should be familiarized with the most desirable 
consumption patterns. This democratization of high-level 
consumption is a part of the mass education necessary in 
an equalitarian society. A simplification of living or devia- 
tion from the approved pattern based on ignorance is not 
the same as simplicity or deviation based on deliberate 
preference. As a basis for the understanding and appraisal 
of their own standards consumers should be acquainted 
with the social and esthetic value of other culture groups, 
past and present. Attention should be given to the psy- 
chology of choice; current consumption standards should 
be analyzed and an attempt made to understand and evalu- 
ate the forces that have shaped and are now shaping them. 
Independence of judgment and discrimination in making 
consumption choices are especially to be fostered since in 
this realm blind obedience to custom and slavish deference 
to the opinion of others are so characteristic. 

Education for consumption with the objective outlined 
above obviously cannot be limited to one sex; nor can it 
without grave hazards be entrusted to those interested in 
guiding demand for their own financial advantage. Clearly 
also this education cannot be attained through the study 
of a single field of knowledge. 

The Educated Consumer Is an 
Informed and Skillful Buyer. 

An important role of the consumer in our society, or of 
an unpaid family member to whom the responsibility is 

[ 103 ] 

delegated, is that of buyer. We are here concerned not with 
directing wants but with their economical satisfaction 
through market selection. Concretely, the consumer at- 
tains this end gets the maximum amount of what he 
wants for his money only when he selects the best goods 
available at a particular price or when he gets an article 
of specified quality at the lowest price available. Thus, 
although there is some relationship, education of the con- 
sumer for buying is obviously a different matter from 
education to form values, to elevate tastes or stimulate 
new interests and desires. 

Education for buying is not so difficult a task or so far- 
reaching in its scope as the education of the consumer as 
choice-maker. More fundamental than the economical 
satisfaction of wants is their shaping and direction. The 
former is, however, a necessity if great economic wastes 
are to be avoided. Consumer-buying is now a haphazard 
process characterized by mistakes and losses that can be 
corrected only by market changes and by education of the 
buyer. Here are involved questions of prices and price 
changes, quality, quantity, adulteration, substitution of 
one commodity for another, fashion and style, instalment 
buying, and "sales resistance." 

An educational program, designed to increase the buyer's 
efficiency, should begin with knowledge of what goods 
are available in the market. The buyer must learn what 
specific qualities to seek and what to avoid in these goods. 
He must discover in other words what makes an article 
good and what makes it bad for bis purposes. So far as 
the qualities or quantity of specific goods are made known 
by means of a standardized nomenclature, the buyer must 
know the meaning of such terms. The buyer must know 
not only the goods he is buying but the market in which 
he buys. The educational program organized for his benefit 
should, therefore, give him understanding of marketing 

[ 104 ] 

agencies and their operation. He should understand the 
pricing process under various conditions; he should be 
familiar with selling methods; he should be able to evaluate 
sales talk, price policies, and market arrangements in 

Since buying is today so largely in the hands of women, 
education for buying should especially be emphasized in 
all educational programs constructed with their special 
needs in mind. Education for buying may be considered 
as a major part of the vocational training typically, but 
not exclusively, needed by women under the current di- 
vision of labor in the home. 

The Educated Consumer Takes Appropriate 
Measures to Safeguard His Interests. 

Finally, the intelligent buyer would know his legal reme- 
dies in case of injury to health or purse and be familiar with 
the special protection given by state or federal statutes or 
local ordinances. He should be able to evaluate the ade- 
quacy of his legal protection and know what changes are 
desirable. He should know which legislative measures pro- 
posed would be to his interests and which would be against 
them. He should join with other consumers in bringing 
about necessary protective legislation. He should learn the 
advantages and disadvantages of joining with other con- 
sumers for the cooperative purchase of goods, for securing 
impartial advice on the relative merits of different brands 
and makes, and for securing legislation which is in the 
interest of consumers generally. 

In all of the aspects of consumer education, sales pro- 
motion is today the dominant educative (or mis-educative) 
force. This force, by the very circumstances of its exist- 
ence, is in the hands of personally interested parties who 
must seek to create effective and continuing demand for 


their goods or services. Advertising should, of course, be 
truthful but, even if misleading or "false" advertising were 
completely eliminated, the need for consumer education 
would not be met. Information and skill in choosing and 
buying are as important as information and skill in pro- 
ducing and selling. Consumer education is a universal 
need; it should be provided for all through the schools and 
not left to accidental learning* 

(^_.A ^TTA A^ 


Social Justice, The educated citizen is sensitive to the 
disparities of human circumstance. 

Social Activity. The educated citizen acts to correct 
unsatisfactory conditions. 

Social Understanding. The educated citizen seeks to 
understand social structures and social processes. 

Critical Judgment. The educated citizen has defenses 
against propaganda. 

Tolerance. The educated citizen respects honest dif- 
ferences of opinion. 

Conservation. The educated citizen has a regard for 
the nation's resources. 

Social Applications of Science. The educated citizen 
measures scientific advance by its contribution 
to the general welfare. 

World Citizenship. The educated citizen is a co- 
operating member of the world community. 

Law Observance. The educated citizen respects the 

Economic Literacy. The educated citizen is economi- 
cally literate. 

Political Citizenship. The educated citizen accepts his 
civic duties. 

Devotion to Democracy. The educated citizen acts 
upon an unswerving loyalty to democratic 



OUT country -might conceivably be overwhelmed 
by superior military force, but our democracy will 
never be imperiled by outside attacks. Democracy 
is always weakened from within. Only its own feeble- 
ness or complacency destroys it. We in Europe see 
more clearly than you that democracy dies from lack 
of discipline, unwillingness to compromise, group 
pressure, corruption, usurpation of public power be- 
cause the public h greedy or indifferent. It dies unless 
it draws life from- every citizen. Denouncing dictators 
gets nowhere. The job of those who believe in the 
democratic process is to be positive, not negative, to 
build it up, expose and correct its mistakes, keep it 

A statement from Czechoslovakia published 
in the New York Times, September 25, 1937. 

The Educated Citizen Is Sensitive to 
the Disparities of Human Circumstance. 

It is of peculiar importance that all the citizens of a 
democracy become aware of the extraordinary range of 
conditions under which men live. Most of us look at society 
with a lens of exceedingly short focus. What lies at a dis- 
tance is invisible to us or is recognized only dimly. The 
area within which the educated individual ''has a feel" for 
the experience of others has been greatly expanded. What 
is it like to be a farm laborer? a textile factory operative? 
a rolling mill hand? What is involved in living for years 
at the bottom? What is It like to live in a slum area? to 
survive a flood? to come through a dust storm? What does 
it mean to rise from the bottom? Vivid records of these 


and a host of other human experiences can be brought to 
the attention of young people through the schools. Excur- 
sions to situations within reach of the schools can be used 
to good effect. Film material will probably in time serve 
the same purpose and bring both nearby and remote en- 
vironments before the eyes of children and youths. Litera- 
ture, too, affords excellent opportunity for vicarious shar- 
ing in the experiences of others. Of course,, undue strain 
on youthful emotions is to be avoided, but properly safe- 
guarded, the task can be carried through without hazard. 

The Educated Citizen Acts To Correct 
Unsatisfactory Conditions. 

In the light of democratic ideals, current conditions 
appear to be far from satisfactory. If the result of sensitiz- 
ing the student to the social situation is merely acute obser- 
vation or pointless curiosity or a vague sympathy, not 
enough has been accomplished. A broad, expanding, and 
active humanitarianism should be the personal possession 
of all. Fortunately, among children and adolescents, sym- 
pathies run strong and the desire to do good is readily 
elicited. The schools should seek to give concrete exercise 
to these feelings and impulses on the level of the young 
people involved. Of course, sentimentality has to be avoided. 
It is one thing to wish to relieve human distress; it is some- 
thing else to devise measures of relief that are constructive. 

The Educated Citizen Seeks To Understand 
Social Structures and Social Processes. 

With the experts the economists, political scientists, 
sociologists, and the rest disagreeing in their interpreta- 
tions of social phenomena, the path of the educator under- 
taking to deal with social activity is a thorny one. That 


the social sciences are still in an early stage of development 
must be frankly recognized. Furthermore, differences in 
opinion on social issues arise not alone from the lack of 
knowledge and the other difficulties of scientific inquiry, 
but even more from the differing sets of values which, 
perhaps unknown even to himself, each student brings to 
the study of social problems. Making appropriate allow- 
ances, however, for inherent difficulties and limitations, 
something substantial can be done in giving young people 
a more adequate knowledge than they now have of the 
nature of the society in which they live. Differences be- 
tween wishful and realistic thinking can be exposed, and 
the stubbornness of social facts, the momentum of social 
processes, and the inertia of social institutions brought 
pointedly home. 

The Educated Citizen Has "Defenses 
Against Propaganda. 

