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The State And Education

( Originally Published 1912 )



" The State is the organic body of society; without it society would be hardly more than a mere abstraction. If the name had not been restricted to a single, narrow, extreme, and radically mistaken class of thinkers, we ought all to regard our-selves and to act as Socialists, believers in the wholesomeness and beneficence of the body politic. If the history of society proves anything, it proves the absolute naturalness of government, its rootage in the nature of man, its origin in kinship, and its identification with all that makes man superior to the brute creation." - WOODROW WILSON, " The State," p. 631.

" It is statistically true that enough of knowledge to be of value in increasing the amount and quality of work done, to give character, to some extent at least, to a person's tastes and aspirations, is a better safeguard against the inroads of crime than any code of criminal laws." - CARROLL D. WRIGHT.

THE modern State assumes much on behalf of the education of the individual. In the United States, in France, in Germany, and in many other nations, a very small proportion of the pupil enrollment is to be found in the private schools.

The introduction of the State as the supporter and regulator of the institution of the school measurably modifies the consideration of educational ideals and aims. The education which the individual may provide for himself and his own may be quite different from that which he may properly demand from the State or that which the State may concede to him. To word it more concretely, I, paying the bills myself, may educate my son in accordance with the most ideal purpose and ambitious program ; whereas, to demand that my neighbors, constituting the State, shall provide this education at the common expense, would be ridiculously unreasonable. On the other hand, I may be quite careless and indifferent as to my child's education and fail to make any provision therefor whatever ; in which case my neighbors, the State, for reasons of their own may take the matter entirely out of my hands.

At this point it must be made clear that public education is not a right but a privilege. The individual has no inherent right to education at the expense of his fellows. The Declaration of Independence, for instance, cites as the "certain unalienable rights," " life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," but nothing is said of the right to an education. The constitution of the State of New York, typical of the organic law of all the States, reads, "The Legislature shall provide for the maintenance and support of a system of free, common schools, wherein all the children of this State may be educated." (Article IX, Section I.) This is quite different from what would be implied were the section to read : "The natural rights of the children of this State to an education shall nowhere be violated." Society, through its organized institution, the State, using the governmental machinery of the State, decides what privileges it is wise for the State to grant to its individual members. Among the privileges are included citizenship, the franchise, and this matter of education. Different societies, different States, measure these privileges differently. For example, all the States of the United States grant the franchise to male citizens above the age of 21; in most of Germany the privilege is granted to the male citizen only after he reaches the age of 25. It is evident that there is no special natural and inherent virtue in either the age 21 or the age 25. There is nothing in the age of 21 which gives the possessor the right to demand franchise. Some societies decide that the interests of their State are best served by permitting their voters to exercise the privilege at that age, others decide that the State interest demands the withholding of that privilege until a more mature age is reached. So it is in the matter of education : one society extends the privilege far in both directions — downward to the kindergarten and upward to the university — while another limits it to much less. Moreover, most States are not content with offering the privilege of education, but find it wise and expedient to compel the acceptance of a certain measure of education.

Let us examine into the justification for public education. Why should society concern itself with the education of its members? Perhaps the broadest answer to this question is that society recognizes the general obligation which the altruistic philosophy places upon it and realizes that this obligation can best be met by its existing institution, the State.' "The State must because the State alone can ; the State has the right because the State is what it is — the only measure of public judgment, the only standard of reason actually attained and objectified," or as Governor Wilson puts it, " no instrumentality less universal in its power and authority can secure popular education,"

Secondly, society recognizes the necessity for the conservation of the institutions which it has so laboriously constructed for the preservation of the racial and national traditions which make for political stability.' In the words of Professor O'Shea, " a nation of alert minds will discern the forces that threaten degeneration in the national life, and they should be able to control them ; but the majority of the people must be trained so that they can discern these forces and appreciate whither they tend. A nation cannot be saved by the enlightenment of the few ; the attitude and appreciation of the majority, after all, de ermine the fate of a nation."

Thirdly and more specifically, we might say more egoistically, society recognizes that the preservation of the State, the control of its members by the State, is more economically and satisfactorily accomplished through education than without it. This last motive is probably the one most clearly recognized by people generally. The average taxpayer, who thinks but little of altruistic philosophy or the conservation of traditions, can well understand that his safety, in the police sense, is enhanced by the spread of education. He pays his tax for the education of his neighbor's children with a degree of cheer-fulness because he realizes that it is a form of protective insurance — he much prefers, if he must live in the neighborhood of those children, both now and when they have grown that they should be law-abiding and intelligent, and generally agreeable to meet. " Humanity," says President Thwing, " is learning that it is better economy to devote the larger share of its revenue to the education of children than to expend it for the care of the criminal, the defective, and the pauper through a score of years."' Putting it very practically and most brusquely, it is far less expensive to educate a child than it is to jail him.

