Incredulity is not wisdom, but the worst kind of folly. It is folly, because it causes ignorance and mistake, with all the consequents of these; and it is very bad, as being accompanied with disingenuity, obstinacy, rudeness, uncharitableness, and the like, bad dispositions; from which credulity itself, the other extreme sort of folly, is exempt.
Profound ignorance makes a man dogmatic. The man who knows nothing thinks he is teaching others what he has just learned himself; the man who knows a great deal can't imagine that what he is saying is not common knowledge, and speaks indifferently.
Your greatness is measured by your kindness - Your education and intellect by your modesty - Your ignorance is betrayed by your suspicions and prejudices - Your real caliber is measured by the consideration and tolerance you have for others.
Discourtesy does not spring merely from one bad quality, but from several - from foolish vanity, from ignorance of what is due to others, from indolence, from stupidity, from the distraction of thought, from contempt of others, from jealousy.
The essence of all education is self-discovery and self-control. When education helps an individual to discover his own powers and limitations and, shows him how to get out of his heredity its largest and best possibilities, it will fulfill its real function, when children are taught not merely to know things but particularly to know themselves, not merely how to do things but especially how to compel themselves to do things, they may be said to be really educated. For this sort of education there is demanded rigorous discipline of the powers of observation, of the reason, and especially of the will.
You who are so wise must know that different nations have different conceptions of things. You will not therefore take it amiss if our ideas of the white man’s kind of education happens not to be the same as yours. We have had some experience with it. Several of our young people were brought up in your colleges. They were instructed in all your sciences; but, when they came back to us, they were bad runners, ignorant of every means of living in the woods, unable to bear either cold or hunger. They didn’t know how to build a cabin, take a deer, or kill an enemy. They spoke our language imperfectly. They were therefore unfit to be hunters, warriors, or counselors; they were good for nothing. We are, however, not less obliged for your kind offer, though we decline accepting it. To show our gratefulness, if the gentlemen of Virginia shall send us a dozen of their sons, we will take great care with their education, instruct them in all we know, and make men of them.
The failure of our modern world, with its moral and ethical collapse, may be traced directly to our spiritual ignorance and moral disobedience. The ethical conditions under which we live are disgracefully unsanitary. It is futile to expect peace and goodwill on earth while our homes are infested with the germs of selfishness, irreverence and lust. The world-wide epidemic of hatred, cruelty, murder and war is the inevitable result of our moral and spiritual disobedience. We cannot break the laws of the universe with impunity.
Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education alone will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.
We have in America the largest public school system on earth, the most expensive college buildings, the most extensive curriculum, but nowhere else is education so blind to its objectives, so indifferent to any specific outcome as in America. One trouble has been its negative character. It has aimed at the repression of faults rather than the creation of virtues.