The reporting of social events is characteristically loose 
and inaccurate, even when not purposely colored or dis- 
honest. Let the students find out how well-nigh Impossible 
it is to ascertain just what happens in the course of a labor 
dispute. Let them follow, through a variety of journals of 
differing economic and political attitudes, the day-to-day 
record of the occurrences in a local strike. The typical con- 
flict of testimony of eye-witnesses, say of an automobile 
accident, should be critically examined. The arts of propa- 
ganda and of modern advertising should be made known. 
The time has come to equip the individual citizen in the 
democratic state with reasonable defenses against the pres- 
sures of mass thinking and feeling exerted nowadays 
through bill-board and poster, press, radio, and film. A 
healthy measure of skepticism about social data should 
reinforce an aggressive search for reliable information in 


the training of youth for more effective participation in 
democratic ways of living. 

The Educated Citizen Respects 
Differences of Opinion. 

Even when it is possible to locate all pertinent facts and 
to agree concerning these facts, social situations still suggest 
to different persons a wide variety of practical, and yet 
often sharply conflicting, measures. Tolerance is, of course, 
one of the hallmarks of the truly democratic society, and 
lack of tolerance one of the sharply distinguishing traits of 
the authoritarian state. Tolerance does not imply an 
absence of belief and conviction; in fact, were there no 
conflicting beliefs and convictions it would be impossible 
to exhibit tolerance. Certainly it is clear that no democratic 
society can afford to purchase tolerance at the cost of clear 
and confident thinking on the part of its citizens. Young 
people in the schools need to be taught to reach their own 
opinions and within reason to hold to them, at the same 
time accepting the fact that others are entitled to differing 
opinions honestly reached and similarly defended. 

The Educated Citizen Has a Regard 
for the Nation's Resources. 

Our national life and culture and, indeed, our very ex- 
istence depend in the last analysis upon the availability of 
essential natural resources and the use which is made of 
them. Forests, soils, grasslands, water, minerals, oil, fish, 
game, and scenic beauty are among the rich natural endow- 
ments of the area of the North American continent covered 
by the United States. Realization of the basic importance 
of these resources, determination to utilize them for the 
common good through long-range planning, and general 


knowledge of appropriate remedial and preventive con- 
servation procedures are among the marks of the educated 
citizen. Since future welfare and safety depend on those 
things, the schools may well assume considerable responsi- 
bility for checking the ravages upon the heritage of the 
nation made by ignorance, indifference, carelessness, and 
unbridled selfishness. Instruction should include conserva- 
tion problems of national and regional scope and may be 
most effective if organized in connection with the teaching 
of the natural sciences and the social studies at all levels of 
the school program. The school system will find cordial 
allies in this task in many departments of local, state, and 
federal government, and in many private agencies. In 
passing, it may be noted that there is need for materials on 
conservation which are written in a style suited to children 
and which are impartial and accurate. Reports of govern- 
mental and private investigations frequently meet the 
second criterion but seldom satisfy the first. Suitable ma- 
terials on conservation should be included in standard text- 
books and in other publications for use by children. 

The Educated Citizen Measures Scientific 
Advance by Its Contribution to the 
General Welfare. 

We have seen in an earlier chapter how the application of 
science and invention to problems of industrial production, 
medicine, and human relationship has revolutionized our 
social and cultural customs and standards. Yet science in 
itself is entirely indifferent to moral values. Thanks to the 
discoveries and applications of science, electricity can be 
manufactured, stored, harnessed, and transported over 
hundreds of miles of wire. And at the end of that journey 
it will with perfect neutrality speed a streamlined train, 
light a scholar's desk, electrocute a criminal, operate a lif e- 


saving pulmotor, or burn the toast. Again, the intricate 
chain of scientific discovery and invention which involves 
the manufacture of paper and ink, the linotype, and the 
great printing presses will place in our hands with, equal 
indifference the finest literature or the veriest trash, the 
honest conclusions of the scholar or the most poisonous 
propaganda. The methods and findings of science, then, 
seek with considerable success to ignore ethical judgments. 
But the applications of science to the needs and desires of 
man are entirely subject to social and individual control. 

Science instruction has been too largely concerned with 
attempting to produce scientists rather than with produc- 
ing citizens who have an intelligent understanding of the 
methods, significance, and application of science, and who 
are determined that science shall function in the improve- 
ment of the everyday life of the people. The teacher of 
English literature, even at the college level, rarely cherishes 
the illusion that he is making novelists, poets, and drama- 
tists. Science too is, for the mass of the people, a cultural 
subject. The emphasis should be placed upon the past and 
possible future applications of science to increase the well- 
being of mankind. 

The Educated Citizen Is a Cooperating 
Member of the World Community. 

Modern conditions of national interdependence make 
membership in the world community inescapable. Educa- 
tion should make that membership cooperative and con- 
structive. Education which develops a rational and sympa- 
thetic attitude toward other nations and their problems is 
education of a highly patriotic type. A teacher who finds 
it advisable to create suspicion and hatred of other nations, 
as a basis for love of one's own country is exhibiting a social 
consciousness which is too narrow for the demands of the 

twentieth century. The problem here is greater than vigor- 
ous education against war. Even the achievement of peace 
is not a final goaL Thoughtful persons throughout the 
world agree in desiring peace, not merely for its own sake 
but also because the necessary conditions for human happi- 
ness and development can be attained only under a peaceful 

Deep-seated political, racial, religious, and economic 
controversies now prevent the attainment of international 
peace. These problems can be adjusted only under condi- 
tions of tolerance, fair play, and democracy. To develop 
these attitudes so that they function in international affairs 
is an important function of education. 

Much attention is now very properly centered on the 
role of the school in restoring reason and peace to the place 
of honor in international affairs. Much is already being done 
to acquaint pupils with the nature of existing machinery 
for international relations and with the truths of national 
history. The contributions of the various races and nations 
to civilization and culture, the sufferings and moral degra- 
dations brought about by war, and the superior value and 
importance of the arts of peace are subjects considered 
in many schoolrooms. All this is wholesome and should be 

The Educated Citizen Respects the Law. 

All laws and other governmental controls are properly 
established by the people and their duly chosen representa- 
tives and are subject to popular review and revision. Cer- 
tain essential rights of minorities are recognized and appeals 
for protection may be carried to the courts if these rights 
are invaded. Obedience to constituted authority, as mani- 
fested in law, is a necessary element in a well-ordered 
society. Disobedience and disrespect for law, on the other 


Hand, are symptoms either of indifference to the welfare 
of others or of distrust of democratic processes. As com- 
pared with other countries, we are a lawbreaking, though 
by no means a lawless, nation. Many factors have been 
suggested as causes for the relatively high crime rates in this 
country* Whatever the cause, the schools should attempt 
through instruction and organization to develop an under- 
standing of the nature of law and of its role in human 
affairs, to promote habits of willing and intelligent obedi- 
ence, and to create an attitude of respect for law and an 
appreciation of the inherent dignity of the law-abiding 
citizen in a democracy. 

Such a program does not commit the schools to an en- 
dorsement of every law on the statute books, but it does 
suggest that every citizen owes obedience even to laws of 
which he does not approve* His remedy is not to flout the 
law but to seek to change it. And a democratic government 
permits him to do this if he can convince others that such 
change would be in the interest of the general welfare. 

The Educated Citizen Is Economically 

Government has always been closely related to economic 
problems. Whether or not that relationship is becoming 
closer with the passage of time, it is certainly true that the 
major problems of public life have important economic 
aspects. The issues upon which elections turn, the questions 
which agitate the public mind, the problems debated by 
legislative bodies, and the agenda of public officers, are 
very frequently economic in origin. The citizen of a de- 
mocracy, therefore, needs to acquire the information, the 
experience, and the willingness to deal constructively with 
collective economic problems. Each needs also informa- 

tion, experience, and motivation to maintain his own eco- 
nomic contribution at a high level. 

The person who is economically literate has found out 
by direct or vicarious experience, that wealth is produced 
by work; that goods and services usually vary greatly in 
quality; that some advertising is truthful, some false, and 
all of it interested first of all in selling goods, services, or 
ideas; that collective expenditures, in cooperatives or in 
public finance, for example, may be either good or bad 
depending on the attendant circumstances; that getting 
something for nothing, through gambling in any of its 
forms, always means that the other fellow gets nothing for 
something; that every dollar spent is an economic ballot 
voting for necessities or for trash; that war is uneconomic 
because it uses natural resources to destroy human 
resources; and that individual economic advancement 
through deceit or exploitation of others is unworthy of 
an honest man. 

The citizen who is economically literate is acquainted 
with certain broad economic issues, conditions, and pro- 
cedures. He has become familiar through frequent usage 
with currently important economic concepts, with the 
ideas of supply and demand, investment and profit, capital 
and labor, scarcity and abundance, monopoly, the market, 
wages and prices. He is informed concerning the principal 
economic developments under public auspices, such as the 
Tennessee Valley power projects and the Social Security 
laws. He sees these trends and conditions in the light of 
their historic antecedents. He knows certain facts which 
are crucial to the economic lif e of the country its basic 
physical and human resources, its potential and actual pro- 
ductivity, the distribution of incomes and wealth, and the 
degree of concentration or dispersal of ownership and man- 
agement. Only as a growing degree of competence and 


interest in these matters is diffused among the people can 
democracy function in the teeth of technological change. 

