EDUCATIONAL ENDS AND MEANS
Schooling has served many different, sometimes contradictory purposes during American history. As a socializing institution, education has always served to instill the values of the dominant culture in the nation's youth, often in ways deeply destructive to the student's ethnic identity. The trade-off for such a loss of identity has been the promise of social acceptance and economic opportunity, so that schools have served simultaneously to perpetuate the status quo and to promote social mobility. Broader tensions in the dominant culture have also found their way into the socializing experiences taking place in schools. For example, although many educators and parents have defined the values of the dominant culture in terms of their own Protestant beliefs, public schooling has also had a profound secularizing influence on American culture, both because of the demand for nonsectarianism in a pluralist society and because the wider world of learning to which students are introduced can be corrosive of traditional verities. In other ways as well, students often put their school experience to uses unintended by the educational system. They may value schooling primarily for the opportunity to socialize with their peers, for instance, thus creating the potential for the educational system to spawn generational conflict and undermine the values it is supposed to uphold.
All of these tensions and more affected education in missions in one form or another. A simplistic view of the tension between “civilization” and Christianization in missions might see education as the main “civilizing” component