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about three years and the average daily productiveness thirty-eight cents.
There is a certain tendency among our "self-made" men and their admirers to belittle the value of schooling. And we must admit that a boy of exceptional force has often, when favored by opportunity, made his way to wealth and eminence without the advantages of formal education. This was oftener possible, however, in the frontier and formative conditions of American life than it is now. More and more the successful man must be an expert, must depend upon exact knowledge rather than solely upon personal force and cleverness. A study of Who's Who in America reveals the fact that “out of the nearly 5,000,000 uneducated men and women in America, only 31 have been sufficiently successful in any kind of work to obtain a place among the 8,000 leaders catalogued in this book. Out of 33,000,000 people with as much as a common-school education, 808 were able to win a place in the list, while out of only 2,000,000 with high-school training, 1,245 have manifested this marked efficiency, and out of 1,000,000 with college or university training, 5,768 have merited this distinction.” That is to say, a man with college education is eight hundred times as likely to become a notable factor in his country's life as an unschooled man.
We have spoken only of the more conspicuous fruits of education. They are such as to justify the words of Chancellor Kent: “A parent who sends his son into the world uneducated and without skill in any art or science does a great injury to mankind as well as to his own family; for he defrauds the community of a useful citizen and bequeaths to it a nuisance." Far the greater number of our paupers and prosti
tutes and criminals come from the ranks of the uneducated. Victor Hugo once said that every school that is opened causes a prison to be closed. A Sing Sing prisoner recently declared, "Most of the in
, mates of the prisons are there because they could not compete successfully with others. They did not know how to meet the conditions of free life."
But in addition to these social aspects of education, its value in enhancing the personal life should not be forgotten. Education gives interests, adds to our resources, helps us to an innocent and profitable use of our leisure. Nothing is more pathetic than the waste of leisure hours on the part of men and women who have never cultivated a taste for reading, for art or music, or any of the higher activities of the mind. “The educated man is one whose life is characterized by increasing richness, safety, and control.” He is "at home in the world, has at least a part of it under his intelligent control, and has opened up to him new avenues of intellectual and emotional enjoyment.”
The educated man is an intelligent consumer. He is not the dupe of unscrupulous advertisers and dealers; he knows what is good from what is shoddy or inferior. He is safe from the wiles of quacks and charlatans—notoriously numerous in America. He is relatively free from superstition and prejudice. His life has range and variety and dignity.
It is important to emphasize this enrichment and safeguarding of the personal life that results from a liberal education, because there is a strain in American thought and character that looks upon "culture" as impractical and useless. We are, in general, of the “motor type”; our men are happiest "in the harness”, and are apt to be lost and resourceless when on a va
cation. A contemporary French critic finds that “the American concerns himself but little with cul. ture, considering it a luxury good for a few dilettanti, but which does not 'pay', and which, as such, appears somewhat suspicious to the practical Yankee mind.” A recent American writer expresses it thus: “We have few or no social habits that encourage the life of reflection. The average American, especially in the great industrial centers, is catapulted from the cradle to the grave in the mad hurly-burly of a headlong civilization that never pauses to get its bearings or to ask the meaning of life.”
But even vocational education has been neglected here, as compared with the extent to which it has been developed in several European countries. Munich, a city of 500,000 inhabitants, had, in 1912, fifty-two vocational schools, with nearly 17,000 pupils. Berlin had 40,000 students in trade and commerical schools. The small state of Saxony had 115 technical institutes. France, Denmark, Norway, Great Britain, and other countries, have established systems of industrial and commercial education that surpass, in per capita extent and efficiency, our still rudimentary and fragmentary national system. A commission of eminent German scientists, visiting this country shortly before the outbreak of the Great War, reported to their government that they need have no fear of American competition in trade and manufacture, that we were complacently relying upon our unexhausted natural resources and neglecting to train our youth in industrial and commercial efficiency. The fact that the German technique was misused, at the beck of a selfish military clique, should not blind us to the excellence of the technical education that Germany had established for her citizens.
Every vocation is becoming more scientific. The world needs its work well done, and could have it far better done than it ever has. Apprenticeship and home-instruction are inadequate for the new era. Happily, the Federal Government is awakening to the need, and is now encouraging the States by appropriating federal funds for inaugurating and improving vocational education in the public schools. There is hope that we may yet realize our traditional aspiration toward an educational system that shall give to every boy and girl in the land access to the world's store of experience, and a training that will make them all self-respecting and skilled artisans—whether with hand or brain—at some work that has a useful place in the national life.
We must frankly admit that we have yet a long way to go. A recent government bulletin reveals the fact that we are eighth on the list of countries ranked with respect to the proportion of literacy among their inhabitants. Our illiteracy rate is close to 7 per cent for people over ten years old. The rate in Switzerland is one half of one per cent, in Germany the prewar rate was three one-hundredths of one per cent. Of the young men of draft age during the War, some 700,000 were found to be unable to read and write; our total adult illiterate population is about ten times that number, besides many more millions who can barely read and seldom do. Secretary Lane recently computed that this illiteracy means an annual economic loss to the country of $825,000,000.
When it comes to higher education our relative standing is equally disappointing. Some years ago, when comparative statistics were available, there were, for each ten thousand of our population, twenty students in our colleges and universities. At the same
time there were fifty-six students per ten thousand inhabitants in British colleges and universities, sixtyfive in Germany, seventy-seven in Italy, eighty-one in France, and a hundred and seventy-eight in Switzerland.
The fact is, in spite of much recent improvement in our educational system, we are not spending nearly enough for education. The rise in prices during the War has made our educational expenditures practically far less than a few years ago. Even before the War we were spending much less in proportion to the national wealth than in earlier days. Everywhere people grumble about high taxes, and fail to realize that education is the best possible investment. Nearly twice as much money is spent in this country upon tobacco as upon education; while the money saved by the prohibition of alcoholic beverages, if applied to education, would treble its efficiency.
It is a well known fact that teachers are among the poorest paid wage-earners in the country; in spite of recent salary-increases, the figures for the average salaries of teachers in even the most advanced States are too low, while in the more backward States they are disgraceful. There is no work more important than that of moulding the minds of the young, no career that calls for more talent or more careful preparation. But the vocation has become a by-word, for its niggardly rewards; able young men and women are turning from it in disgust. Unless radical improvement is made, our children will more and more be taught by the incompetent and the ambitionless; positions will have to be increasingly filled by those who lack the proper temperament and training. And this when our country is far richer than ever before incomparably the richest country in the world!