The Educated Citizen Accepts His Civic Duties. 

Every American citizen lives under at least three govern- 
ments: local, state, and national. This arrangement in itself 
makes for complexity. The attempted readjustments of 
our political arrangements to a highly industrialized civili- 
zation have rapidly increased this complexity during the 
past quarter of a century. 

It can no longer be accepted as a truism that the person 
who is a good citizen in his local community is automati- 
cally qualified for citizenship in the state or the nation. The 
requirements for the latter have grown to include a broad 
knowledge of national political affairs and the ability to 
exercise reliable judgment on problems which have their 
source far from the home community. 

Thus, more and more knowledge must go into the equip- 
ment of the educated and intelligent voter. The fact that 
thirty million qualified voters do not exercise their fran- 
chise, even in the most exciting elections, certainly indicates 
a potential danger. It is even more alarming when voters 
are ignorant of the issues at stake. All too many of these, 
latter have been persuaded to come to the polls with a feel- 
ing that their duty is done when they vote, no matter how 
little civic information and intelligence support their 

An urgent responsibility of the schools, then, is to lead 
the young citizens of America to discover the knowledge, 
and the means of obtaining the knowledge, which will 
enable them to discharge their duties intelligently. In order 
to do this they will need, among other things, to study all 
forms of government and economy, the advantages and 
disadvantages of each, honestly comparing one with an- 


other. And this judgment has been rendered essential not 
only by the complexity of the situation but also by the 
efforts made by propagandists to take advantage of the 
present confusion. 

But the interests of the school do not end with knowl- 
edge. The next step is to create the desire to act upon the 
judgments which the learners have made. Knowledge is 
power only as it is translated into action. Furthermore, 
knowledge alone does not lead to right action. For example, 
knowledge of human nature is invaluable to teachers and 
ministers in helping them to render better services, but it is 
just as useful to the confidence man, the pick-pocket, or the 
purveyor of falsehood. 

The emotional side cannot be neglected, but its education 
is a process which requires the utmost care. It is a matter 
of greatest moment that feelings have their source in the 
individual's tempered judgment, rather than in the notions 
and prejudices of some organization or person. It is essential 
that future citizens learn that the means for solving the 
many distressing social problems of today must be the means 
of democracy: discussion, action through legally-provided 
channels, change of present governmental machinery when 
such change becomes necessary to progress. Force, craft, 
bribery, threats, and appeals to emotion are processes of 
dictatorship in no way effective in the maintenance of a 
democratic form of government. 

The citizens of the future need to develop keen judg- 
ment in political matters in order to distinguish between 
those who would maintain democracy through democratic 
processes and those who are endeavoring to destroy its 
spirit, while they burn incense on the most conspicuous 
altars to the word itself. Governmental problems and the 
broader problems of society require calm reasoning, not 
hysteria, for their solution. Those who frantically rush to 
"give their lives'* for a particular ideology, would many 


times make a greater contribution to the general welfare 
if they but gave of their thinking and their time instead. 
Devotion may result in unwarranted sacrifice, and still fail 
to accomplish the desired ends. 

In addition to voting, and voting with a ballot charged 
with good intentions, sound reasoning, and basic informa- 
tion, there are other civic responsibilities for which the 
schools should prepare the present and rising generations. 
One of the most important of these relates to the support 
of public activities in those spheres where private activity 
is not at least equally efficient and productive. The opera- 
tion of the postal system, for example, is one among many 
accepted public responsibilities. The questions are always 
open, however, as to whether other services might not be 
added to those presently discharged by governmental agen- 
cies and whether, on the contrary, the government is per- 
forming services which might be better handled by private 

The consideration of such questions is a necessary ac- 
tivity of an educated citizen and his schooling should fit 
him to engage in it. He should learn that there is nothing 
inherently bad or inherently virtuous in expanded govern- 
mental services; he should understand the circumstances 
in modern social life which have brought about the exten- 
sion of governmental functions and which make further 
extension probable in the future; he should be quick to 
devise methods for utilizing public action in the public 
interest; and finally he should understand that the process 
of taxation according to ability to pay is the means by 
which all of us, working together, produce services and 
benefits needed by all which each of us working alone 
might not be able to create or enjoy. 

There are other rights and responsibilities with which the 
educated citizen of democracy should be acquainted; for 
example, a general but not of course detailed or technical 


knowledge of his rights and responsibilities before the law 
as plaintiff, defendant, witness, and juryman. The list of 
specific civic responsibilities might be further extended 
but the three that have been mentioned intelligent and 
socially-minded voting, an appreciation of governmental 
services, and a layman's knowledge of the law appear to 
be outstanding needs at the present time. 

The Educated Citizen Acts upon an Unswerving 
Loyalty to Democratic Ideals. 

As a people we have come to take our civic privileges all 
too lightly. We have no vivid impressions of how we should 
be individually affected if our heritage of civil liberties were 
lost. We need to be aware of what would happen to educa- 
tion, for example, if American democracy should be de- 
stroyed. For liberty to think there would soon be substi- 
tuted the imposition of approved ideas; for unhampered 
judgment, parrot-like repetition of the judgments of 
others; for freedom to examine facts and draw the con- 
clusions demanded by intellectual honesty, the acceptance 
of the whims and prejudices of the party in power. 

Most of us have little notion of the century-long struggle 
through which our present privileges were won. It is high 
time that the drama of this historic record be presented 
adequately in our schools. No stone should be left unturned 
in the effort to give youth a full realization of what democ- 
racy means, of the privileges which it affords, of the ways 
and means through which, with work and patience, it is to 
be more successfully achieved. 

It is important, too, that loyalty to the democratic ideal 
and appreciation of its possibilities be supported by an 
acute awareness of the factors which threaten it. Although 
these factors are not easily identified, certain items would 
be included in any comprehensive list. 


First, the aggressiveness of the authoritarian states as well 
as other conditions are creating international tensions which 
threaten to bring about war. And, as has already been 
pointed out, war is poisonous to democracy. Second, our 
inadequate control of the application of science and tech- 
nology has permitted great concentration of economic 
power, has destroyed morale and brought about prolonged 
depressions, widespread unemployment, and other social 
ills. These conditions are accompanied by unrest, insecurity, 
and general dissatisfaction. Another factor which threatens 
democracy is the weakening of religious convictions and of 
moral codes without the development of adequate ethical 
controls to take their place. Again, democracy is always in 
danger when government shows itself incapable of meeting 
justifiable human needs or when leadership in public affairs 
tends to express the momentary popular fancy or selfish 
minority interests. 

There is also a threat to democracy in that naive equali- 
tarianism which refuses to recognize and act upon the in- 
dubitable fact that individual human beings differ greatly 
from one another in important respects. Whether one be- 
lieves that these differences are inborn or acquired may 
modify one's opinion as to how they should be treated, but 
under any circumstances it is both futile and dangerous to 
deny their present existence. Democracy is endangered also 
by the resort to force and violence in the settlement of 
controversial issues, with the accompanying decay of the 
ability and willingness to think dispassionately. Private 
control of police and military power and the open violation 
of law with impunity are examples of conditions which 
elsewhere have led to the downfall of democracy. Democ- 
racy must meet conditions created by modern propaganda 
which, without control and in the hands of a large number 
of minority pressure groups, threatens to destroy even the 
semblance of social unity. With these new tools of propa- 


ganda the demagog is given new weapons. In the absence of 
a well-informed public opinion he may advocate policies 
which are popular without regard for the possibility of 
achieving them. By reaching large audiences in effective 
ways, he may lead many people to accept proposals which 
he, himself, knows are entirely impossible or inexpedient. 
A highly complex society which tends to distract the inter- 
ests of men and women from civic and social questions is 
obviously difficult to operate in a democratic manner. 
Finally, we may mention a factor which is, to a degree, an 
outcome of all that have been mentioned the lack of social 
discipline and unwillingness of many individuals to accept 
their just responsibilities for the social welfare. An ignorant 
people, who lack access to the facts on social issues or who 
lack an appreciation of democratic values, is perhaps the 
greatest danger to democracy. An intelligent understand- 
ing of these dangers should accompany and intensify loyalty 
to democracy as a way of life. 

Let it not be thought that responsibility for the attain- 
ment of the objectives here described devolves solely upon 
the social studies. The entire curriculum, the entire life of 
the school, in fact, should be a youthful experience in 
democratic living, quickening social inventiveness and agi- 
tating the social conscience. So are citizens for the demo- 
cratic state successfully educated. 



To reshape reality by means of ideas is the business 
of -man, his proper earthly task; and nothing can be 
impossible to a will confident of itself and of its aim. 


The purposes of education proposed in this report 'are 
not offered as a complete solution of the problems of Ameri- 
can democracy. The results achieved, even by the best 
schools today, doubtless fall somewhat short of the objec- 
tives we have hopefully proposed. Many schools in which 
these goals would be readily accorded lip-service may ac- 
tually, though unwittingly, seek very different objectives, 
perhaps even objectives of a directly opposing nature. As 
in other periods and places, a gap forms between the ideal 
and the accomplishment; a disturbing contrast arises be- 
tween accepted aims and their attainment in practice. 

