Industry's Coming of Age

By Rexford Guy Tugwell; Thomas Munro et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III
DISCUSSION OF SUGGESTIONS TO ACCOUNT FOR OUR INCREASED PRODUCTIVITY: GENERAL CAUSES

1. The spread of general and technical education.

Notwithstanding the certainty that when we come to a list of the main barriers to progress, the backwardness of American education will have to be set down as one of the most important, still it is true also that this education factor deserves a place among the causes of our remarkable national achievement in the industrial field. The unaccustomed person who surveys, even cursorily, the spread of the educational idea during the nineteenth century will be surprised at what he finds. It is one of those matters which we take for granted now, so deeply has it become embedded among our traditions. But this was not true until very lately. One would have to go back only three or four generations to discover a time in which educational opportunity was highly exceptional, to be attained only by the most gifted and then only by luckily happening into a situation which made support for some years possible. In pioneer America all hands were needed for work. How many potentially fine geniuses in science, art, literature, music, or industrial engineering and management were wasted in the woodlots of hilly New England or on midwest plains we can never know. But perhaps a faint notion of how great this wastage was, may have had something to do with the development of our educational program.

-65-

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