Education: A First Book

By Edward L. Thorndike | Go to book overview

CHAPTER I
THE MEANING AND VALUE OF EDUCATION

§ 1. The Meaning of Education

Man changes the world in which he is. He changes the earth's form, whether he only scrapes out a hole in which to hide, or removes mountains to join oceans. He changes its living beings when he kills one bird or when he plants or destroys a forest. His fellow-men and his own nature are no less truly changed by what he is and does.

Its place amongst human arts and industries.

The art of human life is to change the world for the better -- to make things, animals, plants, men and oneself more serviceable for life's ends. Trees grow regardless of man's intent, but he prunes or trains them the better to satisfy his own wants, or plants others for the common good. Children, too, grow in part by inner impulses apart from man's direction, but man tries to change their original natures into forms which serve his needs. Each man singly tries, by producing certain changes and preventing others, to make the world of things and men better for himself; a group of men living together, so far as they possess wisdom, try to make things and men better for the group as a whole.

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