Many Factors Condition the Success 
of Education. 

The chief function of this final chapter is to show tljfe 
relation between some of the everyday problems of tfie 
schools and the objectives proposed in the preceding sec- 
tions. For this reason, frank and realistic treatment has 
been attempted. In addition, this chapter may serve in a 
measure as an overview of the program of the Educational 
Policies Commission. 

In general, three groups of conditioning factors limit 
the school's effectiveness in reaching its objectives: (i) the 


Inherent quality of the human stock which is to be edu- 
cated, (2) the effects of other educative and maleducative 
agencies outside the schools, and (3) the efficiency of the 
schools themselves. The existence of factors which condi- 
tion the success of the schools should not harass or discour- 
age those responsible for improvement. Every hindrance 
to ideal educational progress enlarges the opportunity of 
the school. 


Variations Exist in the Human Material 
To Be Educated. 

The school works with human beings. The native and 
acquired abilities or disabilities in the individuals whom the 
school is attempting to serve constitute not only the basis 
of progress, but also stubborn limitations to effective educa- 
tional and social progress. No matter how skillfully the 
work may be done, there are limits to the adaptations which 
the school at present can bring about in the capacities, the 
information, the habits, and the dispositions of the indi- 
vidual learner. Many children have inherited or acquired 
handicaps which, however proficiently the school may 
work, interfere with the realization of educational pur- 

The Schools Must Begin with 
Children as They Are. 

It would, no doubt, be gratifying to teachers of music, 
for instance, if every child would learn to appreciate and 
understand to the full the intricate beauties of symphonic 
music. Every teacher of English literature would be pleased 
to find all of his pupils able to read with pleasure and under- 
standing the more difficult essays, poems, and plays. Every 

[ 126 ] 

teacher of economics would, no doubt, like to help every 
child to secure a complete understanding of the various 
theories of money and banking. Every teacher of indus- 
trial arts would be pleased to find each pupil sufficiently 
equipped with manual dexterity to learn to do highly 
skilled work in that field. 

Some few children are so intellectually gifted, so estheti- 
cally sensitive, or so apt in manual skills that they seem 
scarcely to need either school or teacher. The democratic 
ideal requires that no pains be spared to offer a rich and 
significant educational program to these gifted children, 
to the end that their learning shall have maximum value. 

Other children are dull, unresponsive, or clumsy. The 
process of education is difficult for them and for their 
teachers. Yet these children, too, must be served by the 
schools in the interest of the democracy to which the Ameri- 
can people rightfully aspire. Although not all learners can 
attain to the educational aims set up as desirable, the aims 
must be maintained in the interest of all, including those 
unable to reach them completely. Otherwise there can be 
no social direction for the guidance of this agency of 

A condition which often prevents the application of this 
philosophy is overemphasis on marks and promotions from 
grade to grade. These devices can do great damage to edu- 
cation if they are regarded by teachers and children as ends 
in themselves. 

The Objectives of Education Are Goals 
To Be Approximated. 

Education hitches its wagon to a star. It hopes, aspires, 
and struggles. The democratic theory of social life presup- 
poses that every child and every other member of society 
must have at least some degree of capacity for improve- 


ment and growth. That capacity, however large or small 
it may be for any given individual, is the fulcrum for the 
lifting power of democracy. The purposes of education 
might perhaps be called "directives" more appropriately 
than "objectives," although the latter word is sanctioned 
by long usage. These purposes indicate the direction toward 
which growth should occur. Failure to reach a particular 
end-point with perfection by every child does not consti- 
tute failure of the school or of the democratic ideal. Failure 
comes only when no progress is made. 

Once these concepts of approximation and direction are 
grasped, the deficiencies in human material change in sig- 
nificance. If children are less gifted, in one way or another, 
than we could desire, we may be satisfied with a delayed and 
approximate attainment of the objectives. But such approx- 
imation is not to be regarded as a weak surrender of ideals 
to practical demands. On the contrary, to make the ability 
of the learner and the efficiency of the school as great as 
possible is the practical means by which our ideals may be 
approached. It is firmly believed that the objectives pro- 
posed in this report could be closely approximated by prac- 
tically all boys and girls, provided the maleducative influ- 
ences of life outside the schools could be decreased. 


The Cultural Environment Conditions 
the Success of Education. 

Among all the factors which affect the efficiency of edu- 
cation, none is more powerful or more subtle in operation 
than the climate of ideas and customs in which we live. 
Some of these cultural surroundings may actually hinder 
the attainment of the goals proposed for education. The en- 


vironment of ideas, folk- ways, and social customs, though 
often unobstrusive and unrecognized, must be given due 
consideration in considering the attainment of educational 
purposes. It must be recognized at the same time that this 
environment is itself undergoing a continuing change due 
to educational efforts and due to changes in the physical 

On each child and adult conflicting loyalities pull and 
tug, coloring outlooks and directing behavior. The school 
itself shares in these tensions and is, in a sense, a party to the 
conflict. For example, the viewpoint prevails quite widely 
that it is the prerogative of the state to prescribe the school 
program and to determine its purposes and that the proper 
loyalty of a teacher is to the state and to the political repre- 
sentatives of the state. This view which is openly asserted 
by totalitarian governments, nevertheless commands a 
considerable uncritical following in democracies as well. 
The viewpoint postulated in this report and in other 
pronouncements of the Educational Policies Commission, 
namely, that the responsibility of teachers is to the truth 
and to the promotion of the general welfare through the 
use of the truth, has not yet been accepted or indeed widely 
understood in democracies or elsewhere. Yet a realistic 
attempt to determine whether a given series of educational 
purposes can be attained must recognize that there will be 
serious opposition unless the prevailing concept of educa- 
tion to the state is profoundly modified. The new concept 
must be accepted in more than theory. The society con- 
cerned must vigorously act upon it. 

This is perhaps the most striking of many illustrations 
which might be given concerning the effect of the uninsti- 
tutionalized, ideological factors which condition the suc- 
cess of an educational program. 


Schools Often Compete with Maledncative Forces. 

Most children are under the direct control and influence 
of the school for a relatively brief period of time. Ordi- 
narily, a child does not enter school until six years of life 
have been completed. Those first years may be lived under 
varying conditions. They may be marked by happiness and 
abundance or by misery and squalor. However spent, these 
years are probably the most important ones, educationally, 
of the entire life-span. 

Once in school, the average American child now attends 
for about ten years. The youth of twenty-one, therefore, 
has probably been out of school for more years of his life 
than he has been in school. Furthermore, school "y ears " are 
not years by the calendar. Only in the larger .cities is the 
school open for as much as fifty percent of the days of the 
year; and in the smaller cities and rural districts school 
terms of five months or less are still quite common. Nor 
does the child attend the school all the time it is open. The 
schools of the United States were in session, on the average, 
about 172 days in 1934, but the actual attendance of each 
pupil was only for 146 days. Finally, the school "day" in- 
cludes only six hours or so out of the twenty-four. The 
average American child probably attends school for some- 
thing less than 9,000 hours all told. 

During the many hours when the child is not in school a 
variety of educational forces are playing upon him. Some of 
these forces are distantly related to the objectives of the 
school; some have similar or identical objectives; some have 
objectives which are directly opposite to those which are 
approved by the school. The educative forces of society 
outside the school, therefore, occupy an important position 
in the control of educational progress. 

The school undertakes to teach correct speaking; many 
homes and neighborhoods teach just the opposite. The school 


teaches respect for human life, safety, and happiness; many 
social practices (a commercialized automobile race or par- 
tial enforcement of traffic laws, for example) teach the 
opposite. The school teaches healthful living; the incomes 
available to many American families compel a low standard 
of living which is detrimental to health. The school praises 
literary excellence; outside the school children are bom- 
barded with printed pulp which debases their speech and 
degrades their tastes. The school teaches respect for law 
and honest government; the practices of corrupt political 
machines teach the opposite. The school teaches temperance 
and moderation in all things, "nothing in excess/' as the 
Greeks taught; unrestrained and untruthful advertising 
(of liquor, for example) and the sequences from some 
modern motion pictures teach the opposite. The school 
teaches democracy; some aspects of life outside and even 
within the school may negate democracy. 

The work of the school must be both reparative and 
developmental with reference to many of the objectives 
proposed. The more time and energy which the school must 
allot to repairing the damage done by other agencies, the 
less emphasis can be placed on positive effort to attain the 
accepted or desirable aims. 

It is a strange paradox that a society should spend billions 
to support a school system dedicated to certain high pur- 
poses and then require it to divert a large part of the money 
in order to repair damages which that society itself en- 
courages or tolerates. It is even stranger that this society, 
and most of the individuals who compose it, sincerely place 
a high value on the happiness and future welfare of children 
while permitting all sorts of harmful conditions to con- 
tinue to destroy the very happiness and welfare so patheti- 
cally coveted for the young. At their best the schools can 
make boys and girls only a little better than their elders. 
Citizens who want young people to assume social respon- 


sibllity cannot look tolerantly on disregard of social re- 
sponsibilities among adults. 