Society protects itself through Education by developing two distinct phases of its relation to the schools, which may be called the opportunity phase and the compulsory phase. The safety of the State depends on the one hand upon the continued development of capable and specially equipped leaders ; on the other, upon the maintenance of the mass of the people at a satisfactorily high level of intelligence. The former demand results in the extension of the privilege of education ; the latter, in the imposition of the duty of education.

The degree to which this privilege is extended and this duty imposed varies considerably in the different social groups, and it is part of the study of School Administration to note this variation. We may term this variable, the Norm of Public Education. This norm is expressed for any community by the degree of public education provided between a maximum of opportunity and a minimum of compulsion. Each of these, the maximum and the minimum, has its upper and lower limits. Concretely, for example, the norm for a given State may lie between a maximum of opportunity extending from free kindergartens to free universities, and a minimum of compulsion of six years of elementary grade schooling. This is to say, that every one of its members must have six years schooling and may have, at public expense, a liberal education extending over many years from infancy to maturity.

To carry out the purpose of society in regard to education, the State is obliged to work through a large number of agencies and agents. President Garfield pictured a liberal education as a student on one end of a log and Mark Hopkins on the other. This may well serve as the type of ideal schooling, but in actual practice it is found that we have altogether too many students and too few Mark Hopkinses to permit of putting this ideal into effect as a system of public education. The modern State has already discovered that only by the organization of its schools into some form of system can its purpose in regard to education approach fulfillment. The result has been the development of a somewhat complicated series of administrative offices with corresponding administrative responsibilities.

The primary unit of administration is the class, the grouping of pupils under the authority of the teacher. Between the teacher and the State there are several agents necessary. The State puts the matter of education into the charge of School Boards, Boards of Education, etc., who direct educational affairs in accordance with the will of the society which they represent. They, in turn, transfer the actual supervision of the schools to the professional superintendents. Between the superintendent and the teacher there is need, in all places where population centers, for an intermediary in the person of the head teacher or principal, as he is usually known in America.

It is not to be forgotten that the center of interest in any system is the child, and that the principle of service is the only one which can justifiably animate any system. The teacher holds his position in the service of the pupil ; the function of the principal is to serve the teacher in his service to pupils ; and the function of the superintendent is to serve the principal in his service to teachers.'

To administer is to manage or to conduct. Hence School Administration concerns all the relationships between the pupil and those who serve him. This includes, successively, as we go from the State to the pupil : School Organization, School Direction, School Supervision, School Management, and Class Management.

School Organization concerns the broad ad-ministration of the schools by the State. It is the purpose of the State as it finds expression in the structure and work of the school. (To organize = to give an organic structure, form, order, life, to.)

School Direction concerns the administration of the schools by the official bodies created by the State for this purpose. (To direct = to cause to take a certain course.)

School Supervision concerns the administration of the schools by the professional supervisors —the school superintendents, commissioners, etc. It marks the transfer of authority from the lay to the professional bodies. (To supervise = to oversee, to inspect with authority.)

School Management concerns the administration of a school by its head, the principal, director, etc. (To manage = to guide by delicate or careful treatment.)

Class Management concerns the administration of a class by its teacher.

The study of School Administration, therefore, comprises the study of each and all of these five administrative relationships, in pursuing which we consider in turn, as occupying the center of attention, the State, the School Board, the School Superintendent, the Principal, and the Teacher.

Four countries— Germany, France, England, and the United States -- are at once educationally preeminent and also typical of the chief variations in these different departments of School Ad-ministration, and so it is these which merit the largest measure of consideration. The organization of the schools as we find it today in any nation crystallizes the history of education in that nation and can be fully apprehended only by a sympathetic understanding of the traditions and political history of the people it serves.' For, as Chancellor Brown puts it, " Education in a special sense not only springs from the people, but in turn creates the people from which it springs. Education is its own father."

Germany and the United States, though under strikingly different forms of government, are yet alike in that each is a federation of States, — of kingdoms and other political units in Germany, of republics in America. The result is a distinct nonfederalization of school direction in both countries and a consequent organization of schools as State and not national systems. By contrast, the organizing and systematizing genius of the French has welded their schools into a national solidarity under strong centralized direction.

In proceeding now to the first department of school administration, the topic of school organization may best be considered under three sub-heads: first, the organic structure of the school system ; secondly, the educational aim as seen in the curriculum ; and thirdly, the norm of public education as shown by the degree of opportunity offered and of compulsion imposed.



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