Many Potentially Educative Forces May 
Assist the School. 

Encouraging, however, is the fact that many non-school 
agencies are constructive helpers in the work that the schools 
attempt to do. The objectives of education are cherished 
by such agencies no less than by the schools. Furthermore, 
even the maleducative forces in American society can be 
slowly changed by education itself. Educational gains are 
usually cumulative. Each generation strives to give its chil- 
dren a better preparation for life than its own. 

But optimism and patience are not necessarily associated 
with indifference and inactivity. There are some definite 
things which schools and teachers may do now, day in and 
day out, to improve the quality of human materials and to 
remove maleducative influences from the environment of 
the learner. While the primary contribution of the school 
is its long-range educative service to society, the immediate 
measures available for direct action need not be disregarded. 
A school which makes a careful, scientific study of the 
handicaps and assets of each learner, to the end that he may 
be properly guided, has taken the first step to attainment 
of its objectives. A school which helps parents in their 
homes to do a better job of educating their own children 
will have less to correct. A school which links its efforts to 
those of other like-motived agencies makes all such efforts 
more effective. A school where teachers maintain close con- 
tact with the homes of the children and participate in com- 
munity activities can more readily offset adverse out-of- 
school forces. A school which is a center of wholesome 
recreation and education for an entire neighborhood is al- 
ready doing much to offset undesirable influences. A school 


which can arrange to be open on Saturdays and Sundays, 
in the late afternoons and evenings, as a community center, 
is not only grasping a direct educational opportunity but 
is making all of its "regular '* work more effective by re- 
ducing the effectiveness of opposing forces. 

Frequently parent education is the key to helping the 
child. Units of educational energy spent on parents may 
sometimes go further than the same number of units spent 
on the child. If parent education is effective, it does double 
duty, first to the parent and then to the child. It is the job 
of the home to provide the child with the vitamins of hu- 
man emotional development, with security, affection, and 
the sense of accomplishment. In the event of the failure of 
the community and the home to provide these necessities 
of life, the schools or some other social agency must try to 
compensate for their lack. 2 


The attainment of better schools may require either 
greater knowledge as to the best means of educational 
procedure, or the removal of tradition and inertia which 
prevent change in desirable direction, or, more commonly, 
both of these measures. A few areas in which these require- 
ments exist will be briefly treated. 

Securing an Adequate Number of Competent 
Teachers Is a Critical Problem. 

Qualified teachers are essential. The lack of this asset, 
however, cannot be solved by caustic criticism of those who 
are now teaching in the public schools. After all, every 
state has laws governing the certification of teachers and 

2 The place of the school among the other public social agencies of 
the community is the subject of a separate statement to be issued by 
the Educational Policies Commission. 


the present incumbents have met the requirements of 
those laws. Often, indeed, voluntarily and at no small per- 
sonal sacrifice, they have gone beyond the legally required 
minima. Furthermore, it must be remembered that neither 
the social nor the economic status of the teaching profes- 
sion in general is such as to make it highly attractive to 
many of the more capable young people now preparing 
for their life work. Nearly one-third of the public school 
teachers are paid less than $1,000 a year. The social status 
of the teacher in many small American communities con- 
fers few satisfactions to compensate for the relatively low 
economic status. Under the circumstances it need be no 
occasion for astonishment that thousands of teachers are 
quite unprepared intellectually or professionally to contri- 
bute effectively to worthy educational objectives. Better 
status and better qualifications for teachers must be brought 
about simultaneously and promptly. 

The drag of easy complacency, which makes itself felt 
in all social organizations, penetrates in subtle ways into the 
affairs of the schoolroom. However, it must not be assumed 
that every unfavorable condition existing within the schools 
can be ascribed to the professional staff alone. Many of 
these unfavorable conditions are subject to only limited con- 
trol by the members of the staff. For example, the failure to 
use up-to-date books and teaching equipment hampers the 
work of many schoolrooms. This -may be due to unprogessive 
teaching and administration. In actual fact, however, it is 
more commonly due to the unwillingness of the public to 
provide sufficient funds for the purchase of equipment. 

It is essential that institutions engaged in preparing 
teachers have a vision with regard to educational objectives 
of a depth and breadth at least equal to that of the public 
school systems into which these prospective teachers will 
enter. Institutions for preparing teachers should exhibit 
an unflagging audacity in their leadership. They should be 


the cutting edge for the advance of the public schools. 
There are many existing institutions which meet this re- 
quirement admirably. There are some which fail to meet 
it almost entirely. There are some institutions engaged in 
preparing teachers where the educational philosophy is 
fundamentally different from that upon which the objec- 
tives proposed in this volume rest. If these objectives are 
sound and if the teacher-preparing institutions continue to 
ignore them, teachers prepared in such institutions will have 
to be retrained in a new philosophy on the job with con- 
sequent delay and inefficiency. 

If the objectives of American education are to be at- 
tained, the gaps in what may be called the "social educa- 
tion" of the staff must be narrowed. Creditable work is 
being developed in technical training. But the mechanics 
of educational administration and teaching can be over- 
emphasized at the expense of the underlying social philoso- 
phy. The preparation of educational workers should include 
a broad general education as well as adequate professional 
preparation. The content and scope of the general educa- 
tion should differ very little, if any, from that for other 
well-educated citizens, and should be directed toward sound 
scholarship and a cultural background in the major areas 
of human experience. A community should expect its 
teachers and school officials to be the representative of a 
high level of humane culture. Much of the preparation of 
administrators as well as that of teachers now tends to make 
them provincials in the geography of interests and to nar- 
row rather than broaden their social outlook. The general 
education of any worker in the field of education should 
acquaint him with the various institutions and forces that 
influence modern life and with the dominant current trends 
and issues in the major areas of learning sciences, letters, 
philosophy, sociology, and economics. 


Conditions Surrounding the Administration 
of Education Must Be Improved* 

American education developed in part out of conflicts 
of contending interests. Among these conflicts were those 
which led to the removal of property restrictions on the 
ballot; to the abolition of imprisonment for debt; to the 
improvement of the conditions of workers generally, and 
of women and children especially; to the taxation for school 
support; and to other humanitarian and social reforms. 
Great statesmen have championed the cause of popular 
education in the face of indifference, opposition, or even 
physical danger. The history of education in this country 
is enriched by the story of men and women, apostolic in 
their fervor, tireless in their effort, who took part in these 

With many educational administrators the proper di- 
rection of the public schools continues to be a dedication. 
Their faith and courage and energy have been the principal 
sources from which the democratic theories of public edu- 
cation have sprung into principles and passed into practices 
to become convictions with most of the American people. 
Some of them profess in their work a simple creed. They 
believe that the real values to this world are human values; 
that real gains in civilization are made only through the 
improvement of mankind; that a nation moves forward 
only on the feet of its children; and that the influence of 
great teachers outlives that of kings, politicians, or military 
leaders of their age. The extension of such faith would 
greatly aid education to meet its responsibility in American 

.Not all public school officials represent the best of the 

3 Educational structure and administration have received attention 
from the Educational Policies Commission in: The Structure and Admin- 
istration of Education in American Democracy. Washington, D. C.: the 
Commission, 1938. 128 p. 


profession. Education, like every other human institution, 
has a share of novices and mediocrities. For, although there 
has been improvement in educational administration there 
is much room for more. And with an increase in the interest 
of the public, there will be an increased public demand 
for administrative leaders who are broadly educated and 
genuinely cultivated, inspired by the patriot's dream, and 
qualified to perform their technical tasks wisely and effec- 
tively. At the earliest opportunity the profession should 
establish certain advancing goals for the various types of 
school administrative work. 

Partisan Political Interference Continues 
To Block Educational Progress. 

When partisan political considerations enter the school- 
room door professional management soon flies out of the 
window. The majority of the chief state school officers are 
still elected upon political ballot; many others hold office 
on conditions which involve partisan political considera- 
tions. The county school superintendency in most states re- 
mains definitely a political office with minimum attention 
to professional qualifications. When school administrators 
are chosen on such a basis they are definitely identified with 
partisan politics and are often bound by party pledges. The 
proper duties of such educational officials require natural 
abilities, educational and professional training, and other 
qualities which are only rarely reconciled with those quali- 
ties which usually commend men to political bosses. The 
immediate removal of all forms of political pressure and 
interference in the administration of schools would help 
greatly in the attainment of educational objectives.* 

4 The case for a high degree of freedom in educational matters has 
been stated by the Educational Policies Commission in: The Unique 
Function of Education in American Democracy. "Washington, D. C.: 
the Commission, 1937. 129 p. 


Legislation Exercises Control Over the Curriculum, 

Political influence reaches even nearer to the classroom 
through legal mandates affecting changes in the school 
curriculum. The nature and extent of this influence is 
seldom realized by the public. Modifications in the curri- 
culum may come about through the initiative of teachers, 
research workers, supervisors, and other school people. They 
may also come about through the initiative of individuals 
and groups of individuals outside the school. 

The legal right of the state to determine what shall be 
taught in the schools is fully recognized. The methods by 
which this right should be exercised is another matter, and 
an important educational question. If it goes no farther 
than to provide that a particular subject shall be taught, 
without specifying the length of time it shall be taught or 
what shall be included in the content, then the legal pro- 
vision may work little hardship upon curriculum makers, 
regardless of whether they believe that subject should be 
legally stipulated or not. On the other hand, laws which 
prescribe curriculum content, teaching processes, and time 
allotments may not only cripple the initiative of the teacher 
but prevent the attainment of socially valuable objectives. 

Furthermore, laws which obviously reflect the vested 
interests of certain minority groups may inject into the 
curriculum a body of content that is of neither real interest 
to the general public, nor of real value in the attainment 
of educational goals. 

Local Units of School Administration Are Often Unplanned. 

Other administrative conditions that delay or prevent 
the attainment of educational aims require brief attention. 
Prevailing conditions in many of the small rural schools 
obstruct efforts to obtain desirable educational results. 


These schools are staffed as a rule by the least mature and 
least well-prepared teachers. There are some rural schools 
which seek the educational objectives here proposed, but 
they are relatively few in number. 

Inadequate instruction in these schools results directly 
from inadequacies in the teaching staff. While prepared 
and better paid teachers are being recruited, however, it is 
possible to make significant improvements with the present 
staff by providing sound and helpful supervision, research, 
guidance, and health services. To do this with reasonable 
economy will, in many States, require the enlargement of 
administrative units. Even where consolidation of schools 
(into larger attendance units) is impractical or undesirable, 
a larger administrative unit, adequately staffed to give the 
educational services just mentioned, is entirely possible. 

Professional Unity Is Necessary. 

Another somewhat related condition that hinders educa- 
tional progress is the lack of coordination of the various 
parts of the school system. This separateness results in need- 
less rivalries, unseemly competition for funds and, most 
serious of all, in lack of that articulation which would per- 
mit steady progress of children, youths, and adults from one 
stage of educational development to another. Colleges and 
high schools are still not closely enough in touch with one 
another; in some states elementary and secondary schools, 
outside of the larger cities, are in entirely separate school 
systems; liberal arts colleges and professional schools tend 
to regard each other with suspicion; vocational education 
at the secondary school level is too often regarded as en- 
tirely separate from the general or common educational 
program. These are but a few indications of the lack of 
unity in American education. An ability and a willingness 
to keep the whole educational program in full view need to 
be systematically cultivated. 


Progress could be made more eff ectively, and the respon- 
sibility of education to American democracy could be met 
more readily if the teaching profession could be united in 
the support of a few basic ideals. Existing professional or- 
ganizations are less effective than they should be because of 
lack of a common purpose and common leadership. But 
even given appropriate machinery for professional action, 
there would remain an urgent need for a professional pro- 
gram around which the activity may be centered. 5 It is the 
understanding of the Educational Policies Commission that 
the development of such a program is one of its principal 
responsibilities. For that reason, the Commission has made, 
and will continue to make, serious efforts to promote the 
study and acceptance of its reports by all branches of the 
teaching profession in all parts of the country. 

Schools in Ma7ty Communities Are Underfinanced. 

Problems in the field of school finances are many and 
complex. They involve: (a) questions relating to the most 
efficient expenditure of funds already available; (b) ques- 
tions relating to means for increasing the total amount of 
funds; and (c) questions relating to the distribution of the 
burden of school support among various geographical and 
political areas and among various socio-economic groups in 
the total population. 

To remedy the chronic condition of insufficient financial 
support is important. The services of qualified workers 
cost money; a sufficient number of workers to do an ac- 
ceptable job costs still more money; providing these work- 
ers with suitable equipment and housing them under favor- 
able conditions for work make further inescapable financial 
demands. Even a remote approximation to the objectives 

5 Structure in professional organizations has been dealt with by the 
Commission in: A National Organization for Education. Washington, 
D. C.: the Commission, 1937. 47 p. 


proposed is blocked by the overwhelming odds faced by 
many poverty-ridden schools today. At the same time, some 
critics of the schools look askance on requests for more ap- 
propriations until the work of the school is improved. Thus 
results an impasse which cannot be broken except by con- 
certed efforts to secure more funds and improve the schools 

There are aspects of school work which contribute meag- 
erly to the attainment of the objectives of education as here 
proposed. Funds should be so allocated that preference is 
given to those services of the schools which make the largest 
contribution to the objectives for the largest number of 
pupils over the longest period of time. Activities which do 
not contribute to the objectives should not be financed at 
all. This is the real essence of "economy in school finance." 

Glaring defects in the tax systems of the localities, states, 
and nation continue to be ignored for selfish protection or 
partisan expediency. A modern, equitable, and efficient tax 
system for providing school revenues is essential. The tax- 
able wealth and income of the nation is distributed un- 
evenly over its area. Some jurisdictions have relatively 
many children and relatively limited taxpaying ability 
and vice versa. Measures for equalizing the burden of 
school support within and between states are essential. 

The removal of these unfavorable financial conditions 
confronts us with two problems. First and most important, 
our economic order must be made effective enough to pro- 
vide the funds necessary for schools which will really ap- 
proximate the objectives proposed. The second problem 
concerns the ways and means by which the necessary funds 
may be secured. This, in turn, involves questions of educa- 
tional finance and of public finance in general as well as the 
public relations of the school system. 6 

6 The Educational Policies Commission lias under way at the present 
time a study of the economic bases of school finance. 


Public Indifference, Antagonism, or 
Ignorance Must Be Supplanted by 
Effective Lay Relationships. 

The ultimate control of American education rests with 
the people. The theory of school administration under 
which we operate requires that such control be truly repre- 
sentative and, at the same time, give appropriate oppor- 
tunity for the use of expert professional service in the work 
of the schools. Actually, these conditions often fail to de- 
velop. The board of education is not always truly repre- 
sentative of the entire people with respect to schools. Most 
members of school boards display intelligence, honesty, and 
devotion to the public welfare; some, however, are not 
qualified for their important tasks. 

Perhaps the most crucial problem now confronting 
American education is the discovery and development of 
ways and means for securing competent lay control over 
the schools. Our desire to preserve the form and spirit of 
democracy confronts us with the necessity for discovering 
and opening up channels by which the American people 
may really exercise effective control over their interests in 
education. Our desire for efficiency and service demands 
some feasible working relationship between lay control and 
professional work. 

The present forms of lay relationship to education are 
working imperfectly. Various suggestions for changes have 
been advanced. The direct representation of various voca- 
tional classes and other special interests on school boards; 
the establishment of advisory groups to the school board, 
following somewhat the English plan; the limited use of 
co-optation as a method of selecting school board members; 
the representation of the teaching profession on lay boards 
of control; the abolition of school boards in favor of a com- 
mission form of government these are some of the more 


commonly offered proposals. Meanwhile, many lay boards 
of education, as variously constituted, continue to render 
devoted and invaluable service to public education. 

The Schools Have a Responsibility for 
Public Opinion with Reference to 
Their Own Work. 

A share of the responsibility for the existence of defects 
within the school system itself must be borne by the general 
public. The public has often been indifferent to the prob- 
lems and needs of the schools. The public all too frequently 
permits political interference with professional matters. It 
has refused to heed competent professional advice with re- 
gard to the administration and organization of schools. It 
has sometimes placed in office school board members who 
have been actually dishonest or, at best, grossly unqualified. 
Not all of these conditions may be charged entirely to pub- 
lic indifference; the necessary professional leadership has 
not always been offered. In any case, the ignorance and in- 
difference of the public regarding educational objectives, 
methods, and problems, are conditions that retard educa- 
tional progress and frustrate the achievement of desirable 
results. It is the public which must supply the funds for 
conducting the work of the schools. It is the public which 
selects the state legislators, the boards of education, and the 
other agencies which give official sanction to educational 
objectives and educational policy. 

One of the most damaging evidences of the limitations of 
the schools in the past is the very existence of a considerable 
body of influential public opinion which is indifferent or 
even unfriendly to public education. This condition has 
always prevailed to some degree in this country. With few 
exceptions, the individuals who compose the public are or 
have been under the tutelage of the public school system. 


Yet even today, most of our schools are graduating boys 
and girls wlio have little or no appreciation of the essential 
role which the public schools play in their own lives and In 
a democratic civilization. A wider social intelligence con- 
cerning the place of education in American democracy is 
needed. The courts, the legislative bodies, family life, recre- 
ational agencies, and many other important social Institu- 
tions are studied with care, but the school, the one social 
institution which directly touches the lives of all American 
youth, is rarely discussed within its own walls. 

Many intelligent citizens have sincere doubts as to the 
wisdom of some modern school procedures. One such honest 
and inquiring mind is worth a hundred xininf ormed friends 
and a thousand captious critics. To explain and justify de- 
sirable departures from tradition is an important and con- 
tinuing phase of educational leadership. The laity should 
be encouraged especially to consider such educational prob- 
lems as the basic social philosophy of the school, objectives, 
finance, child health, and public welfare. The contributions 
of the laity from such fields as medicine, psychiatry, public 
health, public finance, social service, architecture, and the 
religious ministry should be sought, as well as the contribu- 
tion which every adult should make as a citizen of a democ- 
racy. The contribution of parents, as such, through parent- 
teacher organizations is exceptionally valuable because of 
their Immediate contact with the children and their im- 
mediate Interest in their welfare and ' happiness. 

Efforts to take the public into account must be supple- 
mented by efforts to take the ptiblic into confidence and, 
finally, into partnership. "Study groups" represent at pres- 
ent and on the whole, too great an emphasis on the first of 
these relationships. The depression has shown that an un- 
informed public support for education Is quickly enfeebled 
in times of stress and may even be a liability rather than 


an asset. Public opinion during the depression not only re- 
treated on many occasions from its active support of edu- 
cation, but also on many occasions insisted on retrench- 
ments in the more modern and constructive aspects of 
educational service. Being largely uninformed as to the 
real objectives of education in a democracy, the public too 
often acquiesced while essentials were discarded as frills and 
non-essentials with the weight of tradition behind them 
were scrupulously maintained. The entire experience of 
the schools in the depression should be carefully studied 
to bring to light the sources of weakness which appear most 
obvious in the time of greatest strain. 7 

The approach to the public as a whole must not be 
confused with the approach to the parents of children in 
school. The public which supports the schools and the 
parents who send their children to schools are overlapping 
groups, but they are by no means identical. One of the 
most serious errors of educational policy in the past has 
been to suppose that if parents were content with the edu- 
cation their children were receiving and willing to pay 
their taxes for the support of schools, the public relations 
of the schools were in a wholesome condition. As a matter 
of fact, in 1930 over one-third of all American families 
had no children under twenty-one years of age and over 
half had no children under ten years of age. These propor- 
tions are certainly even higher in 1938. The 1940 census is 
likely to show that the majority of American families have 
no children of school age. Nor should we forget the existence 
of a minority, often very powerful in the formation of 
public opinion and in the control of public affairs, which 
is not the product of the public schools and which does 

7 National Education Association and American Association of School 
Administrators, Educational Policies Commission. Research Memoran- 
dum on Education in the Depression. New York: Social Science Research 
Council, 1937. 173 p. A Bibliography on Education in the Depression. 
Washington, D. C.: the Commission, 1937. 118 p. 


not send Its children to them. For these reasons, the inter- 
pretation of the school to the supporting public should 
be universal, comprehensive, and intelligent. Educational 
leadership should stress the value of the school to society 
in general, as well as the value which the individual receives. 8 

Methods and Materials of Instruction Must Be Remade 
To Contribiite to Major Objectives. 

The center of emphasis in education is being shifted from 
the program of studies to the individual learner. There is 
a closer concern with the major strategy of the classroom 
as opposed to the minor tactics of subjectmatter arrange- 
ment. We are beginning to study each child as a unitary, 
unique individual and to offer guidance, in an intelligent 
and sympathetic way, to each one in accordance with his 
needs. The clinical care and investigation which we provide 
for the maladjusted child should not be diminished. But 
what social advantage and what personal happiness might 
be realized if we exhibited equal concern for the normal and 
gifted individuals! This is not merely a question of preven- 
tion before cure, or of the "stitch in time." It is not merely 
or even primarily a question of saving money for society by 
preventing crime and other forms of maladjustment. It is 
a question of making each individual maximally competent 
to achieve for himself the "pursuit of happiness" and the 
other elements of the democratic ideal. This will require 
curriculum revision in the light of the stated objectives. 

Fundamental Changes Are Necessary. 

The process of educational reconstruction must penetrate 
deeply; it must not balk at leaping the barriers set up by 

8 The numbers and location of the present and future school popula- 
tion have been discussed by the Educational Policies Commission in: 
The Effect of Population Changes on American Education. Washington, 
D. C,: the Commission, 1938. 58 p. 


the traditional school program. It must think beyond mere 
"shifting' 5 courses and adding or subtracting "topics." 

Here is a scene for the pen of a satirist. Time: 1938. Place: 
an American high school. Setting: a democracy struggling 
against strangulation in an era marked by confused loyalties 
in the political realm, by unrest and deprivation, by much 
unnecessary ill-health, by high-pressure propaganda, by war 
and the threats of war, by many broken or ill-adjusted 
homes, by foolish spending, by high crime rates, by bad 
housing, and by a myriad of other urgent, real human 
problems. And what are the children in this school, in this 
age, in this culture, learning? They are learning that the 
square of the sum of two numbers equals the sum of their 
squares plus twice their product; that Millard Fillmore was 
the thirteenth President of the United States and held office 
from January 10, 1850, to March 4, 1853; that the capital 
of Honduras is Tegucigalpa; that there were two Pelo- 
ponnesian Wars and three Punic Wars; that Latin verbs 
meaning command, obey, please, displease, serve, resist, and 
the like take the dative; and that a gerund is a neuter verbal 
noun used in the oblique cases of the singular and governing 
the same case as its verb. 

Let there be no misunderstanding. The items of informa- 
tion just listed are entirely suitable for study by some 
children. But for the great majorty of the boys and girls 
who now attend American schools such learning is tran- 
sitory and of extremely little value. 

Let us be even more specific, with no effort, however, 
to be comprehensive. English as now taught in most schools 
places too great emphasis on formal grammar and on the 
dissection of "classics." Whatever may be the merits of such 
exercises as a preparation for a career as an author, the great 
majority of American boys and girls will be more profited 
by a wide-ranging program of reading for enjoyment and 
fact-gathering. A program of instruction in literature 


which makes people dislike the writings of Shakespeare, 
Scott, and Emerson destroys even the possibility of its 
own usefulness. Mathematics, as now taught, is a serious 
obstacle to many children. The numbers studying advanced 
theoretical mathematics should be reduced. An apprecia- 
tion of the role of mathematics in civilization, an ability to 
deal with general mathematics as applied to everyday prob- 
lems, and the fundamental skills of arithmetic should be 
provided for general consumption. Languages, ancient and 
modern, are now studied by thousands of children who 
will never acquire sufficient skill in them to be able to 
translate a single page or to conduct the simplest conversa- 
tion. Science is too often taught as though it were a prepara- 
tion for an engineering college. Much of the instruction 
now offered in music, art, and manual training is highly 
formalized, aimed at the preparation of technicians rather 
than critical users and appreciators. A great deal of voca- 
tional education has little relation to success on the job. 
History and the other social studies are still so organized 
in some schools that little sense of reality is preserved and 
direct contact with present issues studiously avoided. All 
of this illustrates the general fact that education has, on 
the whole, been altogether too much concerned with facts, 
and too little concerned with values. 

All of these conditions do not exist in many schools; 
some of them exist in almost every school; the trend is 
distinctly hopeful. The current tendency to reevaluate, 
in the light of realistic objectives, all the activities of the 
common schools is a wholesome one. It should be speeded up 
and greatly widened in its scope. While there is need to 
examine present prevailing practices and subjectmatter 
to see how they may contribute to the objectives of edu- 
cation, this process must be safeguarded against complacent 
rationalization. There is even greater need to discover new 


currlcular emphases, new teaching materials, and new 
groupings of subjectmatter which will contribute directly 
and powerfully to the attainment of the purposes proposed. 

Active Participation of Teachers in 
Formulating Educational Policy Is 

The detailed preparation of course of study materials by 
teachers, alone or in committees, has often been successfully 
undertaken. But such work is significant only if it simul- 
taneously increases the insight of the staff into the basic 
educational philosophy. To print new educational objec- 
tives does not necessarily abolish the old ones. It is relatively 
easy to tell teachers what to do. When thus directed, they 
usually try sincerely to "go through the motions." In 
curriculum revision, however, "the Letter killeth, but the 
Spirit giveth life." Vigilance must be constantly employed 
to guard against the devastating impact of the printed 
word upon independent thought. 

The subtleties of the educational process and the infinite 
variety of human reactions effectively bar the application 
of rules of thumb to the kind of education which truly 
serves the objectives of the democratic ideal. The industrial 
distinction between the engineer and the routine mechanic 
has little value in educational practice. The supreme func- 
tion of the school is that of the teacher. Educational progress 
results from improved teaching, and in no other way what- 
soever. The teaching functions of the school should not 
be subordinated to those of administration, research, or 

The proper role of the well-prepared teacher of today 
in formulating educational policy is not, however, limited 
to the fields of instruction and curriculum-making. In 
many school systems definite provisions have been developed 


for teachers to share fully and systematically in the study 
of all educational problems and in the development of com- 
prehensive educational policies. In earlier years, when most 
teachers were transient employees, lacking in professional 
preparation and outlook, a case could be made for a benev- 
olent dictatorship of the schools by a small group of 
administrative officers. Today, in schools where teachers 
are as well prepared professionally as the administrative 
group, there is need for a complete recognition of their 
professional position and of the unique and valuable con- 
tribution which they can make to all phases of educational 
service. Such recognition will require not only adjustments 
in the type of leadership provided by administrators, but 
also an enlarged sense of professional responsibility on the 
part of a well-prepared teaching staff. 

Learning Takes Place in Selecting Purposes 
as Well as in Achieving Them. 

Schools should promote their objectives by providing for 
and encourging greater initiative on the part of the learners 
in setting up objectives, selecting methods of study, and 
appraising results. An excellent example of such participa- 
tion is found in reports to parents formulated by children 
and teacher together. The essential problem here is to 
identify the learner's interests with adult values. Even in 
comparatively recent years, we regarded children as adults 
in miniature. Now the pendulum is reaching the other ex- 
treme and we see some tendency to treat adolescents (and 
even adults) as if they were children. In providing educa- 
tional experiences it is possible to do too much as well as 
too little. Schools which oversupervise, overstimulate, 
and overpower defeat their own purposes. A middle 
ground is sought, based on understanding of the nature of 
childhood and adolescence and of the existence of social 


trends which limit the possibility of securing gainful oc- 
cupation, postpone marriage and parenthood, and in a 
thousand other ways fundamentally affect educational 
processes and agencies. 

High-Pressure Learning May Defeat Its 
Own Purpose. 

Nursery schools and kindergartens provide carefully 
planned periods of relaxation in the midst of the school 
day's busy activities. At the other end of the educational 
ladder we find some colleges which offer definite provisions 
for recreation and rest. Except at these two extremes of 
the school experience, education is typically .maintained at 
a furious and hard-driving pace. In high schools every 
moment of the student's day is carefully scheduled. Time 
between classes is brief; the students often move from one 
educational exposure to another at double-quick tempo. 
Time for the lunch hour is often too limited. Rest periods 
after meals and after exercise, which every healthy animal 
takes without special instruction, are ordinarily lacking. 
Even the hours after school are planned for homework and 
various extracurricular activities, all usually good and de- 
sirable things in themselves, but each making its demand 
for nervous and physical energy. 

In some elementary schools there is something approach- 
ing the speed-up and stretch-out system. Standards for 
mastery of the fundamental skills are more difficult and 
insistent than ever before. More efficient methods of teach- 
ing and better materials of instruction make it entirely 
reasonable to expect a higher degree of accuracy in arith- 
metic, a more rapid rate of silent reading and a greater and 
more exact mastery of almost all subjects. Along with the 
demand for perfection in the tool subjects, the elementary 
school program has very wisely been enriched and varied 

f 151] 

by pupil projects and activities. Furthermore, the introduc- 
tion of standardized tests, many of which are administered 
with stop-watch precision, has made possible a more rapid 
and exacting check-up on certain aspects of the educational 
product than ever before. 

At this point let it be said, and with emphasis, that one 
hundred percent accuracy in the fundamentals, a varied 
program of school activities, and the use of standardized 
tests under a time limit, with reasonable precautions, are 
all good things in themselves. It is the total effect of these 
new tendencies which must not be overlooked. Social 
and economic trends are causing an increase in the number 
of years which the average person spends in school. Some 
of this leeway might well be used to allow for a more gradual 
mastery of the tools of learning, for the postponement of 
some types of learning until greater maturity is attained, 
and for a general adjustment of the speed of learning to the 
abilities of each child and to the inexorable demands of the 
human organism for rest and refreshment. To ignore these 
demands makes the race liable to the stern but just punish- 
ment of nature. 

Measurement of Outcomes Must Be Directly 
Related to the Objectives. 

Methods of measuring results and the measurement in- 
struments themselves are powerful forces in shaping the 
real objectives of instruction. For example, it has been 
found that the content of instruction in New York high 
schools in general closely approximates the content of the 
Regent's Examinations, no matter what may be printed on 
the first page of course of study bulletins. The program of 
evaluation necessarily exerts influence upon the curriculum 
program. Ideally, the two should be based on recognition 
of the same objectives, 


Measurement should be set up as a means of learning, as 
an integral part of the learning process. It is, when properly 
considered, not the climax of the act of learning but the 
starting point for further learning; while it may write 
"finis" to one learning project, it should always beckon the 
student on to another. Measurement must be changed from 
a promotional hurdle in the road of learning to a gateway 
opening on new paths. But before measurement can move 
on to these functions it must be broadened in scope. 

Most of the standardized testing instruments used in 
schools today deal largely with information. The same gen- 
eral condition doubtless holds with respect to most non- 
standardized written examinations. There should be a much 
greater concern with the development of attitudes, inter- 
ests, ideals, and habits. To focus tests exclusively on the 
acquisition and retention of information may recognize 
objectives of education which are relatively unimportant. 
Measuring the results of education must be increasingly 
concerned with such questions as these: Are the children 
growing in their ability to work together for a common 
end? Do they show greater skill in collecting and weighing 
evidence? Are they learning to be fair and tolerant in situa- 
tions where conflicts arise? Are they sympathetic in the 
presence of suffering and indignant in the presence of in- 
justice? Do they show greater concern about questions of 
civic, social, and economic importance? Are they using 
their spending money more wisely? Are they becoming 
more skillful in doing some useful type of work? Are they 
more honest, more reliable, more temperate, more humane? 
Are they finding happiness in their present family life? Are 
they living in accordance with the rules of health? Are they 
[acquiring skills in using all of the fundamental tools of 
learning? Are they curious about the natural world about 
: them? Do they appreciate, each to the fullest degree possi- 
ble, their rich inheritance in art, literature, and music? 


Do they balk at being led around by their prejudices? 
These are criteria suitable for estimating the effec- 
tiveness of a democratic school system suitable because 
directly related to the basic purposes. Until such criteria 
assume high importance in measuring educational results, 
the stated purposes of education are not likely to penetrate 
very fully into practice. 

A Complete Catalog of Conditioning Factors 
Is Not Attempted. 

This final chapter has dealt with certain conditions which 
now affect the work of American schools. These conditions 
must be improved if the proper and essential objectives of 
education in a democracy are to be realized. The weak- 
nesses enumerated and the remedies tentatively proposed 
are not to be regarded as complete and final statements. A 
complete discussion of ways and means for improving 
American education would anticipate and include the en- 
tire program of an educational policies commission a pro- 
gram which in the main is still on the anvil of discussion. 
To locate the differences between educational theory and 
practice, to arrange these differences according to their 
importance, to probe for their causes, to prescribe for their 
removal, and to appraise the results of the entire process 
these are the persistent tasks of educational leadership. 

Conferences and Personnel 

The Commission wishes to acknowledge here the assistance of a 
large number of people, outside of its own staff and membership, who 
have contributed to the development of this report. In May 1936 the 
Commission called into conference, at Chicago, a group representing 
seven national deliberative committees concerned with problems related 
to the purposes of education. Those in attendance included Wilford 
M. Aikin, Thomas H. Briggs, George E. Carrothers, Harl R. Douglass, 
Fred J. Kelly, Paul T. Rankin, and V. T. Thayer. 

Subcommittees of the Commission held conferences on educational 
objectives in October 1936, at Cambridge, Massachusetts, and in No- 
vember 1936, at San Francisco. The first conference was attended by: 
Hollis P. Allen, Francis L. Bailey, John M. Brewer, P. W. L. Cox, 
Ernest A. Harding, Henry W. Holmes, C. W. Knudsen, Edwin A. 
Lee, Henry Neumann, Bertram E. Packard, James N. Pringle, Harold 
Rugg, Warren C. Seyfert, Curtis H. Threlkeld, and Claire Zyve. The 
second conference was attended by: Marvin L. Darsie, Percy E. David- 
son, Willard S. Ford, Guy Fox, Will French, Paul Hanna, Walter R. 
Hepner, C. A. Howard, J. R. Jewell, Grayson N. Kef auver, Vierling 
Kersey, R. D. Lindquist, George H. Meredith, A. S. Raubenheimer, 
Charles A. Rice, and C. E. Rugh. 

In January 1937, the staff of the Commission held a three-day 
meeting, in Washington, with experts in general and vocational edu- 
cation to secure suggestions on policies in the latter field. Included 
in this group were: Richard D. Allen, Edwin A. Lee, William F. 
Rasche, and Worcester Warren. 

In February 1938, the Commission called together, at Atlantic City, 
a group of curriculum specialists in order to determine the viewpoint 
of this group on a preliminary draft of the report and in order to 
anticipate the possible utility of the report in curriculum building. 
Members of this group included: Fred C. Ayer, Doak S. Campbell, 
Hollis Caswell, C. L. Cushman, Edgar Draper, J. Cecil Parker, D. R. 
Patterson, L, S. Tireman, and L. W. Webb. Helpful suggestions have 


been received also from Maude McBroom, William C. Reudiger, H. B. 
Bruner, Luther Gulick, and many others. 

Outside of its regular staff, the Commission is indebted for assist- 
ance to Edgar "W. Knight for a memorandum on the historical back- 
ground of educational objectives; to Hazel Kyrk for assistance in draft- 
ing the statement on consumer education; and to Ralph P. Bridgman 
for assistance in drafting the statement on education for home and 
family life. 

Although none of those named above should be held responsible for 
any statements in, or omissions from, this document, the Commission 
is deeply grateful for their cordial encouragement and helpful co- 


, . - 


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